Monday, 9 June 2014

Transformers Masterpiece MP12-G G2 Sideswipe Review

In the early 1990's, Hasbro decided to try and revive to its dying Transformers line, by rebranding it. Generation 2 was not the kiss of life it hoped for, it was merely a form of life support.

The cartoon was repackaged in the worst possible way, rendering it almost unwatchable, but the toy line was much better. Not only did we get new figures later on, but we got re-releases of the original toys in jazzy new colours. Blue Dinobots? Hasbro had you covered man.

Some of these were less successful, but there were a few good ideas in there. One of which, was repainting G1 Sideswipe from red to black, and making him an absolute nut job in the comic books

Takara, in an effort to get more life and money out of the Masterpiece Lambor mold, saw fit to pay homage to that character by releasing it as a Masterpiece figure, complete with comic inspired angry face. The Internet rejoiced and I screamed like my mind.

I had the original toy, and knew I had to pre order this the second it became available.

Hit the button to see the review, and lots of pictures.

Car Mode

This car mode is delicious. Its an odd thing to say, I know, but I really cannot think of any other way to describe it.

From the gorgeous black paint, gracefully applied to the body, to the red tinted windows - its a spectacular sight to behold. When you say G2, most people think of garish colour schemes, and the word neon is often bandied around, but this is a snap shot of the potential the line had.

One thing has been fixed from original Masterpiece Sideswipe, and that is that the panels now line up much better. On the first release of Swipe, the sides can be a little gappy, but this was much better with Red Alert, and has carried over to G2 Sideswipe.
The black certainly helps to hide and lines or gaps, as it shrouds the car in a beautiful blackness.

The rear of the car still has the hanging undercarriage kibble, and it perhaps stands out more on this version of the toy, as its a strong shade of red, contrasting against the black.
However, if you have had the mold previously you have probably gotten used to it, and if this is your first experience with the figure, its such a great figure that you will soon overlook it.

The mix of colours on this figure really evoke the Generation Autobot box art, where you had the black and red and also the ads in the little catalogues that came with the toys, which often showed other figures on this red rocky display.

It's hard to explain, which is a hard thing to say from someone who tries to be a writer, but something about the colours just deeply remind of Generation 1. Particularly the shade of red on the windows.

Its a stunning, but subtle use of colour and very effective.

Everything is held together extremely securely. All the parts snap and lock together perfectly, and the wheels sit nicely to ensure the car can roll.

One the top, there is a port for the weapons to attach to, and when you insert the gun grip, the port goes down. I love that they came up with a much nicer solution to mounting the guns, so it does not leave a gaping hole when the weapons are not attached.

At first glance, its just a pile of weapons on top, and that's your lot. But anyone who has read the G2 comic will tell you - its comic accurate!

In the comic, when he transforms, he has the two guns piled on top. You can also attach the sword, via a peg hole, and the two spiked wheels that go on his shoulders in robot mode (there was no way they were going to actually form from the car wheels) can also attach to a mount on the back.

You end up with a form of Transformers Buckaroo.

Sorry about the poor quality of the photo above, but when I was taking photo's of the figure, I did the car on one night a couple of months ago, and the robot mode on another night more recently. Somewhere along the way, I completely forgot to take a shot of the weapons attached to the vehicle mode so had to hastily do one now.
Chop Shop is chucked in there for a giggle, as I love that tiny little figure and may need to do a review at some point.

I have two Red Sideswipes, Red Alert and this black Sideswipe from this mold. It is my favourite Transformers figure mold of all time, and its the one that when I got it in my hands really got me back into prioritising the Masterpiece line.

As much as I still think overall the red version of the toy is my favourite overall, just in vehicle mode G2 Sideswipe is the most beautiful to look at.

There is no escaping it - this car just looks better in black.

Robot Mode

Transforming Sideswipe is very intuitive, without being too simple or too hard. One of the reasons this mold is my favourite of any Transformer ever is that the Transformation is perfectly balanced. Its fun to do, with lots of things that evoke memories, with neat bits of engineering that will surprise you.

