Tuesday 28 March 2017

REVIEW: Maketoys MTRM-06 Contact Shot

With the possible exception of their recent release of Downbeat, there's no doubt in my mind that Maketoys Headmaster efforts have been some of the unparalleled highlights of their RE:Master line thus far. Iron Will and especially Cupola are both fantastic figures, with the latter being cemented as one of my personal favourite third party Transformers of all time. So naturally I was very much looking forward to Contact Shot, their first addition of a Targetmaster to the line-up, even if it does come in the place of a much-desired Brainstorm or Highbrow homage.

That's not me complaining, by any means; more just keeping my hopes up that Maketoys see fit to finish what they've started and give us a complete set of the original Headmaster and Targetmaster characters. Hopefully they even chuck in a Powermaster or two whilst they're at it. Still, for today we will have to settle for Contact Shot, although that's certainly no bad thing as he turns out to be almost predictably spectacular. I mean, just look at him.

So, who is this guy anyway? Well, the simple answer is that this is a Masterpiece-styled rendition of Pointblank, and his Targetmaster companion, the rather brilliantly-named Peacemaker. Pointblank was of course originally released in G1 form in 1987 and was immortalised in the notorious season 4 adventure, The Rebirth, despite mostly hanging around in the background. In keeping with Maketoys' previous efforts though, Contact Shot is much more in-line with the character's physical appearance in the alternate Japanese series, Headmasters, which I know is something that has disappointed a few western collectors who would've hoped for something more akin to the on-screen rendition they grew up with. For my money though, I think MT have done a bang-up job at representing the character as he appeared on Japanese screens, with perhaps only a couple of deviations such as the presence of the wheels on his shoulders not being quite accurate. To be fair it's not stunningly different to the US cartoon this time round either as it happens, and besides, there's no doubt that whatever your canonical preferences this is a hell of a good looking toy.

Straight out of the box, this guy feels like third party A-game material, with a strong first impression. Gorgeous red, baby blue and sleek black combine to make him superbly eye-catching. Theres even a few rather lush paint applications thrown in for good measure, although I will admit that I wouldn’t have minded a bit more finish to the overall figure perhaps. Still, he's sporting a handsome and nicely-proportioned design, looking at once suitably heroic and impressively athletic. Aside from good looks, no doubt another thing to be noticed is some sublime ratchets in the legs. Even just a cursory going over will tell you that this chap is well-made and well-engineered, with strong plastic and robust joints more than living up to expectation. Not to mention that the tease of a large array of articulation points is just begging you to put him through his paces. Who am I to decline?

Yes, this has to be one of the most intuitively-articulated figures I've handled in a good while, with arms, legs, waist and neck all contorting with enough freedom to allow you any number of dynamic stances. I'm going to give extra props here for the use of both outward ankle tilt, which is always a huge boon for those of us looking to get the most out of posing our figures, and a gloriously-executed ab crunch. Add to this that the, ahem, "shoulder pads" are also remarkably easy to position as you see fit, and Contact Shot is nothing short of a toy photographer's dream, willing and able to twist and pose in just about any way you so command. The shoulder pads can even be swung up and even out of the way should you prefer, although in their usual position they do help with disguising the fact that Contact Shot has perhaps skipped the occasional arm day.

And what of that head sculpt? Well, much has been made of the rather exaggerated chin based on pre-release photos, and I would be lying if I said that this hadn't been a concern of mine initially. However, I'm pleased to report that it most certainly fares significantly better in hand, and if anything I have grown to really like the face overall, particularly those piercing baby blues. Don't get me wrong, the chin is still quite prominent, but it seems to work better in reality than I had expected, and it is at least accurate to his on-screen portrayal in Headmasters. Of course, if you prefer he does also come packaged with an alternative noggin much more representative of the original toy and arguably his appearance in The Rebirth too, although I have to say I'm not much of a fan of it myself and definitely prefer the stock head. There’s also an alternative “shouty” face for each head design, too, which is a nice touch.

Of the two weapons he comes packaged with, the most interesting is of course the Targetmaster. In fact, not-Peacemaker is something of a mini-marvel, at once being effortlessly simple whilst still being a worthy upgrade of the original figure. He's nicely articulated too considering how small he is, especially in the arms, although perhaps his legs are a little tricky to pose dynamically in any way. He's quite a bit smaller than some of the previous Targetmaster efforts that we've seen, including the first Masterpiece Hot Rod's Hasbro-packaged companion, Offshoot, and the two X-Transbots versions that come with their Andras & Eligos figures. To be honest, I probably prefer Maketoys' attempt if only because I think his size works better, and he's certainly easier to transform. Either way, he looks great in both modes, even though he does vary to the Japanese animation a bit in that he doesn’t “fuse” with Pointblank’s hand in his gun mode, in the way that he does in the Headmasters cartoon. I’m not worried about this myself, but I guess some people may be.

