Monday, 25 November 2013

Masterpiece Lazerbeak, Buzzsaw, Ravage, Rumble and Frenzy Review

There was a funny thing that happened the other week, at my house. My girlfriends Brother and his Wife had come round to get some things out of the loft, including a large bag of cassette tapes. Going through them, their 4 year old child had absoloutely no concept of what they were or what they did.

That made me feel really old.

Of course, no one uses tapes any more as they are outdated in every sense, but it was strange to see how alien they are to kids now.

Though I would like to point out for the purposes of accuracy, that I know that Soundwave was a micro-cassette recorder, and the tapes of course, were micro-cassette tapes.
Despite in the cartoon being playerd almost exclusively as a normal sized tape player and tapes.

Scale and all that.

Originally, I planned to release Soundwave and his Tape Minions all as one set. But it became apparent quite early on, that I had far too much waffle to fit it all into one article.

So instead, I have split the review into two chunks. One reviewing Soundwave and his accessories (which can be found here) and then another focusing on the 5 Cassette minions he comes with.

There is so much to discuss, and if you wish to know more - hit the button below to see the review

 All 5 tapes come with a clear micro tape box, just like the original toys. This is another load of accessories that I did not mention in the Soundwave review, mainly because there was so much else to go over.

The tapes all look great from this side, with a nice bit of detail and most of the Robot modes hidden well.  Rumble, Frenzy and Ravages in particular come out really well, whilst Lazerbeak and Buzzsaws suffer slightly from the visible wings. But its not a major issue.

Flip them over and it is not so great, with the bot mode details all highly visible. Ravage in particular comes off badly here, as you can see hollow sections for his Jaguar mode.

But, there really is no other way they could do this, and the tapes look great in Soundwaves chest when they are the right way around, which is mostly how they will be displayed in tape mode anyway.

I will start with Lazerbeak and Buzzsaw, as Buzzsaw was the first tape that initially came with Soundwave and Laserbeak was probably his most used minion throughout the cartoon.

The bird modes come out spectacularly well. The transformation is smooth and simple, with perhaps the most amazing part coming when the thrusters unfold out and form on the back of the figure.
On the original toy, these were separate pieces that clipped into the tape holes. However the genius's at Takara have managed to integrate them into the figure, so there are no extra pieces.

It is a stunning achievement.

Its not even like anything is hidden at the back, or there are gaping holes. Instead his boosters are there, correctly, and there is some small detailing.

So it makes the boosters look exactly as they should, and extremely solid. Its this sort of mind bending magic that Takara has done particularly well.

I would say that Lazerbeak and Buzzsaw are the best of the Masterpiece Cassettes for everything they manage to pull off in this regard.

But I am getting a little ahead of myself.

The boosters though, do showcase one of the small problems with the Masterpiece Cassettes - some ludicrously tight joints.

The tail fins are so stiff, that at first you get the up a bit and then think it might be just how far they go. But with a bit of wiggling, they eventually do lock into place. But you see in a lot of review photos and videos - people not managing to do that. Maybe they just have not realised.

But it is a scary experience, as it does feel like it might break.

The wings have the more natural look of the cartoon, as opposed to the giant chunky things of the original toy. Don't get me wrong, I love the original toy, and the wings, but they the way the form on the Masterpiece figure fits more in with the cartoon look. This may or may not be your thing, and there really is no right or wrong choice here - but I personally prefer this look.

Its much sleeker, and the cartoon is my fiction of choice.

There is also some nice articulation, with the wings being able to fold up, to give the figure a good perched bird mode. Its nice to have display options, and again gives the birds a much more natural look.

Perhaps the neatest little trick though, is reserved for the small spy camera that pops out of the top of the head. Sheer genius.

Most fans realise that this comes from the scene right at the start of the 1986 movie, where Laserbeak is spying on the Autobots. In the early seasons of the cartoon, I think the spy camera used to pop out of one his boosters?
Maybe I am misremembering that though.

No matter, as it looks much better on the head. Its so small and tiny, but still looks great.

Depending on which piece of fiction you prefer, you may think Rumble is is Blue, and Frenzy is Red - or Rumble is Red and Frenzy is Blue.

Its a fan debate that has raged for years and continues to rage...but its not something I really care about as I quite happily accept that Rumble is Blue.

In the original cartoon, Rumble was one of the most regularly featured Decpticons and was coloured in a Bluey/Purple - with Frenzy being relegated to very rare appearances and being coloured Red.

Of course, the original toys had the colours completely the opposite way around as did the comics.

