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Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Ghost of Christmas Past... Masterpieces and 3P from 2012-2015



It's that time of year again, where we look back and reminisce about the good times. There's an old saying that goes something along the lines of "You don't know where you are going until you know where you've been." I thought I'd take a nostalgic view of some past Masterpieces and Masterpiece level figures, with a nostalgic lens. These have been in some of my reviews for other figures, but never a full review by themselves. Hope you enjoy!

X-transbots Apollyon ... Masterpiece Megatron!

Apollyon was the first crack at a Masterpiece Megatron for the rebooted Masterpiece scale. He was kind of flimsy, and very brittle in places, but he was the first, and I daresay most brutish of the Masterpiece Megatrons. This figure really put X-Transbots and their designs on the map. Previously known for smaller figures, Apollyon was proof that Fanstoys wasn't the only 3rd Party willing to take on Hasbro/Takara at their own game. Apollyon has since been joined on the Megatron stage by several other 3rd Party and an official figure, but there is no doubt he influenced the others as can be seen in some of the transformations and accessories of the later figures.




Bulletpoints!

PRO
  • Looks menacing. Great Megatron for MP10
  • Fantastic accessories.

CON

  • Very fragile. Transform and pose with care.
  • Ball socket shoulders on a figure this big is asking for trouble.

Masterpiece Soundwave & Laserbeak












One of the most recognizable Transformers from the earliest days, and most popular among the Decepticons is the communications/spy expert, Soundwave. This masterpiece figure came at the perfect time. After a dry spell of Decepticons, He came in and wowed the fandom. Soundwave tossed aside his angular, blocky G1 toy in favor of the sleeker animated look. This showed the world Hasbro/Takara's new focus on Masterpiece was here to stay.

Cementing the new focus was Laserbeak. This little guy is arguably the finest official Masterpiece figure yet made. Tiny in stature as it is, it absolutely nails the complex transformation of a flat cassette into the animation-accurate condor with jet turbines on its back. Not only that, but it also does it while being the same size as the original 1984 toy! Years and many figures later, none have come as close to perfection as Masterpiece Laserbeak!



Bulletpoints!

PRO
  • Laserbeak is phenominal.
  • Chest stores several cassettes.
  • Works with old G1 cassettes as well.
CON

  • Weird circle in center of visor.
  • No flight stand for Laserbeak.
 Masterpiece Wheeljack...



The Autobot's "Doctor Frankenstein" is a fun figure. It is a beautiful blend of a custom real-world racecar with the animation accurate robot mode. Interesting bit of trivia... if you take the head apart, Wheeljack has a 2nd face complete with a robo-mustache!


Bulletpoints!

PRO
  • Nice blend of toy and toon.

CON

  • Shoulder fins are delicate.

Masterpiece Bumblebee and Badcube Brawny... aka Brawn!

After an intense focus on sportscars by Takara and large Transformers like Dinobots by the 3P companies, they finally realized what many fans wanted was the adorable "minibots" of their youth.
Hasbro brought us Bumblebee, the first time since 1984 that Bee was again a VW bug, and with a fantastically simple transformation and bot mode that decently captured the cherubic look of the pint-sized Autobot scout. Color is a warm yellow instead of the cartoon and G1 bright yellow.


Attempting to reboot their tarnished image from the flimsy, flaky Huff 1.0, Cubex was reborn as Badcube, and they wanted to let the world know that they would rise above the failures of the past. Brawny is a solid, beautiful homage to the demolitions expert, Brawn. With rich colors and a ton of little panels to swing around, Badcube brought back the puzzle aspect of Transformers many fans love, and others love to hate. Eitherway, it brought Badcube back into the game, and also as a major player.


Bulletpoints!

PRO
  • Bumblebee has a great look for a comics/real car blend.
  • Articulation good. Can duplicate many scenes from the movie.

CON

  • Brawny has atrocious legs.
  • Bumblebee is orange instead of yellow.
  • Bumblebee has huge gaps in arms.
  • Bumblebee doesn't come with G1 toy battle visor by default.
  • Brawny's crotch is a thin clip of metal. Be careful.

Datson Brothers Prowl and Bluestreak


 Elegant and simple to transform, these guys have a basic transformation seen throughout Transformers history, from G1 Jazz to recent characters like the live action movies' Barricade, Dino, Hotrod, and Bumblebee.


Bulletpoints!

PRO
  • Toon or toy accurate shoulder possibilities with optional shoulder cannons.
  • Simple transformation.

