Wednesday 15 July 2015

Maketoys RM01 Cupola Review (Masterpiece Chromedome)

maketoys cupola review

The third party trend for weird names continues, this time with Maketoys Cup holder. Cuckold. Cupola...even.

According to Radio Free Cybertron it means "Dome" which is an interesting a way of getting around not actually being able to call him Chromedome for fear of Hasbros dusty legal hammer (seriously, at this point third party companies may as just well call them their legit names and whack the badges on there).

This is my first Maketoys product, as their other offerings have been a bit too stylised for my tastes and have not floated my boat. But this, as a childhood fan of the original Chromedome toy, I saw this and knew like Wayne Campbell, that she will be mine.
Or he.

Here we have their first figure in their RE:Master series, which is effectively them hoping onto the Transformers Masterpiece bandwagon and making themselves comfortable.

Click below to see if Maketoys Cupola lives up to the considerable hype

maketoys cupola car

If this car mode had a theme tune it would be Fall Out Boys Immortals from the movie Big Hero 6. Tell me you can't imagine him rocketing along a Japanese highway at super speed, weaving his way through traffic with light lines trailing behind him.

That is where my brain goes.

It looks like it should be a regular passenger car, from the future, but at the same time it is yelling "I WANT TO GO FASTER!".

maketoys cupola masterpiece scale

Cupola converts to an accurate replica of Generation One Chromedomes space future car mode. Brown and Beige wraps this car mode like a set of your Grans 70's curtains and it looks just as ridiculous. Who at Hasbro in the 80's thought those two colours looked futuristic? How often do you see either of those colours on a car? Unless it is one of those crazy American cars with wood on the side, being driven by a Christmas loving Chevy Chase?

So how on Earth does it work? I suspect it has more to do with those colours association to Chromedome, than the colours looking nice themselves.
Maketoys seem to have matched the colours perfectly, so that is great, and the use of Red is just as fitting.

Chromedomes bonnet decals are also present, as are some extra bits and bobs of paint detailing across the car, but they appear slightly shorter than the vintage toys.
Not that that matters a jot, it is still gorgeous.

It is also massive, and it dwarfs a regular Masterpiece car, so you get a lot of plastic and metal for your bucks.
That is how Americans sometimes describe money. I'm English, so should probably have said dosh,.

maketoys rm01 cupola car

The car is covered in futuristic tech detailing, and whilst regular readers (hi guys, love you!) might be sick of me moaning about hyper detailing - here it is perfect.
Why the turnaround? Because it is apt to the original toy, that had all sorts of extra tech detailing, and so it is not just extra lines and squiggles for the sake of it - they feel like they should be there.

The stuff all over the side looks like boosters, which infuse the drab nature of a dull Brown and Beige carpet mobile with a super charged quality that looks like jet streams should be shooting out behind it as it goes.
Extra detailing here actually makes it feel more accurate, and at the same time more refined as some of the beefiness of the original toy is toned down.

G1 toy aficionados will be happy - Cupola has really thick rubber tyres. Which should make for a smooth rolling experience, but mine appears to lift up ever so slightly on the back right. So the tyre is not actually touching the surface.
At first I thought I had mistransformed it, but it has happened each time I have flipped him (note: not a jumpstarter) from robot to automobile.
Not sure where, or even if, I am going wrong.

maketoys cupola headmaster

Also like the old toy, the cockpit opens and allows the Headmaster to sit inside but this time, it seats not just one lonesome fella - but two. So that means Cupola can go for drive, and a picnic, with a pal.
Probably listening to a Best Power Ballads of the 80's compilation CD, sat up at the crumbled remains of Lookout Mountain.

The inside of the car is swish beyond belief. There is a really nice dash with a steering wheel on one side (it does not move) and some readouts on the other side. But as a little bonus, because of the transformation hinge on the seats, they can be adjusted meaning that figures of less girth than the Headmaster bots don't just disappear into the void of the cockpit.

It is really quite sublime. I don't care for detailed interiors on real world styled cars like in Binaltech, but give me one on a futuristic vehicle and I am all in.
The Headmasters should have cockpits anyway, and this is great, especially that it can hold two figures - well done Maketoys. Seriously, that is just wicked.

Maketoys chromedome stylor headmaster

My guess would be that this is Cupola, and the main body is a Transtector just like in the Headmasters show. I prefer that as the idea behind the Headmaster, and even as a kid my personal fiction had no place for Green skin Alien weirdos, and so I always had the smaller Headmasters as the actual bots who had been shrunk down to be able to communicate and better interact with Humans. We all know the regular Transformers can't fit through normal people doors, so it would make sense.