Once its done, you have Sideswipe as he is above. There are a couple of physical changes here, and the most striking at first is sudden appearance of white. In car mode, it is entirely black and red, save for the wheel trims. There is no white whatsoever, but in robot mode its on the thighs, waits and arms.

It mixes well though, and adds a little variation I guess.

The figure uses the Sideswipe version of the mold, and not the remolded Red Alert which had fake shoulder wheels to match Red Alerts cartoon appearance. In the comics, G2 Sideswipe had spiked wheels on his shoulders, just to make him more extreme.

You can see the spiked wheels attached to his shoulder, as Takara knew they had to include them. They simply peg into the slots, where the launcher pegs in on G1 Sideswipe and Red Alert.

Once attached they are fairly secure, and the pegs are on hinges so you do get a bit of movement - allowing for clearance on the shoulders. They are nicely detailed, and they match his look in the comic, though not the original toy which did not have them.

Another very big change, and the most discussed is the head sculpt or more specifically the face.

Instead of the neutral G1 face of the original Masterpiece, and G2 toy, the designers played a master stroke and created a brand new one based very specifically on Derek Yaniger's art in the G2 comic.

This was a very different portrayal of Sideswipe, from what people were used to. He was mostly a background character who did not really do very much or stand out. However in G2, he was snarling and edgy (classic 90's comics trope) with teeth.

This has angered a few people, the snarling not the teeth, but I think its brilliant that Takara are doing things like this. It adds real character, and makes the figure feel special and unique when they give it a face sculpt like this.

Cool toys guys, that's what we want.

As with the other versions of this mold, there is very little kibble, and its extremely clean all the way round. The back is very flat and neat, being comprised of just one single piece.

As noted earlier, Sideswipe comes with a plethora of accessories.

I have already mentioned the shoulder wheels, but the real attraction here are the weapons. The two guns are taken straight out of the comic book, and molded into plastic.

The guns are very 90's comic booky, being over the top and futuristic. What's interesting though, is that they do look like they could have been formed from parts of a car engine.

So much detail has been crammed onto them and they look decent. The larger one does feel a little awkward in the way it sits on his hand, and he does struggle to hold it straight. Not because its heavy, but because it only tabs into the slot on his hand loosely.

The lengths Takara have gone to for accuracy are commendable though.

To complete his mean appearance, if it was not mean enough already, he also comes with a sword.

This was also a feature in the comics, but not the original toy. Its fairly simple, just being one piece of plastic, but that does not mean Takara's designers haven't added some touches. If you look at the picture above, you will see there are a couple of dings and marks on it, to make it look as if its been heavily used.

That does add a lot to the appearance, and fits with the character of this angry more extreme Sideswipe. There is no peg on it to slot in his palm, but his hand closes tightly around it to hold it securely.

Just in case you didn't think there enough accessories, or you feel his look is missing something, then Takara have thought of you.

In the box, you get a sticker sheet comprising Autobot logos of various sizes, and also the G2 Autobot logo, and perhaps more crucially - the stickers that his original toy had.

They had some light green details, like letters for his door which are SS (his initials, not to be confused with their use by the Nazi party) and other stickers for his spoiler.

Initially I had planned to use these, as I really love that early 90's look they give it, but I just could not bring myself to cover that amazing paint job.
So below is Takara's official picture, showing how it looks with the stickers.

This figure is such a wonderful addition to the Masterpiece line, and a nice side step from the usual steady stream of G1 characters we get. Whilst that's what I prefer, it is nice every now and again to have something special, and this really ticks that box.

I hope they do more figures in this fashion, and celebrate other, more obscure aspects of the brand. For example, we need Diaclone Blue Bluestreak please.

Recommending this figure is not hard, but that's because I loved G2 when it arrived and gave me new Transformers toys in crazy colour schemes. For people who don't like G2, it may be an easy pass, but that would not be fair on the figure itself. Even taken in isolation, the colour palette on the car mode in particular is so gorgeous that it deserves to be displayed for all to see.

To quote the WWE's Ryback-"feed me more!"

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