Posts Tagged Masterpiece
I should get Laura Linney to introduce this post. Masterpiece Seekers! Thundercracker! Skywarp! Starscream!
Super nerdy post title is super nerdy.
Almost exactly two years ago this month, I did a sequence of posts on the original G1 Seekers where I declared the acquisition of Thundercracker the “end of the Generations Seekers Saga”. Though the Generations line also included the three “Conehead” Seekers and the new Seeker, Acid Storm, the 2012 release of Masterpiece Thundercracker at least completes the original trio of Seekers in Masterpiece form.
We’re reportedly receiving Acid Storm in the Masterpiece line near the end of the year. Being a Toys R Us exclusive, he will most likely be difficult to find initially, then when he is somewhat easier to find his price will go up to excruciatingly expensive. This pattern repeating itself will determine whether or not I bother trying to pick him up at all.
To complete a full set of “Masterpiece” Seekers, including the Coneheads, the Blue Rainmaker, and a G2 Ramjet if you want, you have to go 3rd Party. So far the original three and the planned Acid Storm are the only official full retail releases in Hasbro’s Masterpiece line. TakaraTomy released “special edition” versions of Sunstorm “Starscream Ghost Version”. I actually wish we were getting Sunstorm instead of Acid Storm over here.
Either way, these are the quintessential Seekers as far as I am concerned and having all three brings me much joy.
To make it easier to discuss in the forums, even Hasbro Masterpiece mold versions tend to get named after their TakaraTomy release numbers. Hasbro’s Skywarp and Starscream both use the “MP-3″ version of the Masterpiece Seeker mold. TakaraTomy released Starscream as MP-3 and, using the same mold, Skywarp as MP-6 and Thundercracker as MP-7. Hasbro’s Masterpiece Thundercracker uses the new “MP-11″ version. MP-11 was first released as “Starscream Coronation Version”, while based on the MP-3 mold, there was significant remolding done. Most notable being the addition of struts in the back to help him stand better, the removal of the pieces hanging off the hips — something a lot of fans didn’t like about the MP-3 mold — and a brand new headsculpt. Apparently someone in the packaging department didn’t get the note about Thundercracker using the new version of the mold, as his box has a call out for “2 different heads!” which was true of the MP-3 mold, but not the MP-11 mold.
The instructions included are also for the MP-3 mold. Oops.
The new headsculpt is pretty awesome and I had hoped to swap it out for Skywarp’s. When I did, I learned a couple things:
First, as expected, it looks really cool on Skywarp.
Second, the older head looks surprisingly cool on the new mold.
Third, the old mold can’t transform with the new, larger head, despite the new head having collapsible sides to make it somewhat smaller. Since I am not about to take a dremel to my favourite toy, the head swap was short lived.
Other than the head differences, the new legs are heftier and lend more of a cartoon aspect to the mold. In fact, of the three, Thundercracker has far more of a cartoon look to him. The fandom is split, with a majority appearing to prefer the MP-11 mold because of the lack of “hip kibble”, but I actually fall more on the MP-3 side. I determined this when I set Masterpiece Thundercracker next to his G1 and Generations incarnations.
In robot mode Thundercracker looks a lot like a large version of his Generations release, especially with the new, chunkier legs and his new headsculpt. I’m not really a fan of that. It’s hard to put into words, but the closest I can come is that I much prefer my Masterpieces to be their own thing, to be uniquely distinct from the other releases of that same character.
His alt mode looks perfectly fine from the top, retaining the realistic F-15 the other two Masterpiece Seekers have.
He also retains the mold’s air brake feature.
Thankfully he also keeps the orientation of the Decepticon symbol on his wings the same as Skywarp’s, which puts them right way up in robot mode. Starscream has them the other way around in alt mode and therefore upside down in robot mode.
Unfortunately the removal of the pieces that hang from the hips results in removing the part that better covers the sides of his robot mode arms. They also added ball-jointed armatures attached to his guns so they would not need to be removed during transformation, nice touch but ultimately unnecessary in a Masterpiece toy and further take away from the look of alt mode. Both are minor details, but still push me further to the MP-3 side. Something else they did with Thundercracker that I don’t appreciate, and didn’t appreciate with the one application on the Starscream release, are the rather capriciously humorous tampographed details they added.
