Transformers: Masterpiece Ratchet (MP-30) by Takara

Folks, I’ve been a bad MP Transformers collector. After a long run of scarfing up each of the releases, I hit a wall. My last MP purchase was Ironhide, and I reviewed him over two years ago! I love this line, so I could only attribute me falling off by the rising prices. I thought Ironhide was well worth the extra bucks, but $90 for a repaint? That’s considerably more than each of the three Datsuns set me back. And I didn’t want to skip Ratchet and go for Inferno, because that would be cheating. Ultimately, it was a renewed sense of urgency that got me back on track. Ratchet was selling out at a few places, and I worried that if I didn’t buy him now, I’d regret it later. Even better, I sold off a couple of Third-Party Go-Bots that I didn’t need in my collection and that more than paid for him. And so here we go!

It’s been a long time, but the packaging hasn’t changed. Ratchet comes the same kind of collector friendly enclosed box as Ironhide did, which is bigger than the previous MP Autobot cars. You get plenty of pictures of the toy in its various modes, but you don’t get a lot of English copy. All in all, I dig these boxes a lot. They aren’t flashy, but they are classy, and they’re made of heavy stock, so they store well. I actually keep my MP Collection boxed for the time being and they look great all lined up on the shelf.

Inside, the figure and goodies come on clear plastic trays, and it’s easy to see where the extra money went. Not only is Ratchet a big boy, but he comes with a whole bunch of accessories. You also get folded instructions, a character card and a set of stickers with two optional layouts. Yup, stickers! I went with the Autobot crosses because I just think it looked neat, but I’ll come back to the stickers in a bit. Ratchet comes packaged in his alt mode, so let’s start there!

It’s common knowledge that the early 80’s was the pinnacle of Japanese van design and nothing illustrates that better than the Nissan Cherry Vanette. And I’m not ashamed to say that after 35 years, it was only recently that the MP Collection taught me the make and model Ratchet and Ironhide’s alt modes. And yes, in van mode, Ratchet is just a straight recolor of Ironhide with a lightbar added to the top. He’s nearly entirely white, with a red stripe running along each side, blue windows, chromed out bumpers and matte silver wheels. All in all, it’s not a bad looking van, but there are a hell of a lot of seams breaking up the sides.

I’m not a huge fan of the exposed robot face behind the windshield. OK, it’s a cute nod back to the original toy, but probably not one that needed to be so in my face every time I look at it. Also, it serves no purpose at all, which makes me even more sorry that they added it. Does it ruin the van mode? Nah, not really, but it’s worth picking at all the same. You do get a nice Autobot emblem right on the front of the van, and while there are stickers for the auto mode, I’ve chosen to leave them off for now.

Initially, I thought the lightbar would prevent Ratchet from catching a ride in MP Optimus Prime’s trailer, but it’s spring-loaded and you can push it down to roll him inside. It does sometimes get caught when trying to get him out and a few times, I’ve had to pop open the trailer, rather than risk scratching it.

Finally, like Ironhide, there’s a flip up socket on the top of Ratchet’s van mode, which can be used to insert any of the weapons that are designed to be held in his hands. And who doesn’t love a weaponized ambulance, eh?

As expected, the transformation is identical to Ironhide and if you want to share my wonder at experiencing it for the first time then dip back into my Ironhide review. Sadly, the magic is old hat now, but I can still appreciate what Takara’s teams of convertorobot engineers have pulled off here. This shouldn’t work. You shouldn’t be able to get that much robot into that little van. Hell, they couldn’t even come close with the original toy. And yet here it is. Ratchet’s resulting robot mode is almost identical to Ironhide. Takara changed up their pelvic plates, but from the neck down the only other difference is the coloring. And that’s a good thing, because I absolutely loved this robot mode on Ironhide and it looks just as fabulous here on the Autobots’ Chief Medic. From the front, everything looks so impossibly clean and boxy and every other ideal that a G1-designed Transformer should strive to be. The legs are nearly devoid of any van evidence at all and I dig the little armor plates that land on his hips. The front windshield of the van is worn perfectly as the chest, and it impresses me to no end that there aren’t even any wheels visible from the front.

Turn him around and things aren’t quite as polished. There are a lot of exposed screw holes and for the money involved, it would have been cool if Takara had plugged these, or at least offered plugs for us to do it ourselves, like TFC did with their set of Not-Aerialbot figures. You do get a smidgen of van kibble from the back, notably the chrome bumpers on his heels, the windows on the backs of his forearms and his wheel butt… WHEEL BUTT!!! I’ve been in forums where fans complained about this stuff and I was amazed. Hey, complain about whatever you like, that’s your right, but I think this figure is a great achievement of design. He’s also a hefty, solid bot and so much fun to play with!

Obviously we got a brand new head sculpt, and it captures all the character of Ratchet from the Sunbow cartoon. I love the rounded “helmet” and the giant wings over his eyes. The eyes themselves are a bright and beautiful shade of blue, and the rest of the face is finished off in a pleasing matte gray. And if you want to add a little variety to your display options…

He also comes with a second face plate, this time offering a delightful smile. And as long as we’re focusing in on the head and shoulders, I’ll toss out there now that I’m not a big fan of the stickers for the shoulders. To be fair, they look pretty good, and I understand why Takara had to do it. Apparently there were trademark issues concerning the use of the Red Cross. Personally, I would have been fine if they just printed the ones I used on there and been done with it, but I guess some collectors were looking for something more traditional. I just hope they stay on well and don’t yellow over time. But, enough about that… let’s look at some accessories!

Ratchet comes with a boat load of accessories. Or in this case, a sled load. Like Ironhide, Rachet includes a plastic base, which is an homage to the sled that was made up of the bottom part of the original toy’s van mode. This isn’t a direct copy, there’s no treads on the bottom and it isn’t involved at all in the transformation. It is, however, a place to store all those accessories in a way that nods back to the original. For a medic, Ratchet comes with a lot of guns, so let’s start with those first!

A number of the accessories are recycled from Ironhide, the first of which are the twin laser guns. I love these things! They have a nice satin gray finish and fit perfectly into Ratchet’s hands with a tab to secure them into the palms. Getting them out can be a little tricky, but he looks great wielding them.

Next up is what I think is called a Static Laser. It’s instantly recognizable as the gun that was positioned on the front of the original toy’s sled, and I used it to demonstrate the way Ratchet’s mode can be weaponized. It’s got a chrome finish and a white handle. It’s a very distinctive design, but probably not one that I’m going to display him with a whole lot.

Next up is the last recycled accessory from Ironhide ant that’s the missile launcher that plugs into his back. I can remember Ironhide shooting this thing off while flying in the Sunbow cartoon, but I don’t recall Ratchet ever using it. Still, it’s a logical accessory to recycle seeing as a similar piece was included with the G1 vans and I dig it quite a bit. The launcher has a satin gray finish and the missile is chromed out. It can come out of the launcher, but it doesn’t actually fire. Moving on to the new stuff…

Ratchet has one new gun and it’s this little pistol. It’s a cool design, but I really don’t have much else to say about it.

Like Ironhide, Ratchet could retract his hand and deploy various tools. In this case he comes with what is either an arc welder or a cutting torch… or why not both? To attach it you just flip his hand back into his arm and tab it into the spot where the hand used to be. It’s a useful tool for when he needs to do a weld on one of his wounded cameras or cut human survivors out of fallen debris. I don’t know why, but I always loved when the Transformers made use of these types of gizmos.

Ratchet can also produce a repair beam from his forearm. This just plugs right into the peg hole on either of his arms. There’s also an effect part that pegs into the end of the emitter and you get an illustrated cardboard insert that can be slipped in behind the windshield on his chest to produce vital signs. I’ll likely be displaying him with this all the time!

And finally, Ratchet comes with some wrenches, two regular and one magna-wrench.