For the purposes of this blog, I will refer to the Blue one as Rumble, and the Red one as Frenzy. This is where people suddenly refuse to read on....

These tiny figures are great. They are so similar to the original toy, whilst nailing the animation models perfectly. They have packed in all sorts of modern articulation right down to a plethora of ball joints. The heads can even look upwards, by virtue of the transformation joint, which is perfect for the ground pounding poses.

There is even a joint in the waist (amazingly, I want to extend it in the photo above) that allows it to be extended, making the figure slightly taller and better proportioned.

The knees have an odd joint, owing the the transformation, which does make me worry about breaking them if used too much.

                                     "No body would follow an uncharismatic bore like you"

The transformation is simple, and almost exactly the same as the original figures. There are no real tight parts, unlike the bird tapes, with the exception of the aforementioned knees.

It is a really nice, clever transformation scheme, which is the same for the whole set of Soundwave related figures.

The sculpts are wonderful, and they capture the characters personalities so well. Its impossible to look at them, without imagining their terrible attitudes and trash talking.
The detailing is really nice too, with neat and tidy paint apps and little sculpted details that are just enough without being over the top. If you have ever seen the scout class Rumble and Frenzy, and its crazy hyper detail - you know what I mean.

                                                  "No-one calls Soundwave unchrasamatic"

Accessory wise, they come with 2 guns each that can be stored on their backs or handheld. The guns, have a handle for the that folds up revealing a different sized peg depending on whether it is being handheld or attached to the back.

They also come with their iconic pile drivers.

These mount on their arms easily, though it can be a pain to get them to lock in. Adding the pile drivers makes them look really cool, and its something no previous version of the figures has managed to adequately capture. Of course, they don't transform with the figures and are just separate pieces you chuck to the side - but its nice they are included and have had a lot of thought put into them.

For instance, I am pretty sure you can store the guns in the pile drivers, though I will admit I have not tried to. Its one of the many places of storage, another being on Sounwaves feet which have small compartments to also store the guns. Clearly Takara's designers really wanted to hide the guns somewhere.

Another feature of the pile drivers is a separate piece that attaches them to the backs of Rumble and Frenzy to give them a storage place or a jet pack if you choose. It looks sort of ridiculous, but its nice they tried to integrate it somehow.

Its best use is to clip the pile drivers together so you don't loose them when you put them back in the box.

Both of these are really good figures, and its hard to see them being topped as the definitive versions of the characters

Ravage is the final figure to come in the package, and is the only tape that does not have a real repaint.
At least in the set, as there a obscure repaints, that will probably pop up as exclusives somewhere down the line, but at least they are not main characters from the primary fiction sources of the G1 comics and cartoon.

He has good paint apps, though not many. He is mostly black with grey legs, and a Decepticon logo on either side.

I have always though that the grey legs, combined with the black feet, make him look like he his wearing tiny shoes.

Ravages tape mode is good from the front, but as I mentioned earlier, from the back its hollow and you can see pieces of the Panther mode.

The transformation is easily the most tricky of the tapes, by quite a distance, with a few little sneaky bits. His nose folds out, which is often missed and the way the Panther forms involves a lot of moving parts. There is a particularly troublesome section in the waist, where its very prone to snapping - so try not to use much force otherwise you may end up with a snapped in half Ravage.

Once you have got him into Panther mode though, he is incredible.

The articulation is fantastic, which elevates Ravage as he really needs it to get good animalistic poses. The silver missiles/boosters that were add-ons to the original figure do come integrated into the tape mode so there's no chance of losing them.

As an added bonus, the missile/boosters are even articulated so you can position them however you want.

Ravage is a great figure, but out of all the cassettes he is probably the one there is least to talk about. He does not have any accessories, or hidden gimmicks, but he does everything really well.

The only complaint I have is that on his front legs, there are two panels that are for the tape mode. These stick out massively in Panther mode, and don't fit very well. But they are not that bad, just a little disappointing.

In the end, all of the tapes are awesome - at least in my view. The value you get with Masterpiece Soundwave is incredible, when you factor in just how much extra these figures add. It may sound odd, but they almost feel like bonus's, being as Soundwave himself is the main star here and is so good.

Now, the one tape missing is Ratbat, but he is coming with Soundblaster. Many folks, myself included, are desperately hoping he gets a single release, otherwise it will be really gutting.

Hopefully Takara will see sense, and release him, and also the other later generation cassettes such as Slugfest and Beast Box.

Wouldn't mind a Wingthing either....a guy can dream

Rumble is......ummm Purple?

Follow my rambles on Twitter @Incapable_Hulk

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