TakaraTomy have finally taken on the job of doing an official Masterpiece Sunstreaker. With two 3rd party options on the market at MP-scale, there was still room for TakaraTomy to come in and improve on both releases significantly. When examined, it becomes clear what has contributed to the hold-up with regards to the Sunstreaker character and its alternate mode, originally a Lamborghini Countach LP500S “Super Tuning”. The news and the reveal is but a day old, and this article aims at being a snapshot of opinions and feelings in the immediate aftermath of such a relatively seismic reveal. With time and in-hand experience, articles such as this become irrelevant, but it makes them no less fun to do!
With thanks to Figure King magazine and Loopaza Mega Store for scans of the pages within, we’ve been presented with a reasonably detailed look at what we can expect from Transformers Masterpiece MP-39 Sunstreaker. The toy that became Sunstreaker was originally the first Takara Diaclone Car Robot – the No.1 Lamborghini Countach LP500S Super Tuning. This was never a real car, Lamborghini have confirmed that. As much as Sunstreaker appeared in the cartoon with the fictitious tuned vehicle mode, TakaraTomy were seemingly unable to licence the likeness of the real Countach LP500S for Masterpiece with those details intact.
Vehicle licensing is thought to be responsible for the hold-ups with Masterpiece Jazz and Cliffjumper, also. In the case of Sunstreaker, I had suggested in this blog in the past that the special intakes that are a huge part of Sunstreaker’s signature appearance, could have been created to be an add-on accessory instead of integrated. After all, Lamborghini took no issue with Sideswipe’s launcher and hand weapon being roof-mounted in vehicle mode. Why not go the same route for Sunstreaker? Well, that is exactly what TakaraTomy have done, and as a result, MP-39 can be displayed as a proper Sunstreaker or a clean and accurate yellow Lamborghini Countach LP500S, not necessarily through part removal, though. This, despite already having put out a clean yellow Masterpiece Countach in the form of MP-12T Tigertrack. I guarantee you, not a single collector will bemoan the excistence of another yellow MP Lambo, especially when it’s an official Sunstreaker.
The interview that accompanies the photos in the above article explains how TakaraTomy wanted to acknowledge the interest of car enthusiasts, and so MP-39 Sunstreaker has had pop-up headlights and vertically-opening doors integrated into his design, both of which are memorable standout features of the original 80s pinup Countach. This, more than anything, has sold me on the buying of this figure! Unlike the original G1 Sunstreaker toy and animation model from the cartoon, MP-39 has a real life accurate rear end for the vehicle mode, and it’s beautiful.
If you so wish, though, you can display MP-39 with a more toy and toon accurate rear end. This is something neither BadCube Sunsurge nor Omnigonix Spinout could offer; a choice. This is the kind of thing those who held out for an official version were expecting from the master craftspeople at TakaraTomy. The above scan even shows his rear wing splitting to reveal the ground-to-air blaster that Sunstreaker used to shoot Laserbeak in the opening episode of the cartoon. Magnificent. However, the vehicle mode doesn’t work on every single level for me, personally. TakaraTomy have coloured the rear wing yellow to match the body, and this is most likely a stipulation from Lamborghini. The result is we lose out on the chrome/silver rear wing that Sunstreaker has previously boasted.
Thanks to this screen cap from TFWiki, you can see how much toy influence there was in the screen representation of Sunstreaker’s vehicle mode. Another big thing – literally – is the red Autobot symbol on the hood of the animation model, and subsequently, the Masterpiece. I know that personally, with Sunstreaker, I found the original Generation 1 toy to be the most wonderful thing – and a greater object of affection and nostalgia than his screen representation. The small and slightly offset Autobot symbol on the hood is where my heart lies, not the big central one. At least BadCube Sunsurge left it up to you and gave you a silver/chrome rear wing too.
Another question. Why did TakaraTomy leave the Lamborghini badge on the hood unpainted? I don’t think there’s any more to this than meets the eye, actually. Just as with the MP-14+ Alert Anime Color Edition, it’s probably been done to keep Sunstreaker more in line with the screen representation. The licensing is clearly there, so this was most likely not a result of the compromise they had to reach with the manufacturer. Speaking of Sunsurge in vehicle mode, he was designed to marry up more accurately with MP-12 Lambor/Sideswipe, so it’ll be interesting to see how seamlessly twin MP-39 Sunstreaker will accomplish the same feat.
