The TakaraTomy Masterpiece line have been pumping out so called “Plus” repaints for a while now, with the first one being MP-14+ Red Alert all the way back in 2016. For most of the releases the ethos has been the same – re-release older moulds with a new coat of paint and a few other tweaks to bring them further in line with the more recent MP toys and, in particular, the ulltra-toony aesthetic that’s been adopted. Smokescreen is arguably the last on the roster to receive such a treatment, so let’s take a look at how he shapes up.
As before Smokescreen comes packaged in his vehicle mode, and mighty fine it’s looking too! If you’re not already familiar with the original MP-19 then you’re in for a treat as I can honestly say I think this is one of the best alt’ modes we’ve seen in Masterpiece form.
The car itself is a licensed depiction of a modified Nissan Fairlady, but is heavily retooled from mould-mates Prowl & Bluestreak to give Smokescreen his signature rally car look. The Plus repaint has been overhauled further still, and now sports a noticeably more simple deco’ to before.
The most obvious difference is the distinct lack of decals on display this time around, with all of the previous versions mock sponsor logos done away with to give it a much cleaner look overall.
I’m sure some collectors will be sad to see these go, but in all honesty whilst they did look great on the original release there’s something bold and beautiful about the update that really works nicely too. Besides, there’s little doubt it brings the overall look much closer to the animation.
I’d also add that whilst they’re bizarrely not in-keeping with the animation model itself, the new tinted blue windows look really swish and definitely make the car mode pop.
The new version also features a bolder but simpler colour scheme, with a noticeably more vibrant red in particular. Other colours and paint applications have been done away with, including the white stripe on the bumper, the painted dark grey grills and the orange tail lights. Oh, and the Datsun logo on the bonnet is no longer painted. Again, some collectors might miss these little touches, but the update does look fantastic in its own right.
In other good news the paint scheme on this guy is absolutely flawless, with crisp, well-applied colours and nice detailing. He looks the absolute business, and the solid, robust feel of the toy overall kinda puts to shame some of the more recent new moulds such as Hound or Bumblebee.
In fact there’s just something about this update that is proving so eye-catching for me that I’ve found myself falling in love with this toy all over again! The colours, the paint, the sculpt – this really is a wonderful thing to behold, and I’ve enjoyed transforming MP-19+ back and forth to keep re-appreciating the alt’ mode in all its glory.
But wait, there’s more! For not only do we get a design overhaul for the original toy, but this time he comes packaged with some new accessories, the first of which is for use in his vehicle form. Not often you can say that.
Yes, it’s a smoke cloud, intended to give the appearance of his signature ability after which he gets his name (which he ably demonstrated in the G1 cartoon episode, Minibots). Now, much has been made online that this looks a lot like a fart accessory and… well, yes, it does. But it’s definitely meant to be a smoke cloud so don’t be getting any ideas!
I’ll be honest and say that I really wasn’t all that fussed about this accessory to begin with, but as soon as I used it I really enjoyed it! It looks amazing, and really gives the impression of smoke pouring out of the car’s exhaust.
Better yet, you can split the translucent plastic piece into two and position it by the sides of the wheels to give the impression that the smoke is coming from the tyres. It looks fab!
Little touches like this really go a long way to make these Plus repaints more worthwhile for people who’ve already collected the original versions, and so it’s great to see TakaraTomy putting the effort in. Ultimately I was pretty blown away by this redone vehicle mode, and definitely think he stands up nicely against the original. He also looks fantastic next to some of his Plus-style comrades!
The MP Datsun transformation has for me become one of the more familiar conversion schemes from the line, perhaps behind only the MP-12 Countach mould. Fortunately it bears repeating as it’s pretty smooth and enjoyable overall, peppered with a few clever touches along the way. As you’d expect nothing too much has changed with this repaint, although they have made one incredible addition by incorporating the shoulder guns into the design this time around, instead of them being add-on pieces as they were on the original MP-19. This is a very welcome bit of retooling, and works incredibly well!
Meanwhile the recoloured robot form itself is looking super fine, with some beautiful new colours. There really is something about red, blue and white that just works so well, isn’t there?
Smokescreen is a handsome lad from very angle, with only a bit of kibble to be seen on the back of his feet, if anywhere. Overall though he remains exceptionally tidy and well done, and that new face really seals the deal!
As with the alt’ mode the colours really pop here, and the paint is exceptionally well-applied. I’m pleased to note that all the joints and tolerances feel nice and tight on my copy too, after I had a bit of a loose arm on my MP-18+ Bluestreak.
Those new shoulder cannons are just the absolute best thing that the designers could have done for this mould, in my opinion, as I always felt that the original versions were way too large and looked kinda awkward. Here they sit very proportionally to his head and look great. They don’t quite fit flush on top of his bonnet at the angle I think they were intended to, but then neither did the originals in my experience, and you can adjust them to look just fine.
Overall I think they’ve done an incredible job at breathing new life into this robot mode, and the updated paint job and colour scheme look exceptionally good. It brings the character much closer in appearance to his animation model, although arguably an even more extensive remould would have been required to fully capture his appearance. Still, it works well.
A big part of the redesign is the newly-moulded head and face sculpts, of course. There’s been a lot of comment online that the new face looks a bit silly with it’s large chin and all, but I have to say I really like it! Not only do I think he looks pretty handsome, but it’s a dead ringer for the cartoon appearance to me eye. It’s superb.
If that’s not your bag though then there’s also a smiley face which works well too.
Or a really nicely done shouty face! The swap-out gimmick is just a simple peg, although I did find that the default face came apart into two pieces on my copy as a first removed it. Still, a quick dab of glue and it’s as good as new!
Oh, and for a bit of additional fun you can also use the fart– er, smoke cloud accessory in robot mode too!
So, let’s just come out and say it – I’m in love with this new version of the character. For what it’s worth I did like the original MP-19 but this update completely puts it in the shade, in my opinion. No contest.
As I say, I know that some collectors might miss the sponsor decals and additional paint applications such as the taillights, but when you look at them together in robot mode for me it just proves how much bolder the design looks without all of that stuff. It makes the character design stand out so much more.
Not to mention that I also think the new face sculpt and incorporated shoulder cannons are an incredible update, that instantly make the original version look almost outdated by comparison. I’m so pleased they went the extra mile with stuff like this.
The update means that Smokescreen goes from being a decent attempt at the character to a true knockout, who ably earns his place in the ranks of any Masterpiece-styled collection.
If anything he makes me look back on previous Plus releases and wish that they’d gone further in terms of redesigning elements of the original toys, as great as they still are. If indeed he is to be the final attempt at bringing a more anime-style to an old mould in the Masterpiece line, then they’ve really gone out on a bang.
WHAT’S HOT? The updated vehicle and robot modes both look beyond stunning, and the upgrades are all really welcome. The new faces look great, the incorporated shoulder guns are brilliant and the smoke cloud accessory is a ton of fun.
WHAT’S NOT? Some people might miss the sponsor decals.