Review by VF5SS
Takara Tomy continues their push for more Masterpiece Autobot cars with the fan favorite Prowl! As one of the original 1984 crew, Prowl was the straight laced Autobot who had a few moments to shine until he was infamously gunned down in Transformers: The Movie. I mostly remember him for that one time his battle computer was damaged and he was forced to let Chip Chase remotely control him through an early version of the internet. His design combined all the class of a late 70's sports car with the coolness of a policeman. While he original G1 toy is somewhat notorious for being ill-suited as a child's plaything (oh the broken roofs), its engineering and overall layout is considered to be one of the foundations for which numerous modern Transformers are built upon.
MP-17 Prowl is the first of a new type of Masterpiece Autobot car. Later this year he will quickly joined by both MP-18 Bluestreak (Streak) and MP-19 Smokescreen, who are all based on the same mold. Prowl continues with the same small sized Masterpiece box that Sideswipe (Lambor) introduced. It is quite classy despite being smaller than a Nendoroid's package. The box proudly displays the badge of the Nissan Motor Company as this an officially licensed product.
Like with Sideswipe, the box is even given an official seal of approval by the car company. It really drives home just how much effort Takara Tomy is putting into the line and also how probably none of the Masterpiece cars will be released outside of Japan. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember that cars are very much a product in and of themselves and as a result toy makers have to go through the proper legal channels to use their likenesses.
Like all Masterpiece figures, Prowl comes with a collectible card that features artwork of his updated design.
On the back is information about the character and the vehicle he transforms into.
Prowl's car mode is identified on the back of the box as a Nissan Fairlady 280Z-T. There was a time when the Z-Car was an ambassador for Japanese motor vehicles all over the world and even today it seems to be regarded as quite an attractive ride. Prowl is about six inches long in car mode.
In addition to his trademark light bar on the roof, Prowl has numerous other details that add to his authenticity like a windshield wiper on the rear window and even tiny rear view mirrors.
Prowl has all the major markings fans come to expect on him like the large "HIGHWAY PATROL POLICE" decals on his doors. These are tampographed on the Masterpiece toy and look really sharp. In hindsight, it's interesting that I can recognize Prowl as a specifically Japanese police car with the iconic white and black color scheme whereas as a kid I just thought he was just an everyday American police vehicle. It's just one of those things that was able to cross the cultural gap without any any hangups.
To add to his legitimacy as a real Z-car, Prowl has a tiny badge on his his hood.
Prowl is a really clean looking car from nearly every angle. Please note I forgot to push the white panels up fully in this shot. They normally sit flush underneath the rear of the car.
The Masterpiece figure benefits greatly from the ingenious design of the original G1 toy and is nearly identical in terms of how the car is split up with seams for the transformation. The new toy has much more authentic proportions in car mode and even manages to add side windows to complete the look.
Like the original, the seam lines all very well laid out with only the requisite break in the middle of the rear windshield being an indication this car is more than meets the eye.
In many ways Masterpiece Prowl's car mode is better executed than Sideswipe's as the latter had to contend with balancing a more simplified animation model with the need to transform. That aside, the two cars compliment each other quite well.
They look especially great when put next to the new MP-10 Optimus Prime.
All the playability of the original toy is preserved as you can place Prowl inside Prime's trailer.
And you can have multiple cars chilling out in the trailer while it's in Combat Deck mode.
Prowl's only accessory is his acid pellet gun, which is a faithful update of the original G1 version minus the chrome. The gun's handle can be moved in or out so Prowl can use it in either robot mode or car mode. When flipping the handle out for robot mode be sure to push it until it clicks into place.
For car mode the gun has a square peg that slides effortlessly into the back of the light bar. This gives Prowl a late G1 style "attack" mode that would be seen in many post Diaclone figures and does so without interfering with the original look.
Speaking of late G1, Masterpiece Prowl has a way better vehicle mode than Action Master Prowl! For the longest time, that Action Master was the only Prowl toy I'd ever owned.
In terms of transformation, Masterpiece Prowl isn't nearly as smooth as Sideswipe but manages to maintain a lot more fidelity to the original toy. Again due to how little Prowl was altered for the cartoon, the Masterpiece toy feels more like an update of the G1 toy rather than a complete reinvention such as with Sideswipe. His arms are still stored underneath the hood and easily fold out from the beneath. After moving his arms out of the way, you can push up the center panel on his hood to free up the roof of the car and move it. Prowl also has a lot more locking tabs that Sideswipe, some of which can seem a little obtuse at first. For example to open up his doors, you have to disengage a tab that goes horizontally from back of the car into the door by pulling them forward slightly.
Both of Prowl's shoulder assemblies rotate downward on their own hinges. After this you flip down his belly plate so you can rotate his head into position. The underside of the neck base has a pair of slots you most swing the front fenders into so they rest inside. When doing this you should try to move the finders without pushing on the rear view mirrors as they might break if you use too much force. Also take note of that slot just behind the front bumper as that is where you will be tabbing the abdomen into.
As you start to transform the rear half of the car into Prowl's legs, you start off by rotating up the inner panels of what will be his feet. You can also flip up the black exhaust assembly as these will form heel struts that keep him standing in robot mode.
With the inner panels out of the way, the sides of the car can swing out and away from the rear windshield. There's a clever double hinge that lets the sides of the car move out and then swing forward to form Prowl's feet.
From here everything starts to unfurl so it can be positioned for Prowl's finished robot mode.
Prowl's waist rotates to get his lower body into position. His upper legs swing into position thanks to double jointed knees. Next the shoulder assemblies swing up just as the upper body tabs into the abdomen. Please note that the abdomen flap has to be pulled out slightly forward so it can line up with the slot under the hood chest. The rear view mirrors come worryingly close to the abdomen tab as the parts move around so make sure they are properly tucked away. Be aware that it takes some force to get Prowl's body to tab together. Once his roof and windshield are tabbed into his back, Prowl becomes a tightly locked together Transformer.
