WOW!! is the first thing that came to mind, and still comes to mind, when I lay eyes on the Masterpiece Optimus Prime (Convoy). I think, "Wow, somebody finally did it, they finally made a toy/collectible version of Optimus that does both his robot and vehicle modes justice!" I just received mine in the mail from Big Bad Toy Store yesterday, and nonetheless I have been exhorted to post my thoughts on it ever since.
MP Convoy/20th Anniversary Optimus Prime looks to be about 1/24 scale (although I have yet to more closely scan the Japanese manual to confirm this, if he is indeed in a "scale" versus an "optimal collectors' size"). This thing is over a foot tall and easily weighs several pounds, comes in a beautiful collectors box, and has several items of paraphrenalia (all in Japanese, which I will no doubt attempt to translate one day). I can't say exactly what made me buy the Takara version, and not settle for the domestic Hasbro one. Maybe it was the length of the smokestacks (yes ladies, size does matter), maybe it was the lack of battle damage, maybe it was the cool trailer you can make from the inner box, or maybe it was some temporary insanity. But something, something told me, just this once, to get the original, unaltered version over the decaffeinated, watered-down home-brewed version. Or, perhaps my wife was just in a kind of tizzy, and went behind my back and ordered it for me as a belated xmas gift. *chortle*
If you look at the grade I've given MP Convoy, you may be quite startled: "How can anything like THIS deserve less than a 10??? The blasphemy!!" Well, it's like this, I'm one of those annoying jerks that feels that there's always room for improvement in everything. But don't get me wrong, I'm really not one of those "glass-half-empty" kind of guys. I'm actually an optimist, and look for the good in things. But I'm also a perfectionist, and I say you're a fool if you think anything is completely and utterly flawless, and can't be improved in any kind of way. Ok, enough about that, on to the review.
I'll start off on what I don't specifically like about MP Convoy. It's actually not that much, but it's just enough (IMHO) to warrant a 9 (actually a 9.5, honestly that is my "real" vote!!! stupid computer...). After all, this IS Takara's "first" Masterpiece figure (judging by the "MP-1" designation on the box and instruction manual). I find myself moist in anticipation of a possible MP-2 down the road, or even an MP-3 (Megatron and Starscream come to mind immediately). But my point is, toy lines typically improve over time due to quality assurance, the designers/team "working out the kinks," and sometimes even through consumer feedback. But I ramble.
Ok, for starters, I know I didn't design this figure and the way it transforms. Maybe I would have gone the route the designers went in order to accomodate the other features (such as the ridiculously gratuitous articulation). Or maybe it's because the designers at Takara based "this" version of MP Convoy off of one of the many different variations on the basic character design for 'toon Optimus Prime (plus or minus a few things). Starting with the lower legs, they just bother me -- I imagined the wheels folding up into the legs in robot mode, and/or the same corresponding area in vehicle mode... uh, "not looking so much like the robot mode's feet/legs, just in vehicle mode." In vehicle mode, it looks just a little bit too much like a robot trying to pass as a vehicle, particularly where the waist for the robot is located, it just isn't blended in that well.
The elbow joints also do not have double joints, maybe this wasn't possible in this scale (and due to all the other moving parts), but I was kind of surprised, actually, mainly due to my amazement at the eccentricity of most Japanese toy designers. Thirdly, I felt the torso/midsection is an amazingly complex network of moving parts in terms of transformation; again, I didn't design this, but maybe if I had been trying to figure out a way to get the Autobot Matrix to fit in amidst a torso where the front wheels needed to fold up into, in addition to the outside needing to look like the cartoon version of the robot, then I probably would have designed MP Convoy this way too.
But this kinda ties in with my next peeve, and it's probably always been my biggest peeve with this figure, and that's how the shoulders attach to the torso. When folded back in vehicle mode, the side doors (or what is supposed to represent them) look rather silly, as there is a large gap, not to mention an exposure of moving parts. So alas, unlike his Binaltech/Alternator cousins, the MP Convoy doesn't have opening side doors (and the cab just has one big seat in the middle... uh I think it's a seat...). Although there is a great amount of die-cast parts, the complexity of the transformation does make me nervous when working with the plastic parts that are there: one wrong move and SNAP! Also, being that there are chrome (and other painted) parts, you need to be careful not to rub them against any surfaces too much. But despite this apparent complexity, I have successfully transformed him from robot to vehicle and back this evening, with no ill effects.
