Sunday, 20 October 2013

Transformers Masterpiece Prowl MP-17 Review

                                                       "Logic is the ultimate weapon"

Really, I should just post some photo's and let them do the talking. You don't need me to tell you this figure is great, as the figures shows it in spades.

But then this would end up being a photo blog, and I am terrible at taking photo's - which will be showcased further on. Hoping someone buys me a light box for Christmas. I have definitely been a good boy this year.

Come on Santa!

Prowl was one of the original line up of Transformers toys that hit in 1984. A Nissan Police car - he is definitely one of the most iconic figures from the original Transformers line. It was repainted into Bluestreak, and later remolded into Smokescreen - but Prowl is probably the most famous version of the mold.

He was one of those toys that most kids of the era had, at least in the playground of the school I went to, and also one of the most easily breakable. He has been updated many times, across the various reinterpretations of Transformers, and is a mainstay of the franchise - but is best remembered from Generation 1.

Now, almost 30 years later, Takara have brought him into the Masterpiece line and created another amazing toy that not only matches up to the cartoons animation model - but also has an accurate real world vehicle mode.

I swear, they have magicians and Wizards working at Takara, and to see their work and read the review - hit the button below.

Robot Mode

Looks great right? Right away you can see its a very clean robot mode. There is a nice level of detailing, without it being too over the top and distracting. It nicely strikes a balance between being blocky like the original animation model, but also having some nice details added. You can see on the thighs in particular, details carried over from the original toy.

This even carries over to the back of the figure, where he has the classic windscreen and roof back section. Just like the original toy and animation model.

From the back, he suffers a bit from gaps in the back of the legs but its not a major thing and the way his legs form is so clever that is forgivable.

There is some wizardry occurring with the upper chest, as Takara's designers have managed to make it look smaller than it is. It is almost an optical illusion to some degree as whilst his chest area is quite large, it doesn't look that big.

The robot mode retains the wheels behind the shoulders, which matches his G1 silhouette perfectly. The one thing to note here is that the wheels are hollow from the back so you can peer into them from this angle. It is not a big deal, and is something that is easy to overlook - but it is something that I know irks some purists. 

Perhaps rightfully, when you consider this is a collectors line specifically aimed at producing the definitive version of the character. 
Also, the white blocks on the shoulders look very plain. This is on purpose, to match the cartoon animation model, but it makes me hopeful that we will see a Hasbro release with the badge details of the original toy as well.

I do prefer the cartoon accurate look, but would really like to see a toy accurate version as well. It would make me double dip!

The doors tilt up, unlike the original toy, which again is another characteristic of the animation model. I love that they thought to include that, as it gives you a nice array of options when displaying him.

The head sculpt is superb. If there is an award for head sculpt of the year - this has to win it. Every part of it nails the cartoon characters face.

Its a wonderfully clean sculpted face, with none of the added techno detailing that we often see designers throw in there. I am really glad as this is perfect. The eyes are a gorgeous shade of blue and his iconic "horns" are a nice shade of red.

Though I am sad there is not an alternative head, with orange death smoke pouring out! Dr Wu - you have the floor....

The head is not on a ball joint, but is instead on a pin joint. This means it can still look up, and 360 around - but you cannot tilt it sideways in a "whatchutalkinboutwillis" sort of pose.

To say its a neutral expression on his face, it fits Prowl to a tee. You imagine he is thinking and plotting behind that non expression.

I cannot say enough good things about that head sculpt, Takara's designers have outdone themselves. I liked what they did with Sideswipe and Red Alert but this a huge step up.

In terms of articulation, Prowl is well covered.

He has shoulders on ball joints (technically in 2 separate places), bicep swivel, wrist swivel, joints on the bicep and elbow so he can touch the top of his own shoulder.
He turns at the waist, has thigh and knee articulation and also ankle articulation. There are guards on his waist, that also move to allow you to move the legs in any way you would like.

The hands open and close, with the 4 fingers as a block - there is no individual finger articulation. This is not a problem though, as his hands are tiny anyway.

As I mentioned earlier, even the doors are articulated so you can pose them in different positions.

There is almost nothing they have not thought of here.

I did not try the kick test to see if he can stand on one foot by himself, I reckon he could, but as you can by the photo above I have him propped up on a stand.

Childhood flashbacks to my brother destroying my G1 Autobot cars makes me very protective of Prowl!

That's almost a 30 year grudge!

There is an odd bit of articulation at the shoulders. Owing to the transformation, they are attached to a stalk, which is ball jointed at both ends. This makes posing his arms a little bit interesting as they move in two places.

On mine, the right arm is slightly looser so sometimes it can be awkward getting him to hold his gun out sideways. Though as shown in the picture above, it is usually fine and nothing I cant fix with clear nail polish (though my girlfriend may not be as happy with that)

You can also swivel the shoulder block around for different looks when posing which is handy.

 Accessory wise, he only comes with his rifle. It a bit disappointing after the plethora of accessories all the other Masterpiece figures have come with. Prowl has definitely gotten the short end of the stick. Was it really too much to include a mini Chip Chase figure?

In a strange twist, if you ordered from Amazon Japan he did come with a bonus G1 toy styled rocket launcher. If you had the toy, you know what this is and again its one of Prowls most iconic accessories. He did not have them in the cartoon, but they should really have been included with a collector piece like this.