CON

  • No alternate faces.
 Masterpiece Sideswipe





The first "tiny" Masterpiece, Sideswipe came out after the MP10 Prime reboot. Many fans didn't know what to make of the voyager-scaled toy with a huge price tag. Once he hit retail, fans warmed up to him quickly, and he's received several re-issues as well as a new slight-recolored "animation accurate" Plus edition.  He's an amalgamation of cartoon, G1 toy, and comics in his design, without being fully accurate to any of them, but was the standard for many of the Masterpiece and 3rd Party figures of 2013-2015, until Hasbro/Takara moved their focus to a more animation accurate line.

















Bulletpoints!

PRO
  • Gorgeous car mode.
  • First "small" masterpiece.
  • Paint is glossy and looks like car paint.

CON

  • Too wide for MP39 Sunstreaker. Looks better with 3P option.
  • No alternate faces. 
  • Limited articulation options.
  • Head sculpt isn't cartoon, toy, or comics accurate.

Maketoys Gundog ... Masterpiece Hound

One of several homages to G1 Hound, Gundog was the first on the market and an interesting concept. He wasn't completely animation accurate, nor was he toy accurate, but that wasn't the interesting part. Gundog's designer tossed in an almost manga-like quality to the design. With pouty lips, thick thighs, and unique transformation, Gundog is a figure that was scoffed at by many at his release, but has risen in the opinions of many over the last few years.



Bulletpoints!

PRO
  • Great use of diecast. He's a solid bot.
  • Intuitive transformation.

CON

  • Face sculpt isn't Hound.
  • Chunky thighs. Body shaming ain't cool, tho, bro!

 Fanstoys Iron Dibots Scoria, Sever, and Soar. Also Oversized KO, Reximus Prime... Dinobots!

When Fanstoys first figure, the Shockwave homage "Quakewave" was a sellout success, Fanstoys was quick to announce their ambitious follow-up: the Iron Dibots... an homage to the Dinobots. These have been the pinnacle of many collections, as well as the closest to "event releases" for many in the fandom. Every bit of news, every "leaked" photo was slavishly drooled over and reposted across every forum in the community.

With the Iron Dibots being in scale with the rebooted line, they were too big for Takara's MP08 Grimlock, so a KO company took the Grimlock design and gave it a 1.5x upscaling called Reximus Prime. This appeased many, however there was still a demand for Fanstoys to make Grimlock in their image, and in 2017, Grinder was born.


 Scoria, Fanstoys take on Slag/Slug, was the first Iron Dibot. While not perfect, he set the archetype for future Fanstoys product as big, bulky, and HEAVY!



 Soar and Sever, the 2nd and 3rd Iron Dibots, were Fanstoys answer to Swoop and Snarl, respectively.

They further cemented the top tier placement of Fanstoys in the hearts of many.








Bulletpoints!

PRO
  • Great sculpts blend well with MP08 Grimlock and more modern Masterpieces.
  • Heavy. Lots of chrome and diecast.
  • Soar's "stoned" alternate face.

CON

  • Chrome chips easily, especially as it ages.

Daca Toys Kronos... aka Skyfire.

Few 3rd Party figures have more of a stormy, volatile history than Daca Toys Kronos. An ambitious designer took all the steps of production by himself, from CAD art to final production, all the while trying to keep the community along on the journey. While noble in concept, the execution was a nightmare. Product delays, opinionated Monday-morning quarterbacks, and snide comments from other 3rd Party producers added up to more stress than Daca Toys could handle, and when the final product was released with soft plastic, breaking feet, and other defects, Daca Toys folded under the pressure and has disappeared from the community.  Kronos, however, still endures. If you can find a perfect specimen on eBay, you'll have a great representation of Skyfire for pennies compared to more expensive takes on the character.



Bulletpoints!

PRO
  • First Skyfire on the market.

CON

  • Low quality plastic.
  • Bad transformation.
  • Falls apart easily.
 Dx9 Tyrant... aka Galvatron


The first Masterpiece Galvatron on the market, Tyrant has a beautiful sculpt. With a complex transformation and robust build, Tyrant looks fantastic among other 1986 movie figures. He even has moving treads on his mobile cannon mode!


Bulletpoints!

PRO
  • Nice and solid build.

CON

  • Tiny hands.

Hope you enjoyed this fond look back at the toys of yesteryear, and I'm looking forward to another year of blogging in 2018!







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