In vehicle mode, the front of the vehicle is rather stepped and uneven (the grill/radiator cover in particular is depressed quite a bit), I had expected the surface to be rather flush (with the rad. cover, in fact, being raised higher, in fact). I get a bit annoyed at parts on a Transformer where two different pieces represent the same part in each mode: in MP Convoy's case, there are two grill/radiator covers, one for vehicle mode, and a slightly different one that folds out for robot mode. Yuck. Lastly, his neck (a chicken neck) is set back rather far, and doesn't look very sturdy.
Well I know that sounded like a lot, but at least it's off of my chest. I don't think too many other people are going to comment in such a way on this figure, but I think it should be done by somebody. Now, on to the good...
For starters, did I mention how eccentric Japanese toy designers are?!? Man, there are freaking PISTONS on almost every joint in robot mode! That's freaking amazing, I've seen few Gundam models with this feature (except maybe the PG versions, and they are the most complex of all Gundam models, save that 5-foot-tall one I "heard" about...). The figure's proportions are amazing and accurate, not to mention the detailing (down to the yellow "arrows" on the forearms). Takara even attempted to get the angles of the windows on the cab to match the robot and vehicle modes (actually they "meet in the middle," being both slanted backward and inward, whereas the 'toon vehicle mode was slanted backward only, and the 'toon robot mode was slanted inward only... something that always used to annoy me, but it's something nearly impossible to make into a transforming feature anyway). Minus double-joints in the elbows (and perhaps even the hips), this figure can be put into virtually any pose (try doing THAT with the '84 version, har!). Barring some angular limitations, even the ankles can be posed, which helps the figure to stand on his own. In addition to the poseability, the joints are sturdy and most have click-hinges, meaning he can HOLD that pose for an indefinite time (although, granted, click-hinges do create angular limitations, meaning MP Convoy can actually only hold certain limited poses comfortably). The hips aren't exactly what I anticipated (at first), but are reminiscent of Gundam hips, where armor plating covers the sensitive joint area, and folds back (or with) the leg as it bends to accomodate. Even the individual fingers (not the knuckles) are poseable, again reminiscent of the higher-end Gundam models. This also makes an incredible conversation piece. Nearly any angle you look at the robot mode, it looks like the cartoon version. Man I want to pick it up again...
The extras he comes with are awesome. The ion blaster isn't black, but a medium-dark gray. This color issue has been pointed out before, but not Takara's logic behind it. But I do love the energon axe, and especially love the rifle version of Megatron (please please please let there be a MP-2 Megatron someday...), although the rifle seems a bit tiny (and to fit it in Prime's hand, you do have to slide apart the top/bottom halves of the pistol grip... maybe he was made this size for a reason besides scale?). Lastly, and maybe most infamously, the trailer can be made from folding up the inner tray inside the box.
Although (as you can see) I do have several complaints about the figure, I think I would rather hope to see add-ons or expansions to this figure, such as an actual, real-issued trailer (after more figures in the Masterpiece line, of course!). Maybe a trailer that folds out into a base, or combines with him to make Powermaster Optimus Prime, or heck, maybe just a plain trailer with which you can put some of the Alternators (in vehicle mode) into so they can "Roll Out!" But I ramble. I would hate, totally, totally hate to see the MP-1 be the only release in this line. That, to me, would be far worse than anything negative I could say about this figure (made-up or otherwise). Ever since I was a child, the lack of poseability and "cartoon accuracy" of the original Transformers has always irked me like you wouldn't believe. Now, twenty years later, my dream has finally been realized.
Reviewer's tilt/overall: 4.75/5
Superman. Spider-Man. Optimus Prime. Every child grows up having at least one individual to represent the word "hero" to them. I'm not going to tell you, the consumer, to get the Hasbro version or the Takara version, like I said, I only have the Takara version through circumstance (and a bit of luck :P ). But all I would recommend is, if you are a Transformer fan, you must get him, PERIOD.
|Reviewer||Ultimate Optimus |
|Date||January 10th 2004 |
|Score|| (9 out of 10) |