Prowl's finished robot mode is quite a sight to behold in the way it blends both the original toy, the box art, and the cartoon character into one seamless image. Despite a total lack of diecast metal, this Masterpiece toy feels really solid and well balanced. Prowl is a little under seven inches tall.
The only somewhat egregious area on the robot mode are his hollow calves, which is just a necessity given how he transforms. Everything is amazingly clean and compact while adding little extra touches like extra joints in his signature "door wings" so they can angle up like in the cartoon. His doors hinge around on ratcheted joints so he can maintain symmetry even when they are angled back.
His head and face are faithful updates of the original and is a marked improvement over Sideswipe's somewhat hard to see features. Prowl's bright blue eyes stand out well against his light gray face and his perfect "Autobot red" horns top everything off. The head itself can rotate freely at the base and can also tilt up and down.
Inside the windshield on this shins are molded on technical details that are based on the original toy's box art.
Thanks to these flip out panels, Prowl is able to keep a relatively cohesive look to his feet while affording a good amount of articulation.
His ankles utilize the transformation joints for articulation. The double hinge is attached to another pivot point that lets Prowl keep his feet firmly planted. The heel struts on either foot keep his wheels just barely off the ground.
Prowl is a well articulated figure who doesn't waste any of the joints previously used in his transformation. As result he has a great range of motion in areas like his elbows which are double-jointed due to his conversion process. Prowl's shoulders feature a free moving ball-joint and a swivel in the upper white part of the arm. Due to his transformation, his waist can rotate a full 360 degrees.
Prowl's fingers can open and close with the gun being tightly secured into his palm via a tab.Putting all this together makes him a real joy to pose.
The only thing he really can't do is cross his arms or hold his gun with two hands. It's the price Prowl has to pay for having such an impressive bust.
The universal joints in his hips coupled with the hinged side skirts allow Prowl to spread his legs all the way apart.
Hidden under his roof is a pair of shoulder cannons. Simply swing the roof back and then flip the cannons up to deploy them.
The barrel of each shoulder cannon can be pulled forward slightly to give it an authentic cartoon look.
Speaking of the cartoon, Prowl actually never had the shoulder cannons in order to differentiate him from his "brother" Bluestreak. Due to the way the two share a mold, this gimmick is preserved. The cannons have a cool looking reflective "emitter" that is simply the metal rivet the gun barrels slide back and forth on.
If you bought Prowl off of Amazon.co.jp, you got single (non functional) missile launcher that slides over the built in cannons to give Prowl a more toy-like look. Unfortunately you would have to buy both Masterpiece Prowl and Bluestreak to get both missile launchers. The extra pieces are made to tab into small slots on Prowl's feet.
Together with Sideswipe, Prowl forms the backbone of the Masterpiece cars for which a number of future figures will be derived. While Sideswipe is an excellent figure in his own right, Prowl just takes everything a little bit further in terms of design and execution.
Prowl is ready to serve Optimus Prime as his trusted military strategist.
"Autobots! Transform and roll out!"
Putting Optimus Prime's trailer in Repair Boy mode is a great way to display the Masterpiece cars.
Overall Masterpiece Prowl is an amazing update of the original G1 toy. It takes the basic design and removes all of its shortcomings while still keeping the spirit of the old figure intact.
The Masterpiece line as it currently exists after the "soft reboot" that started with MP-10 is the realization of what fans wanted out of the "Classics" figures. Despite sharing the all plastic construction of Classics, Masterpiece has a combination of fit, finish, and execution that puts them on a whole other level. The addition of licensing the real life car's likeness and fully painted exteriors drive home that these are adult oriented collectibles. I find that the Masterpiece cars go above and beyond to deliver a total experience that starts at the authentic vehicle mode and extends all the way through the transformation into the characterful robot mode.
Personally I have only dabbled in Classics and I don't plan on displaying them alongside the more focused Masterpiece figures. Whether you want to put them all together or throw away your Classics as soon as the Masterpiece version of the character is announced, I would advise that you keep the lines separate in your head in terms of their goals and execution.
When it comes to "show accuracy," it's interesting to think back to a time when Action Masters were the only Transformers toys to attempt to deliver on that idea. Free from the constraint of needing to transform, Action Masters could better realize the simplified animation models used in the cartoon. While they are a little nostalgic for me, even as a kid I thought Action Masters were kind of lackluster toys. For me, seeing a modern figure blend accuracy the the ability to transform is kind of like a dream come true.
I am especially pleased with the fact that Masterpiece Prowl can ride Action Master Prowl's motorcycle. In fact, he does it far better than the figure it came with! Seriously what theoretical toy was supposed to sit on that motorcycle? It certainly wasn't a weird GI Joe style figure with big square thighs!
"Ride... Ride like the wind..."
MP-17 Prowl is another excellent entry in the revamped Masterpiece line. He's a near perfect re-imagination of an Generation One toy that culminates in a fantastic robot toy that has lots of character and plenty of articulation to spare. The weakness of the toy are minor and mostly consist of some delicate areas to be wary of during the transformation. His paint job is nearly flawless which works hand in hand with the tightly designed transformation to produce a classy car mode with almost no unsightly seams or gaps. Prowl is a marked improvement over Sideswipe who also benefits from a (currently) weaker yen so foreign buyers can get him for a price that is much closer to his 5800 yen MSRP. While I am skipping over Bluestreak, I am probably going to pick up Masterpiece Smokescreen as I expect he will be just as good as Prowl.
|Posted 23 October, 2013 - 20:55 by VF5SS|