I may have mentioned this, but I’m a huge repaint fan.
There’s just something about seeing an already familiar toy design rehashed in a bold new colour scheme that really gets the motor running. There’s often no better way to fully appreciate a particular mould than to admire it with a different look.
Having recently showcased examples from the Unicron Trilogy, CHUG, Beast Wars, Beast Machines, RID 2001, Animated, Binaltech and even Generation 1, you had to know that we’d eventually come to look at the TakaraTomy Masterpiece line, no? Simply put, here are five gorgeous repaints for your consideration!
#5: MP-23 Exhaust (2015)
We may as well start with something special, and what could be more special than a toy that caused all kinds of international legal threats when it was released? Though the character and concept of Exhaust are way more established now (he’s had a Generations toy!), back in 2015, it was incredible that such a figure was even happening. After all, it reinvents the long-overlooked alternate release of Diaclone No.18 Lancia Stratos Turbo from before Transformers was a thing, finally giving a name and an identity to a figure that was known simply as ‘Marlboor Wheeljack’ for decades. Yet things had changed a lot since the early 1980s, and where merely adding a purposeful misspelling was enough to flout trademark concerns at the time, the Masterpiece release came in for all kinds of attention from Philip Morris USA, the parent company of cigarette brand Marlboro, who took great objection to the originally intended paint job. Even though the logo itself wasn’t used, the triangular red and white pattern seemed unmistakable enough for them to quite aggressively block sales of Exhaust in not just the USA but Asia as well, also citing concerns that this could be considered a product intended for children and should not, therefore, be showcasing a tobacco emblem. Long story short, MP-23 was delayed, and the paint was changed. Whilst it may be a slight shame that it’s not 1:1 versus the original Diaclone car, I think perhaps we should all be grateful the Masterpiece version happened at all, given its convoluted journey to release! Especially as it’s one of the most attractive (and unprecedented) releases in the line so far, standing as a testament to how to do pre-Transformers homages right (even if they cause you all kinds of legal woes).
#4: MP-34S Shadow Panther (2018)
Where there’s a Cheetor toy, a Shadow Panther usually follows. That’s been true since the beginning in Japan; it’s almost as notable as Optimus and Nemesis Prime. So I think we all expected a Masterpiece Shadow Panther to follow at some point after 2017’s MP-34 Cheetus was unveiled, but perhaps we didn’t anticipate it being so flipping gorgeous! I fully admit I wasn’t as excited for this one as I should have been at the time, but I distinctly remember it arriving in hand and being instantly blown away by just how well done it is. The sultry black finish looks superb up close, giving a very different feel to what is already a striking figure, and the silver highlights are hugely eye-catching, too. However, the shiny chrome alternate head is the crowning glory here, expertly bringing the classic ‘mutant mask’ gimmick of the ’90s toy back to life in stunning style! The more regular face sculpt options are great besides, but I’ll forever be impressed with just how special this one feels, proving once again that there’s some real magic in these Beast Wars Masterpiece designs.
#3: MP-29+ Destron Laserwave (2018)
MP-29 Laserwave was a surprisingly contentious release back in 2016, right from the moment it was first glimpsed. Third-party collectors already had a few well-established options for Shockwave at their disposal, and expectations were high for what TakaraTomy might theoretically deliver in terms of official competition. The resulting design won over plenty of collectors but created some nitpicks besides (perhaps inevitably), which is a shame as I truly believe it’s a fantastic release. One of the more divisive elements was the original colour scheme, as many felt the choice of a lavender hue didn’t quite feel right versus how the character was depicted either on screen or, indeed, the classic 1985 toy, and calls for a darker purple makeover became quite commonplace soon after. It took two-and-a-half years, but finally, that came to pass with MP-29+, which portrays the logical guardian in more gloomy tones than before and looks every bit as good as we might all have hoped! Many continue to cite this as a G1 toy influence, and whilst the specific shade is indeed fairly spot on to that figure, both Laserwaves are intended to be anime-styled, it seems, with MP-29+ more accurate to the cartoon and MP-29 to the 1986 big screen film, in my opinion. Either way, it’s a stunner and well worth a look, which probably explains why it’s so desirable these days!
#2: MP-38+ Burning Convoy (2020)
If this list was specifically about repaints that seemed utterly ludicrous when they were first revealed but soon proved to be total bangers on release, then MP-38+ could easily top it. I admit, I thought I had no major need for a bright translucent cherry red repaint of Masterpiece Optimus Primal in my life, but I was wrong – so wrong, in fact! Dare I say that of the three current different versions of this mould, Burning Convoy is actually my favourite? And not by a little bit, either – it’s just mind-bogglingly beautiful! Let’s start on the obvious point: the inherent design is an outright banger to begin with, taking the beloved Ultra gorilla concept and perfectly overhauling it for a Masterpiece release whilst still packing in all the necessary play value (pop-up arm cannons!). However, even though I know the red seems so silly in theory, it brings out something in the toy that just makes it utterly captivating when you observe it in hand, highlighting all the right details of the sculpt and proving impossible to look away from somehow. It should not work, yet it’s become one of my top-rated Masterpiece repaints of the lot.
#1: MP-18B Bluestreak (2015)
Really, though, if I’m going to sit here and enthuse about unmissable Masterpiece repaints, there can only really be one true candidate for the top spot, and that, of course, is MP-18B. Sure, the mere idea of a legit Transformers blue Bluestreak toy is enough to capture my intrigue, but when it’s done as marvellously as this? Well, that’s something to celebrate and then some! I’m sure you all know the twists and turns of the history of this concept by now (and if you don’t, we’ve got you covered); though they were few and far between, suitably blue takes on the character had occurred before in various forms, all as a nod towards the classic Diaclone toy from the early 1980s. Still, the Masterpiece was the first to bring back and overhaul the idea in vintage G1 style, using the classic Fairlady Z design to breathtaking results. There’s more great work here besides just the palette, though, as touches such as the inclusion of MP-17 Prowl’s head sculpt for a dose more toy accuracy are just inspired. It all adds up to the ultimate love letter to the pre-Transformers era and what may continue to be the best blue Bluestreak toy available in any form we ever see. Assuming they never reissue the G1 toy, that is.
So that’s our list! What are some of your favourite Masterpiece repaints?