|Character Design||Floro Dery|
|Toy Design||Hironori Kobayashi|
Review by VF5SS
As the Transformers Masterpiece series continues to fill out the ranks of Autobot cars, new challenges arise as the range of remaining vehicles gets broader and broader. This comes to the forefront with the team's resident Search and Rescue expert, Inferno, as he is not an exotic sports car turned public service car, but a hardworking truck that drove the roads of Japan for decades.
Please check out my video review!
At about 8.25 inches long, Inferno's fire truck mode makes a strong first impression by being one of the largest Autobot vehicles in the "real car" series. Adding to his appearance is a gorgeous fully painted red exterior. What's equally as impressive is how Inferno's parts are all locked together into one solid brick of a toy truck that would feel equally at home in the hands of a child as it would an adult collector.
In fact, I would daresay Masterpiece Inferno is a much sturdier plaything than the original G1 toy! Pictured here is the new hotness next to my childhood G2 Inferno (which is largely identical to the G1 version).
Putting the two toys together provide an interesting contrast in terms of design, as the MP figure's cuts a much smoother silhouette than its predecessor. The latter's infamous for its "visible limb syndrome" is somewhat rectified by former's more compact form and additional panels along the sides of the fire truck.
TakaraTomy also provided a small sticker sheet with "Fire Department" markings based on the G1 toy. You also get one animation style Autobot symbol and one toy style symbol.
From the rear, Inferno is one of the plainer looking Autobots in vehicle mode, but honestly I think the Masterpiece figure does a terrific job aligning his robot mode parts into a cohesive truck. And while some have criticized this Inferno for being either too "toy-like" or too "cartoon-like" (or somehow both), in hand he looks leagues better than the somewhat incomplete truck mode of the animation model or the G1 toy's perfunctory alternate form. Moreover, Inferno does in fact have taillights, or at the very least, places on the edges of his feet and ladder assembly that look like taillights. These details do not correspond to anything on the animation model or the G1 toy, so it appears that TakaraTomy did indeed attempt to make this fictional fire truck appear road-ready. That said, I little bit of paint or clear parts would have helped highlight these bits (and alleviate fandom panic that the Masterpiece line had gone astray).
Now you may be asking, "how can Inferno be a fictional fire truck if the toy's vehicle mode is licensed?" While it is true that the MP Autobot's box proudly states he is a Mitsubishi Fuso T951, the actual truck was a commercial flatbed. And while there are decades worth of Fuso fire vehicles, Inferno does not appear to correspond to any specific real life examples. In essence, TakaraTomy did what many companies have done with Fuso trucks: purchase the vehicle (or its likeness in this case) and customize it to their own needs. As such, Inferno is indeed a licensed T951 with its distinct cab design and six-wheeled chassis, just one built to resemble a certain robot in disguise.
Despite its mundane origins, the Fuso T951 is certainly a handsome vehicle, and Masterpiece Inferno does a great service to this venerable machine. The chromed grille especially is loaded with true-to-life touches like the three-pointed star in the middle that served as a stylish branding for the triple-diamond company, Mitsubishi.
Inferno also features a removable truck front gimmick so you can between three available face plates (two pictured).
One of the three is a cartoon-accurate front for the cab. It's a cute idea and looks rather quaint in person, but honestly feels like more of a placeholder while TakaraTomy was working on the real-life accurate rendition. And even with its simplified details, it's still fairly recognizable as a Fuso truck. Plus, the cartoon front does not change the fact that the rest of the cab is still real world accurate...
Like any good toy fire truck, Inferno has a few tricks up his sleeve... er, ladder. Hidden underneath a hinged door is a small water nozzle that mimics the kind he used in the show.
The nozzle can be positioned above the ladder...
Or within in order to attack a blazing inferno from different angles.
For a little more fire-fighting functionality, the stabilizers on either side of the truck mode can extend and plant themselves on the ground
These features, together with a plug-in water spray effect, help bring the rescue action alive in a delightfully playable manner. There's just something about toy fire trucks that brings out the kid in all of us.
For some Transformer-y gimmicks, Inferno has no less than three(!) ways to store his rather Gundam-esque extinguisher rifle in truck mode. The first place is at the base of his ladder, where a square-shaped slot receives the butt of the handle.
The second location is between his robot-mode arms. There the rifle's foregrip slides snugly into a trapezoid shaped hole in the middle of the truck.
And lastly, a hinged panel on the cab's roof (actually part of Inferno's transformation) can flip up to reveal a place to pop in the rifle. This is easily the most awkward position as the gun doesn't seem to have quite enough room to sit straight.
As mentioned before, Inferno ends up being one of the largest Autobot cars in his vehicle mode to the point where he is not only bigger than Ironhide, but manages to even approach Optimus in terms of sheer size.
Transforming Inferno to robot mode begins with one of the coolest tricks seen in a Masterpiece figure, as the Autobot's ladder telescopes inwards and then folds in half so it can tuck neatly within the base of the assembly. Also, note how Inferno's left hand and gun hand are not hidden in his forearms, but are simply hidden by panels on the rear of the truck.
The next major step mimics the general motions of the G1 toy in where the vehicle divides into two sections to form the upper and lower portions of Inferno's body. Note that the robot's head is actually located inside the cab, rather than at the base of the ladder assembly like the G1 figure.
Where the Masterpiece expands on the classic conversion is a number of rotating panels that condense the extremities of the fire truck into the blocky limbs of a robot. One notable part of the conversion is how the rear half of the cab's side rotate 180 degrees to re-position the arms for robot mode.
The transformation comes to a big finish as the condense ladder assembly slides into the now empty truck cab.