I collect a lot of toys and other shit, so naturally my budget has its limitations. So throwing $90 at what is mostly a repaint of Ironhide certainly gave me pause. It was my love of Ratchet that finally got me to knuckle down and take the plunge, and I think the fact that it took so long for me to do it worked to my advantage. Two years after getting Ironhide made picking up Ratchet a lot more of a fresh experience and it made me fall in love with this mold all over again. I’m still in awe of how they made this toy work, and it’s a tribute to its intuitive engineering that even after a long while away from this mold, I was able to transform Ratchet without using the instructions. And it makes me happy to finally have the two Autobot vans together at last. If anything, I came away from this review with a renewed passion for the MP line.

Transformers: Masterpiece Ironhide (MP-27) by Takara

I can still remember the crushing disappointment that set in when I got the original Ironhide for my birthday. Sure, I’d seen pictures of him in the catalogs, but something told me that they couldn’t be right. I mean, very few of the G1 Transformers were perfect representations of their Sunbow counterparts, but Ironhide was just plain weird. In his own way, he might have been a cool toy, but my expectations were set and he didn’t live up to them, and so I rarely ever even played with him. The subsequent decades would bring us tons of G1 homages and many of them would be on point, but poor Ironhide never quite got his due. Maybe this was an instance where the magic of animation just couldn’t be translated into a physical toy. The Masterpiece line seemed like our last hope. Thank Primus, it paid off.


This unassuming little box feels right in line with the other MP Autobot cars that have come before it. It’s fully enclosed, features a lot of Japanese text and quite a few pictures of the toy in both forms. As always, this is a licensed product, and holding this box in hand is the first time I’ve actually known the make and model of Ironhide’s official alt mode: A Nissan Cherry Vanette.


Inside the box you get two clear plastic trays containing a hell of a lot more goodies than we’ve seen included with any of the MP Cars. You get Ironhide in his vehicle mode. You get the sled that was part of his G1 toy abomination. And you get a whole slew of extra bits and bobs that make this package feel less like a regular MP Car release and more like a mini MP-10. You also get a folded instruction sheet, an ID card, and an insert for the windshield. There’s a lot to cover here, so let’s get started with the alt mode.



The MP line has been spot on with their alt modes, and Ironhide is no different. This red box on wheels is the perfect homage to the original figure’s auto mode. The red paint looks fantastic, with no discernible slop or QC issues and the simple deco is made complete by the familiar stripes running along the sides of the van. The clear windows are tinted blue with the interior mostly obscured by panels on the other side and the windshield advertising a familiar goofy robot face within.



You get a little chrome on the front and rear bumpers, which look good, but I’ll concede that the bumpers on mine are a little scratched up. There’s an Autobot emblem proudly tampo’ed between the front headlamps and silver painted door handles on the sides. The sculpted windshield wipers, front and back, are painted black and while there are a fair amount of seams on the sides of the vehicle, they don’t look terribly unsightly. I think the only thing missing is a rear license plate, which is oddly enough left empty.



While I’ll get to the accessories in a bit, I will point out here that his Static Laser Rifle can tab into the top of the van, allowing Ironhide to blast some Decepti-creeps while cruising on the highways. Transforming Ironhide is something that needs to be experienced to be truly appreciated. The first time I found it rather intimidating and complex, but the further I went the more delighted with it I became. There’s some amazing stuff going on here, and while changing him felt a lot more involved than any of his predecessors, it doesn’t feel like a chore or something I would dread doing. In fact I only needed the instructions to take me through it the first time and by the second time it already felt natural… And the results are quite astonishing.


Hot Damn is this an amazing figure! To be clear, the sled that comes with Ironhide is a bonus accessory and, while I’ll talk about it in a bit, it has nothing to do with the transformation of the figure. Ironhide’s beautifully proportioned humanoid robot form is all unbelievably contained within that van shell and if they awarded Nobel prizes for engineering cars that change into robots, whoever designed this one would be a sure winner. Not only is everything packed away so brilliantly, but even though Ironhide’s alt mode is in scale with the regular MP cars, his robot mode comes all the way up to MP-10’s shoulders. Impressive!


Nitpickers can have their way with this guy. Feel free. Yeah, he’s got wheel butt. Yeah, he’s got panels on his hips that aren’t supposed to be there. And yes, he has windows on the bottoms of his forearms. I’m happy to point out all the little issues that I’ve heard collectors voice over this guy, because in the grand scheme of things, not one of those things bother me in the slightest. Not only does he look amazing, but his robot mode has all the articulation I could ask for. The shoulders rotate and feature lateral movement. There are swivels in the biceps and wrists, and the elbows are hinged. The hips are ball jointed. The legs feature swivels and hinges in the knees, and some great lateral rockers and hinges in the ankles. He can pivot at the waist and his neck is ball jointed. He even has a pair of hinged flaps in his pelvis to accommodate the hip movement.


And look at that mug! That’s the G1 Ironhide that I know and love. The paint on the face is immaculate, as are the blue eyes. He’s got his familiar “helmet” with the mohawk crest, and by pressing the back of the crest and popping off the face, you can do a quick swap to his alternate portrait.


Shouty Ironhide! Swapping face plates is nothing new for the Masterpiece line, but Ironhide’s faces are so easy to swap out, I may actually do it from time to time. I love this face. It looks like he just walked in on Prime during his special alone time.


The sled is a nifty throwback to a figure best forgotten. It doesn’t actually have any treads on the bottom. It’s just a piece of plastic that’s useful for holding all of Irionhide’s accessories if you want easy access to them on the shelf, rather than keeping them in the box. It’s going to take me long enough to get through all the extra bits, so I’m not going to dwell on the sled itself any longer. Let’s start with the hand replacements…




In the Sunbow cartoon, Ironhide had a lot of tricks up his sleeves. Literally. He had more retractable gadgets than any other Autobot I can think of. Now I’ll be honest, I could quote a lot of the cartoon from memory and I still bust out my DVDs rather frequently, but I can’t remember which hand gizmos did what. I do know he could shoot all sorts of fluids, including liquid nitrogen from these various pieces. Anyway, you get a pair of what look like hands, but they have nozzles in the fingers, you get a pair of circular red shooters, and a pair of rectangular gray ones. All of these are attached by folding Ironhide’s hands back into his arms and pegging the pieces onto the stumps. These are neat extras, but I’m not sure I’ll get much use out of them.



Next up, you get his Sonadar dish. It attaches to the socket in either of his forearms. In the cartoon he used this to see through rock and Ironhide comes with a cardboard insert for his chest to recreate the scene quite nicely. Now, these I dig a lot!



Ironhide also comes with a nice piece of artillery for his back. Again, this is one of his gadgets seen in the cartoon. It’s perfect for blasting Decepticon Seeker Jets out of the sky.




And lastly, before we get to the guns, Ironhide includes his jetpack and effect parts. The jetpack features a nice satin silver finish and it’s unobtrusive enough that I just might leave it on him all the time. The effect parts are pretty neat, but as y’all probably know by now, I’m not a big fan of effect parts. They’ll likely stay in the box or on the sled, or wherever.



And that brings us to the guns. Ironhide comes with his Static Laser Rifle, which is an homage to the original G1 toy. It’s the gun that was positioned in the front of his sled. This piece has a shiny chrome finish and can be held in either hand securely thanks to a tab on the grip and slot in the hands.



Finally, you get a pair of pistols. These have the same satin finish as the jetpack and like the Static Rifle, they have tabs to help him hold them securely. My guess is that I’m going to go with these babies most of the time for display. Or maybe just one.




It’s no revelation that the Masterpiece line has been an absolute delight. When fans are nitpicking a solid figure like Tracks, you know we’re getting spoiled. But with all that having been said, Ironhide feels like a whole new level. A lot of that has to do with how much Takara packed into this box, but it also has to do with the brilliant sorcery that makes up this toy’s engineering. The transformation feels nothing short of miraculous and the robot mode is rock solid and so very hard to put down. It’ll probably be a couple of weeks before Ironhide joins my Masterpiece shelves, because I’m going to want him on my desk and within reach. Do I even have to say how excited I am to get my hands on Ratchet?

