Okay, so I started a new job and find myself with a lot less "disposable" income than I had before. I've had to cut back on my vices in order to, well, eat. To celebrate my new found sense of fiscal responsibility, let's take a look at something that cost me more than I should have probably spent: Hasbro's version of the MP-10, otherwise known as Masterpiece Optimus Prime.
Ever since Takara's MP-04 (the Convoy Perfect Edition) came out in 2006, I've wanted to purchase one of these "Masterpiece" transformers. I'd missed out when the MP-01 came out in 2003, so the new one with the trailer was tempting. However, I couldn't afford it at the time.
I did get the Ultra Magnus version, a re-issue of a re-color without the trailer. It was much cheaper and not so in demand. While I didn't end up keeping it, it did clue me in on a few issues that I didn't like about the line. For one, die-cast parts.
Now I know there are collectors that LOVE die-cast parts, and I do too to an extent. The early Masterpiece toys however had a lot of die-cast and it made for a very unwieldy figure that didn't play well. The piece felt unbalanced to me, with a very heavy chest. Despite having so much metal in his legs, I remember worrying if the Magnus figure would fall off the shelf while I was asleep, crashing down on my face and killing me dead.
I watch a lot of CSI.
Another thing they did with this version is make him smaller.
Their first try was scaled for the old Binaltech line of toys, which were also die-cast re-imaginings of the old cast from the show. The MP-04 had a trailer that could accommodate those cars (which are about the size of today's Human Alliance line of toys from the movie). This one is scaled for the more popular Classics line of toys, also known as Generations, Reveal the Sheild, Universe, or whatever else their calling the lines that feature Deluxe class toys with character designs inspired by the old 80's cartoon show.
The smaller scale also means that this guy comes with an accessory that was missing from the MP-04: Roller. Roller is the little go-cart drone that is housed inside the trailer with the repair bay. In the original G1 toy, you could fit him into a spring-loaded launcher and he'd speed right out of the container and down the ramp. Huge fun. This version also has a working Roller (without the launcher, though), as well as Prime's energon axe and plasma rifle.
You also get a removable die-cast Autobot Matrix of Leadership (the G1 version, not that crappy Bay one) that fits in his chest, the aforementioned trailer that converts into a battle station/repair bay, and a mini Spike figure that almost matches the scale of the newer Human Alliance figures.
Let me start off with a look at the main figure: Optimus Prime.
As I mentioned, this toy is a totally new design, and different from the first version in most respects.His feet have been trimmed down and some changing parts added so that the silhouette in robot and truck mode is transformed. The thighs look much more refined, and their articulation works better while feeling much more solid. The same goes for the shoulders and elbows. Proportions are nicer with this new figure; his chest is wider and his head smaller, while his "boots" and hands look bigger compared to the rest of him. It gives him a vibe that's closer to the show.
Of course, there are things that had to be compromised. He's got almost no die-cast (there may be some inside somewhere, but the only obvious piece is the Matrix) for one thing. He no longer has the individually articulated fingers (though his trigger finger is separate from the other three and the groups each have two points of articulation each) nor the communication screen on his arm. The fancy pistons that were apparent in his knees and elbows were taken away and replaced with a simpler hinge design.
Articulation is just about perfect for a toy this size. In fact, it's pretty amazing how much he's got available to him, despite being this big. You get a ball jointed head (with articulated "ears"); hinged and swivel shoulders that allow you to pull his arms out and back, while still maintaining a 360 degree rotation; hinged elbows and swivel wrists, with the aforementioned finger articulation; a swivel waist (HOLY SHIT?! On a Transformer?!); double-swivel/hinge, ball-type hips that are a lot like those on Marvel Legends figures (which are HOLY SHIT, ratcheted); his hinged knees are also ratcheted and he's got swivels right underneath, before his "boots"; then he has some nice hinges at his ankles that tilt and give his feet some nice pitch and yaw action, keeping him stable.
Aside from the great design and joint work on this guy, he's also got some nice hidden features. Take his compartment for his folding rifle.
I cannot tell you how much time I spent geeking out over this little thing. Not only does his classic plasma rifle fold up and and pop out at the push of a button, it also fits right into this little "backpack" for easy storage. It's too bad his energon axe doesn't do the same, but come on, the thing is huge.
The gun itself really does look great. It's exactly like I remember it, and this time around it's BLACK, just like it's supposed to be (previous versions were gray, blue, etc.). The size seems a tad smaller relative to the figure's size, but that's fine. Again, the proportions seem to fit nicely.
They've done away with the little clear plastic piece that used to be inside and looked like plasma about to be fired out of the barrel, but it's a compromise I can live with.
