The relentless wave of new Transformers products – comics, toys, official or otherwise – continues unabated. It’s a challenge for every collector to keep up with exciting new lines and concepts, as well as trying to maintain – or heaven forbid expand – a vintage collection at the same time. Masterpiece, Transformers GT, Encore reissues and 3rd party not-Transformers are expensive standalone items, for anyone looking to budget wisely and not miss out on the best of all worlds, purchases have to be made with due care and consideration.
So far we have seen that Masterpiece MP-17 Prowl, MMC Reformatted R-03 Feralcon Bovis, MP-8 Grimlock and the IDW More Than Meets The Eye series of ongoing comics are items worthy of many a collection, meeting and surpassing expectations. If you’re not completely drained of disposable hobby funds on the above, and have also survived pre-orders for MMC’s Feralcon Fortis, Leo-Dux and Talon, then you may have considered picking up another Masterpiece Datsun; MP-18 Streak (Bluestreak). Should you?
No beating about the bush, no dragged-out formation of opinion and judgement – the answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’. Masterpiece Streak is a comprehensive success, the rest of this article will just be putting those feelings into words. Just as the G1 Autobot cars in their packaging make for a gloriously uniform display extravaganza of similarly-sized boxes and quality box artwork, at the same time showcasing the timeless vehicles inside, the Masterpiece Autobot cars follow the same packaging format (except Tigertrack and his black & white scheme with artwork). With the exception of the Amazon exclusive toy-styled missile launchers (that neither launch nor precisely resemble the toy’s original launchers), there really is nothing more you could ask for in Streak’s package. Car, gun, instructions, card.
Surely the vehicle mode for Streak is completely beyond reproach. A delightfully faithful Datsun Fairlady 280Z-T in elegant and simple cartoon (and Diaclone) accurate colours. Panel lines are few and far between, making Streak (and Prowl) very easy to align in vehicle mode and a genuine joy to transform. Even the circuitry detailing on the T-bar roof is a pleasure to behold, and the Autobot insignia on the hood subtle, unimposing, perfect.
There are occasions when I catch myself looking at this vehicle mode, wondering if I am imagining this whole phenomenon or if Takara Tomy have genuinely started working their way through the Autobot cars armed with Masterpiece toy technology and official manufacturer licences. It’s all about the Autobot cars, it always has been, that’s where the obsession with colour variants and Diaclone comes from – these amazing cars dripping with personality, style and character.
Now the gushing’s out of the way, we can discuss facts. There’s no die cast, we’re finally getting the cast of the Autobot Ark in Masterpiece format and there’s no die cast metal. No rubber tyres. No firing launchers, no gimmicks, no individually articulated fingers. Are we over that? Good, there are also the odd issues with paint application and quality control. Despite the massive erroneous splash of silver paint on the left rear tyre of my Masterpiece Streak, I am not going to complain. I’d love for it to be perfect, but having lucked out with Lambor, Alert, Tigertrack and Prowl I am not going to start looking for a replacement. This Streak deserves to be loved.
If the vehicle mode is impressive, then robot mode just hits it out of the park. I was not particularly looking forward to Streak, it was ordered on the premise that I’d feel ridiculous collecting most of the other MP Autobots and leaving out a well-known show character and infamous G1 toy. I have no childhood connection to the toy, he was rarely featured significantly in any of the Transformers fiction I cared for – “Ironhiiiiide!” is about all I can remember of him.
As with MP-17 Prowl, Streak’s proportions are just right, posability is the stuff of dreams for a mould as venerated as the Datsun and the stability when holding simple or extreme poses truly surprised me. The engineering, transformation and overall design of this figure are revelations. I am sincerely frightened of the fact that every release seems better than the last, that some of the greatest characters are yet to be announced or shown, and ultimately how much this is going to cost me to keep up. That I’m almost at the point where I’m happy to say Streak is my favourite of all the cars released, having looked forward to him the least, speaks volumes.
The last picture above shows him with the Amazon exclusive shoulder launchers attached to his integrated show-accurate launchers. The black and chrome of the Amazon parts matches Streak’s scheme more closely than it does Prowl, yet I find myself inclined to leave them to Prowl and display Streak as he was out the box.
What else do you need your Transformers figures to be able to do? Run, stretch, stand, kneel, lean…he’s got the lot. The nods to the original Datsun colour scheme are great too with the black hood paint stretching out across the top of the doors, a detail that had to be omitted from the Diaclone blackhooded Fairlady Z toy. Having just sold my own Diaclone blackhood Z, this could not have come along at a better time.
Another fine touch is the unique cartoon-accurate waist piece mould on MP-18 Streak, considerably different to Prowl’s, affording Streak even more unique appeal and character. I suppose in the interests of setting Streak apart from Prowl, they could not stick too rigidly to his cartoon colour scheme because that would mean he’d have come out more white than silver.
I just didn’t think it was possible to top the breathtaking head sculpt of MP Prowl, then I laid eyes on this beauty. This is as Generation 1 a face as could possibly have been created, it oozes ‘Autobot’, nails the essence of Bluestreak and is completely distinguishable from Prowl. What an achievement. Is it not also quite symbolic that the Autobot symbol on his chest seems to be a reflection of his face – the face sculpt that the Autobot symbol is in fact based upon?
There is no end to the amount of enjoyment that can be derived from posing the Masterpiece Autobots next to each other or with the MP-10 mould Convoy/Optimus Prime. Recreating scenes from the cartoon, or just arranging them together and staring at them…it’s no wonder my Masterpiece photoshoots take hours. It certainly isn’t the Datsun transformation that holds up the process. I actually really like how Prime towers over the cars, it lends a very specific dynamic to all the pictures where he features alongside the other Autobots.
Do you remember when we just had Prime and Sideswipe? We wondered just how far Takara Tomy would go with the cars and what it would be like to have a whole convoy of Autobots to line up alongside their commander. That fantasy is becoming a reality at a rate of knots, with Smokescreen and G2 Sideswipe confirmed bringing the number up to 7 cars – albeit 5 from the show. I mentioned in a previous article that individually the attack modes with attached weapons were not remarkable on their own, but looked good when the whole gang was armed accordingly. That is still very much the case, but for the properly explosive display arrangement, there can only be one option…
I said in March that getting into Masterpiece Transformers was a difficult decision because it would commit a person to building the kind of collection you see above, where one release justifies the next – at least that’s how it’s played out for me as predicted. Having come this far, and knowing what’s around the corner, Prowl and Streak have cemented that conviction to seeing this through. I worried in April that those entering the MP fray had left it too late and were due to suffer horrendous expense catching up, yet here we are over half a year later with counterfeits infecting the market, those promised pre-orders finally being released and no sign of a breather on the horizon – and I still think it’s the right time to opt in.
Years from now when all this ends and we’ve made it through the Autobots, hundreds of dollars and numerous square metres of display later, if Masterpiece Streak is anything to go by with regards to the continuing quality and ability of the line to impress and deliver, it will certainly have been worth it. As for Streak, Bluestreak, the simplest of the Autobot cars with the fewest gimmicks to make it attractive – not an emergency vehicle, a military vehicle, a supercar, a racing car, a 4×4 or a concept car but a basic road car – he is arguably the most spectacular thus far. Expectations met and obliterated.
All the best