COUNTDOWN: 10 Masterpiece toys that totally broke the MP numbering system

Incredibly, the Transformers Masterpiece line has been around since 2003!

Now fast approaching its nineteenth anniversary, it’s also been a remarkably consistent affair, especially considering how many changes other parts of the franchise go through in much less time. Even the packaging remains entirely on-point with the very first release!

However, one aspect that’s definitely hard to understand is the numbering system used to identify the toys, especially as it’s been contradicted so many times by now! I’ve seen various explanations for the inconsistencies over the years, but all of them fall apart because of at least one example somewhere in the line.

So today, here are 10 Masterpiece toys that totally broke the MP numbering system, ranked in order of how confusing they are!


#10: MP-36+ Megatron

The addition of the ‘+’ symbol to the numbering caused a lot of comment when it first happened in 2016 with MP-14+ Alert, although at least it initially appeared clear as to what it was supposed to mean. That release was an ‘anime colour’ edition of a toy we’d already seen, with further examples following relatively quickly over the next two years. It was assumed that ‘+’ meant just that – a more cartoony makeover of an already released toy. Then in 2018, TakaraTomy unveiled MP-36+, and all bets were off. Instead of a cartoon-styled re-do, this was now a figure that previously looked animation accurate but was now decked out with a vintage toy vibe, leaving it entirely at odds with what ‘+’ had been understood to mean at this point.

I suppose you could argue that this first example didn’t so much ‘break’ the numbering system as it did redefine it. However, if anything, it was perhaps just the first instance of ‘+’ becoming an altogether vague concept.

#9: MP-37 Artfire

Several entries on this list are here primarily due to how they compare with what had previously been established in the line; they simply didn’t follow the precedent already laid down by a prior release. In MP-37 Artfire’s case, it would be fair to consider the fate of MP-13B Soundblaster, who was relegated to a ‘sub’ designation (the commonly but not uniformly used ‘B’ to denote a black repaint), given that both characters originated in the Japanese G1 Headmasters subline. Artfire bucked that trend, receiving an entirely new number all for himself, which is especially weird as Soundblaster appeared in the Headmasters cartoon and the Autobot Targetmaster did not.

I’ve seen it suggested that fresh numbers are awarded whenever a particular toy has newly-moulded parts of some kind, but by rights, Soundblaster should have qualified in that case, too, thanks to the addition of Ratbat. Besides, as we will see, there are plenty of examples of numbers being given to repaints with no new parts, making this one even more perplexing.

#8: MP-38 Beast Wars Convoy Legendary Leader Ver.

MP-38 created more confusion than just the number assigned when it was first unveiled, with some fans not quite sure if it was a vintage toy homage or a cartoon nod. It was very definitely intended as the latter, specifically in reference to the character’s appearance in the Beast Wars II mini-movie, although there were a few classic toy notes thrown in too! Regardless, the numbering was strange either way, with the toy being again assigned a new number despite being a repainted version (albeit with some new parts) of the already-existing MP-32 Beast Wars Convoy. In some ways, Burning Convoy then being cast as MP-38+ makes this situation even weirder, although it’s just another inconsistency among many in this line!

#7: MP-40 Targetmaster Hot Rodimus

Like MP-38, MP-40 is a newly-repainted version representing the same character as the already existing toy, although it was again given a new number. Arguably, this one takes the cake over MP-38 because you can’t even lay claim to it being a different continuity (if such an argument exists within Beast Wars even), given that MP-40 is based on an animation error of all things! Yes, Hot Rod’s miscoloured appearance in the latter-day AKOM-produced episodes of the 1980s Sunbow cartoon was enough to grant a new notch in the numbering system, but Soundblaster was not. Go figure.

#6: MP-52+ Thundercracker

The Seekers have always been slightly strange in regards MP numbering, especially as we’ve had three different moulds being used by now! What’s most notable here is that the logic changes with every new set of toys, with the original trio each receiving their own numbers (MP-3, MP-6 and MP-7 respectively) and repaints such as MP-3G being assigned a sub designation instead. The MP-11 mould changed this, with the Thundercracker and Skywarp repaints also being subs of the original. Instead, they were released as MP-11T and MP-11SW (as MP-11S had already been used for Sunstorm). This was kept consistent for the subsequent Conehead retools too.