And now on a more somber note, I’m going to be retiring Transformers Thursday for the remainder of March because I’m in a holding pattern with buying new Transformers right now. I’m passing on the current Autobot combiner limbs that are clogging the pegs and I’m also passing on the Hasbro Combaticons and waiting for the Takara versions. I am still hunting Sky Lynx and Leader Class Skywarp, and I will be picking up the G2 versions of Superion and Menasor in the weeks ahead. For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be using Thursdays as a regular rotation to get caught up on other stuff. That having been said Transformers Thursdays will return next month with plenty of new goodies!

Transformers: Masterpiece Tracks (MP-25) by Takara

I’ve been pretty quiet on the Transformers Masterpiece front, but that’s more Takara’s fault than mine. There were only a handful of releases over the past year and a lot of them were Diaclone homages, which I would have been all over if it weren’t for the fact that I collect so many other things and I’m not made of money. Case in point, the last MP Transformer I looked at was MP-22 Ultra Magnus and that was almost exactly a year ago today. So, let’s break this long hiatus and take a look at MP-25… Tracks!


We’ve certainly seen this packaging before. Tracks comes in an enclosed box that matches the other MP Autobot cars. A lot of the copy is in Japanese, but there’s a little English to be had. There are plenty of pictures of the toy in its various modes and the front boasts that it is an official licensed Chevrolet product. These boxes aren’t terribly flashy, but they are collector friendly and they sure look great all lined up in a bookcase. Inside, you get a folded color instruction sheet, a profile card, and a bunch of neat extras. Tracks wasn’t a member of the Autobot “Class of 84” and I never actually owned his figure as a kid, but I enjoyed him a lot on the cartoon and the only reason it took me this long to pick him up was because he hasn’t been very well received. Let’s start with the alt mode…




Faithful to his G1 roots, Tracks is a Chevy Corvette Stingray. I’ll be honest, I’m a Ford guy… Mustangs in particular, but if I ever loved a Chevy it was this lovely Corvette design. Tracks’ vehicle mode lives up to all my expectations, but then I never doubted it would. Apart from a seam here and there, the MP line hasn’t had any issues with it’s auto modes. He sports a gorgeous metallic blue paint job, which is absolutely flawless! We’ve come a long way from the paint QC issues on the original figures. The colorful tampo on the hood looks amazing and you even get a flip-panel on the roof, like we saw with Bumblebee, which allows you to display him with or without the extra Autobot symbol in his vehicle mode. I prefer it without. There is a fair amount of kibble showing through underneath, but that’s understandable because he’s got a lot going on under there. Also, it surprisingly doesn’t interfere with his ground clearance at all, allowing him to roll smoothly.  The only glaring issue I have with this alt mode are the mirrors. Takara includes two sets of rear view mirrors on sprues. Yeah, we’ve seen this before, but in this case, they don’t want to stay in very well. I actually wind up taking them out when transforming him to avoid losing them. I’m tempted to glue them in, but squirting glue onto Tracks’ paint fills me with dread and I’m sure he wouldn’t appreciate it either.


Tracks features an opening hood, which reveals a detailed engine. It’s a really nice and unexpected feature. I’m pretty sure the Stingray had a reverse hood, but I’m not going to make a big issue about it here. Oh yeah, he also has a second alt mode…


MP Tracks retains the alternate flight mode that was featured on the original toy and in the cartoon. I’m a huge fan of this, mainly because I’ve always had a weird obsession with the idea of flying cars. It’s not a huge difference from his regular car mode. He adds a couple of side pylons with intakes, his back wheels turn upward, sort of like VTOLS, wings fold out from the back and you can clip a gun onto the front of his bumper. Converting him into this mode is a bit more involved then I would like, but it’s hard to argue with the results…



Especially when Takara gave us such an awesome display stand! This snazzy black stand features a double hinged arm that plugs into the bottom of the vehicle and a silver Autobot emblem on the base. I love that they included something like this. It really feels above and beyond and it turns what could have been just a flippant little secondary alt mode into something that I very well may use as a permanent display option. OK, enough with the alt modes, let’s get this dude transformed…


So, transforming Tracks proved to be a real bitch the first time. He feels a lot more complex than any of the other Autobot cars and some of the movements are a little scary. The tab that holds the halves of the hood together is really tight and pulling that apart makes me nervous every time. Pulling the shoulders away from the body to extend them outward is another step that makes me cringe. There are a ton of moving parts here and sometimes I have to apply a little more force than I’m comfortable with. I also worry about paint scraping. A lot of those beautiful blue plates slide against each other and I don’t want the finish to be ruined. With all that having been said, I thought putting him back into auto mode would be a nightmare, but it went more smoothly than I expected.


With all that having been said, I generally dig Tracks’ robot mode, but it isn’t the slam dunk that I felt we got with the Datsuns or Lambor. There’s no doubt about it, this is Tracks and he makes for a damn good idealized version of the original toy design. I think the proportions are overall OK, but there are little things here and there that feel less polished. I’m not a big fan of the construction of the ankles. There’s a little too much gap there when viewed from dead on. There’s a lot of hollow space visible behind his head, which is why most of the official pictures of this guy are taken from a low angle looking up. That’s definitely his best angle. Lastly, he looks pretty rough from the back. I don’t mind the rear of the Corvette as a backpack, it actually pegs in quite nicely, but below that he looks rather unfinished.


The portrait is quite nice, featuring Tracks’ trademark red face and white helmet. Again, great paint here without a flaw to be seen. I also really dig the flip out Autobot symbol on his chest.




In addition to his handgun, Tracks comes with a couple of friends. You get Rauol, Tracks’ human friend. You know, the one he met because he was trying to carjack him. He’s just a static figure on a stand with some very rudimentary paint and an eerie blank face, but a welcome little addition all the same. You also get a tiny little Blaster in his boom box mode. Definitely some cool bonuses.





In no way do I think Tracks is a bad figure, but he does feel a little different from the figures that came before him and not as polishes as some of the better figures in the MP line. A lot of that is no doubt because of a change up in the lead designer, but some of it could also be because of Tracks’ more challenging design. Either way, he’s still going to have a proud place on my Masterpiece shelf and I certainly don’t regret picking him up. For whatever little issues he may have, Takara clearly went above and beyond with the extras on this guy and all that conspires to make him feel like a worthwhile purchase. In fact, to be honest, I’m seriously thinking of picking up the repainted and tweaked mold as Road Rage.

Transformers: Masterpiece Ultra Magnus (MP-22) by Takara

Ultra Magnus… The Big Guy… Muchacho Ultramissio… Even his name oozes gravitas. He was voiced by the great Robert Stack in the 1986 movie and he deals with things on his own timetable. I can still remember seeing Transformers: The Movie in the theater. I was 14 years old and when The Matrix chose Hot Rod over Ultra Magnus I stood up, threw my large cola at the screen and screamed: “This is f’cking bullshit!” and stormed out. I may be misremembering that day. It might not have really went down like that, but either way, I’m certain that emotions ran high. Even at 14, I couldn’t comprehend why the gestalt of Autobot Wisdom would make Hot Rod the leader of the Autobots over Magnus. Magnus was bigger, more mature, clearly smarter, he didn’t whine. He didn’t go fishing with little boys either. Maybe it was a message to kids about how being a douchebag will get you ahead in life. Maybe not. Either way, I was convinced Magnus was “the man” and he got cheated. Of course, all this waxing nostalgic over Magnus is just a prelude for a look at a figure that hardly needs any introduction. We’ve all been wowed by pictures of MP-22 for a long while now and he’s finally out. I’ve had a couple of weeks to get to know him, so let’s give this bad boy his due. I’m going to do this all in one shot, so it’s going to be a long one!