Hidden on the back of his shoulders in robot mode, both sides of his alt mode are the only place you can really see the images of G1 Reflector with the words “Say Cheese!” Then, combining Thundercracker’s signature Sonic Boom attack with G1 Soundwave, this silhouette adorns the outside of both vertical stabilizers.
Had they been optional stickers, I would have thought they were pretty awesome (and summarily not applied them), but being tampographed I find them mostly annoying. Thundercracker really doesn’t strike me as the whimsical type.
Some far less annoying applications are the addition of pilot names and Thundercracker’s G1 Takara release number, D-24, as a sort of call sign detail.
Though one name is paying tribute to toy designer Joe Kyde, I’m not sure who exactly J. Sass is, though I am assured he is also a toy designer.
He might also be an actual dragon as far as I know. Toy designer sounds like a safer bet, I guess. The MP-11 mold keeps the MP-3 mold’s chest missiles and smaller accessories (accessories I completely forgot to even mention in either Skywarp or Starscream’s previous entries). There is a clip to allow jet mode to carry the gun mode Megatron that came with 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime, wing missile racks, a chromed “holographic pilot” figure, and a base with a stand for posing him in either robot or alt mode.
The missile racks don’t make as much sense as it requires removing his attached guns with their armatures; kind of defeats the purpose of the armature pieces and leaves the unsightly ball-joint receptacle. MP-11′s “holographic pilot” replaces the MP-3 mold’s figure of Dr. Arkeville. Also, the parsing of “Thunder Cracker” on the stand sets my teeth on edge.
All-in-all, any quibbles I have with either the MP-3 or MP-11 molds are very minor.
As I’ve already typed once; these three together bring me much, much joy.
When Hasbro announced that Masterpiece Rodimus was coming to the U.S. but that his trailer had been cut to bring the pricepoint down, there was, true to form, much whining and moaning from the fanbase. Then the rumors started that Hasbro was going to replace the trailer with a far smaller, but far superior accessory.
Just like Cyclonus and Scourge, G1 Hot Rod received an upgrade to be part of the Targetmasters line. Possibly looking to one up Nightstick’s Generations update, Hot Rod’s Targetmaster partner, Firebolt, got the first ever Masterpiece treatment. A quick search of “Firebolt” on Google, shows broomsticks from Harry Potter and motorcycles from Buell, so to get around the trademark issue, Firebolt has now been given the ridiculous name of “Offshoot”.
As amazing a figure as he is, he’s not actually the first update of Firebolt, he’s just the first official update. When the phenomenal Fansproject group did an add-on armor to turn Classics Rodimus into Classics Rodimus Prime, they also released an unofficial update to Firebolt, called Sidearm. I didn’t like the headsculpt on the Rodimus Prime armor, but I definitely grabbed Sidearm the moment he was available.
Whereas Masterpiece Firebolt (I refuse to call him Offshoot) is a faithful reproduction of his cartoon G1 incarnation,
Fansproject Firebolt is meant to update his toy incarnation, red face and all. Both transform into Firebolt’s top-heavy, double-barreled cannon.
Just like the G1 version, both can also be mounted in gun mode on Hot Rod’s alt mode. Because Classics Hot Rod doesn’t have a hole in his engine for mounting, those clever folks at Fansproject gave Firebolt an extra clip to allow him ride on the spoiler instead.
Fansproject’s work is ingenious and amazing, but that is overshadowed by how big their hearts are. This was never more evident than in March of this year when they choose to give away a limited run of a repaint of their Firebolt update, done in inverted colours, free to the first 1500 who donated $15 or more to the Red Cross “Japan Earthquake and Tsunami 2011″ fund. Called Blesser and given a function of “Rescue”, they even included a card naming the person that gave the donation as Blesser’s “Human Partner”.
Just an amazing act of kindness on their part.
The more ‘Masters the merrier, I always say.
Not happy with his Universe and Alternators updates, the turbo revvin’ young punk goes Masterpiece. Masterpiece Hot Rod(imus Prime)!
The U.S. release of Masterpiece Rodimus is a bit of a curiosity. Initially, released in Japan as Masterpiece Rodimus Convoy, he was the most ambitious Masterpiece toy so far. The reason for this was Takara was not satisfied in releasing either a Hot Rod or a Rodimus Prime toy; they wanted to release both. At the same time.
The toy was, of course, able to transform into Hot Rod’s race car.
However, thanks to the addition of his trailer, he could also transform into Rodimus Prime’s Space Winnebago.
