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!