In the late 90's I discovered the Headmasters cartoon, which had them as little Robots who for whatever reason had not grown, but instead just built larger bodies.
Robots can grow? Does that make them children?!
So to sum up, I am pretty sure this is not Stylor, unless you want it to be then it is. The choice *in best Blind Date voice* is yours.

Getting back on track, the Headmaster unit is ace, and thoroughly well done. The body has the perfect amount of detailing again, it does not go overboard and instead lets the sculpt do its thing with a couple of details that play into it.

transformers headmaster stylor maketoys cupola

The back homages the earlier Headmaster gimmick of the face being hidden on the back, but instead of a simple flap covering the larger eyes, the forehead folds forward to mask them, due to the movement of the ab crunch...yes, ab crunch.

Light piping also features as part of his head, but as his eyes are so small it is very hard to see.

There's ball joints too, at the shoulders and hips, and none of them feel fragile which is unusual for a toy of this size, every thing just feels so high quality it is quite the joy to play with. It is a great poseable little bot, and if Maketoys release some of the Headmasters just by themselves, with alternate face sculpts I will be loading my money onto a catapult and firing it in their direction.

maketoys cupola headmaster

I am a sucker for highly poseable mini figures at the best of times, and it feels like Maketoys have taken full advantage of that.

They have created a really fun mini figure that packs in quite a lot and is not just a limited block as Headmasters often tend to be.

Maketoys thoughtfulness extends into Cupolas transformation. If you have ever transformed a Headmaster before it is exactly same.
The legs bunch up, and you are largely done, but what elevates him is that his arms and legs peg into place - locking the whole together solidly.

maketoys headmaster chromedome

The larger body is a much different experience, and it is not hard after the first time but it is quite involving and involves a lot of the toy folding outwards. There is not much that will make you go "ooh" or "ahhh" with surprise, but it is all very clever and I especially like the way the hands form the undercarriage tail lights.
It is such a small, but thoughtful feature, and it is the way they do it that makes it feel like an intelligent piece of design.

A couple of gripes though, and number one on my list is the bonnet. It is held so tightly in place, that it requires a slight bit of bending to unpeg it. I hate that, on any toy, but they are locked in so tight on Maketoys Cupola that each time I have transformed him, I thought I have snapped it.

The other grumble, and I stress this one is quite minor, is the strange front flaps on the feet. They are on a ball joint, and don't feel like they are supposed to settle anywhere in particular, and what adds to that annoyance is that they are really loose on the ball joints so love to jump off to their doom.

Cheeky blighters.

Minor grumbles really though, as the transformation itself is quite fun after you have done it the first time.

maketoys remaster cupola

Booooooooom! Then you have Masterpiece Chromedome.
Yes, I said it (so has everyone else) but this guy seriously looks the part. It is rare that I consider a third party toy to be a Masterpiece version of a character, as it takes more than just being a certain size to be included in that group but Maketoys have managed to leap over that line with Cupola.

The look of the figure is spectacular in the way it captures the G1 character, and I mean that in more than just the sense that it looks like Chromedome. Third party companies often get a lot right in making a figure resemble a certain character, but then they fail to capture the personality leaving them feeling a bit hollow.

Cupola has it though, Maketoys crazy scientist designer types have done an incredible job and the rest of this review is probably just going to be gushing like an Italian footballer sobbing after winning a World Cup final.

It is not just in the face sculpt, but Maketoys have recognised how much of a characters personality is evoked from their proportions and body, and so have crafted Cupola to look tall, but blocky but in an athletic way that sucks the ghost of 80's Chromedome out of animation Heaven and traps him in plastic.

He feels immense to hold and manipulate too, it is a similar experience to sheer quality of Perfect Effects Warden with a high quality plastic feel, and joints that move so smoothly but hold in place.

maketoys rm01 cupola gun

Cupola's car mode was large, and was a sign post of what was to come, as the robot mode is huge. If you have MP 10 Optimus Prime, then it is that sort of size. So yeah, pretty big.
He makes the Masterpiece Autobot cars look very small in comparison, but then looks great punching MP Soundwave.
There is a lot of bulk too, but all of the car pieces are so well hidden.

A gun mount hangs off his back, and it is the same one used in car mode, only you flip it over onto the roof for robot mode. It allows you to store his guns on his back if you don't want him to just cling on to them with his mits.

maketoys cupola back

You can see the car wheels, but that is accurate to G1 Chromedome, and they were not there the Internet would probably riot. Everything else disappears into an ultra blocky set of Brown and Beige curtains....or a cool looking robot.

