MakeToys, a 3rd Party transforming toy manufacturer of some repute, have finally done the obvious. They have repainted their hugely popular MTRM-09 Downbeat into the Japanese G1 exclusive Targetmaster Porsche 935 Turbo from the Takara Headmasters line. Many will have been waiting for this, and as it’s currently a TFSource exclusive figure, it seemed fitting to put up a review of this hotly anticipated addition to our Masterpiece scale ranks. In the promotional photography, this figure was designated MTRM-09SP Bounceback, the “SP” usually denoting a ‘Special’ version. Upon release, they seem to have changed it to MTRM-09ST, using the first two letters of the character’s official original name. The Targetmaster – or ‘Targetwarrior’ – is a repainted and slightly retooled version of the one released with MTRM-6 Contactshot.
With no TakaraTomy Masterpiece version of Jazz or its obvious repaint, and the 2017 release of an official Masterpiece Artfire (the other well-documented Japanese exclusive G1 Autobot car Targetmaster retool from Headmasters), this one was a total no-brainer for MakeToys, and yet it surprised everyone when it was announced due to unsubstantiated rumours of their scaling back production on MP-scale figures and the like. So here he is, and he made it just before the end of 2017, about a month later than originally intended. I’ve already mentioned the Targetwarrior, but like the G1 reissue version, Bounceback also comes with the signature launcher and missile (which doesn’t launch) and signature handgun. In a nod to the vintage release, Bounceback also has an adaptor to attach the Targetwarrior to his shoulder, and actually an extra one to allow attachment in vehicle mode. Like Downbeat, he also comes with the shouty and contorted smirk faces for robot mode. The instructions are the same as Downbeat’s with an extra sheet inserted to inform users how to transform the Targetmaster.
One thing this figure and Downbeat have never struggled with is looks. Both have a stunningly well-proportioned robot modes and excellent headsculpts, probably the closest anyone has gotten to nailing the Masterpiece aesthetic overall. Bounceback may not have shiny gold like the original toy, but at least the gold plastic isn’t swirly like the grey plastic on Downbeat. His flame deco is faithful and overall, he’s a complete beauty in black. I especially like the tampo’d waist flap details. The posability is every bit as superb as Downbeat’s with swivels in all the right places, double-jointed elbows and knees, great ankle rockers and good articulation in the neck. Bounceback stays faithful to his G1 toy by having the very blue headlights that Downbeat was missing – much to the chagrin of some collectors.
Now you might have noticed that Bounceback gives you quite a few options for display; the Targetmaster can be held securely in the grip of his hands, or it can be shoulder-mounted with the use of an adaptor to match the original toy’s configuration. Unfortunately, it’s a huge hassle to first get the Targetmaster attached to the adaptor and then get the two of them to stay attached to the shoulder of the figure. Move the door-wing and off it pops. Touch the wrong part and off it pops. Try to straighten and it and..you get the picture. The above shots are the best I could do, and it took some doing.
The level of dynamism available to both Bounceback and Downbeat is amazing, effortlessly establishing a captivating pose with the aid of the shouty face above. The abdominal crunch is a major factor in allowing him that much expression. Like Downbeat, if you move the arms too vigorously, they can come unclipped from under the hood. Another slight bummer is that the panels that tab together to make the lower outer leg seem to have gotten a bit worse since Downbeat. I was able to get Downbeat tabbed perfectly and securely in the leg area after a few tries, but the right-sided panel for Bounceback’s outer leg always sits a little off the leg itself, never quite tabbing flush. On the plus side, the thin panel that clips under the chest to keep that section all nice and closed up works better on my Bounceback than on my Downbeat. Win some, lose some, I guess.
My God he looks tremendous with MP Artfire, they absolutely sing when together. This is the appeal right here and it’s what I was absolutely looking forward to the most. Bounceback can be displayed with the wings out or tucked in like cartoon G1 Jazz. I love that both of these two have their G1 stickers (mostly) tampographed on and therefore share a very similar aesthetic. It’s also nice for all of us who will never be able to afford a vintage set – and of course Artfire never got a reissue. Back to Bounceback, I should also mention that during my early handling of him, one of the blue headlights popped out, but since I placed it back in there it hasn’t fallen out again. Same for one of the small rear windows which fell out of its slider. The latter was something that happened with my Downbeat too. I’m putting that down to rustiness on my behalf when handling the mould, as it stopped happening on Downbeat once I aced the leg transformation, and it hasn’t happened more than once on Bounceback either.
