Sunday, 7 August 2016

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-11NR Ramjet



I've actually owned Masterpiece Ramjet since he was first released this past March, but haven't yet taken the opportunity to write a few words about him. However, the recent reveal that MP-11ND Dirge will be released in 2017, after MP-11NT Thrust also lands in October this year, made me think that now was as good a time as any. A complete set of Masterpiece Coneheads - what a time to be alive!

It wasn't so long ago that many people felt that the Coneheads was a group that the official line was unlikely to ever try and tackle. They're not exactly A-list characters after all, and even if they were quite prominent in a number of episodes of season 2 of the G1 cartoon, they were background muscle for the most part, bar a few more notable adventures such as The Girl Who Loved Powerglide. Add to this that TakaraTomy have only just recently given us a cartoon-styled Masterpiece Skywarp & Thundercracker. Still, I think many fans, like myself, always had a soft spot for the Coneheads and are thrilled to see them finally being brought to realisation.

Although the individual reveals of both Thrust & Dirge are exciting by themselves, it's the below image that really has everyone talking. Seeing all three of them lined up like that is a thrilling prospect indeed!

MP Coneheads on display at Animation-Comic-Game Hong Kong 2016 - courtesy of TFW2005

Naturally, there are some grumbles, as with every Masterpiece reveal. Some fans have already pointed out the colour inconsistencies between Dirge and the rest, with the trio's final figure opting for shades of grey instead of the black being sported by the previous two. I can only agree that this is a little frustrating, especially after some of the frankly confounding decisions made on the paint schemes of the original Seeker trio (how many different ways can one company choose to produce a set of Decepticon logos?), but it still doesn't make the Conehead's reveal any less exciting. I'm actually surprised at what a great job they do at imitating the original cartoon, to be honest!


None of us should have expected this level of re-tooling on such as well-worn mould, and yet, it's happening, accurate wings and all. Perhaps a more genuine grumble from several corners of the fandom is the price of these things. Initially a TakaraTomy Mall exclusive, and then released exclusively by Hasbro Asia, Ramjet sadly comes with comparatively limited availability and a hefty price tag, and it seems his comrades are set to follow. This is a real shame, and will certainly prevent many fans from taking the leap. We can only hope for a wider release later down the line.

So, for those who're considering jumping on board, is Ramjet worth the cost? Let's take a look!




Nice. As alt' modes go, I do think that the Masterpiece jets are hard to beat, and Ramjet certainly follows in that vein. First thing to note is that he looks pretty amazing in this form!




Yep, that'll get you there. I'm also impressed by how cartoon accurate he is, generally speaking, even if it's not completely exact. If we had a little more black on the back of the jet and the Decepticon symbols were positioned the other way round (why is this always the case?) then he'd be pretty much bang on. However, it's already a great effort as it is and he certainly looks great from just about every conceivable angle. I'm also a big fan of how much attention to detail has gone into re-tooling the MP-11 mould to make for a convincing Ramjet, and details such as new wings and weapons are very welcome indeed.







He also still features many of the little touches that collectors will already expect from previous releases of this mould.




You can also remove the larger cannons from underneath Ramjet's wings to reveal a set of null rays more similar in style to the original Seeker trio, which are of course more commonly seen in his robot mode. It's a neat alternative look for the jet mode, and the way in which the cannons form as shells round the null rays is quite clever.


So, generally speaking it's all pretty good stuff. Well, that's true at least depending on how your copy holds up... I was fortunate enough to have one seemingly without any issues, though it appears that the majority have a problem where the robot mode shoulders have been misassembled, meaning that in many cases the wings will either not sit flush, or simply won't tab together properly at all. Disappointing stuff... it's even led TakaraTomy to offer a product recall for any affected figures, but it's a shame that something like this can hamper people's experience with this figure, especially considering the price tag.

This post on TFW2005 gives more insight into the problem.

Still, if you're lucky enough to enjoy a problem-free figure, then he really is quite sublime in jet mode, and stacks up well against previous versions of the MP-11 mould.




Of course, prior to this official version, many fans (including myself) relied on the infamous Igear Coneheads to fill out the ranks of our Decepticons. How does Ramjet stack up against PP03J Jet? Pretty well, I have to say! I'm still a massive fan of the Igear versions, but Ramjet is clearly more cartoon accurate. The differences make Jet seem more relevant to the original Masterpiece Seeker trio, especially as he's based off of the MP-3 mould anyway. There's definitely room for both in my collection (I still have all of my MP-3 Seekers), but there's also no doubt that Ramjet is much more representative of the G1 cartoon.