In robot mode, Masterpiece Inferno refines the somewhat dumpy-looking animation model into a solid Autobot warrior. He stands about nine inches tall.
And like with vehicle mode, Inferno ends up being only a little bit smaller than Optimus Prime.
Inferno's clean backside reflects a common quirk with many of the Transformers introduced in the second season. You see, most of them were drawn up without any photos of the toy's rear, so sometimes important details were omitted due to a lack of information. TakaraTomy used this into a chance to flex their engineering skills by making the fire truck's ladder hide completely inside Inferno's chest.
Reflecting another aspect of the cartoon design is the inclusion of two distinctive head options. By default, Inferno is equipped with his more toy-like helmet with a more angular face.
He's also packing a fully chromed arm cannon, which is a reference to the shiny missiles the original toy could shoot from its wrist sockets.
Inferno's helmet and face can be swapped out for the earlier "teddy bear" helmet design with a corresponding face. Going along with this is the alternate cartoon style truck front and a non-chromed arm cannon.
Changing out the helmet and face is quick and easy. Simply slide the noggin of your choice onto the nondescript "inner head" and attach one of the two faces that goes with each helmet type. With the rest of the cranium removed, we can get a look at the ball-jointed neck piece that resides inside the "head box." The whole assembly can tilt forward on a hinge with the box it self being able to rotate a full 360 degrees as part of the toy's transformation. As a result, Inferno has one of the most articulated heads of any Masterpiece Autobot, which is quite a feat for a character whose robotic cranium is nestled within a box.
Both heads have a matching stoic face, but the more angular toy style gets a "crying" face while the early animation style gets a smiling face.
And if you want Inferno to have two regular hands like the original toy (or its box art), simply open up the forearm to perform a tidy little switcheroo.
Now he can punch Decepticons in the face with both hands!
And what's really cool is that this arm cannon gimmick requires no parts removal. There's even a small cutout in Inferno's right elbow to give the tip of the gun space to reside.
Inside the Autobot's left forearm is a place to stick his two communicator accessories. Also, note that the left fist cannot be flipped around, although it looks like it can. This is because the upcoming Masterpiece Grapple has his gun arm and regular hand in the opposite sides to Inferno.
"Inferno to base! We got a situation over here! Red's refusing to use the toll booth after I told 'em about that Lord Chumley guy!"
The communicators can plug into indentations on either of Inferno's forearms, and are modeled after the ones he used in the episode, "Prime Target."
Another reference to that episode comes in the form of a fire hose, which readily accepts the water spray accessory for dousing flames.
But watch out! That hose is another trap set by Lord Chumley, and is actually a robotic snake with an opening jaw!
While there's not much to the fire hose snake, it does at least feature a row of nasty teeth for snapping off Inferno's communicators. The reason he comes with two is most likely a reference to how the animation looped in that scene, as it appeared the hose snake lopped off the same communcator twice.
The water spray accessory can also be fitted onto either gun arm nozzle...
Or the water cannon in the side of Inferno's head...
Or the barrel of his extinguisher rifle. This Autobot is ready to spray his liquids from almost any angle.
A tab on the side of Inferno's rifle lets it store neatly on his back.
Inferno's last and largest accessory is the alternate truck face with a curiously shaped clear plastic cradle. The purpose of this is to recreate the ending to the episode "Auto Berserk," in where Inferno emerges from a flaming building while holding Red Alert (tenderly) in his arms.
"Heh heh! You practicing 'jet judo' without a parachute again, Sideswipe?"
"Hoooo boy... Did you get the number of that jumbo jet?"
Sadly, I do not have a Masterpiece Red Alert so Sideswipe will have to fill in. The cradle works pretty well, and Inferno's leg joints can easily bear the weight of another Autobot.
"This isn't right! This isn't right at all!"
Sadly, this scene seems less quaint when moved into the Generation 2 era...
In terms of articulation, the bulky-looking Inferno is easily the most flexible of the bunch! Pretty much every joint that needs to move on him does, and he even packs a hidden ab-crunch joint just above his waist, which aids in all kinds of poses.
Also, the fronts of Inferno's shins are hinged to allow them to stay in line with his feet. There is also a gap at the top of each foot that lets the panel sink in a bit when you point his toes upward.
Emulating the G1 toy's box art kneeling pose is no problem for the Masterpiece figure.
And like with newer Masterpiece Transformers, Inferno can connect to the display stand bundled with Tracks or any other armature with the same size peg (such as a Tamashii Stage).This allows the big truck guy to pull off a darn good Rider Kick!
Believe me, I am just as surprised as you that Inferno ended up being one of the most dynamic of all the MP Transformers. Numerous strong ratcheting joints throughout his body lets him strike a pose and hold it!
Honestly, I don't mind that Masterpiece Inferno eschews a lot of the G1 toy's detailing for a cleaner animation style look. It does seem like the toy could have been styled either way without compromising the clever engineering that went into the transformation, so I believe this was simply a case of wanting to go with more cartoon-like aesthetics. Whether or not you like this approach is up to personal preference, but I can say Masterpiece Inferno is the kind of figure whose inherent strengths are difficult to capture in still images. What really makes this toy an exceptional piece is how it feels in the hand. The truck mode is satisfyingly solid and delightfully playable. Moreover, the transformation hitting the perfect balance of ingenuity and fun factor. This all leads into a robot mode that easily fits in with the most poseable Transformers out on the market. I don't think anyone expected Inferno of all characters to receive one of the most outstanding Masterpiece figures, but part of this toy's ultimate triumph is how it was able to take everyone by surprise.
|Posted 8 January, 2017 - 13:35 by VF5SS|