In robot mode, MP-39 seems to have delightful proportions and great posability. The interview with the design team even mentions the fact that posability was a priority for the team from Megatron and Sunstreaker onwards, whereas before the form of both modes may have taken precedence. They also pointed to the fact that having to nail the vehicle form first and foremost to the satisfaction of the manufacturer presented a challenge. Two things struck me immediately about Sunstreaker in robot mode, and I still struggle to overcome their negative influence on my overall impression of him. The giant Autobot symbol has made another appearance and completely dominates his chest. The head and face sculpt also do not work for me. While I did not expect a toy accurate headsculpt, I did want to see something more reminiscent of the cartoon than what TakaraTomy have given him. The G1 Sunstreaker has one of the most glorious headsculpts ever, and even his cartoon face has a degree of handsomeness to it, but that has not been reproduced here in my opinion.
I think that’s a much more subtle logo on his chest for the animation model. Those lines that run from the corners of his eye to his chin really do frame the face more successfully than the sculpt on MP-39. Even the extra faces he comes with don’t really improve on it, and it stands as the single biggest complaint I have with the reveal so far. I am hoping that we get eventual red and police Sunstreaker Diaclone Masterpiece releases, allowing me to just transplant one of those heads onto the yellow MP-39!
Now, posability being one of MP-39’s priorities is a great thing, because that was probably one of Sunsurge’s greatest strengths. There’s a lot of mixed opinion about the in-hand experience of Sunsurge, with a lot of folks (myself included initially) not enjoying the intricate transformation at all. To this day, some despise it. I have recently grown to like it a lot, ironically, but I had been looking forward to the day where I could experience an official Sunstreaker. I felt there was loads they could do better. So it does truly make me laugh when people say that MP-39 is some kind of Sunsurge rip off. How many different ways can there be to get a Masterpiece quality posable robot out of a Lamborghini Countach while maintaining good proportions and accurate looks? I don’t believe Spinout achieves enough in that regard to be considered an alternative route for MP-39 to have taken with its perceived transformation and layout.
I guess it doesn’t help that MP-39 comes with a Chip Chase figure, like Sunsurge did, but who else were they going to include him with? If it’s relevant, it should go in. Look at all the stuff MP-36 Megatron comes with, is that something we should consider a rip off of X-Transbots Apollyon and co? The screen cap above of Chip and Sunstreaker is from the episode “Roll With It”. Another classic Sunstreaker reference that’s been acknowledged by MP-39 is the alien mask used by him and Tracks in “Hoist Goes To Hollywood”, something that was recently included with the XTB/KFC Paean figure.
Weapon storage seems to be really nice on MP-39 Sunstreaker too, with one pistol being stored inside his leg. His backpack, however, seems to be rather big. While he does also have a definite buttflap, it’s hardly of the same significance as MP-22 Ultra Magnus’ one. I am a little worried about how that backpack will be in-hand, I must take heart from how well I have enjoyed all recent Masterpiece figures in-hand. It’s only really been the paint chipping that’s affected my enjoyment of Ratchet, Ironhide and Grapple. That, incidentally, is something else that the interview has addressed. Apparently the quality of paint has been another priority for the design team going forward, as well as the material used for parts that rub or move a lot. This will come as a great relief to some of us who’ve suffered with flaking figures. The fact that the designers even spoke of how they wanted to avoid using dummy/faux parts speaks volumes about their desire to give us what we want as collectors and fans, so I’m certainly not going to get worked up about that aspect of MP-39.
Ultimately, much of the reaction to MP-39 Sunstreaker’s reveal was predictable. Many BadCube Sunsurges found themselves being rapidly discarded and the timeless 3P versus official arguments began. For those of us who are happy to allow both to exist in our worlds, and are happy to let others like and enjoy what suits their preferences, we can look inward and really examine how we feel about MP-39 at such an early stage – for whatever that’s worth. The in-hand experience of modern Masterpiece Transformers is a defining aspect of whether I buy them or not, and that’s why toys like Inferno and Hot Rodimus are forgiven the aesthetic choices that jar with me. Initially, I did not feel that Sunstreaker scored a significant or comprehensive enough victory over Sunsurge visually to warrant the latter’s immediate sale. I’ll be waiting until I have my own MP-39 to decide if the headsculpt, large Autobot insignia, big backpack and lack of silver rear wing are forgivable. Things like the flip-up lights and Countach-accurate doors go a very long way to giving MP-39 Sunstreaker that extra spark that will make him a keeper and a true Masterpiece.
Thanks to TFWiki for screen captures and to Loopaza Mega Store for scans.
All the best