The box is big and crazy heavy. I think there’s diecast in there… I can smell it! Well, maybe not, but I can certainly feel it. The box is exactly the same size as the one used for MP Soundwave, but don’t let that fool you about Magnus’ size. The presentation here should hold no surprises for collectors of the line as the deco is the same as we’ve been getting all along. There are lots of great pictures of the toy and the text is most definitely not friendly to us Western dopes who can only read one language. Inside the box Magnus comes packaged in his robot form and secured between two clear plastic trays. You also get an extra pair of fists, an alternate faceplate, his gun, and the teeny tiny Spike and Daniel figures. The only change to the presentation here is the instruction booklet. Yup, you get an actual booklet and not a folded sheet. Takara gave it a redesign with some lovely art on the cover. Let’s kick things off with Magnus’s alt mode.



Yessiree, that sure is Magnus in his alt mode! His car carrier mode has always been one that stressed fuction over form. It’s certainly more utilitarian than sexy, and that hasn’t changed for the Masterpiece version. You basically get a cab pulling a red, white, and blue framework with two platforms for carrying his Autobot chums into battle. The frame contains some beautifully sculpted detail work, but it’s a bit at odds with the hollow portions on the beams and some exposed screw holes. There are sculpted Autobot insignia on the sides and his two missile launchers rest comfortably at the front “shoulders” of the trailer and can each rotate 360-degrees. This mode is satisfyingly large and faithful to the original, but to me it isn’t all that impressive to look at unless it’s loaded with cars. That’s not a slight against this toy, but just my general feeling about Magnus’ alt mode by its very nature. That having been said, Takara certainly did a fine job with what they had to work with and I’m particularly thrilled with the way the coloring on the figure turned out.




Speaking of being loaded with cars… Magnus’ trailer can fit four of the MP cars. I refrain from using the term “comfortably fit” because they are definitely bumper to bumper, but it works and I’m cool with that. The rear tailgate drops down to form a ramp and you can even angle down the top platform so they can drive up there. All you have to do is untab both sides at the top to fold it down and it’ll even angle downward with a car in the front. This kind of thing goes a long way to make this a fun and worthwhile alt mode.


Having stayed away from all reviews and previews, I was surprised to find that Magnus’ cab is indeed detachable. Turn him over and you find a button which releases the cab from its hitching post. Can I also say how damn impressive it is to see such intricately sculpted detailing in a plate underneath the cab that will hardly ever be visible? Of course, you can also see Magnus’ head staring right back at you. Hi, there! Thankfully, there’s enough clearance so Magnus doesn’t scrape his face on the pavement while driving.




Magnus’ cab is a spot-on recreation of the MP-10 cab, minus a lot of the seams from Prime’s transformation and a differently configured back half. All the sculpted rivets and panel lines are there and the chrome grill and headlamps are dang near identical. The only major difference is the coloring, which includes Magnus’ red, animation accurate front bumper. Yeah… it’s red! suck it haterz!!! Ahem, suffice it to say Magnus’ cab is a winner and the two look great when parked side by side. And while MP-22’s cab is detachable, you do not have to detach it for the transformation.




Why “Roll Out” When You Can Ride?

So, speaking of transformations, let’s check out Magnus’ robot mode. While I’m going from alt mode to robot mode in this feature, the first time Magnus’ transformation is experienced is while going the other way around. I didn’t try to intuit the process, but rather went step-by-step with the instructions. If you don’t know already, MP-22 is not built around a core MP-10 figure and I know at least a few people who find that blasphemous. I can see their point, but I’m rather pleased with the creativity and freshness at work in this figure’s new engineering. The transformation is fairly clean and simple with excellent tolerances, although there are a few hinged plates that definitely require caution. Getting the gist of the way the change works was pretty easy for me, but actually squaring off the car carrier and locking everything into place at the end took me a few tries. You really need to have Magnus’ hips and knees perfectly positioned to make it all go together and there really aren’t any guides to do it. I did, however find that it was much easier to feel my way through the trailer’s final steps with subsequent transformations. In the end there were at least a few of those lovely “gee whiz” moments when I saw how certain things worked.


In robot mode, Ultra Magnus lives up to his name and big time. He’s taller than MP-10 and he absolutely towers over the MP Autobot cars. He also needs to watch where he steps when he’s around Bumblebee. As someone who has had to do some adjusting to the MP scale between Optimus and the other Autobots, I’m actually pretty fine with MP-22’s giant frame. I’ll throw it out there that Magnus’s robot mode is not as streamlined or clean as MP-10’s, but then there’s a lot more going on here as he absorbs his trailer into his robot mode, and all without a bit of parts-forming or even having to separate from the cab. With that being the case, I’m perfectly fine with some visible hinges on the figure. In fact, the only other negative thing I have to say about Magnus (I come to praise Magnus, not bury him!) is that there’s some mold flashing on the front of his forearms and in a few less conspicuous places. It’s not terrible, but on a $190 toy, I could have done without it.


With minor quibbles out of the way, I can get to the good stuff, and the fact is that I love this figure so much it’s hard to know where to begin, so let me just meander in my adulation. The proportions are absolutely epic. I love the giant, powerful legs and the lateral rockers in the feet. He’s as solid and stable a figure as they come, mostly thanks to the clever placement of the diecast and the satisfyingly strong ratcheting joints. The powerful arms feature the same contoured forearms seen in the Sunbow animated Magnus and the shoulder-mounted rocket launchers can be angled forward (my preference) or up or down. I’m also very happy with the length of the extended shoulder pylons. Despite being rather iconic to the character’s designs, the height of these varied a lot in the cartoon, but they look absolutely perfect on the figure. He also features a crisp, sculpted Autobot insignia on his right shoulder. And the colors! I mentioned how much I love the coloring on this figure while discussing the alt mode, but it bears repeating here. The red, blue, and white plastics are all so vibrant and fresh looking.



Even from the back, Magnus looks good. Yeah, he’s got an open gap behind his head, but this is me not caring about that. There’s also a fold down hatch to store the extra faceplate on the figure, which is a wonderful little touch and a spot to store a second faceplate, which I presume was included with an exclusive. The cab forms a pretty solid backpack that isn’t too bulky. Some have complained about Magnus’ butt-flap, but I can’t deal with that right now.




The head sculpt? Pure love! I had a little shock when I took my figure out of the box and saw a huge blemish on the crest of his helmet, but it turned out to be just fluff that wiped right off. I think the eyes are just right and I like the stoic expression of his stock face. Swapping in the screaming face is super easy. You just lift the front of the head off, unpeg the face plate and peg in the new one. The white Prime face hidden behind the face was a cool surprise and also kind of creepy because it’s missing the bottom part of the mouth plate. The extra face is pretty good, particularly with action poses, but I will likely stick with the stock expression for display.



Magnus’ chest opens up by hinging up the blue bar and swinging out the doors. Inside it reveals a beautifully detailed Matrix Chamber, which comfortably fits the Matrix included with MP-10. The extra pair of hands are designed specifically for Magnus to hold the Matrix. I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but at $190, you couldn’t toss in another Matrix, Takara? I mean, I realize that most people investing in this figure probably have MP-10 also, but c’mon guys. You’re including accessories designed to work with an accessory not included in the box. Give us a little something-something.


Yeah, you also get the Spike and Daniel figures, but Daniel looks weird and I really don’t care about them as accessories. The paintwork on their future outfits looks good, but Takara still couldn’t spring for some paint to detail the faces. I would have happily traded this pair for a second Matrix packed in, if only because it would have saved me the hassle of opening up my MP-10 box to fetch his out of his trailer to include in the photos.



Lastly, Magnus comes with his trusty rifle. It’s got a tab on the handle to help him hold it in his articulated fingers. Pretty standard Masterpiece Transformer stuff. I have absolutely no memory of Magnus’ weapon in the G1 cartoon, so this isn’t really an iconic accessory to me, but a nice looking gun, nonetheless.




