Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Transformers Masterpiece Smokescreen MP-19 Review

Takaras MP-19 Smokescreen

The 3rd of the Masterpiece Datsun figures to be released, Smokescreen is a fan favourite due to his character in the show, and also his original toy.

Takara have recently released Prowl (my review can be found here ), Bluestreak (still need to finish off that review) and then followed those with Smokescreen. Probably the most anticipated of the trio, due to being a beloved figure and also the most unique of the 3, he finally arrived in December.

I got mine delivered on Christmas Eve, so he was a Christmas miracle - and a welcome distraction from the mass eating of festive chocolate.

So does he live up to the hype?

Hit the button below, to see the complete review and photo's, after the jump

Car Mode
The beautiful car mode

Smokescreens car mode is a Datsun 280ZX Turbo using the Electramotive touring car livery (thank you TFWiki).

Its instantly recognisable to most kids who were around during G1, as it is one of the best looking car modes. Basically, it is awesome.

Despite being the same mould as Prowl and Bluestreak, it looks almost nothing alike.

Spectacular looking G1 Smokescreen

The front of the car is the most glaring different, now being squared off with a larger front fender. This is completely different to the other 2 Datsun figures (who shared the same front end), as it loses the curving front, and replaces it with something much more fitting of a rally car. From the front view, the wing mirrors really look great, as do the frosty looking lights.

The colours are, to use a cliche (as I often do) - drop dead gorgeous. The red is a dark, Garibaldi (which matches my Forest shirt), the blue is a nice pleasing shade and the white line separates them perfectly. Its a great mix of colours, and one of the most striking things about this toy.

Actually, just going back to the blue, it matches the cartoon more closely, as opposed to the toys lighter shade. As much as I usually prefer cartoon accuracy, actually here I think the original toys blue would have worked better.
Its only slight though, and the colour in no way prevents this from being an amazing figure (and the colour they have used is beautiful!).

look at all of those sponsors

As you can see, as well as Smokescreens standard "38" badge, he also comes covered in sponsor logos. Takara chose not to go with licensed sponsors, presumably to save money, and instead opted to create their own. They work for the most part, but to be honest I think I would have preferred them not to be there, and instead have the option of going with a Reprolabels set instead.

Its nice of them to go to the effort, but they feel a little out of place when the idea is to be an accurate representation of the Cartoon's animation model, and also the real world car. It seems strange to just make up their own sponsors, and then add them to the car, but they are not that bad. Cartoon fans will pick up the references to the Bounty Hunter, Devcon.

the rear end of the car mode

Smokescreens rear lights are also completely different to the other figures from this mold, with the lights now covering the whole of the back of the car. Its a really nice difference, and the colours blend nicely with the overall paint scheme.

Again, you can see the quality of the paint job, as the white line continues under the spoiler. That is a lovely touch Takara, well played.


The back end of the car has also had a bit of remolding work. There is the addition of a spoiler, which Prowl and Bluestreak don't have. Again, it works really nicely with the shape of the car, and to differentiate it from those 2 other figures. A nice bit of detail, is the way the why paint stripe continues onto the edges of the spoiler.

The holes on either side, which are used to mount the shoulder launchers on Prowl and Bluestreak, are still present here - the shoulder launchers for Smokescreen do not attach to them.

I am sure when the inevitable 3rd party launcher sets come, one of them is bound to attach here. My money is on Dr Wu....

attack mode

Speaking of mountable launchers, unlike Prowl and Bluestreak, Smokescreen does actually come with 2 extra ones.

These are completely different to the ones attached to the other 2, and also different to the Amazon exclusive toy themed launchers that you could add to them.

Smokescreens are based on the ones found in the cartoon, as opposed to the ones his toy came with which is an interesting choice. They are very tall, but not very long, so I think they have polarised people to a degree.

I can understand people wanting toy or cartoon accuracy, and for me I will go with the cartoon. I would have loved for toy style launchers to have been included as well, as an extra, but as I said early - its almost guaranteed that a 3rd party will be working on some.

The launchers do not mount to the peg holes on the side of the car, instead they peg into holes just in front of the windscreen. Its a cool look, as it makes them look like pop up guns that Smokescreen could shoot at the Decepticons as he is driving forward (think of the Batmobile in the 1989 Batman movie).

an underneath shot of MP-19

I just wanted to show how nicely everything fit in underneath the car. Its supremely well done, with everything tucking away and fitting together very neatly and snugly. It means there's enough clearance for the wheels to roll freely, without the underside scraping on the surface.

Overall I adore this car mode. Its exactly what I wanted from an updated version of one of my favourite G1 figures. Its new, but exactly the same and stunning to look at. This is probably my favourite mode, and the mode it has spent the most time in since he arrived.Even the feel of it is amazing, and takes you back to playing with the original.

The car mode is so successful, and the parts and lines so well hidden, that I don't think you could tell it was anything other than a toy car, if you didn't know.