So, what happened with the latest mould, then? After all, you might have expected the Thundercracker repaint of MP-52 Starscream to be either MP-52T or perhaps even a new number entirely… but instead, it was MP-52+! Yes, that’s right, the same ‘+’ that had previously been used to denote cartoon colours or toy-inspired repaints. Even more egregious is the follow-up, with Skywarp emerging as MP-52+SW, which is all kinds of WTF.

#5: MP-23 Exhaust

OK, this one might not seem so bad at face value. After all, it’s a new character, right? And it has newly-moulded parts, right? And it’s an entirely different paint job, yes? So, why not give it a new number? Well, quite simply, Exhaust broke the precedent of Diaclone-inspired repaints receiving sub-designations of the original releases, which is how it had been done up until this point (and was sometimes still done after this!). I’m talking about stuff like MP-12T Tigertrack and MP-14C Clampdown, not to mention the Micro Change nod of MP-21R Bumble Red Body or any other similarly-styled repaints. Even stranger, MP-26 Road Rage followed suit and gave that character a new number, only for the following year’s Diaclone-themed Tracks repaint to arrive as MP-25L Loudpedal. Inconsistency at its finest.

#4: MP-49 Black Convoy

Again, this is an example of a Masterpiece release earning a spot on this list by way of comparison to an already-existing precedent. In this case, there’s no real reason for the black repaint of MP-44 to not be numbered as MP-44B when you consider that’s exactly how it was done with the prior Convoy mould. Yes, MP-10B (and even MP-9B Black Rodimus) paved the way, only for MP-49 to rip up the rulebook somewhat! It leaves this latest Black Convoy effort with its own number, whilst recognisable faces from the cartoon have designations such as MP-52+SW. Weird!

#3: MP-54 Reboost / MP-53+ Senator Crosscut

“Is that Optimus Prime?” That was perhaps the most common question I saw online about Reboost’s reveal last year. However, the more perplexing thing in my mind was why it was being marketed as MP-54 and not, perhaps more logically, as MP-53R or something similar, given it was a repaint of MP-53 Skids. Still, in fairness, the real oddity isn’t even Reboost per se; it’s the inconsistency this numbering creates considering the follow-up, the oddly-named ‘Senator Crosscut’, is known as MP-53+! So, you have one Diaclone-inspired repaint of the mould with a new number and the other with the ‘+’ designation, which, by this point, means anything you want it to? Well, that clears that up then!

#2: MP-42 Cordon / MP-39+ Spinout

As bizarre as the Reboost example above is, the same thing happened before! Yes, for our #2 spot, we have the weird Sunstreaker situation that, at least in my opinion, was the moment it first became clear the MP numbering system was irrevocably and undeniably screwed. It started off well enough, with MP-39 Sunstreaker receiving a new number as you would expect. Things took a turn when Cordon, a Diaclone repaint, was given another new number and released as MP-42. I suppose one could argue there was some half-precedent for this, given the examples of Exhaust and Road Rage mentioned above. Yet the second Diaclone release, Spinout, being MP-39+?

In a weird way, Reboost and Senator Crosscut following this sequence so precisely only makes it stranger, in my mind, as it implies there is at least some kind of logic behind it in TakaraTomy’s eyes, but good luck trying to comprehend it!

#1: MP-1B Black Convoy

For our top spot, we need to go all the way back to 2009, which saw the release of the very first Masterpiece Black Convoy using the classic MP-1 mould. You may see the designation MP-1B and think, well, what’s wrong with that? It’s entirely consistent with the MP-10B numbering mentioned above, no? Believe it or not, MP-1B was arguably the first toy in the Masterpiece line to ever break the numbering system, as it was where all the ‘sub designation’ business began! There had been a few uses of the MP-1 mould before it, yet they had all been given new numbers. The white Ultra Magnus repaint was MP-2, and the ‘Perfect Edition’ with the new trailer was MP-4. Then BOOM – along comes this guy, and suddenly it’s all ‘MP-1B’, out of nowhere! It was him all along!

So that’s our list! Did we miss any other good examples?

TTFN

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is shop-at-thanks.png

About Sixo

Transformers collector from the UK, collecting vintage G1/G2, CR/RID, UT & Masterpiece/3P. Find me at twitter.com/SixoTF or on YouTube at youtube.com/SixoTF

WHAT HAVE TRANSFORMERS DONE FOR ME?


Don't miss out on the latest