Wednesday, 6 January 2016

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-14C Clampdown

I haven't been doing reviews that long, but I've already been asked quite a few times if I plan on doing write-ups for various new figures as and when they're released. As much as I would love to do full, in-depth reviews of every single figure, I simply don't have the time! However, I do like to share as much as possible, and I'm obviously keen to try and help out fellow collectors who may be struggling with a particular purchase, and so I present the first in a new series of 'first impressions'. Think of them as like mini-reviews of new figures as and when they're released, with plenty of pictures. Don't worry, the pre-releases and test shots will still get the full works, too!

What better place to kick off than with a brand new TakaraTomy Masterpiece, particularly one as handsome as Clampdown? Yes, it's a repaint (I hear some of you groan!) but as with other figures in this line, it's a repaint that homages a particularly important part of Transformers (or rather, pre-Transformers) history. Let's have a look.

So, first things first, who exactly is Clampdown anyway? I'm sure lots of collectors were left scratching their heads when this guy was initially unveiled. Is it just a not-too-subtle attempt by TakaraTomy to "milk the mould", as some would say? Isn't this chap just an imitation Red Alert? Whilst this might be our fifth use of the Masterpiece Lambo design, actually nothing could be further from the truth.

You see, Clampdown's origins stem back to the original Diaclone line, which of course preceded the very first Transformers figures. Originally known as "New Countach Police Car" (catchy), Clampdown was released in 1983 and was a repaint of the original Countach (who would later be re-packaged as Transformers Sideswipe). The interesting thing here is that this police car deco' was the only rescue vehicle scheme applied to the Countach mould under Diaclone, meaning that there was no Diaclone equivalent of Red Alert. Of course this makes the original Red Alert a repaint of Clampdown, and not the other way around!

The original Diaclone figure - image courtesy of Transformers Square One

You might still be wondering where the name 'Clampdown' comes from. Well, the figure was actually released as part of the G1 Transformers line, believe it or not, but not until 2003 as an E-Hobby reissue. It was then that he was given his new moniker.

So you can see that this figure does indeed have a place in Transformers history after all, and for many fans their Diaclone-themed Masterpiece collection would have seemed incomplete without him. I'm certainly happy to see him realised, and I'm also looking forward to the presumably inevitable Deep Cover repaint, another pre-Transformers re-deco' of the Lambor mould, but this time in black and blue.

Anyway, enough about history, what about the actual figure? Well, if these pictures haven't convinced you yet, he's pretty good looking. I'm a big fan of a police-themed paint job on any Transformer, and Clampdown is certainly no exception. He's also got a lovely sheriff-styled Autobot logo on his bonnet (or 'hood' if you're not from the UK!), again in a nod to his Diaclone scheme.

One might think that I'd be bored of this mould by now (this is my fifth version of it, after all!) but I'm really not. Something about the Lamborghini design is just so stunning that I can't help but be enamoured with every figure. It's really beautiful from every angle.

I will say that it's not all good though, sadly, and mine has some definite imperfections. Whilst the paint itself is mostly very clean & crisp, there are a couple of noticeable scuffs on his bonnet, and his right headlight has a slight mark inside it, which is quite eye-catching. I would also add that Clampdown suffers from the same panel alignment issues as Red Alert, meaning that they don't all line up completely flush, especially on the sides. It's been no secret that TakaraTomy is moving a lot of its factory operations to new locations (Tracks, for example, comes from Vietnam), but if you look carefully on Clampdown you'll see he bears the mark of having been made in their Chinese factory, the same home as Red Alert, which perhaps explains this.

Still, some slight nitpicks aside, there's no doubt this is a stunning vehicle mode, and it's made particularly eye-catching with the addition of his weapons on top of his lightbar.

Battle mode!

He also looks fantastic when lined up with MP-14 Red Alert, and some of his other Lambo brethren. I'd say he's also a pretty essential addition to any Masterpiece Diaclone collection, of course.

