Review by VF5SS
In the original cartoon, Wheeljack served as the Autobot's resident friendly mad scientist and through his gadget themed antics became a real fan favorite. He has the honor of being the first character to speak in any Transformers cartoon ever and also basically invented the Dinobots so every kid had a reason to like him. While there have been many re-imaginings of Wheeljack in toy form, fans looking for a proper G1 experience were forced to buy the original toy for lack of anything else. He is also one of those unfortunate few who has never received a legitimate reissue of his old 1984 self which made the hole in our collections seem even worse. When TakaraTomy announced they would be making a Masterpiece Wheeljack, the fandom seemed to collectively jump for joy.
Please check out my video review!
As a sleek (and fully licnesed) Lancia Stratos Turbo, Wheeljack is a real standout from the crowd of Autobot cars with his eye catching Italian livery. Even though he's the first in a new MP mold, Wheeljack feels about as perfect as he can get. Like his fellow car robots, he is about six inches long in vehicle mode and is all plastic. However, there is something about the way he's engineered that makes him feel a bit denser than either the Lamborghinis or the Nissans.
I can't stress enough just how well this toy captures the sheer style of the famous rally car. The racing stripes look great and the deep red rims really pop against the smooth tires.
The tampo printed sponsor logos are crisp and add even more to the toy's fantastic finish. Although unlike the previous Autobot cars, most of Wheeljack's base white color is his bare plastic. I'm not sure what prompted this change but it does not bother me.
What paint is there is neatly applied and gives Wheeljack all the amenities such as taillights.
The molded on detailing is also quite good with things like the grille and front spoiler having sharp definition and all the proper angles.
At the very least the Masterpiece toy has a much better vehicle mode than the old Action Master.
It's weird when you think about it but that old non-transforming Wheeljack was basically the last figure the original G1 character would receive for a long time. Just to be clear I mean that in a strict non-Classics re-imagining or ancillary merchandise sense. Even Prowl and Sideswipe managed to get a few World's Smallest Transformers but sadly Wheeljack's shrink ray didn't work on himself.
As a kid I coveted my friend's G1 Wheeljack but never managed to buy one for myself in the decades since then. Instead I just pretended this little diecast Lancia Stratos was like a vintage Transformers RPM for the character.
Like the other cars, Wheeljack comes with a small but essential set of accessories. You get a laser gun, his trademark shoulder missile launcher (with removable non-firing projectile), and two sets of side view mirrors that come on a sprue. I already installed one pair prior to shooting these pictures and found them to be easy to install. Just nip them off the plastic tube and slot them into what will become Wheeljack's legs. I definitely appreciate getting extras of tiny things like these parts as other MP cars like Prowl have their mirrors in a precarious position during the transformation so breakages can happen.
The small pistol stores away neatly under the car mode and serves as a faux muffler.
As with the other cars, you can plug the missile launcher onto the roof for an "attack mode." Wheeljack accomplishes this the same way Sideswipe with the weapon's connector going into a small spring loaded panel located at the top of the car mode. I'm rather ambivalent to the idea but it's there for old style toy fun.
Most importantly, you can stick Wheeljack inside MP-10 Optimus Prime's trailer. This is an essential feature that needs to be documented.
My small season 1 crew is looking good together. Arranging them like this kind of makes me want to finally cave and buy Bluestreak...
Wheeljack's transformation is outwardly simple while also being deceptively clever. It starts innocently enough with the feet extending out from the front of the car on a set of double hinges.
After a few tabs are dislodged, Wheeljack's legs move out on a swing bar which forms his lower body.
His lower legs then extend revealing his dark gray thighs. A pair of inner panels on Wheeljack's car front do a neat little trick where they rotate around to form the bottoms of his feet.
The car mode doors swing around on hinges so they can tuck neatly away as his calve.s They also have an extra panel for beefing up the overall side profile of his legs.
After that, Wheeljack's roof can be split open to allow his head to flip up into place.
Then the rear of the car turns inside out as the inner parts containing his arms flip around 180 degrees.
