I’ve never felt so overwhelmed with new purchases as I do currently, from Masterpiece and mainline Transformers to 3rd Party and new Diaclone figures, I’m not helping myself by spreading it thin. I find myself weakening in the face of top quality stuff everywhere I look, but matters are not helped by me having to pick up figures en masse when I visit the UK. I still haven’t opened everything I brought back last month! The problem is, while 2017 has offered up some of the highest quality figures I’ve ever owned, not everything I’ve bought has been stellar.
Masterpiece Inferno was wonderful, top 10 of 2016 wonderful. Grapple promised to be even better as my favourite of the two characters. Not only is the toy made up of nearly 50% different parts compared to Inferno, but the transformation has very different aspects. I had to re-learn the process completely! MP Grapple is stunning, so beautiful and posable, packed with accessories and truly distinct from Inferno. The headsculpt, vivid colour and almost new experience he brings to the table should be applauded.
However, he was shedding paint from the moment I transformed him. The above photo is one of at least seven spots of obvious paint flaking. It’s pretty horrific really, like the paint never had enough time to cure. Also, on Grapple, the forearms/elbows are so tight that every movement of them disconnects the arm from the shoulder. No such issues with Inferno, and all of this serves to reduce my willingness to engage with my MP Grapple. A crying shame for such a delightfully engineered and presented figure.
E-Hobby’s exclusive Legends LG-EX Convobat (from Mindwipe) was a fascinating release. Sure, I have no connection to Beast Wars but a possible Titans Return/legends variant and repaint was right up my street. The figure is gorgeous, beautifully painted and as an overall package, dead clever. You have the beautiful Galvatron headmaster sculpt presented as BW Megatron (which of course we all stuck on a Skullcruncher body), and the small Apeface Titan Master vehicle gets an Optimal Optimus paint job. The package itself is pretty expensive for what amounts to a deluxe with a Titan Master vehicle and an extra Headmaster, but I was pretty annoyed to find out my Convobat did not have the clip in the neck cavity for the Headmaster to plug into. So it just sat there, balanced but rattling around, and with no friction whatsoever. Amazing how something you can probably get along with can otherwise sour what should be a great figure and purchase. You may be able to tell I’m not entirely thrilled with TakaraTomy’s output just at the moment.
And yet, the TakaraTomy Diaclone output continues to be utterly tremendous. These little Powered System ‘suits’ are divine. They are intricate, beautifully presented, modular and multi-mode. They combine with Dia-Battles in a multitude of ways, they are bursting with playability and all I keep hearing is how overpriced they are. Well, I am so glad that none of the twelve Powered System sets I bought need replacing for missing accessories, flaking paint or lacking an instrumental part required for functionality. They pay for themselves in terms of quality, playability, inter-connectivity with other figures in the same toy line and looks.
So where does all of the above leave me in terms of my opinion on Masterpiece Thrust? I waited months to get him because of the hideous price TakaraTomy Mall – or rather importers – charge for him. But, he didn’t sell out anywhere that I shop, and I was able to get him about 20% cheaper second hand from another collector. I should have bought him on release, such is my love for G1 Thrust in cartoon form. Yes, he is floppy at the waist/hips, ridiculously so, and his wings have a tendency to slide down, but my goodness he is majestic. So completely perfect as cartoon Thrust. I love it, deeply and sincerely. Do I wish he had a normal stoic face like the rest instead of the grimace? Yeah, kinda. Just to be clear, though, it is not okay for a figure this expensive to be that floppy, however I should be satisfied that he holds every pose asked of him.
MakeToys Contact Shot is the only 3rd party figure on my list this week, purely because all the other ones I received and bought I have already reviewed in detail. Contact Shot was my most anticipated 3P release of 2016, except it didn’t make it out until March 2017, so here we are. In terms of looks, hmm, pretty fantastic. Oh but what about posability? Argh, yeah, he kinda has most figures beat there too. Let’s talk about his construction, though, whoo…oh no wait, it’s tremendous. Accuracy? Killed it. Transformation? Easy, repeatable, logical, fun and infused with a dose of cleverness for the legs. He’s expensive though, and despite my reaction to him and spam-drowning the Internet with pictures of him this last week, Contact Shot is not perfect.
His Targetwarrior partner is very nice, but lacks posability and stature, and it also cannot be connected in vehicle mode. This is a significant oversight which a bit of ingenuity and luck with friction (not talking about my youth, here) solved. I know he’s meant to pilot the figure, but come on, it’s a Targetmaster. That gimmick has a fundamental functionality that should not be ignored. That is my sole major complaint, though. This could very well end up being my favourite figure of 2017 and my most prized 3rd party purchase of all. If TakaraTomy’s Masterpiece toys continue to flake paint as Hot Rodimus, Ratchet, Inferno and Grapple have done, then MP Megatron, Artfire, Dirge and co have a great deal of work to do to claim that top spot off MakeToys, who are currently operating at the absolute peak of their powers.
Oh, also, Titans Return wave 4 was amazing. But that’s old news in the fast moving Transformers scene of 2017, right? Not if you’re suffering retailer distribution woes, it isn’t.
All the best