Friday, 21 June 2013

Masterpiece Skywarp

When it comes to TransFormers, there are a few things I cannot resist: I'm one of those collectors with the Seekers OCD, I like the 'black repaint' phenomemon... and I'll always pick up a bargain.

So when, by chance, I learned that Argos somehow wangled the official UK release of Masterpiece Skywarp (a feat similar to their coup of being the sole official UK distributor of Alternators Jaguar XK Ravage, and that they were selling him for a mere £20, I made plans to visit every single branch of Argos in London until he was in my grasp.

Thankfully, I got him at the first branch on the list.

Vehicle Mode:
For the most part, this is just a black repaint of Masterpiece Starscream, albeit with at least one subtle change to the mold - the spikes on the tail fins have been rounded off, no doubt due to Hasbro's fear that children might impale themselves upon such vicious spikes (which absolutely would not break off before piercing skin - one of mine on the TakaraTomy Starscream has a stress mark due to an accidental flicking!).

Aside from the obvious differences in colouration - including a fine representation of the G1 model's wing striping and a very subtle (read: almost invisible) Decepticon insignia on each wing - this is every bit as good as the original Japanese versions. It does lack the detail markings (all that 'No Step' stuff and the highlighting of the plane's machine guns just in front of the wings), and most of the lights aren't picked out the way they are on the Japanese versions, but its attachable missiles are fully painted, and unique to Skywarp.

The stand was also included, as were the c-clip for attaching the MP01 Megatron accessory and another of those strange 'Dr Arkeville' figurines. I believe it was either totally unpainted or, like the one with MP03, only the labcoat was painted... Haven't seen mine in a good while, since it's such a terrible accessory. I wonder if MP10's Spike figure would fit into the cockpit... (I sense some more photo opportunities!)

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this looks better than MP06. The Japanese version of Skywarp may have had all those authentic F-15 markings, but it was glossy black, which rather ruined the effect. This version's matte effect is a huge improvement... even if neither look truly realistic in their colourschemes. Also, while I complained that the Hasbro version of Masterpiece Starscream just didn't look right with its G1-authentic colouring, I'd have to say they got it right with Skywarp, versus Takara's uniform black look. G1 homages are no bad thing... you just have to pick your targets.

Robot Mode:
All the strengths and weaknesses of the original here... though, again, the Hasbro colour scheme looks better than TakaraTomy's. The purple might be a little bright - and it doesn't match the paint on the tailfins - but it's good enough for me. I might have liked some of the striping on the shoulders, cuffs and chest, but Skywarp is more than adequate without. Also, considering the way Starscream's null ray cannons were painted, it's a shame that Skywarp's weapons are so bland.

I do find a couple of Hasbro's choices a little strange: while their version of Starscream had the cartoon-accurate red eyes, they decided to go with toy accuracy with Skywarp, so he has yellow eyes. Then, rather than use the face-changing gimmick from the Japanese Skywarp, they kept Starscream's faces... so Skywarp can either have a neutral face or a smirk. It suits him... and, to be honest, I think it was a good move considering how weird and ugly the 'angry face' was on MP06 and 07.

What's really cool, though, is that - subtle as they are - the Decepticon insignia on his wings is actually the right way up for Robot mode!

At this point, it seems highly unlikely that I'll get my hands on either MP07 or the newly-remolded version of Thundercracker (why no UK release, Hasbro?), which is a shame, because I'd love to complete my Masterpiece Seekers set. There are those third-party ones, including the Coneheads, but their Thundercracker seems too pale, flat and bland... Plus it was a limited edition, and likely very expensive on the secondary market.

Since I'm a huge fan of the Masterpiece Seeker mold, I'm incredibly happy to have this, even if I can't satisfy my OCD on this occasion.

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