My only problem with this step is figuring out how to maneuver his clear wings past the car halves as you rotate them. You actually have to bend them at a small hinge to allow for enough clearance. Please check out my video for a better view of what goes on in here. The resulting conversion leaves most of the larger bits of Wheeljack's car mode neatly hidden away on his back.
After all that mad science, Wheeljack's robot mode is complete. Needless to say he looks downright amazing and it is a true testament to the guys at TakaraTomy that they managed to reconcile the blocky cartoon design with the sleekness of the real life car. I've seen the toy designers comment in interviews that a Masterpiece is especially difficult to engineer when the animated version is very different from the original toy. In spite of this challenge, they pulled it off really well for Wheeljack.
Even the extra color brought in by the more accurate rally car deco feels right on this toy. The original Wheeljack figure omitted some elements of the source material and the cartoon simplified things even further so having all this reintegrated into the character is a real accomplishment. When it comes to extraneous car bits, I find the most egregious thing are the taillights on his hands and even those look alright as mechanical wrist guards.
Wheeljack's articulation is very well laid out and is on par with the other Autobot cars. He passes the "box art pose" test with flying colors.
His ankles are a thing of beauty with tight joints and a wide range of motion. Wheeljack is known for being a bit bowlegged but with this stance he could easily ride a Dinobot.
Wheeljack's arms and legs are mostly unhindered as he lacks any door wings like Prowl or a waist skirt like Sideswipe. The only thing to watch out for is rotating his waist and getting the tops of his thighs caught on the bottom of his torso. Otherwise Wheeljack is ready to practice the science of kung-fu on those Decepticreeps.
As far as head sculpts go, Masterpiece Wheeljack's is dead on. You'd have to be watching Transformers: The Movie to get any deader. I especially like how his eyes turned out with a "good guy blue" that pops out from his face.
Also if you are brave enough to disassemble his head, there is an odd mustached face underneath. Some have speculated it is an homage to the Transformer Animated version but I'm not so sure...
One thing I am sure about is the rather sensual neck joint that lets Wheeljack look up all the way.
And as far as designer Easter eggs go, I believe that the back of Wheeljack's head is meant to represent how his original toy looked with the lack of eyes. I honestly don't recall seeing the character's head from the rear so this may just be how it was drawn in the cartoon. Still it's a cool undocumented feature that may please Diaclone die hards.
Wheeljack's non-firing missile launcher can be plugged into either shoulder and has a small hinge for elevation. The missile itself can be removed but has no way to shoot out other than by your own power and imagination.
The laser gun tabs tightly into either palm and his hinged fingers can close around the grip without issue. Wheeljack's original toy did not come with a pistol (nor could it wield one) but the cartoon gave him this little pea shooter that he'd whip out on occasion.
All this lets Wheeljack wage his battle to defeat the evil of the Decepticons.
He can fire upward like in the opening to the cartoon!
Wheeljack is a little taller than the other Masterpiece cars but not enough that he feels out of scale. I like him being a bit bigger as he's supposed to be one of the older and more experienced Autobots.
"All warheads must be safely stored before entering the repair bay."
"Aw I was gonna defuse it before I got here! Honest!"
Though he may not necessarily be wiser...
"Hey Optimus, I invented a machine that can make small single mode clones of all of us!"
"Errr... why we ever need such a thing?"
"Aww don't worry Mini-Jack, you can still be my lab assistant!"
"Hey fellas I built this sweet car so we can all hang out at the beach like the Earthlings on Miami Vice."
"AUTOBOTS! FIGHT BACK!"
Despite his tinkerer ways, Wheeljack is still a dependable soldier when it counts.
Masterpiece Wheeljack is most definitely a toy that delivers on all counts. Fans have been waiting for a figure just like this and can confidently say he is worth checking out. This Wheeljack has all the charm of the character with the impressive engineering you come to expert from Transformers Masterpiece. I really cannot recommend him enough.
|Posted 30 September, 2014 - 22:08 by VF5SS|