Transformers: Masterpiece Alert (MP-14) by Takara

Yes, it’s Transformers Thursday Friday and UPS dropped off an awesome package of Masterpiece goodness yesterday so I decided to bump the weekly Transformers feature back one day so I could cover one of those figures instead of dumpster diving into the Unicron Trilogy totes for feature fodder.  If you’re new to the party, you should know that I was soured on the current crop of MP figures when my first Lambor arrived as a QC catastrophe. The paint was crap and I unloaded the figure and decided I was going to pass on this line. But when the Datsuns started shipping, I couldn’t resist and I noted a marked improvement in the paintwork and was instantly smitten. I quickly pre-ordered the second issues of Lambor and Red Alert. Lambor arrived a while back and he was damn good and now Red Alert is now here too!

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While he may be the second issue of the figure, the package doesn’t seem to have changed. Red Alert comes in a box that should be readily familiar to anyone collecting the line. It’s completely enclosed and will suitably match the other recent Takara MP boxes on your shelf. While we know him as Red Alert, the box bears his Takara name as just Alert. As expected, much of the copy on the box is in Japanese, but the figure’s name and number are clearly readable to us Westerners and as with Lambor, this box also indicates that the product is licensed by Lamborghini. Red Alert comes packaged in his alt mode and nestled in a clear plastic tray with his accessories in the tray beside him.

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You also get this collector coin that comes in a Matrix style cardboard sleeve. The two ends slide out to reveal the coin. It’s a nice collectors piece, I guess, and it does add value to the package, but these things are really lost on me and I don’t really see the point. Let’s go ahead and start with his alt mode.

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Ah, the 80’s! It was an era when DeLoreans could travel in time and Fire Marshals patrolled the streets in their official Lamborghini Countaches. Seems legit. If you aren’t up to speed on your G1 Transformers, Red Alert was a repaint of Sideswipe back then and he still is today in the MP line. The Countache was easily my favorite car as a kid, and I’m pretty sure I owe that to its representation in the Transformers. This auto mode still looks fantastic, although I sometimes have difficulty lining up the seams on the sides, just like I do with Lambor. I don’t think it’s a problem with the figure, but rather that everything needs to be aligned perfectly and I’m not always hitting that perfection. Lambor’s aesthetics were a little more forgiving about the seams lining up as he was just solid red, whereas Red Alert has lettering and a symbol on his door that make any little misalignment more obvious.

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The paint on my figure is excellent with crisp lettering and no real slop to speak of. It’s also worth noting that the white paint used on the clear plastic canopy matches the rest of the white body much better than the red paint does on Lambor. Some of the black paint apps look a little tacky, but they’re aren’t to the touch. The Autobot emblem and Fire Department deco on the hood looks amazing as does the teeny tiny lettering just above the rear bumper. Aside from the deco, the only other difference between the two cars is Red Alert’s light bar. It’s translucent red plastic with white paint. It also has the roof notch so you can plug in the missile launcher and rifle and weaponize his alt mode.

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Despite a few minor tweaks to the mold, Red Alert transforms the same as Lambor. I hadn’t transformed Lambor back to auto mode since I reviewed him, so I was a little concerned to see how it was going to go with Red Alert, but it’s an intuitive transformation and I didn’t even have to consult the instructions once.

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Man, do I love the way this mold looks in robot mode. It’s the little things like the way those plates from the rear of the car cover the ankle joints or the way the canopy collapses in on itself to keep his silhouette looking clean. The only difference in the body between Red Alert and Lambor is the addition of the vestigial wheels on the shoulders. I’m still not sure how I feel about these things. I think the fact that they’re smaller than they should be is a nice nod to the mass shifting that has been a part of the Transformers Universe since the beginning. I also dig the effort to give Red Alert something distinctive over Lambor, but to be honest, I don’t think I would have missed them if they were left off.

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The deco in robot mode shows a lot less white and a lot more red and black. In a sense he looks a bit like Lambor’s color pallet reversed. It’s mostly all the same colors, they’re just all switched around. The sharp and gorgeous deco on the hood is just as great on Red Alert’s chest and the silver paint on his forearms looks really sharp. Lambor and Red Alert are both such amazing looking figures, I honestly don’t know that I could choose a favorite between them.

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Red Alert features a new head sculpt, which looks right on target. It is fairly close to the Lambor face, but the “helmet” hits all the right points between these two characters. He also comes with an effects part that clips on to his “horns” to simulate his sparking, malfunctioning and paranoid brain. It’s a fun piece to include, but probably not something that I’ll get a lot of use out of.

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You also get repaints of the same shoulder cannon and rifle that came with Lambor. The cannon is sculpted in red plastic and the back is painted in metallic silver, making it look more like a missile launcher than Lambor’s solid white weapon. As with Lambor, the piece can mount on either of Red Alert’s shoulders.

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The rifle is sculpted in red plastic and left unpainted. I think a few paint hits would have went a long way on the gun, as it isn’t as impressive looking as Lambor’s silver rifle. I also have the same problem getting him to hold it snugly as I did with Lambor. The handle does tab into the hand, but when you close the fingers around it, it seems to knock it out of the slot. He can still hold it OK, but it’s not as solid as the Datsuns hold their guns.

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I adored this mold the first time around and I haven’t lost any love for it. While I haven’t yet ponied up for the Tiger Tracks or G2 versions, I am very happy own the mold again as Red Alert. The figure is truly a work of art and also shows that Takara isn’t letting their QC slip back to the days of the original Lambor release. I’m really glad Takara reissued this guy as I’m not just about caught up on my MP Autobots. Yeah, there’s still one missing… the big guy himself, Optimus Prime, and thanks to another timely reissue I’ll check him out on the next Transformers Thursday.

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