How sexy is that red visor, though?
Let’s talk about that vehicle mode, now. A black and gold Porsche with flames and a huge cannon. What could go wrong? Not much, I mean just look at it. Stunning. I did notice that the front right wheel arch does not tab flush against the rest of the chassis. Not a deal breaker, but worthy of note. It does overall feel like some sections of the mould are not quite as well polished as they were on Downbeat. I also feel as though the faux rear wheel arches that tuck in underneath the chassis are a little more obvious on Bounceback. The transformation always had some quirks and frustrations, but nothing like BadCube Sunsurge. The legs I have now aced and do not mind at all, they are in fact a little bit of genius when everything is done correctly with the clearances and in the right order. What I hate is the arms, folding them up to fit under the car mode. I am astonished the plastic around the arm sliders hasn’t broken on any Downbeats, but it’s an equally cautious moment on Bounceback for me. Otherwise, the conversion compared to Downbeat is rather ‘as you were’.
He still has the really weird dropped rear bumper. I honestly don’t know if seeing it in black and gold makes it any less of an eye sore than white and black. On the original toy, the peg for the Targetmaster on the rear wing was offset, not central. You would do well to remember that, because by attaching the second adaptor correctly as advised, you can cause irreparable damage. The second adaptor envelopes the inner upright support of both rear wing halves. It’s a total bugger to attach, and when you remove it, there’s a very good chance of you snapping off one of those small black upright wing supports. Just slide the adaptor under the empty gaps on either side of that support, it’s a tight enough fit to stay there and not damage anything, plus it’s more accurate to the vintage toy that way! I was able to get the adaptor on as instructed for the above pics, to show the Targetmaster correctly and centrally mounted, but…
Oh well. Three reported cases so far, I’m just waiting to hear back about what can be done with regards to replacement parts. I had to try it for the review, for the cause! Anyway, you can also see another common problem with Bounceback compared to Downbeat; the back halves don’t stay pegged together very well. I believe this is related to the inner thigh panel that also doesn’t tab flush against the outer leg in robot mode (mentioned previously).
If you can live with avoiding the instructed use of the Targetmaster adaptor and you can live with two spots of tabbing that aren’t flush, the above is your reward. How utterly brilliant do these two look together? We all know Targetmasters make everything better, and Bounceback does rock the look properly. Visually, I am not sure there’s anything that MakeToys could have done better in transforming Downbeat into the exclusive Headmasters character, I just wish there wasn’t a vibe of being rushed through, something that’s evident in the issues I’ve highlighted throughout. It’s also funny how the Targetwarrior mould was cool with Contactshot, but in direct comparison to TakaraTomy’s “Nightstick” that accompanies Artfire, it’s very much in second place.
Of course, neither Artfire, Contactshot nor Bounceback can attach the Targetmaster to their wrists instead of fists like the cartoon models in Headmasters could. You can see above that Bounceback rocks the pure Porsche look just as beautifully as Downbeat. What a pair they make, and their looks make you desperate to see past the little niggles. My own Downbeat has since developed a few issues that I’m concerned about long term; the harpoon accessory broke, the thin strip under the chest has trouble staying clipped and the left front wheel assembly has seemingly come unglued from the torso so I am constantly having to clip it back on, but it’s not as secure as it used to be. I’m hoping Bounceback will not develop similar issues.
As far as this character goes, I really do recommend this version because in terms of appearance, I don’t see much troubling MakeToys Bounceback until we somehow wrangle an official release…if ever. The paint, the details, the proportions and the headsculpt are all a dream. He looks utterly fantastic with MP Artfire. If you enjoyed Downbeat in hand, and you aren’t too bothered by the highlighted issues, then pull the trigger now. I may not play with the figure regularly, and Downbeat wasn’t something I reached for on a regular basis either, but the way he looked in my display could not be faulted. Bounceback is every bit the photogenic and eye-catching beast, and it could be some time before we see a better version. Some may not even need an official one after getting this in hand. The exclusive Headmasters figures at MP scale are not something I ever imagined I’d have, but as you see in the shot above, it’s all coming along very nicely.
All the best