Due to this, he was released at a three-digit pricepoint. Economically speaking this normally would have spelled doom for any chance of this toy being released in the U.S. Those wonderful folks over at Hasbro weren’t going to pass up this opportunity, though, and decided that all that was necessary to bring him down into the range of previous U.S. Masterpiece releases — i.e. $60 — was to omit his trailer. No trailer equals no transforming into a Space Winnebago, but the mechanism for transforming Hot Rod into Rodimus Prime is basically a face swap to give him a little age, slight leg extensions, and a subtle difference in the height and width of his backpack spoiler wings to make him look taller. What we are left with is a toy that can transform into:
Hot Rod’s alt mode,
Hot Rod’s robot mode,
As per usual with international releases, there are other differences between the Takara and Hasbro versions, but this is one of those instances where coming second was a huge bonus. Unfortunately the Takara version was positively plagued with quality issues, a good portion of which were corrected in the Hasbro version. More importantly — well, more importantly to those of us that didn’t spend well over $200 on the Takara version, I guess — the Hasbro version has a better paintjob. Chief among these is Takara’s decision to focus on trying to be cartoon accurate, also known as making Hot Rod
pink magenta. The other non-trailer accessories were carried over to the Hasbro version.
One of the coolest features is that Rodimus’ large rifle is formed through an automorph feature by combining Hot Rod’s two handguns. Other details include Hot Rod’s blue targeting visor; a 1986 movie homage seen in his Alternators version as well.
Along with the visor, he also has attachments to recreate other scenes from the original movie. Both hands can be rotated to a bracket that you can snap on his welding tool, used to repair a badly damaged Kup in the movie.
Looking at these two images kind of highlights my only real problem with this figure. The expression on his Hot Rod face is just far too serious, he should have been smirking or at least smiling. Hot Rod is supposed to be the “Turbo Revvin’ Young Punk”®; leave the scowling, serious face to Rodimus Prime.
The last accessory he carries over from the Takara version is a small version of the Matrix which sits in his chest… or rather stomach area.
Unfortunately this matrix is far too small to be held properly, so Hasbro included a second, larger matrix with their version that could be opened slightly.
However, the larger sized Matrix wasn’t the only “accessory” Hasbro threw in to soften the blow of losing the trailer and ability to make a Masterpiece Space Winnebago.
Next we get a good look at the reason I can personally say the Hasbro version kicks the Takara version’s tailpipe. Two words:
Skywarp is my favourite Decepticon. Why do I love Skywarp?
No, really, I’m asking. Because frankly, I have absolutely no idea why Skywarp is my favourite Decepticon. Maybe it’s his ability; being able to teleport is a pretty awesome power. Maybe it’s his coloration; he may be one of three identical Transformers (well, toy-wise, cartoon-wise he’s one of many, many identical Transformers) but his combination of black and purple has always appealed to me.
Even being toy-centric in my collecting, it’s usually the character that holds my interest in a particular Transformer. However, Skywarp is juvenile, brutish, unintelligent prankster. He’s a schoolyard bully. Granted, a schoolyard bully with the ability to teleport, who has gained a fan-wide reputation for pushing people down stairs, but still a distinctly two-dimensional punk of a character. For all his lack of character, though, he’s still my favourite. Maybe he’s the one that proves out that — when push comes to shove — I will pick a well engineered, awesomely detailed toy over deep, meaningful characterization. I’m not sure, but I think I just called myself shallow.
All personal recriminations aside, Skywarp has been the go-to repaint for tons of jets/starfighter designs across multiple Transformers lines. He was the first repaint of the Masterpiece Starscream toy.
As mentioned in yesterday’s Thundercracker post, (and shown in the picture up above) he was also the first repaint of the Classics Starscream toy. Each time, I have loved what they have done with his detailing and paint applications.
Within the Universe line, G1 Skywarp was given a body that was a repaint of Beast Machines Jetstorm. This is the form used when G1 Skywarp showed up in the Botcon Universe tie-in comics.
It’s probably easiest to go through this chronologically. First up, we have Armada Skywarp, who is not just a repaint but also a remold from Armada Starscream. Given a new, rather sinister headsculpt, he is a great looking toy with a serious lack of articulation.
He retains the mold’s deployable shoulder cannons and wing sword.
I’m not sure pulling your wing off to use as a weapon is a solid tactic, someone takes your sword and your alt mode has just been disabled. Speaking off which, his alt mode is somewhere between a jet and a starfighter.