If you can’t tell, MP-22 turned out to be everything I could have hoped and dreamed for. He’s an absolutely superb figure and well worthy of the name “Masterpiece.” Just looking at him up there on my rapidly growing MP shelves, he is certainly vying for my favorite spot in this line so far. And yet, I almost didn’t get him. He retails for $189.99. That seemed really steep to me at first, although a lot of that gut reaction may have come from timing. This guy was due to ship right around the time I was beginning to make Flex Pays on about $1,000 worth of Hot Toys figures as well as expecting some rather pricey pre-orders to come due. As always, I was trying to be fiscally responsible and not go the credit card route. Remember, kids, don’t use plastic to buy plastic… that road leads to ruin! Anyway, the price tag was high enough that I decided to cancel my pre-order and gamble on the likelihood that he would be around long enough to pick him up later. As it happened, I got some Christmas monies and decided to use it to make Magnus a Christmas present. In hindsight, the price is probably not as bad as the initial sticker shock. Afterall, MP Soundwave originally retailed at $159 and there are still e-tailers asking $199 for MP Grimlock. But 200 bucks is still 200 bucks… know what I’m saying? My point is, yes it’s a lot of money, but for how big and hefty and beautifully done this figure is, I can’t complain about the price, at least not when you put it into the proper context of other Masterpiece figures. He’s still readily available at most retailers, so had I waited I probably wouldn’t have missed out, but I’m just mighty happy to have him on my shelf right now.

Transformers: Masterpiece Bumble (MP-21) by Takara

It’s Transformers Thursday again, and I’m happy to say I have a new entry in Takara’s Masterpiece Series to look at. This time around it’s none other than Bumblebee! I’ve been pretty apprehensive about getting this figure in hand. The Internets have been packed with pictures of the figure leading up to its final release and there are several things about this figure that made me uneasy. Was I going to be OK with the small size? Was it still going to feel like an MP figure or just an expensive Deluxe? And was I going to feel right about having to pay for an Exosuit Spike figure that I didn’t want at all? Well, now that this set is in hand, I can put most of those concerns to rest because Bumblebee is indeed an excellent figure on a number of levels. Let’s check him out!



The box should be readily familiar to anyone who has been collecting the line. It’s entirely enclosed and totally collector friendly. You get pictures of Bumblebee on the front in both robot and vehicle modes with his buddy Spike beside him. The box proudly displays the Volkswagen emblem on the front and includes a hologram sticker on the bottom panel proclaiming that it is indeed a fully licensed product. If you’ve followed the tug-of-war between Takara and Volkswagen over use of the license, then you know what a huge victory this is! The back of the box shows some additional photos of the toy along with it interacting with MP-10 Optimus Prime. You’ll also note that the box bears his Takara name, Bumble, but we’ll be calling him Bumblebee for the purpose of this review. As usual, we’ll start off with Bumblebee’s vehicle mode.




I never thought I’d see this day! It’s Bumblebee as a VW Beetle and it feels so good to see him like this again! The little guy has been everything from a generic compact sports car to a Chevy Camero, and none of that ever seemed quite right. The car mode is indeed tiny, about on par with a modern Deluxe Class figure, but as far as licensed alt modes go, I’m extremely happy with the way he came out. Before he’s ready to roll, you do have to remove one of his side view mirrors from a sprue and peg it into the driver side. You also get a choice as to whether you want to display him with or without the spare tire on the back. I like the spare tire, so that’s the way I’m going! Oh yeah, Bumblebee’s pistol also stores neatly under his car mode.



Bumblebee’s Beetle mode does feature some seaming as a result of the transformation, but nothing too bad. The car stays together quite well and as long as you have him transformed correctly, there aren’t any big gaps or plates that are difficult to align. I’m also very pleased with the paint job. I’ve seen chips and dings on a lot of the pictures of this guy online, but I was happy to see that the paint on mine is pretty much flawless. There are some minor shade variations between the paint on some of the plates, but it’s nothing that’s bad enough to upset me. The windows are tinted just enough so that it isn’t too obvious that there are robot shenanigans going on in there, although you can make out some robot kibble peeking out behind the rear wheels. Otherwise, the detail is so good here that this little guy reminds me of a Corgi VW Beetle I had as a kid, minus the diecast of course!



Also, despite his small size, Bumblebee’s car mode feels right at home with the other Masterpiece cars. I snapped some pictures of him with Smokescreen for comparison. They look just fine together. So how’s that robot mode?



Not too shabby at all! Of all the Masterpiece figures we’ve had so far, Bumblebee certainly had the most room for improvement over the original toy, so it was hard to imagine what to expect here. Transforming the figure is quite easy and I find him to be far less fiddly than some of the other MP cars. It does sort of feel like a complex Deluxe toy, although the engineering and clearances on him feels better than what I’m used to getting off the pegs. The way the wheels are all concealed in robot mode is quite inspired as is the way everything packs away so neatly on his back. A couple of minor complaints may be worth mentioning, but I’ll confess they are rather nitpicky. I do wish there was a way they could have avoided the hollow forearms. Also, some yellow paint on the black areas on the inside of his feet wouldn’t have gone amiss. But yeah, I’m really reaching.


The portrait is classic Bumblebee through and through. He does come with two swappable face plates, but the differences are so minor to me that I doubt I will ever go through the effort of changing them. I understand that there is also an exclusive addition out there with a battle mask reproducing the look of the G1 toy’s face. That’s neat, but again not something I would ever bother to use.




Besides looking great, Bumblebee is an amazingly fun little figure to play with thanks to some excellent articulation and some very solid and tight jointing. The arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps and hinges in the elbows. The legs have rotating hinges at the hips with swivels, hinges in the knees, and hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The waist has a swivel and the neck is ball jointed. Toss his little blaster pistol in his hand and this little guy is all ready for action!



And that brings us to Spike in his Exosuit. I’ll go on record now by saying I really had no interest in this figure. I was never a fan of this Exosuit design and I wasn’t happy with Takara tossing it in to increase the value of this set. That having been said, I’m stuck with it, so we may as well check it out. Unlike Bumblebee, Spike comes packaged in his non-transformed mode, so let’s start there. The figure is a pretty good approximation of the design seen in the cartoon and since it’s designed more like a mech suit, it makes him a lot bigger and better scaled to interact with his Autobot chums. I tend to associate this suit more with Daniel than I do Spike, but whatever.


The suit is articulated enough to consider it an actual action figure. You get hinges in the shoulders and ball joints in the elbows. The legs have ball joints in the hips and hinges in the knees. The ball joints on the elbows tend to pop out pretty easily on mine, but they go right back in. The only real disappointing thing here is the lack of paint apps on Spike’s face.




As in the cartoon, this suit transforms into a weird one-person car thing. It looks like it would be really uncomfortable and awkward to pilot this thing. I’ll concede, however, being impressed that the engineering works. I doubt the cartoon design was ever meant to produce a real, working toy so the fact that Takara was able to make this is kind of neat. On the other hand, it still kind of looks like something a fan cobbled together with a 3D printer. I highly doubt this figure will make it to my display shelf. He’ll likely spend his time hanging out in the box. In terms of mandatory extras, this could have been worse, but I still would have preferred it had been left out and Bumblbee sold at a reduced price.




All in all, I think this turned out to be a really solid package. Yes, I have a few minor quibbles with Bumblebee, but I’m still left more impressed than not. In fact, I’m happy enough with the figure that even at the $70 price point, I don’t mind paying the extra for a Spike figure that will likely almost never see the light of day outside of the box. It’s hard to imagine another G1 Transformer that will be as difficult to bring into the MP world as Bumblee, but now that Takara has done it, I’m anxious to see some more of the Mini-bots get an upgrade like this. And yeah, I’ll be all over the inevitable Cliffjumper repaint-slash-remold as soon as it comes our way. Well done, Takara! Now bring on Ultra Magnus!