So, overall a pretty great jet mode, assuming that you receive one without issues as I fortunately did. Transformation-wise, he's pretty much what you would expect if you have handled the MP-11 mould before, but with some surprising twists thrown in. The way the head and chest transform is lots of fun and certainly quite creative. The whole thing actually feels slightly more durable than previous versions of this mould, too (maybe because the rear fins don't feel as flimsy), and you're left with a rather striking 'bot mode.




Yep, that's Ramjet alright. Now, I guess if I'm honest, I actually wasn't that sold on this 'bot mode to begin with. I was a little undecided from the initial pics, though had managed to become quite excited by the time he landed. Still, when I first received him I couldn't help but feel a bit underwhelmed... I can't quite put my finger on why. Fortunately, I've come to the conclusion that Ramjet here is a definite "grower", as he's now more than taken my fancy. I often find myself picking him up and having a play!



There's something about him that I find quite chunky & satisfying. He's definitely come to evoke the character for me a lot more than he did initially, that's for certain, and I now find him to be quite a great representation of the 'toon. I'm impressed with the tweaks that TakaraTomy made to the mould to make him feel so much like Ramjet.





Still, it's not all good, sadly, and this robot mode has some definite flaws. Chief among them is a general lack of poseability, mostly in the legs. It's not that he's completely unposeable, so much as difficult to pose, mainly due to bits of kibble like the wings hanging off his legs, or not being able to turn his head more due to the canopy on the back of it being obstructed by the intakes. The lack of ankle tilt doesn't help, either.



Otherwise, it's pretty annoying that the jet's nosecone doesn't properly tab into anything here, in the way that it does on previous iterations of the MP-11 mould. It means the robot's back feels a little wonky and not secure. It's also a shame that the jet's nosecone is so visible in robot mode, as it slightly ruins the illusions of it having turned into his robot mode head. I guess it's rather accentuated by the, ahem, unfortunate placement of the nosecone itself...


Yes, certain poses do not help, it's true! Still, these points aside this is a pretty nice robot mode for the most part. I'm also quite a big fan of how the head turned out overall, especially as I wasn't sure from the initial pics.




I also like the way that you can store his cannons on his back, or opt to mount them on his arms if you prefer (though I definitely like the null rays better!).



So, yeah, I really dig this mode now, and I absolutely cannot wait to see him lined up next to Thrust and Dirge!




As with jet mode, it's no doubt time to have a comparison with Igear's Jet, and it's not hard to see how this new figure has made various improvements. Again, I still love Jet, and I think he does a great job at representing the character, but there's no doubt that this feels more like Ramjet overall.



As for comparisons with other figures, I think Ramjet shapes up pretty well!

With X-Transbots Apollyon

Also with Masterpiece Soundwave

With DX9 Gewalt

And, in the absence of other Coneheads, it's definitely exciting to see Ramjet lined up next to some of his other Seeker comrades. What a thrill! Seeing these guys together definitely makes me excited for when I am able to add Thrust & Dirge to the mix soon.






CONCLUSION
Whilst not perfect, this is still an exciting addition to the Masterpiece line, and a great re-tool of the MP-11 mould. Watch out for QC issues such as the seemingly common problem with the shoulders, but otherwise be excited for the prospect of a full line-up of Masterpiece Coneheads. What a time to be a Transformers collector, eh?

What's HOT?
Great jet mode with some fantastic re-tooling to distinguish it from the MP-11 mould. Robot mode is mostly good and certainly looks great! I'm also a big fan of the new head.

What's NOT?
Let's be frank - the QC issue with the shoulders is unacceptable for a mainstream figure like this. He's also a little unposeable and the nosecone doesn't peg in well in robot mode.


6 comments:

  1. Great head sculpt and nice details! Thank you!

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    1. Of course! Thanks for the comment.

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  2. Awesome work as always man.
    Pity mine turned out to be something of a pile of dog eggs. Hoping thrust turns that around.

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    1. Thank you, and sorry to hear. Fingers crossed for you for Thrust.

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  3. I found the tabs on his shoulders do not tab on to the side of the wing tabs. When you do it, it will misalign the wings in plane mode.

    It felt flimsy as a plane but I realise the null rays are very critical in holding its shape as is what holds the wings jointly together.

    Head sculpt is excellent with only the eyes should be slightly brighter for my liking.

    Overall I love the bot mode more.

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    Replies
    1. I think a few people have had problems with alignment of those panels, sadly.

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