Dec 24, 2014

[Transformers] Takara Masterpiece Wheeljack (MP-20)

I have to admit that I don't exactly keep close track of the various Transformers Masterpiece figures in development. I know that if I get too excited, my wallet will bleed money like crazy and I still have financial obligations that I need to think about. But when key figures do come along, I do get very, very excited.

Takara Transformers Masterpiece Wheeljack MP-20 was a figure that I thought would come out later in line (like next year), but then it zoomed out of production a lot sooner. And thus here we are, a genuine Masterpiece figure for the Autobot's resident engineer. As much as Ratchet was great for fixing robots and Perceptor was generally smart, Wheeljack built cool stuff. And that's why I really wanted to have him in my collection.

Straight out of the box, Wheeljack is pretty impressive in vehicle mode. He's a pretty solid build and generally faithful to the general vehicle profile that we associate with him.  Note that the collector's coin and the little blue Hypno-chip Disruptor device are more like bonus accessories in the collector's market. So yeah, I know I got pretty lucking finding a set that included both these items with the figure.

Back to the actual figure, Wheeljack's vehicle mode looks like a lot of fun, but you'll start to see some of the areas where it's easy to mis-align his transformation, this creating little seams and breaks in the mold - like what I sort of did here. It's not a deal-breaker in the Transformers world. but it requires you to pay a bit more attention when you reconfigure him. His mold is an officially licensed Lancia Stratos with Alitalia markingsin terms of his decal design.

Another quirk is that his side-mirrors come on a separate plastic sheet and require you to break them free and insert them yourself. You actually have two sets of mirrors, which I first thought to be useless until I promptly broke one just trying to get them into the right holes. So do be careful - you might end up feeling a little heartbreak if you're not careful.

There aren't too many gimmicks in his vehicle mode  beyond that. You can also mount his missile launcher right on top of the vehicle if you want to. And his smaller Laser Gun tucks under the vehicle, lie what is done with most modern Transformers figures like in the Generations line.

And side note - no die-cast parts! Not sure why Takara decided to go this way, but for a Masterpiece figure that sort of disappointed me.

His robot mode is pretty gorgeous, although it was a little tricky to get his little wings out correctly. This is probably the main challenge area in terms of his transformation, and this problem felt a little worse to me when transforming him back into a car. But at least he still looks pretty awesome and nicely cartoon-accurate.

Seriously - just look at Wheeljack's face. This face place is really well-done and his blue eyes, while opaque, nicely pop out as they should. I have mixed feelings about his solid silver should-mounted missile launcher and it's general lack of detail, but for the most part they really work for the figure. And as much as I hated getting those wings tucked in just right, in robot mode they look pretty good and the decision to go with translucent gray plaster feels like the right one.

The bonus Hypno-chip disruptor is meant to look like a toolbox and generally how it appeared in the original G1 cartoon. That said, even I have to concede that it really just ends up looking like a purse. And my partner Tobie never lets me forget this fact - that one of my favorite characters has been given a purse. The disruptor does nothing beyond being blue, shiny and quite purse-like. Oh well.

On the whole, I still enjoyed this Masterpiece version of Wheeljack. Quirky transformation sequence, scary side mirrors and lack of die-cast parts are minor issue for me personally, but I understand how others may find greater concern here. Thus for me, it still rates a good 4 Dinobots out of a possible 5.

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