Review by VF5SS
The second season of The Transformers cartoon brought with it a new wave of toys that dove deeper into Takara's Diaclone repertoire and brought numerous repaints, remolds, and just plain re-purposing. The Diaclone Car Robot representing a famous Nissan race car became the smooth talking Autobot scoundrel known as Smokescreen. In the episode, "The Gambler", Smokescreen took the spotlight as he attempted to rescue his companions from the clutches of an evil space alien gangster by working with some together with some intergalactic lowlifes and playing the slots for stacks of money.
Smokescreen is the nineteenth Masterpiece Transformer and another one of Optimus Prime's Autobot warriors. Much like with the original toy, Smokescreen is variant of Masterpiece Prowl but goes a long way into becoming his own character.
In car mode, Smokescreen is an approximation of Electromotive's Nissan Fairlady Z 280 Turbo race car. Driver Don Devendorf would win the International Motor Sports Association title in 1982 using a similar car but with number 83 instead of 38. The original toy was apparently based on a lesser seen livery with the 38 number. In any case, Smokescreen is absolutely gorgeous in vehicle mode with his attractive red, white, and blue coloring all done with glossy paintwork. He's about six inches long as a car and is a completely plastic figure.
This 280 has been fitted for a race with an extended front bumper and rear spoiler completing the look.
Like any good race car, Smokescreen is covered in sponsor markings. This one for "Devcon Oil" is a reference to the Autobot bounty hunter who appeared in "The Gambler." Honestly "Blackrock Oil" would have made more sense but I shouldn't expect a Japanese Transformer toy to have a Marvel comic reference.
His front bumper features the sponsors "Huck" and "Disturbance" which replace the real world car's "Bosch" and "Valvoline" markings.
"Slotfever" adorns his front fenders and is a nice nod to Smokescreen's favorite pastime.
Smokescreen lives up to his name with this "Smoke Tactics" adorning his rear fenders and windshield.
The extended bumper gives him that sleek low to the ground profile.
And the ever important Z-Car badge.
Smokescreen's back end has the accurate faux taillights.
From the underside Smokescreen is a tight package of robot parts.
When placed next to Masterpiece Prowl, it's easy to see the effort that went into making Smokescreen a different figure.
The shade of red used on Smokescreen is even slightly different than the official Lamborghini red used on Sideswipe.
He's pretty well sized next to Optimus.
And here's a picture of Smokescreen next to Drift.
Interpret that as you see fit.
I'm not looking to collect every Masterpiece Autobot car, but I've got a good selection so far.
Smokescreen fits nicely inside Prime's trailer. It kind of makes me wish Optimus had a matching racing trailer for that authentic look.
Three cars can fill out the interior of the Combat Deck just like in an old Diaclone commercial.
Like the previous Autobot cars, Smokescreen has an attack mode. Fitting this car for a Death Race 2000 is a little more involved than with Sideswipe or Prowl. You have to partially transform Smokescreen in order to lift up his roof and flip out a small mounting bracket for his rifle.
This hinged bracket is where the police light bar is attached on Prowl. In Smokescreen's case it is meant to be a concealable mount that enables him to use the same horizontal plug in tab setup. Unfortunately getting the damn thing to flip out is a chore which makes the novelty of a G1 style gun wielding car not worth the effort.
You can also mount Smokescreen's shoulder cannons on the hood of the car. They simply tab into the black vent area where all the fallen leaves get stuck. Again there is an issue doing this because the cannons tab in so tightly they can make that black piece pop out and go flying. It's a dumb flaw but I am honestly not bothered by it.
Now they're all ready to act like late G1 toys (or a G2 repaint) .
As expected, Smokescreen's transformation is largely the same as Prowl's.
The few notable changes consist of a redesigned upper arm assembly so his front tires can rest at the top of his shoulders and no internal shoulder cannons. He still has the incredibly tight tab that connects his abdomen to the bottom of his car chest and on a figure with such an elaborate paint scheme, the amount of force required can be a little worrying. I've tried to sand down the tab and open up the slot it goes into because there is no reason Smokescreen needs to lock together that tightly! It's a shame he has this one hangup because otherwise the Masterpiece Nissan cars possess a fantastic update on the original transformation scheme.
Smokescreen stands about six and a half inches tall in robot mode. His race car livery makes him looks as smooth as ever.
Every inch of red, white, and blue paint is applied with a nice uniform consistency over both transparent and gray plastic.
As a nod to his more boxy cartoon appearance, Smokescreen features a Robert Z'Dar level jawline.
Despite being based on three nearly identical toys Prowl, Bluestreak, and Smokescreen all had different animation models. Smokescreen followed the second season's unspoken rule of making characters a more blocky and often toy-like. The Masterpiece did a pretty good job of capturing his on screen likeness!
This brings me to Smokescreen's shoulder cannons, which are also designed to be cartoon accurate. Unlike Prowl or Bluestreak, Smokescreen does not have a set of internal weapons hidden in his shoulders. Rather he has a pair of blue flip up connectors the new cannons slide onto. The way they attach means they cannot angle up or down which is true to the show.
His Disruptor Rifle is authentically styled like a slightly updated Takara SF Land weapon. It tabs into his palms which feature opening fingers that wrap securely around the handle.
Smokescreen looks amazing when fully equipped and shows how TakaraTomy blends together the best features of the original toy and the cartoon character.
He's got a lot of style.
And just oozes classic Transformers charm.
All the cars look good when posed inside Optimus Prime's repair bay.
It's interesting to see how the little changes to Smokescreen make him stand out as a different character from fellow Z-car Prowl.
Another nice touch is how Smokescreen's gun is in fact different than Prowl's and Bluestreak's. Again on the G1 toys they were all the same but here a little extra effort goes a long way to making Smokescreen more than just a repaint.
Two 'bots with two different attitudes.
Smokescreen would probably work well together with Sideswipe. They both use less than scrupulous tactics.
Sometimes Optimus needs to remind Smokescreen about what it means to be a heroic Autobot. He always listens to a lecture with fingers crossed behind his back.
The Autobots are ready to wage their battle to defeat the evil forces of the Decepticons!
Smokescreen is another excellent entry in the revamped Masterpiece line. The extra effort that went into making him different from the previous Nissan cars goes a long way into making him feel like much more than a remold and repaint. Smokescreen does retain the one big flaw from Prowl in that transforming him is fraught with some unnerving amount of frustration due to the amount of force you need to tab his body together. Honestly it feels odd in warning readers about a figure just because something on it works too well. The issues with getting into attack mode are bothersome but my lukewarm reaction to the whole setup makes me not really care. Unfortunately his elaborate paint scheme seems to have come with a price as Smokescreen's MSRP is 6,500 yen, which is a bit of a jump from Prowl's 5,800 yen. I'm not sure it's a sign for the rest of the line or just a side effect of this character's large number of paint applications but I can understand if some people are turned off by his price. That said even if you only want to own one Masterpiece car, Smokescreen's eye-catching appearance and solid design make him a standout piece. Overall I find Masterpiece Smokescreen to be thoroughly satisfying toy and I think I actually like him more than Prowl.
|Posted 1 January, 2014 - 08:31 by VF5SS