With MP-14 Red Alert

With MP-14 Red Alert and MP-12 Sideswipe

With MP-14 Red Alert and MP-12 Sideswipe

(L-R) MP-14 Red Alert, MP-12T Tigertrack, MP-12 Sideswipe, MP-12G G2 Sideswipe, MP-14C Clampdown

Sun's out, gun's out!

Masterpiece Diaclones! (L-R) MP-12T Tigertrack, MP-23 Exhaust, MP-18B Bluestreak

Transformation is exactly what you'd expect if you already own this mould. If you don't, well it's pretty inventive, and still a process that I find highly enjoyable. I'll also add that I am always struck by the different tolerances of figures from the same mould. It never fails to create a unique experience even when handling a repaint of a familiar design, which I find quite fun. In this case, Clampdown is very tightly put together, with solid joints!

If he looked good in vehicle mode, I'd argue that he's equally if not more stunning in his robot form. Just look at him! The complimentary white, red and black gives him a very eye-catching presence, and I love the bright blue highlights. Lovely stuff.

He really is a handsome chap. I find myself looking at him quite a bit, which is not bad going for a repaint of this kind! I'm particularly drawn to the fact that they've painted his head and shoulder section, something that hasn't been done on any of the previous Lambo releases. It really adds something, and makes Clampdown look very shiny!

Keen-eyed readers will of course spot the faux-wheels on his shoulders, making this guy a true repaint of MP-14 Red Alert, and not MP-12 Sideswipe. He also features the same head sculpt as Red, with the slightly varied antenna.

One thing that is different from Red is that Clampdown comes packaged with a set of piledrivers. These are actually different to the ones that came with Sideswipe. They're smaller, nicely painted, and they look fab!

Can anyone else hear that noise from the cartoon when the Autobots' hands retract?

I have to say that the imperfections from his vehicle mode are a lot less noticeable here, and actually everything looks pretty spot on! The only other thing is a slight mark on the right hand side of his face. I've no doubt you'll spot it in some of my photographs, if only because that's how I came to notice it too! It's so small in hand that I genuinely hadn't seen it, but that just shows you how flaws can often be magnified in photos, I guess.

Yes, he looks the business

One other grumble is that he can't hold his gun very well. I've read people commenting on this about Red Alert before, but mine is actually fine. No such luck with Clampdown, who only really has a chance at a decent grip in his left hand, and even then it's wobbly at best. Hmm.

Still, all that aside there's no mistaking that this is a very attractive figure, and he looks the absolute business when displayed next to some other Masterpieces, as hopefully the following pictures will testify.

With MP-21R Bumble red body

With MP-12T Tigertrack

With MP-14 Red Alert

With MP-12 Sideswipe and MP-14 Red Alert

(L-R) MP-12 Sideswipe, MP-12T Tigertrack, MP-14C Clampdown, MP-12G G2 Sideswipe, MP-14 Red Alert

So, there you have it with my first impressions about Masterpiece Clampdown. Overall, I'd say he's definitely a worthy purchase, especially if you're looking to complete a Masterpiece Diaclone collection, but also if you're just a fan of fun and awesome-looking Transformers!

For further reading about Clampdown and his place in pre-Transformers history, I strongly recommend that you check out Maz's incredibly detailed work at Transformers Square One, both here and here. Credit to Maz for the picture of Diaclone New Countach Police Car above.

What's HOT?
A great example of an already amazing design being given an exciting new deco' that makes you love it all over again; Clampdown is nothing short of absolutely gorgeous.

What's NOT?
The paint in vehicle mode is sadly quite mismatched and could be a lot smarter. Mine also has a noticeable imperfection on his face, and cannot hold his gun very well at all.


  1. nice write-up enjoy reading it

  2. Outstanding photography and info about the figure. Site bookmarked!

    1. Thank you very much! Plenty more content on the way.