Transformers: Masterpiece Optimus Prime (MP-10) by Takara-Hasbro, Part 2

Yes, folks, Transformers Thursday is bleeding over into Friday as I’m back to conclude my look at the Asian Market Reissue of MP-10. Yesterday we looked at the packaging, the bonus incentive, and Prime’s robot mode, today we’ll check out the alt mode, but before I get Prime transformed, let’s take a quick look at his trailer’s repair bay mode.



By opening the trailer and standing it on its end you get a repair bay for Prime’s robot mode. It’s funny, but the original G1 toy did this too and I never had any use for it or interest in it. But here, I think it looks so cool, I could easily see myself displaying the figure like this from time to time. There’s so much sculpted detail in the inside of the trailer! It’s also a little reminiscent of that Soul of Chogokin Mazinger Repair Bay that I wish I had the scratch to buy. There’s room for Prime’s weapons at the top corner of each side panel, but I prefer to keep his rifle in his back when not in use, and what sense does it make to put the energon ax up there when it just forms from his arm?



Take note of the teeny tiny Spike figure that comes with the set. He’s very simple, there isn’t even any paint on his creepy blank face, but a great little pack in, nonetheless. I love standing him on the shelf beside Prime because it gives such an awesome sense of scale. He can also sit inside the repair module, which I always called Teletran-1 when I was a kid. In addition to the opening canopy, Teletran has an articulated repair arm and a little rotating radar dish. I think the reason I love this set up so much is because I get a warm and fuzzy Micronaut vibe out of this whole thing, which makes sense because of the ties between that line and the original incarnations of the Transformers.


Transforming Prime into his cab mode is not nearly as difficult as I expected. Yeah, it gets a bit fiddly, but like all good Masterpiece Transformers, the engineering starts with the transformation of the original figure and then just tweaks it to make up for the better proportions and articulation of the figure. In this case, Prime’s grill is faked out, but everything else works in a manner very similar to the original toy with the complexity beefed up a lot. I consulted the instructions the first time to make sure I wasn’t going to break anything, but after that I was able to do it just fine on my own, which certainly points to a very intuitive transformation. There are a few scary parts, mainly where I’m extra careful about not scratching the chrome, but otherwise, it’s all good!


The resulting cab mode looks fantastic and makes the 20th Anniversary Prime’s alt mode look like a piece of crap by comparison. If you do everything correctly, the panels all line up and lock together perfectly and Prime can roll along on his wheels beautifully. The combination of chromed parts and silver paint looks just as fantastic here as it does on Prime’s chest. Also, I can’t help but keep appreciating the extended smokestacks. It may sound like a stupid little detail, but I’ve been deprived of those on my Prime toys for so long. They’re glorious!


You can also open one of the windshield panels on Prime’s cab and put the Spike figure inside and I’ll also refer back to the feature that allows Prime to carry his collapsed rifle in his back compartment while in truck mode. Neat!





The trailer hooks up to the cab via a couple of tabs set on a rotating platform so that the cab can turn independently of the trailer. The trailer is just a glorious love letter to the G1 toy only bigger and beefier. I love the detailed railings added to the two supports that fold out from underneath. The sculpted Autobot insignia on each side are fantastic and all the little detailing that I remember from my G1 toy are present. The result it a big truck that scales beautifully with the Autobot cars.




Speaking of which, the back of the trailer opens and there’s a ramp that pulls out and drops down. You can drive an Autobot car right up into there and close it up. I love this feature so much and it easily makes up for my quibbles about Prime being too tall in robot mode.


Before opening up the trailer, I’ll take the opportunity to point out that X-Transbots Krank (Not-Huffer) is fitted with notches so that he can link up with Prime’s trailer and pull it. Krank looks appropriately undersized compared to the trailer, but he can still pull it just fine! It’s a feature I’ve been wanting to try out ever since I got Krank and it’s a lot of fun to finally be able to do it.


I’ve already shown the trailer open as the repair bay, but here we are with it open as the horizontal base mode. You get all that same great sculpted goodness on the interior of the shell and a ramp so Autobot cars can drive up onto it and get a tune-up. Displaying the trailer this way also features two work stations where you can sit Spike. I think there’s something I’m forgetting… what is it?



Ah, Roller, the unsung Autobot! There’s really not a hell of a lot to say about this toy, other than it has a driver seat for the Spike figure and it rolls along on six wheels. He’s blue, which is at odds with the Sunbow animated appearance and for the life of me I can’t remember what color my old G1 Prime’s Roller was. Ah well…



You can mount Prime’s rifle on top of Roller and he can also pull Prime’s trailer. Well, take that, Huffer, I guess you’re not so special after all!






So, it’s been a long road to getting this guy into my collection and there’s no doubt that all that all that waiting was worthwhile… which is sort of a loaded compliment. While I was never prepared to pay the $300 this guy peaked at (I say peaked, but last I looked there were some jabronies actually asking $500+ for him on Amazon Marketplace) I did come close to paying $200 for him at one point and I’m very glad I didn’t. I’m not just saying that because I eventually got him for less, but because as amazing a toy as he is, he’s not worth it. Honestly, I’m not sure he’s worth the $160 I ended up paying, other than to finally get him in my collection and be done with it. I think the $100 MSRP on the TRU version was right on the money. I would have been comfortable walking into the store and paying that, but I wasn’t about to drive an hour one way to take a chance that they had one. Anywho, the bottom line is I love this figure and I had to have him. MP-10 is such an important figure for TranFans. It helped reboot the Masterpiece endeavor into a more cohesive line and it fixed a lot of mistakes made with MP-01. But ultimately, it’s undoubtedly the best version of the character on my shelf, and that’s saying something because I own a lot of Primes.

Transformers: Masterpiece Optimus Prime (MP-10) by Takara-Hasbro, Part 1

Holy shit, Toyhounds, this acquisition has been a long time coming. I didn’t get in on the original release of MP-10 because I convinced myself I wasn’t going to collect the Masterpiece line. When I could finally hold out no more MP-10 was sold out everywhere and going for in excess of three bills on the secondary market. The Hasbro release of the figure granted me no better opportunities as there are no more TRU’s within my happy hunting grounds and even that version was getting scalped for ridiculous prices online. It seemed like owning MP-10 just wasn’t in the stars for me. Thankfully the tables turned in a most bizarre way…


Behold the Asian Exclusive MP-10 reissue based off the US Hasbro release. Say whaaaaat? Yeah, this is an odd duck. It’s the Hasbro version of MP-10 in the Hasbro packaging, but it was released for the Asian Marketplace. It was made readily available at all the usual collector-orientated online toy retailers and with a $159 price tag it may cost more than the TRU Exclusive, but it’s also a far sight better than the $200-300+ secondary market price that just about any version of the figure was selling for. At the time of this post it should still be available at many e-tailers.


I thought I was going to bemoan the fact that I was getting the figure in Hasbro packaging, rather than a box that matched all my other Takara MP figures, but once I removed this behemoth from the shipping box, I was simply in awe. The box is massive and the presentation is absolutely fantastic. I’m not crazy about the fact that the deco is reminiscent of some of the movie packaging, but there isn’t much of it as this box is mostly a giant window. It certainly isn’t as collector friendly as the straight up boxes that Takara uses, but with a little care and patience, I was able to preserve the packaging through the unboxing process. I originally thought it was going to go into the trash, but it looks so good that I’ve decided to save it and use it to hold the trailer and other goodies while Prime is displayed in robot mode. It also juuuust barely fits on the top shelf behind him and some of my other MP’s and will make a great backdrop.




