The TakaraTomy Transformers Masterpiece line continues apace, with another new toy revealed this week – it’s MP-55 Nightbird!
Wait, what? Who? Why? This one certainly raised a lot of questions! Far from the fact that Nightbird was precisely no-one’s prediction for the next Masterpiece candidate, it’s left a number of collectors frantically scouring TFWiki in search of answers! Have no fear though, as we have you covered.
Artwork credit: WargodARTS
So here are 30 things to know about Nightbird, including her fictional appearances and her new Masterpiece toy!
#30: Nightbird first appears in the G1 cartoon
Nightbird’s first appearance in the Transformers franchise was in the Generation 1 cartoon, in the aptly-titled episode, Enter the Nightbird. She sadly only appeared in the one adventure, although made quite a splash in the 22 minutes of runtime! Though she never talks, her actions speak louder than any words could.
#29: She has also appeared in several comic storylines over the years
Image credit: Unicron.com
The original cartoon hasn’t been Nightbird’s only fictional appearance, mind, as she has popped up or been referenced in a few other stories over the years, albeit sparsely. Most notably, this includes the Transformers Legends comic strips, which were published online in support of the corresponding TakaraTomy toyline.
#28: Nightbird was created by Doctor Fujiyama
Unlike most of the giant robots featured in the G1 cartoon, Nightbird is not from Cybertron. Rather, she is made on Earth and is the creation of Doctor Fujiyama, who the script explains is a ‘famous scientist’. He first unveils his creation during a conference with fellow scientists.
#27: She is a robot ninja…
Doctor Fujiyama explains that Nightbird is the “first female ninja robot“, which seems to indicate that such a thing was sorely lacking prior to her creation. Her appearance is clearly based on the traditional image of a ninja, including the face mask.
#26: …and was built to demonstrate the limitless capabilities of technology
Doctor Fujiyama’s goal in creating Nightbird is evidently to demonstrate just what could be done with modern technology by “(expanding) the horizons of robotic research to assist mankind“, and he stated that she was “not meant for battle or assassinations“, although none of that explains why he needed to create a giant robot ninja to begin with, of course.
#25: She is reprogrammed by the Deceptions
Inevitably, Nightbird is stolen by the Decepticons before she is activated and is reprogrammed by Bombshell to serve Megatron. She is given commands by Soundwave, who instructs her to break into the Autobots’ base and steal the ‘World Energy Chip’, which contains the locations of all of Earth’s energy sources.
#24: Nightbird is a non-transforming robot in the cartoon
Although the character is a non-transforming creation in the cartoon, the new Masterpiece toy does feature an alternate form, which is a very swish black and grey repaint of Masterpiece Arcee’s car mode. It’s giving me serious MP-9B Black Rodimus vibes and I love it!
#23: She is the first female robot character seen on-screen
Here’s one for the history books – Nightbird’s appearance in the 10th episode of the second season makes her the first female robot to debut in the G1 cartoon, predating the likes of Elita One by some 27 episodes! True, she’s not actually Cybertronian, but still, it counts for something.
#22: Nightbird can make mincemeat out of the Autobots
The only thing greater than the level of snivelling contempt the Autobots demonstrate towards Nightbird prior to seeing her in action is the huge serving of humble pie they’re delivered come the episode’s end, as Nightbird cuts through some of their most accomplished warriors without much effort! She first takes Mirage down for the count with a few swift moves, and later proves more than a match for Optimus Prime and the rest of his troops, even if they are holding back a bit to start with. Towards the end of the episode, she is dogpiled by a number of Autobots and quickly dispatches them in a rather embarrassing display!
#21: She is eventually defeated by Starscream and put on ice
In fact, it takes a shot in the back from a treacherous Starscream to finally bring her down, as he uses his null ray on her out of spite, purely because she is getting more attention from Megatron than he is. Yes, really. Doctor Fujiyama then deprograms her and locks her up, although if her frown come the episode’s final scene is to be believed, she may not be entirely out of action…
#20: She is extremely agile…
Throughout the episode, Nightbird displays copious amounts of athletic ability and proves to be exceptionally agile. She easily dodges blaster fire from a platoon of Autobots at close range. I can’t wait to see the Masterpiece toy pulling off some of these poses!
#19: …And very stealthy
In true ninja fashion, Nightbird is also able to infiltrate the Autobot’s base with ease, slipping by Prowl and Spike undetected.
#18: She features many weapons, including nunchucks…
Nightbird has a massive arsenal of weapons (despite being, y’know, not meant for battle or anything…). When she first appears, she is sporting a set of nunchucks, although we never actually see her wield them in the rest of the episode. Similarly, these do not feature as an accessory on MP-55.
Additionally, Nightbird wears a pair of ninja sai daggers on her wrists, although again, she never gets to use them beyond decoration. MP-55 will feature these weapons and the toy can seemingly hold them both in hand, too!
#16: …a light saber…
No joke, this one is right out of rip-off territory! If you thought some of the Star Wars nods were gratuitous in the 1986 animated movie, just listen to the sound this thing makes… In any case, it doesn’t appear to cut through materials in the same way as those found in a galaxy far, far away, but it certainly does enough to stop Optimus Prime in his tracks! MP-55 will feature two of these weapons, presumably because you can often see a second hilt in Nightbird’s backpack in the cartoon, despite her only ever using one blade.