Transforming Smokescreen is exactly the same as the other 2 figures from this mold. Pull the arms out, pop the head up, make sure to fold the mirrors in, lock the chest (this seems easier on Smokescreen), tab the back in, spin the waist, fold the legs out, and attach the shoulder launchers. Oh, and pivot the shoulder doors up.

Robot Mode
Takara MP-19 Smokescreen

Just like the vehicle mode, Smokescreen's robot form looks almost nothing like Prowl and Bluestreak . He is a modified version of the Datsun car, like his original toy, with the most noticeable difference being the squared off chest again.

Straight from the first glance, you can see he looks totally different. He achieves cartoon accuracy with unrivalled perfection, all he needs are some gambling chips.

He looks a lot stockier than all of the other MP cars, maybe almost fat due to the chest.

Smokeys face sculpt
                                                          Smokeys 80's school photo

The new chest has one of the very few things I am not keen on with this toy, and that is the gaping hole in the front bumper. I know its probably accurate to the real world vehicle, but here you can see straight through it.
With the large middle hole, its not such a problem as you can see his body, but the holes on either side have nothing behind them so it makes him look empty.

Honestly, I think it would have benefited from maybe a grill, or just something to fill the hole. It may have not been true to the real car, but it would have looked better.

G1 Smokescreen

Smokescreens shoulders are also different. Instead of the wheels hiding behind the shoulders, they now sit on top of them, just like his animation model. Its another little change, that makes him look individual, and you feel like the designers have gone that extra mile.

The shoulder launchers mount on a mechanism which folds out. On Bluestreak and Prowl, there were smaller permanently connected launchers, that folded out and you could slide the optional toy themed ones over that.
On Smokescreen, the smaller launchers are gone, and there is a small blue mechanism in its place. You just slide the launchers onto that, and they hold firmly - even giving you a decent range of motion should you wish to pose them.

Unlike Bluestreak and Prowl, his launchers are a key part of the character, so without them he looks strange. Those 2 can have the launchers or not, and still look fine. Smokescreens are such a big part of the cartoon model, and also the toy that he looks wrong without them.

another look at the face

Smokescreen head is a completely new sculpt, and has divided people somewhat. Personally, I love it and think its a great attempt at the cartoon and Marvel comic version. However, some people prefer the original toys head, or just think it looks weird. Of all the new MP cars, Smokescreen definitely has the most unique head. Its kinda fat, and has a large chin strap, making him look like he is wearing a balaclava.

I think it looks great, but then I am a sucker for the animation models.

The colours in this mode look spectacular, and the actual paint job is immaculate. There are no marks or blemishes anywhere - as if done by wizards.

As you would expect from a Masterpiece figure - Smokescreen has excellent articulation. The head rotates and is on a pin joint so can look up, the arms have more ball and swivel joints than I can count, the waist turns, the side skirts fold out the way so as to not limit leg movement, the knee bends and the pivot.

The only downside is that the thighs cannot bend fully 90 degrees, so you cant sit him down in a chair....if you ever wanted to.

If you have ever picked up Prowl or Bluestreak, then articulation is the same. If not, then what are you waiting for, go and order one!

The gambler

Smokescreen also comes with his "disruptor rifle". I was surprised to discover, its a totally different sculpt to Prowl and Bluestreaks, who's were both the same.

It's another fantastic touch from Takara's designers, in their attempts to make him his own figure.

My figure cannot hold the gun properly in his right hand. He can grip it, by closing the hand, but its loose and the peg does not slot into the inside of the hand. This is not a problem with the left hand, he holds it fine there - so the fault must be a problem with the actual right hand.

Its only a small thing, and the only quality control problem I have with the figure, though for some odd reason I do like all of my bots to hold their weapons in their right hands.

smokescreens weapon

Takara have got the Datsun license, and the results have been spectacular. Smokescreen is the toy I wished he was when I was a kid, with the extra articulation and larger size.

Shogo Hasui and his team have again outdone themselves by creating such an amazing figure. I know Smokescreen has polarised opinion somewhat, particularly regarding the head sculpt, but he achieves everything he sets out too. Namely, cartoon accuracy and being an amazing toy.

To say he is the 3rd toy from a mold, he still feels fresh and fun, and like a new experience to transform.

I am very lucky, in that I only really buy figures I know I am going to like. I absorb as many reviews as possible, and look at lots of pictures - so I am fairly confident I will like it when it arrives. From time to time, one may slip through the net, but generally my reviews are positive - because I only buy toys I like.

My personal preference is to have G1 characters based on their cartoon experiences, so Takara is catering to me with this line. But even if you don;t want slavish G1 accuracy, or you are not a fan of the head sculpt, there is so much fun to be had with this figure.

Just imagine how amazing that full 84-86 cast will look if they continue like this?*

*Mind explodes

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