The very rare occurrence of me being away from my Twitter feed and a Transformers forum happened last month. I was in the dark, phone turned off, and had no way of knowing what was just announced at the 2015 Tokyo Toy Show. Seeing one image scroll across the computer screen as I logged on for the first time that night ignited so much collecting nostalgia and childhood happiness, I didn’t know it was possible.
The announcement of Takara’s Masterpiece Optimus Primal was shocking to me. Shocking. I had my phone turned off and computer shut down so I could focus on coaching basketball (my other passion) and I was unable to be a part of the news feed that I usually am. I’m still not able to digest the announcement, even after weeks have passed, which got me thinking: what did other Beast Wars fans think of the announcement?
I’ve said it countless times before on this blog: Beast Wars was the first series I could actively be a part of. I grew up watching VHS tapes of the Generation 1 movie and G2 reruns, but Beast Wars was where I watched the show from beginning to end, went to the toy store to buy those fantastic toys, and where my childhood memories still burn the brightest. It was my first active participation in Transformers.
Was I the only one who was blown away about the reveal? I had to ask around, I had to read more from my fellow 20-something-year-olds who grew up with Beast Wars to see how hard this hit them, or if it was even a blip on their radar. The question is simple for this article: what was your reaction to the announcement of Masterpiece Optimus Primal?
Asking around, mostly through Beast Wars specific threads and social media channels, I was able to hear what other Beast Wars fans thought of this and to see just how incredible of an announcement this was for them. This just felt like a moment where no one else could interfere with, this was a “generational” moment (I say that lightly of course and in the context of Transformers). Not surprisingly, fellow fans were shocked.
Jetbolt of TFW2005, who started his Beast Wars journey all those years ago with an Armordillo figure, could barely contain his emotions:
I just happened to check the Masterpiece Appreciation thread and a member posted a link. So out of curiosity I checked it out and my eyes immediately saw Primal’s name. I honestly just went numb from shock and actually cried a bit. Here was my childhood hero getting a Masterpiece figure, I never thought it would happen. I would of thought a G1 character like Snarler would get one before any of the Beast Wars cast would. Nothing against G1 or its fans, but they do get a lot of love when it comes to updates. Weather it be Generations, Masterpiece obviously, and 3rd party updates. Yet I’m an adult collector too and sometimes for us post G1 fans, it does get a bit frustrating and depressing at times. So to actually be getting something like MP Primal, it’s kind of emotional. I don’t even think winning the lottery could recreate the emotion of that moment for me.
I’m not surprised to see Jetbolt’s reaction. Can anyone say they saw this release coming? With all of the “inside information” and well thought speculation fans have access to, this reveal was out of left field. Speaking of collector’s focused Beast Wars figures, it hasn’t been uncommon to see message boards bring up Generations Beast Wars figures as “shelf warmers.” Figures such as Generations Rattrap and Rhinox have reportedly been crowding local shelves. So why would a Masterpiece figure be released if Beast Wars does not sell (both in Hasbro markets and Takara markets as has been suggested)?
Maybe it’s that “shocked” feeling that describes this best. With everything Beast Wars had going against the series, shocked is not a stretch. Verno of TFW2005 explains this shocked reaction even further:
Disbelief. Sheer and utter. I was of the opinion that the Beast Wars 20th Anniversary wouldn’t go unrecognized by the powers-that-be (confident that more gorgeous Generations updates would be forthcoming to sit beside Rhinox, Rattrap and Waspinator), but to hear the news that TakaraTomy was kicking the anniversary celebrations off with a Masterpiece Optimus Primal was beyond anything I — or any Beast Wars fan — could have dreamed of. Beast Wars has a special place in the hearts and minds of a great many within the fandom and the recent announcement is due recognition for a series that introduced a new generation of kids (my 10 year old self among them) to the incredible phenomenon that is Transformers.
With 20 years having gone by, maybe that is the sweet spot for the honor of a Masterpiece figure. The very first Masterpiece figure, MP-1 Convoy / Optimus Prime was created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Transformers brand. Perhaps Takara had this planned all along to celebrate the Beast Wars 20th anniversary?
One has to also wonder where Takara goes from here. The recent Masterpiece cars have received several redecos, a common practice to get the most out of the mold while introducing new characters and color schemes to the Masterpiece toy line. Beyond redecos, beyond those obvious answers, how far will Takara take this for Masterpiece Beast Wars figures? It’d be a shame to see just one Beast Wars figure, but ultimately that will depend on just how well Primal does sale wise.
Which figures could be next? There’s so many logical choices, so many worthy and even Hall Of Fame material characters to choose from. Jetbolt again put it best, which also aligns with my thinking:
Now with Primal, my mind now wonders about what’s next. Masterpiece Beast Wars Megatron? Perhaps Dinobot? If it’s just only one, I’m just thrilled I even got a Masterpiece Beast Wars figure in the first place. Hopefully the fans following Beast Wars can one day know the joy of seeing a childhood favorite get the ultimate Transformers update.
Two years ago I wrote about Transformers making a return to Beast-formers. I closed that article by realistically saying maybe we could expect a few figures here and there, just to freshen things up a bit. I hesitantly wrote that maybe, MAYBE we could potentially expect a Masterpiece Beast Wars figure someday, not fully believing those words I wrote. Two years later, it is TM2 Dinobot of TFW2005 closing this article out best:
I will say that I was saddened by the immediate visceral response from fans, laming that Masterpiece should be reserved for G1 figures only. This is not only saddening and wrong, but also factually incorrect. With two movie figures, several non-show repaints, a slew of Diaclone figures, two G2 repaints and the largest Masterpiece figure being the Supreme Commander Star Saber from Victory, there is no clear answer to what Masterpiece “is,” and certainly no clue what it should be. It is a celebration of Transformers. ALL Transformers. And if we are going for figures based on the strength of the character alone, I will accept no argument that ANY G1 character remaining deserved a figure before the ENTIRE Beast Wars cast receives theirs.
A huge thank you to all those discussions that inspired this article, Jetbolt, Verno, and TM2 Dinobot of TFW2005 for their contributions, and Hasbro / TakaraTomy for making this dream a reality.