#15: …throwing stars…
Another weapon that’s been replicated for MP-55, Nightbird is regularly seen using shuriken, or throwing stars, to defeat her opponents. In the cartoon, these are stored inside a compartment in her abdomen.
#14: …a tractor beam…
Here’s an odd one – when Optimus manages to steal her light sab– sword from her, Nightbird activates a glowing purple pulse weapon from her hand, which appears to be a tractor beam! She’s soon retrieved what was rightfully hers, much to the Autobot leader’s surprise! This scene is what TakaraTomy are referencing in the promotional picture of the toy below, although it’s arguably a shame that it doesn’t feature an accessory to recreate the effect.
#13: …a grappling hook….
Whilst breaking into the Autobot base, Nightbird activates a hidden grappling hook accessory found in her wrist, which extends and fires a fair distance, allowing her to scale the side of a mountain.
#12: …weapons in her legs…
One of the more bizarre abilities Nightbird demonstrates in the cartoon is when Jazz tries to disable her using a loud blast of music from his speakers, only for her to stop it by firing a pair of discs that she retrieves from the sides of her legs. It’s not entirely clear what’s going on here but either way, these aren’t accessories included with MP-55!
#11: …and retractable firing hand-saws!
Just when you thought you’d seen everything, Nightbird continues to surprise, as she retracts her hands in favour of a pair of rather deadly-looking spinning saw weapons! Even better, she’s able to throw them at her opponents, despite not being made for battle of course.
#10: She can also walk on the ceiling…
Nightbird also boasts several other special abilities, not least of which is the way in which she can use her hands and feet to adhere to surfaces, enabling her to walk up walls and even on the ceiling.
It also appears as though Nightbird can teleport! Again, it’s not entirely clear what is going on in this scene, but when cornered by the Autobots, she starts spinning on the spot before emitting a bright light and… she’s gone!
#8: …And possibly turn invisible!
And finally, it’s possible that Nightbird has another special ability, although this one is purely speculation on Mirage’s part. After she evades Autobot capture (yet again!) and seemingly disappears into nothing, he ponders whether she possesses a knack for turning invisible the same as him.
#7: Nightbird takes Optimus Prime’s blaster as a trophy
After making short work of Optimus during a fight, Nightbird turns tail but takes her opponent’s blaster rifle with her. When Jazz questions why she would steal it, Optimus explains that it’s said the ninja always take a part of their enemy with them. Clearly, he’s been doing some off-screen reading, as he didn’t even know what a ninja was at the beginning of the episode!
#6: This isn’t the first Nightbird toy
There have been previous iterations of Nightbird in toy form before MP-55, with the first example being the TakaraTomy Legends release from 2015, which itself was a retool of Generations: Thrilling 30 Deluxe Class Arcee. It seems entirely likely that toy set the template for the Masterpiece release, in many ways. Nightbird also had a Generations Selects toy in 2019, this time a retool of Siege Chromia, and there have been several third party attempts too, including Impossible Toys Trns-Ex1 and iGear Shadow Assassin, both of which predate the earliest official effort.
#5: The Masterpiece figure is a heavy retool of MP-51 Arcee
Of course, MP-55 is a very clear retool of MP-51 Arcee, with the head and several other parts newly moulded for this release. I have seen speculation that this figure could explain why Arcee features such a low chest plate in comparison to her animation model, although I highly doubt that’s the case. For one thing, this new toy has a different chest piece altogether and there’s no indication that the designers couldn’t have incorporated something that sat a bit higher for Arcee. Besides, there have been other indications that the design for Arcee was entirely intentional unto itself, so I suspect this is just coincidence at most.
#4: The MP toy also features a pair of swords…
In addition to the MP-55 accessories that homage the cartoon, the toy also comes with a pair of sizeable gold swords. These are actually the same mould as the equivalent weapons found with her Legends figure, although now with a chrome finish instead of cast in translucent plastic. It seems they can store on the sides of the car mode as well.
#3: …As well as an alternate face
One accessory that has caused some confusion is the alternate face, which features an open mouth in place of Nightbird’s signature mask. It appears as though this is a reference to the Transformers Legends comic strip, where she can be seen depicted in such a fashion after removing her mask.
#2: The MP also has several accessories re-used from MP-51
Along with the new pieces, you’ll also find several accessories carried over from MP-51 in the package, all of which are seen in new colours here, including two blasters, a holster and three purple blast effect pieces.
#1: She’s a fan-favourite character
After everything you’ve just read, perhaps it’s no surprise to hear that Nightbird continues to attract a huge amount of fan attention even today, despite her brief stint in the original fiction and lack of toys until very recently. MP-55 is most certainly not an entirely cartoon accurate take on the character, with numerous elements of the design differing from her on-screen appearance quite a bit, but it still looks to be a worthwhile use of the MP Arcee design and captures the spirit of what we saw in the animation quite well. Knowing how ultra-poseable Masterpiece Arcee is, I for one cannot wait to put MP-55 through her paces!
So, that’s our list! If there’s nothing else, I’ll be spinning round and disappearing in a flash of light…