I do miss the mini Megatron gun form he used to come with.
I'm really not as fond of his orange energon axe. I loved the thing in the episode, "More than Meets the Eye, Part 2," but without an appropriately sized Megatron with his spiked energon flail, it just doesn't seem fun. The accessory is broken down into two pieces (I'm not sure why exactly), and fits right over his fist; no part removal necessary.
Still, the fact that it's made of soft plastic that resists breakage, and that it's translucent to simulate the fact that it's made of energy, makes it a great include despite my feelings.
Moving on to his vehicle mode: Optimus Prime is a "cab-over-engine" truck. A COE truck is one that has a vertical or "flat" face, which was a design that is popular in places like Japan, where there are strict laws governing the length of vehicles. Less length in front means more room in back. Even though I accept Bay's redesign of the character for the movie as something more in keeping with current designs in the States (where laws about vehicle length were relaxed), Prime with always be a square to me.
The trailer is very nice, and in keeping with the G1 look, with the retro decals, complete with the Autobot insignia on the side. It's inclusion in the Hasbro Toys 'R' Us release is great since it means I won't have to find a 3rd party add-on with some 3rd party stickers to go with the rig (not that I'm against it, it's just that all of that is expensive).
Oh, and hey, I forgot. You can open up the cab and stick the Spike Witwicky figure right inside if you want!
I have to mention the design of the truck again. It's a huge improvement over the MP-01/MP-04's design. The panels all fit so flush together, and there are appropriate locking measures for each piece. The flatbed in the back has also been trimmed down so that it's not as huge as it was in the first version. Plus, smokestacks. He's got the long ones.
You'll probably notice that he's got a less impressive finish than his Japanese counterpart, but then that's always the case when it comes to the American version, where the market has more of an influence on the price. The Php 7,000.00 I paid for this was a lot cheaper than the Php 10,000 asking price for the Takara version.
There are three modes available for you to display the trailer in. You can have it in 1) the container van, 2) the repair bay (above, left), or the battle station (right).
In either mode, you've got the little repair drone to pose at the end/top of the structure. The drone is on an arm with several points of articulation that allow it to swing up and swivel around. It's repair arm is also articulated, as is the little radar dish. The cockpit opens up to reveal a place for Spike to sit as well.
If you'd like, you can also place Spike in either of two other stations on the Battle Station mode. It does suck that there are no other figures of his exact size to place there, but oh, well. There's also two storage pockets to place Prime's weapons while he's getting his spa treatments done.
The inside of the trailer is detailed with all kinds of nice tech and industrial reliefs that give it some detail, but I do wish they'd included some nice 5mm ports to place some weapons along the walls. As it is, there's really only one available on the back of one of the station's seats.
The Spike figure is kind of nice, though I have to admit I don't really display him much. At its size, they couldn't do a lot about the amount of detail or articulation he sports. He's basically got a basic coat of paint to block out his colors and some very basic hinge joints at shoulders, hips and knees. It's good enough to get him into the various seats he's got available to him in Prime's truck form, the drone, and Roller.
It does give Roller some character though, so it's likely he'll be displayed there. There's a door on the back of the little bot that opens up to his hollow interior and you can hide him there as well. Roller also has a port for Prime's rifle, or flip that around and you get a small mast that allows the little guy to pull Prime's trailer for him.
And don't forget that trailer mode. I mentioned you can store a Deluxe class figure inside when Roller isn't there, and it looks great!
You can also pull the drone out and close the trailer (there's a hidden hole at the top to allow for the arm) so that Prime can have extra firepower when he's rolling out with the rest of his robot posse.
Overall, I think the price was worth it, and the wait to get a Masterpiece Optimus Prime paid off for me. This version is far superior to Takara/Hasbro's first efforts at a big scale Autobot leader, and while it does lack some of the earlier version's perks, it makes up for them in solid design and some well thought out accessory choices.
It makes me wish I had been able to afford both the Masterpiece Rodimus Prime (MP-09), the Masterpiece Sideswipe (MP-12), or the upcoming Soundwave (MP-13) and his attendant minions. The line has become one of my favorites, and I've had it on my self since I got it last year.
Sadly, there were limited stocks of the Hasbro Masterpiece Optimus Prime, and it didn't help that it was a Toys 'R' Us exclusive. Most of the local TRU branches in Metro Manila got a handful of pieces only, which they announced in store a few days before stock arrived. The figures went to whosoever happened to be able to get their figure first on the day.
Here's hoping that no one in Hong Kong or Singapore buys these things and they get shipped here and sold at a discount.