This release of MP-10 also includes the bonus item, The Key to Vector Sigma, packaged separately in a little cardboard trapezoid box. This is a cool bonus, so long as you aren’t expecting anything amazing out of it. It’s basically a gold-plated diecast key stuck in a plastic orb. In my days as a much younger and more carefree nerd I could see myself wearing this on a chain around my neck and representing my G1 love to the world. My Cyber-Bling! Now, I have no idea what I’ll do with it. The truth is that if you’re pissed about already owning MP-10 and missing out on this incentive, don’t worry about it, you aren’t really missing much. Still, I think it’s certainly better than those collector coins that have come with some of my other MP figures. But enough about the packaging and extras… let’s get to the figure. Today I’m going to talk about Prime’s robot mode and tomorrow I’ll circle back and check out the trailer and alt mode.


So, for starters, I’ll say that the robot mode is pure money. I love the proportions and I’m so happy to see that the stacks haven’t been snipped as they were on my 20th Anniversary Prime. The sculpted panel lines, rivets, and other details look great, but they don’t overpower the figure’s somewhat animated aesthetic and to me that’s a very good thing. I like the mix of chrome and grey plastic and the red and blue both look gorgeous. The translucent yellow plastic in the pelvis is a nice touch too. The wheels in the legs aren’t completely concealed, but they are shrouded from view from the front. I thought the exposed connecting rods in the shoulders would bother me, but I was pleased to find you can close the gap and conceal them when Prime isn’t posing his arms too wildly. If I had one gripe about the overall look of the robot mode it would be that the doors on his chest don’t always close up properly, but I’ll get back to that in a bit.


After seeing the initial pictures of MP-10, I wasn’t too pleased with the scaling, but now that I have him standing beside my myriad of MP cars, I’m pretty OK with it. Some comparison pics will follow both parts of this feature. Suffice it to say, I would have liked a little less disparity between their heights. To me, characters like Prowl and Wheeljack should come up to at least the middle of Prime’s chest, but I appreciate that Takara wanted to keep the vehicle modes in scale and in the end I think they’ve won me over on this decision. Yeah, he is also a smidge taller than MP Grimlock, but let’s blame that on Grimlock and not Prime here.


The portrait here is very stylized and I like it a lot, but I don’t know that I prefer it over the head on my 20th Prime. It’s not so much a question of one being better than the other, but two very different versions of the head. That having been said, I find the head on MP-10 to be clean and beautifully painted. I particularly love the paint they used for the eyes and the fact that the antenna rotate. It’s definitely some great work and a great rendition of iconic Prime.


One thing that surprised me about this figure is how toyish some aspects of it seems. I’ve seen a lot of pictures of him, but didn’t know a lot about what to expect when I got him in hand. He feels a lot more like a toy than my 20th Prime and that’s in a lot of ways a good thing. I don’t have to worry about him taking a shelf dive because of diecast making him so poorly balanced. The joints are much easier to work with, making him so much more fun to play with. Anyone who’s tried to work with those ratchet joints in 20th Prime’s hips probably knows what I’m talking about. On the other side, there are some things about MP-10 that are disappointing for a figure at this price point. Seeing all those ugly exposed screws from the back is certainly one of them. It makes him feel like he isn’t quite in the same league as the MP Autobot cars.



As hinted at earlier, Prime’s chest opens up to reveal the Matrix of Leadership and damn, it looks spectacular when opened and on display. I’ve never been a huge fan of this gimmick in my Prime toys, but I think this figure just nails it almost perfectly. The Matrix itself is diecast and while it’s a little hard to dig out, it’s a great looking piece. Unfortunately, I find that the best way to get Prime’s chest to close up perfectly is to leave the Matrix out, which is not at all a big deal, although I may find myself occasionally displaying him with the chamber open and the Matrix exposed.



Naturally Prime comes with his trusty rifle and he can hold it quite comfortably in either hand thanks to the combination of a tab and hinged fingers. It’s a pretty light piece, so Prime has no trouble supporting it in pretty much any pose. And then there was this cool surprise…


The rifle can fold up and store in the compartment in Primes’ back. Nice!




You also get Prime’s energon ax, which is cast in translucent orange plastic and fits over the right fist. It’s a snug fit that makes me a little nervous pushing it on, especially with how fragile Prime’s fingers can be. His hinged index fingers have a habit of popping off, although they will pop right back on again. All in all, this weapon is not a bad looking effect, but I like the way the 20th Prime did this ax much better.





I’ll point out that if it sounds like I’m nit picking MP-10, you have to keep in mind that I’ve been waiting to get this figure for a long time and my expectations have been building like crazy, especially considering the insane prices I’ve considered paying for him. The truth is, I really do think this is an amazing figure and I’ve had loads of of fun playing with him since the day I unboxed him. As much as I still enjoy looking at my 20th Prime, I can’t say the same for that figure. Anyway, I’m running out of time and I’ve gone pretty long already, so I’m going to break here and pick it up tomorrow with a look at some of the trailer’s features and then Prime’s transformation and alt mode.

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!



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.



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.



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.



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.




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.



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.


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.




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.



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.



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.






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.

Transformers: Masterpiece Wheeljack (MP-20) by Takara

It’s always a treat when I can grace Transformers Thursday with a Masterpiece Transformer and I hope to be doing it at least two more times before the end of the year! This time, however, we’re gathered around to look at everybody’s favorite eccentric scientist, Wheeljack. I loved Wheeljack in the Sunbow cartoon. He was clearly out of his mind, but that didn’t stop the Autobots from letting him have his run of their lab equipment. Let’s just say that if you were a captured Decepticon, you probably didn’t want to wake up strapped down to a table in his laboratory and hear Wheeljack utter the phrase, “I have this theory about making a Cybertronian Centipede!” It’s hard to believe that this release marks the 20th release already, but then I pretty much consider the line rebooted with MP-10, so it’s perhaps not as prolific as it seems. Nonetheless, as amazing as the Datsuns were, it’s pretty damn cool to be getting a brand new mold, especially one that doesn’t lend itself to so many different characters.



If you’ve been collecting the current MP line then you should know what to expect from the packaging. Wheeljack comes in a compact and enclosed box with a deco that matches the other Autobot releases. Inside, the figure comes in his alt mode in a clear plastic tray with his accessories (gun, missile launcher, and missile) laid out above him. You also get an instruction booklet, a profile card, and a baggie containing the mirrors.



I’ll be honest, my classic car knowledge doesn’t extend beyond American Muscle Cars and my weird fixation with Jaguars, so Wheeljack here is the only reason I know the name Lancia. Still, it was a drop dead sexy car back then and it still is today. Next to maybe the Lambor Brothers, Wheeljack was always my favorite alt mode among the Class of 84 Autobots. As one might expect, this Masterpiece version is a gorgeous recreation. Everything packs together tight and solid and one detail I love is the side view mirrors that come separate. You just twist them off the sprue and plug them in and you even get a second pair in case you lose or damage the first. Nice!



Even though the paint on my MP figures have been pretty good, I still haven’t shaken my anxiety over Takara’s QC after the horror show that was my first MP Sideswipe. I was terrified to see how the paint on this one was going to turn out. In the end I had nothing to worry about because the paintwork here is just about flawless. There are maybe one or two small areas where the lines could be a little sharper, but to find them I really had to scrutinize this guy closely. Takara defintiely seems to have gotten their act together to the point where I doubt I’ll be worried about it again. The white plastic used for the base color feels nice and looks good. The white paint used in some areas is a good match. I’ve got zero complaints about this alt mode… it’s damn near perfect!



When I looked at the promo shots of Wheeljack, I thought I had his transformation all figured out, but there are still some pleasant surprises to be had. It’s definitely based on the engineering of the original toy, particularly the way you pull out the front of the car and unfold the arms from the back. Still, there’s a lot of cool new stuff happening here to help along with the better proportions and articulation. He actually stumped me a few times on my first go through and getting him back into car mode the first couple of times took me a little time and patience. Thankfully, there’s no scary moves and once I saw what was happening, particuarly with the torso, I found it to be quite clever and intuitive.