Moving on from there we have Cybertron Skywarp. For a refreshing change of pace, he is now a repaint of Thundercracker rather than Starscream.
He does harken back better to the original F-15 jet alt mode.
Stepping out of the Unicron Trilogy lines, we jump to the Animated line. Within the cartoon, Starscream clones himself numerous times to create an army. A bi-product of the process is that each clone represents one very distinct part of Starscream’s personality. The last clone created, painted in Skywarp’s colours, personifies Starscream’s cowardly side. However, he is one of only two of the many clones to receive a retail release in the Voyager class toy from Hasbro. It’s remarkably difficult to photograph, but he has metallic, somewhat glittery purple highlights on his chest, shoulders, arms, and pelvis that are quite nice.
Most recently, Skywarp received another Thundercracker repaint, but this time Thundercracker is, in turn, a remold of Starscream. Skywarp comes from the Revenge of the Fallen line, while both Thundercracker and Starscream were released as part of the prior Movie (2007) line.
As such, he is meant to be an F-22 Raptor in alt mode, though heavily modified to account for the bulk of his transformation.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this isn’t the end of the Seekers. On Tuesday they will all be brought together with the junior member, Acid Storm. In the meantime, here’s a shot of — at long last — the original three Decepticon Seekers, brought together in their updated forms.
The originals, and still the best.
Starscream, like Optimus Prime and Megatron, is a staple of Transformer’s history. From the beginning he was there, scheming his way to the top of the Decepticon hierarchy, just to be knocked down several pegs by Megatron. Then, along came the 1986 movie and rather than reprimand his duplicitous former Lieutenant for his treacherous behaviour, Megatron – now brought back to life as the mighty Galvatron — choose instead to execute him.
However, you can’t keep a good villain down, and despite being blasted into oblivion, Starscream returns as a ghost. He was then able to scheme his way into a new body.
In the comic books, he is also destroyed not once but twice and, in an act inexplicable even to himself, Megatron is the one to return him to life both times!
“Why? That’s what they all asked me. Why him… why Starscream? Why, of all the Decepticons, did I decide to revitalize the one whose record of deceit and betrayal is legend? Because I’m an idiot, that’s why!” ~ Megatron
For whatever psychologically damaged reason Megatron does keep Starscream around, one thing was clear: he is one difficult ‘bot to kill.
Years later in Beast Wars, it is finally explained that Starscream actually possesses an immortal spark; a spark capable of existing even when the body it was in has been destroyed.
While being singular in character, he has always been intrinsically tied to his brothers-in-arms, the Seekers. Specifically he is one of the three original Season 1 Seekers. His G1 toy is probably one of the most recognizable, which made him one of the first candidates to be re-released in the Generation 2 line, and then updated in the Classics line.
He and his fellow Seekers instilled in me a deep love of the F-15 Eagle. His Classics release goes to great lengths to recreate the look and feel of the original toy, while getting rid of the fact that you no longer have to remove a good portion of his pieces to transform him and adding some nice detailing and paint apps to his alt mode.
I literally went through a number of photo setups trying to get a good shot of these guys, unfortunately it blued the background in the process, but this is as close as I was able to get it.
Of course, all of this attention also made Starscream a solid choice for the Masterpiece line, producing a large, wonderfully detailed model. Oddly enough, it was actually Hasbro’s release of this toy that was painted in the Starscream appropriate colours, rather than the odd greyish blue of the Takara release.
Likewise, Masterpiece Starscream’s alt mode is a thing of beauty.
Starscream’s name and character traits have been homaged frequently in series, all the way up to the most recent movies. Similarly, his original paint scheme has since inspired repaints of those that borrowed his name. Speaking of the most recent movie, a version of his Voyager sized toy was repainted in a G1 fashion (a toy I honestly believe I own but am having trouble locating in the mass of plastic bins) as well as a repaint in the earlier Energon series.
Energon Starscream’s (technically his repaint is named Energon Energon Starscream) alt mode is actually a precursor to the recent movie Starscream’s F-22 Raptor.
Starscream also made it into the Shattered Glass universe. In this mirror universe, the scheming backstabber is an intelligent, affable scientist who is also an overly effusive fan of that universe’s Megatron.
Actually a repaint of Cybertron Starscream, Shattered Glass Starscream foregoes the usual jet fighter for a starfighter.