Robot mode makes the colours actually pop quite well, with the Brown plastic being flat, and the Beige being much shinier to stand out. The Red draws your attention mode though as it is all placed across the middle of the figure.

maketoys cupola masterpiece chromedome

Lucky Maketoys Cupola has the articulation to back up his dapper looks, and there is a lot to cover.

The head can look up or down, but not up and down. That may sound baffling, but it is due to the socket they use which can only move one way in that respect. The default is for it to look down, but if you rotate it, then he can look up instead. It in no way affects any aspect of the transformation, so I have mine just set to look up, I can't see much call for poses of him looking down anyway.

Shoulder hinges, and ball joints allow a strong range of articulation for the arms which seem to take on board the criticism of Fansprojects Function X figures who were very limited in that regard. A waist swivel is included, but to get any use out of it, you will need to open the roof a little, so it does not block the wheels on Cupolas thighs.
These cause further problems with outward motion from the hips, and as far as I can see there is nothing you can do to fix that.
A Black mark then.

The hips can move forward and backwards though, however it is worth taking care because of the swivel joint on the upper thigh. If you try to move the legs from low down, that area seems to bend and there is a chance it may one day snap. It probably won't, but is worth just being mindful of. Also, Maketoys have homaged the Masterpiece fondness for short shorts that like to block forward movement, so they can only go so far. If only that had made them flaps.

His feet have all sorts of hinges giving you a full range of articulation, and then some you didn't know you needed but help out a lot. Only problem is those pesky front foot flaps can get in the way again, and block stuff which is hella annoying (I have heard the kids saying hella, so I am using it).

Stability is no problem though, as the hip and knees ratchet so strongly they do a great job of keeping him vertical.

maketoys cupola chest

The head is based on the Headmaster animation more than anything else (I think?) and looks really nice. The eyes are a nice bright Blue and stand out, whilst the mouth plate is Orange and bot are painted so so carefully.
Nothing is out of place.
One blemish is a molding issue, and that is how Maketoys have chosen to mold the forehead as two half's and then squish them together, so there is an unsightly line down the middle.
That is me being picky in all fairness, it is not much of an issue and is not something you will instantly notice or will ruin your enjoyment of an otherwise great figure.

Flipping the Red chest panel down reveals Cupolas ode to Generation One Chromedomes Tech Spec Meter, but there are no working tumblers.
Sad Panda face.

The readouts match the G1 toys, but here they are painted onto a piece of die cast metal, which I suspect is a recipe for flaky paint later down the line. Fortunately his Red panel should protect it, or at least cover it, and Maketoys have gone to the effort to mold details onto that too.
Next to the read out, there is what looks like detailing to show Chromedome has a strong wifi signal - he clearly does not use Virgin Media as his Internet provider.

It is a cool extra feature which I would not have expected initially, but thinking about it we should have. It was a key part of the original Headmasters, even in the madcap Japanese cartoon series.

maketoys cupola gun

Maketoys Cupola comes with two large rifles which are heavily based on the guns that came with the G1 toy, but Maketoys have extended the barrel which looks really nice.
A tiny spot of Red paint has been added to the scope, just because it is Maketoys and they love super extra little touches like that.
Lovingly done, is probably how I would sum it up...or obsessive. In a fantastic way.

Sliding the guns into the hands is quite interesting (or as interesting as that could possibly be) as the gun handles flip up to reveal larger handles, with a groove on the back that slides into a corresponding slot on the inside of Cupolas hands. It is a novel way of locking the guns into place inside the hand, and it is really secure, even more so than the traditional Masterpiece peg/slot combo.

maketoys cupola chromedome

So that was a lot of words and a lot of pictures, and if you have made it this far - I salute you. As I mentioned above, it is not often I view a third party toy as a Masterpiece Transformer, as they often add their own touches which are nice, but never hit that aesthetic, but Cupola does.

I suppose the big questions are is it worth buying and what if Takara do their own? I wouldn't rule it out, and I can see them doing one just as good but with a simpler transformation if they did. However that does not downgrade this figure, and it is one of the rare third party figures that I don't think would simply just be replaced by an official figure.

The quality control is fantastic, and the best compliment I can give it is to say that how much it feels like Warden in terms of being such a well produced and high end figure.
Every aspect has been lovingly crafted, thought through and then put together with the greatest care. As my first Maketoys product, I am impressed enough to now be in for future releases from their Re:master line.

Don't miss out if you are still thinking about it. This is the definition of a true high end collectors piece in terms of Transformers.

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