And there’s Wheeljack in all his robot mode glory. Straightaway the most impressive thing about this guy for me is how clean his profile turned out. Everything packs away so neatly into his humanoid form leaving absolutely no car kibble, unless you want to count the tiny mirrors on his legs, but I don’t. Even his back only shows off the top back of the car neatly folded into his back, the two halves of his spoilers on the backs of his forearms, and the doors folded into the backs of his lower legs. It’s sheer poetry. In fact, if I were to level one complaint about this guy, and it’s such a tiny one, it would be that he packs away almost too well leaving him looking rather thin from the side. Wheeljack’s “wings” are integral to his transformation. They just unfold and angle into position. His missile launcher, on the other hand, is separate and just needs to be plugged into his shoulder and you can apply it on either side.


The deco is pretty much the same as what we saw in his auto mode with all his glorious racing colors still present on his chest and lower legs. The biggest change here is all the black showing up in his hips, thighs, and forearms. I particularly love how the lettering from his car mode winds up across each of his feet. The whole thing is topped off with a neatly printed Autobot emblem right on his chest.


The portrait is excellent, with his silver bands running across the lower half of his face and his narrow blue eyes. I’m on the fence over whether or not his “ears” would have looked better in transparent blue plastic. They look fine as they are, but going the other route may have added a little more something. Nevertheless, it’s a great headsculpt supported with an excellent paint job.


Wheeljack’s articulation hits all the right points. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, swivels in the biceps and wrists, and his four fingers are hinged as one piece. The legs have universal movement in the hips, hinges in the knees, and swivels in the thighs. The ankles are hinged and feature some very generous lateral rockers to keep Wheeljack’s big feet planted firmly on the ground no matter how wide his stance. Lastly, you get a swivel in the waist and a ball joint in the neck.



In addition to Wheeljack’s missile launcher you also get his little pistol. I really like the sculpt on this little guy as it feels like the kind of last resort weapon that a scientist might carry. It has tabs that plug into the groove in either of his hands and he holds it very well.


Besides being just an all around excellent figure, I think what surprises me the most about MP-20 is all the work that Takara put into what is essentially a one-shot deal. Lambor was a quick turn around as Red Alert (not to mention Tiger Tracks and the G2 version) and the Datsun mold easily filled three slots with an additional repaint as Bluestreak. Wheeljack? Well, he’s just Wheeljack. Yeah, they’re repainting him, giving him a new head, and calling him Exhaust, but I have to imagine that release is going to have limited appeal. I certainly have no interest in it. And so it gives me added hope that no figure is truly off the table, even if they aren’t a mold that can be milked over and over again.



With Takara’s release schedule it’s tough to know which MP figure I’ll be checking out next. I do still have the second production run of Red Alert still on pre-order along with another run of Optimus Prime himself. After that, we’re looking at Bumblebee and the big guy, Ultra Magnus. It’s quite a fun (and expensive!) time to be a Transformers collector. Of course it helps that I saved some money by abstaining from the Age of Extinction line.

Transformers: Masterpiece Grimlock (MP-03) TRU Exclusive (Reissue) by Hasbro, Part 2

And I’m back to wrap up my look at the thing of beauty that is MP-03 Grimlock. Yesterday we checked out his packaging and robot mode. Today we’ll look at his accessories and his Dino Mode! I know at least one of the Takara releases came with some pretty fun stuff including an apron and serving tray, a flame effect, and even the brain transfer helmet from the Sunbow cartoon. Since this is the second Hasbro release it seemed only natural that all those goodies would be packed into this box. Well they’re not. All you get are Grimmy’s weapons and a crown.




First we have the gun. It’s a simple black double barreled affair with clear extenders on the ends of the barrels. It’s designed to work with an LED in Grimlock’s right hand to light up. I like the gun well enough, but the lighting effect is pretty underwhelming. It fits snugly into the peg hole that is figure’s right hand, but there’s also an extra fixture for securing it into the more articulated left hand. Normally I tend to prefer my giant robots to have guns rather than swords, but in this case, it’s Grimlock… He seems better suited for a sword.




Hey, look at that… a sword! Grimmy’s edged weapon features a clear blade to again make use of that LED in the right hand. It works slightly better than the gun, but I would still have opted they left the electronics out of the figure and given us a chromed out blade instead of a transparent one. The sword still looks good in his hand, although I would argue that it should have been bigger. Unlike the gun, Grimlock can actually wield the sword with his wrist claw’s down, but if you want to angle it to the right or left, you’ll have to flip it back up.


Lastly, and of no particular interest to me is the crown. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice piece with a beautiful vac-metal gold finish and it fits on Grimlock’s noggin quite securely. Is it a fun little extra? Sure! Am I ever going to display the figure with it? Nope!


The accessories really don’t have a place on dino-mode Grimlock, so let’s put them aside and get with the transforming. Transforming this figure retains the same basic ideas of the original G1 figure. Some readers may remember that one of my common complaints about modern Grimlock figures has been the designers’ insistence on over complicating things. Here, the dino head still folds up from the back, the robot chest shifts down, the wings still close together to form the neck, and the feet flip around to become the tail. Sure, it’s more complex than that, especially when unfolding the tail from the feet, but at its heart, this is the same old transformation and it works great. There’s just enough complexity here to make it feel like a “masterpiece” level figure while still keeping things fun.




I loved Grimlock’s robot mode, but holy shit do I really love his dino mode. Grimlock is one of those few Transformers that is likely to find himself displayed as much in his alt mode as in his robot mode. I dare say, there are some collectors who may display him exclusively in his dinosaur form. As a result it was doubly important that Takara/Hasbro get this mode right, and they certainly did. Grimlock’s dino mode is as majestic and iconic as ever. The toy is packed with tiny details, like the jets on his back and that beautiful translucent neck that reveals all the gold vac-metal goodness within. This is one gorgeous robot dino!



There are also some really nice improvements, most notably the longer arms with ball joints at the shoulders, hinges at the elbows, and individually articulated fingers. Thanks to these new arms, dino-mode Grimlock can be a lot more expressive. I also love the balance on this figure. He can be easily displayed standing straight up or leaning forward as if running or ready to pounce.


Grimlock’s dino mode features a gimmick where if you flip the tail the head will tilt. It’s rubbish and much like the LED gimmick in the arm, I wish they had just left it out. It’s the kind of gimmick that you might find in a $20 Voyager Class toy, and I don’t think it belongs in a pricier Masterpiece figure. Thankfully, it doesn’t intrude on the toy too badly.




A much cooler and more useful gimmick is the ability to change the color of Grimlock’s eyes. Just open up the head and make the change from toy accurate to Sunbow accurate. The choice is yours! I’ll aslo take this opportunity to point out how awesome Grimlock’s metalized teeth are and that if you open his mouth you can see the flamethrower in his gullet. Bravo! On the downside, what the hell is up with those plugs on the right side of his face? Are those to cover up screw holes? Seems like they could have done that better.




But all gimmicks aside, I’ve found Grimlock to be a remarkably fun figure to play around with. I honestly thought that I would get more out of his robot mode, but I’m having just as much fun fiddling about with his dino mode. Choosing which mode to display him in is going to be tough!



I can’t deny I take a few issues with this figure. Some of the gimmicks don’t belong here, and some of the tabbing issues and the loose hips have the engineering on the figure starting to show their age. I don’t think he’s anywhere near as elegantly designed as the MP figures that Takara is putting out now, but that’s fair enough. The packaging may be new, but the figure may just be starting to show his wrinkles. That’s not to say I don’t love him because I sure as hell do.  He looks fantastic on the shelf whether standing beside the MP Datsuns, chilling out with Krank and Stax, or squaring off against MMC’s Feralcons. I even think he doesn’t scale too badly with Classics Prime, if you like your Dinobots to be on the larger side. It’s difficult to say whether I would be as impressed had I dropped the $165 to $200 that the Takara version goes for, but at eighty bucks? ME GRIMLOCK TAKE THAT DEAL ANY DAY!