With the Headmasters from Maketoys Cupola & Iron Will

With Maketoys Cupola & Iron Will

(L-R) "Masters" from X-Transbots Eligos, Andras, Maketoys Contact Shot, Cupola, Iron Will, FansToys Lupus, Hasbro Masterpiece Hot Rod & Masterpiece Spike

The other weapon is also fun. It can be used as a gun by itself and clipped onto Contact Shot’s wrist, or you can remove the barrel and place it over the end of the Targetmaster’s gun mode for a thicker appearance. The winged main section can then be hung off the robot mode's back windshield, though it does have a habit of falling off in this configuration if you plan on handling the figure a lot. I do also seem to have a bit of bother keeping the windshield clipped in to the rear body itself, though that could just be user-error that needs further investigation.

Overall, this is a veritable tour de force of a robot mode, ably showing up many of its competitors in the third party arena to the point where you think that, should TakaraTomy ever decide to do Masterpiece Targetmasters, this is how they'd be done. I mean, just look at how he lines up next to other characters. Superb.

With Hasbro Masterpiece Optimus Prime

With Masterpiece Ultra Magnus

With Masterpiece Hot Rod (MP-9)

Also with Fans Hobby Megatooth

I was interested to see where the transformation would take us, after Cupola's surprisingly complex conversion and Iron Will's comparatively-simple blocky-style scheme. The truth is it's somewhere in between; there's perhaps more going on here than I might have first imagined, but it's certainly not as complex as Cupola. There are still a couple of challenges, mind, and the first time around it did take me a couple of attempts to get everything tabbed in just so, although this is possibly also down to the instructions skipping the odd step or two along the way! However, there's nothing to worry about here overall, and the results surely speak for themselves. Wow.

That's quite the vehicle mode. I always maintain that both the 1986 and 1987 G1 toys stuck a nice balance between being futuristic/ Cybertronian designs, whilst still feeling like they were something that could be grounded in reality, and Contact Shot follows that through to the letter.

It’s at once sleek and elegant whilst also looking powerful and bulky. I really like how the back end feels like it contains a hub of engine parts and exhausts, all raging power just waiting to be unleashed. Meanwhile, the front end is pure elegance, with it’s smooth red bonnet and gorgeous windshield. It’s a great look. I've read one or two comments from people saying this looks like several car designs meshed into one, and although I do agree, I actually think it works exceptionally well instead of being a bad thing.

Of course, the windshield itself flips up to allow not-Peacemaker to take his rightful place as the driver of this magnificent beast. It’s an expected but still entirely relished feature of this figure, and I love the way that you can see him poking clearly through the translucent plastic, something that wasn’t achieved quite as well on either Cupola or Iron Will.

If I was feeling particularly nitpicky, I might mention that there’s a little too much robot mode kibble present on the sides of the car mode, with the blue side sections being a slightly unwelcome break in the sleek red body. I do also think that the baby blue rims look a little too much like they belong on a toy from 1987 as opposed to a Masterpiece-styled design, and it's a shame that the Targetmaster cannot mount in gun mode anywhere on top of the car. Overall though, I find it very difficult to be overly critical of Contact Shot in this mode, so well-built and lovingly-designed as he is. He really does feel like he is in keeping with other recent third party releases in terms of pushing the boundaries of what the unofficial Transformers scene is capable of, as higher tiers of quality and execution seem to be achieved year after year.

With Masterpiece Sideswipe

Where the fun truly begins though, is in seeing him lined up against his Headmaster colleagues, especially with their own small companions out for play. Where this was fun when Cupola was the only figure in this range, it’s becoming more and more so with each new release, making me even more hopeful that Maketoys will see it through to finishing off the remaining characters, as I said before.

With Maketoys Cupola

With Maketoys Iron Will

With Masterpiece Hot Rod (MP-9)

Still, even if we never get there, I shall remain truly appreciative of what they have achieved with just a few figures so far. Each of them has been a real joy, true masterpieces in their own right, and Contact Shot is certainly no exception.

What's HOT?
Stunning robot & gorgeous vehicle mode, with a fun & interesting transformation in between. What's not to like? The Targetmaster is also tons of fun, and this feels like another quality release from Maketoys.

What's NOT?
Mere nitpicks is all that's wrong. The sides of the car could be a little better disguised, and it's a shame that you cannot display the Targetmaster mounted in gun mode on the top of the car anywhere.

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  1. Love this guys car mode, its just beautiful. I do kinda wish they had a finish a la FT's recent efforts but its not going to happen now.
    Still, can't grumble too much, he's a great figure and your work here is superb as usual. Thanks Sixo.

    1. Thanks, dude, really appreciate that! I did almost mention something about the finish but I took it out, as it's not something that I have mentioned on other similar figures. I do miss an element of paint or finish like you get on (most) MP figures, but he still looks great I think.

  2. It's one of my favourite 3P figures. For such a minor (Western) character, it's amazing how much he's grown on me. Where Ironwill left me a bit cold, I can't find a flaw on this guy at all. Beautiful photos as usual too :)

    1. Thank you so much! I do prefer him to Iron Will too, I have to say. Really appreciate the kind words. :)