New vs old, brand new Masterpiece and third party items versus reissue Masterpiece toys from what seem like a bygone era, how quickly things become dated – just look at the perception of Alternators and Binaltech, or even the venerable MP-1 Convoy from some corners of the fandom. Our expectations move on at such a pace that you sometimes pity TakaraTomy, Hasbro and even 3P companies for having to keep up with the demands of the collector. But keep up they have, whether it’s MP Prowl and Streak, FT Quakewave or MMC R-03 Bovis, we’ve gotten some true modern day classics in the last 12 months…and we’re not done yet.
Having looked closely at MP-17 Masterpiece Prowl and then MMC R-03 Bovis in previous weeks, this week we look at TakaraTomy’s MP-8 Grimlock in anticipation of the Hasbro Asia re-release, and to a lesser degree the KFC Micro Robo and another Transformers-related item that whips up anticipation and fever but is not a toy – the IDW Transformers More Than Meets The Eye ongoing comic. All of these items have/had high expectations to meet, so how did it work out?
I suppose this comparison has been inspired by a collector asking the question “Does MP-8 Grimlock still measure up today in light of the recent Masterpiece cars, Soundwave, Starscream and Convoy?”. It wasn’t that long ago that many of us were citing MP-1 Convoy as the greatest Transformers toy ever produced, but since TakaraTomy re-fashioned the Masterpiece line and aesthetic to better mimic the G1 cartoon appearance, opinions have changed. Things have certainly moved on in the 10 years since MP-1, but what about the imminent MP-8 re-release, does that also run the risk of being frozen out of the current Masterpiece line’s relevance?
If Masterpiece toys like Prowl and MP-10 Convoy are amassing plaudits because of their superb cartoon accuracy, mind telling me what the above T-Rex lacks in that department? MP-8 is a stunning – STUNNING – representation of the Dinobot leader Grimlock, in robot mode and dinosaur mode. I would actually go so far as to say he was the first Masterpiece toy to truly embrace the cartoon aesthetic and couple it with the properties of a tremendously high quality figure.
There are drawbacks of course, as there are with all figures. Grimlock can get some unsightly paint-chips on his waist piece and I was quite surprised to see just how many mine had after spending most of its life in the packaging. The wagging tail/rotating dino head gimmick is susceptible to damage and was probably not that necessary.
Poseable? Check. Excellent accessories? Check. Cartoon relevance? Check. I haven’t pictured them, but the apron, drinks tray, bow-tie etc are just brilliant. The light-up sword and gun are really nice and chunky too. Considering the fact that the re-release MP-8 will come with an even fancier sword with a flame effect, what’s not to like? It’s the kind of figure you cannot stop posing, not unlike another beast-based high-end Transformers-related toy that just got released…
I can see people complaining about his size relative to the newer Masterpiece toys, but can we really expect a G1 Trypticon-sized Mp Grimlock somewhere down the line? I can’t see it myself. Having been spoilt by the Masterpiece cars, Soundwave, Convoy and the 3P Quakewave and Bovis, just lifting MP-8 Grimlock out of his plastic insert tray was all it took to remind me how good this figure really is, and how much he still holds his own against the latest releases. So for those of you about to jump on board with MP-8 thanks to the re-release – keep in mind that I have never been a fan of the G1 Grimlock toy (hated it in fact) or character – I suspect your expectations will be met and surpassed just as mine were.
As if Grimlock’s re-release wasn’t exciting enough for those who missed out the first time with both Takara and Hasbro versions, MP-11 Starscream’s Takara/Hasbro Asia re-issue represents a major hole in quite a number of Masterpiece collections. With astronomical prices on auction and the second hand market, this is as solid a definition of ‘second chance’ as I can remember in recent times.
With owners of MP-11 claiming it to be the definitive G1 Starscream figure, the rest of us have waited patiently (or paid heavily) for the opportunity to find out for ourselves if it is indeed all it is cracked up to be. Hasbro’s MP Thundercracker and Acid Storm have allowed Western collectors to experience the mould for the first time in repaint form, but the MP-11 re-release will be my first exposure to it, and my expectations are high.
Keith’s Fantasy Club are relatively new on the 3rd Party scene, so their first full humanoid figure – a black Generations style Perceptor/Magnificus – looked intriguing enough to attract attention. The proportions and look of the figure are spot on, and poseability is an enormous plus, as is the heavy duty firepower he comes with. The style is quite in line with the popular IDW comics universe and the back story pays homage to the Micro Change Microscope and the E-Hobby Magnificus.
This Generations-sized figure, though, has shown a few QC issues with weak shoulders and a very delicate scope attachment on the back, plus the alternate modes do seem a bit like an afterthought as opposed to fully recognisable display options. That said, you cannot put it down, it is that much fun to pose and photograph. The light piping on the eyes is possibly the best I have ever seen on an y Transformers-related toy, too. Expectations not quite met in terms of build quality and finish, but the promise shown is huge. Watch this space.
As far as anticipation, excitement and expectation goes, few things can currently match my enthusiasm for IDW’s ongoing Transformers More Than Meets The Eye series. With the 5-part “Remain In Light” arc having just drawn to a close and the above issue #22 wrapping up what James Roberts and his team are calling season 1, it’s a wonderful time to be a Transformers comic fan.
It has been well-on near a decade since I’ve actually counted down the days until a new comic was available at a comic shop. I don’t download the issues either, I buy them – cover variants and all – and I still have absolutely no idea how to store or display them. It’s led me to purchase all manner of limited edition items to pay tribute to the excellent fiction that Transformers has always deserved.
I do find that reading detailed reviews and critiques of the stories and comics generally does not lead to greater appreciation, and noticing the small errors or things that are perceived as compromises or laziness, well I don’t feel the need to tarnish the experience that way. Reading issues 1 to 19 in one go, and then picking up issues 20 to 22 on a monthly basis has been the most exciting experience I’ve had in the hobby for as long as I can remember. Personally, this is where the greatest expectation lies with the upcoming IDW Dark Cybertron crossover, I truly hope I can place the upcoming comics in the same category as MP-17 Prowl, MP-8 Grimlock and MMC Bovis, that of the ‘Instant Classic’.
Many kind thanks to Bryce “Brr-Icy” Rutledge for his MP-11 Starscream photography, for being a good sport and using a white background!
All the best