Amazon also only included one of the launchers, so I am guessing the other comes with Bluestreak?

However, Prowl does have 2 flip out shoulder launchers of sort - based on the ones he very occasionally was depicted with in the cartoon. I am not sure if this is mainly down to animation errors though, when Bluestreak was incorrectly miscoloured as Prowl.

But its a nice touch, and mostly due to the fact that they are designed for the Bluestreak version of the figure.

There is an element of transformation in the launchers too. You flip them up, and then they sort of resemble cans. However, you twist them and the extend. They end up looking alright, I mean I wont display Prowl with them on but its another option that's there, and one that has actually been thought out.

But again, Prowl should have come with the toy launchers.

Prowl also seems to come with better QC than Masterpiece Sideswipe, as the paint job for the most part is clean.

So to sum up my thoughts, the Robot mode is fantastic. It hits every single mark it should, though it could have done with the addition of the extra launchers. I may pick a set of those up, but it will distinguish him more from Bluestreak and Smokescreen if he has no launchers at all IMO.

But maybe I am crazy.

The bot mode looks great next to Sideswipe, and particularly his fellow security themed Autobot - Red Alert

There is something about it, that is beautifully toyetic that takes you back to having the original figure as a child. All the little details, and hints all call back to your childhood memories.

Its a wonderful thing

Vehicle Mode

The car mode has had just as much love and care put into it.

As you can you, it has all of the details found on Prowls animation model, but looks more like a real world car. Its officially licensed so it even has the Fairlady Z badge on the front of the car. The lights on the front are even transparent, which is a nice touch.

Transformation at first seems complex, but once you have done it for the first time its actually relatively simple and intuitive. It homages the transformation of the G1 toy in many ways, and its even been designed in such a way that you can mimic Prowls transformation sequence from the first episodes of the cartoon.

The leg transformation is particularly impressive, right down to the way he gains an ankle tilt and the car exhaust becomes a heel spur.

The only parts of the transformations I am not a fan of, both include the chest. As you can see there are wing mirrors on the either side of the car which is a nice touch. When you transform him, those fold inwards, and then the whole section folds down onto the torso. Little pieces like this have a knack of breaking off, but in this case Takara have made the wing mirrors out of black rubber so they are at least less fragile than they would have been had they sculpted them out of plastic.

By far the scariest part of transformation is with the way the chest locks. There is a panel that snaps into a small slot under the hood. This is not so much a problem when going from car to robot, but unplugging it when trying to turn Prowl into a car is a nightmare.

So much so, that I bought a second version of the figure. It just requires a scary amount of force for it to unlock, which does not seem right. It is terrifying when you are dealing with figures like this, which you can't just nip into your local toy shop and replace off the pegs.

The paint job here is great though, and the car mode does look amazing. A couple of minor issues knock it a little though.

First, the wheels are plastic and not rubber. Personally, I prefer it, however I know a lot of collectors want rubber tyres. You can understand with an expensive collectible like this, particularly one termed "Masterpiece".

The second problem is that there is very clearance between sections of the underside of the car and whatever surface you choose to put him on. Which means he doesn't roll that well all the time.

This is not really a toy that you are going to play with, in all honesty, as chances are if you have brought it you are an adult collector. He will be living on most peoples shelves, planning whatever toy Prowl plans.

The back has a couple of really nice paint apps, in the lights. They finish of the classic Prowl look perfectly. However, it does look a bit bare at the back, even though I am guessing this is to match his cartoon look.

Reprolabels are bound to be working on an upgrade set for this figure, so its not a problem really.

The car mode, in my opinion, is mostly perfect. There are a couple of small issues, but for my tastes its just nit picks.

It looks spectacular and the way they have again managed to get the car mode to look so perfectly accurate, whilst maintaining that same approach with the robot mode is astounding.

Really takes me back to being a kid, it genuinely does.

One last thing with the car mode

The gun can attach to the roof. Prowl is not a tank, but its nice that there is a way to store the weapon in vehicle mode, albeit a silly one. There is even a smidge of articulation there, as it can move up and down as a result of the way the gun handle transforms.

A small hole is visible on either side of the rear end, which is for attaching the Amazon exclusive launchers onto.

Its not a great look either, from the pictures I have seen.

Masterpiece Prowl has highlighted something I was not expecting - just how poor the Classics Prowl figure is.
Sorry for the terrible photo there, but I was having lighting issues when I took it, but you can still see how badly the classics figure comes off in comparison. Just look at that horrible neck.

Obviously, you don't expect a £12 mainline figure to be of equal quality to a Masterpiece, but it is awful in comparison.

I say this, because I have always quite liked the Classics Prowl mold, but since getting MP Prowl it now seems like such a bad toy.

Also, the quality of Generations has improved so much, that it does not help - maybe Hasbro will knock out a new not-Datsun mold at some point? Based on the IDW Cybertronian designs? I would buy that...and then twice more in Bluestreak and Smokescreen.

In conclusion, Masterpiece Prowl is awesome. So much love and thought has gone into this figure, and it really shines. It feels like the toy you had has a kid, and that is the crux of what makes it so special.

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  1. Thanks for your review, it was quite helpful, just made my purchase on Prowl. This will be my first Masterpiece figure and looking forward to receiving it in the mail.

  2. Thank you for this honest review!