Tuesday 2 May 2017

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-11NT Thrust

With Masterpiece Dirge about to land, that means our so-called Conehead trio will finally be complete. Imagine that; a complete set of Masterpiece Coneheads. I remember when such a thing seemed like the stuff of pure fantasy, with many collectors, including myself, turning to the likes of the Igear third party versions to fill spots on our Decepticon roster. So, with such a remarkable landmark on the horizon, it occurred to me that I had never actually made any time to put down a few words on the second release of the three, Thrust. Well, time to correct that, I think.

I did complete a write-up on Ramjet some time ago (which can still be found here), and found him to be a generally decent if somewhat unpolished interpretation of the character, even if I still have to acknowledge how lucky I am to have received a relatively problem-free version of the figure. Unfortunately many of my fellow collectors were not so lucky, with quality control problems abounding to the point of many people even being issued replacements, something that’s quite unprecedented in the official Masterpiece line. Even given my lack of QC problems, I still found that he had some notable flaws, such as a lack of poseability, which hampered the enjoyment a little. So how does Thrust shape-up in comparison? Well, first thing to acknowledge is that it’s essentially the same mould as Ramjet, of course. The main deviation other than the colour scheme here is the wings, as you might expect, though there are a couple of other differences that are worth a note or two.

Let’s kick off with a brief look at the jet mode, because it’s always more fun to start with the vehicle form, I find. There’s no denying that it looks pretty amazing, with a beautiful red colour mixing well with an attractive dark grey. I know that the MP-11 mould has its detractors, but I for one am still not quite bored of it (honest!), and the VTOL wings do breathe a bit of new life into the proceedings whilst we’re at it. I was always a massive fan of this design in the G1 cartoon, and having never owned the original toy it’s quite a thrill to see Thrust so well recreated in Masterpiece form finally. Overall, I do think he looks superb in this mode.

Paint quality, fit & finish all seem to be relatively on par on my copy, and overall the whole thing feels well-put-together even in spite of a couple of challenges with keeping everything tabbed together just so. I do find the null rays underneath the wings quite annoying though, as they don’t seem to have a particularly defined place to be, and certainly don’t tab into the wings at all like you might expect. In fact they’re all round a bit of an odd design, as they fold in half during transformation to jet mode, which leaves them feeling a bit awkward to be honest. I’m not quite sure why they have to fold like this, as I would have thought it possible to just stick with the regular null rays as they were, but perhaps I am missing something. There is also two smaller missiles parts, which are unique to this release and attach into pegs under the wings. As has been well-documented though, other accessories are very light on the ground, with not even a flight stand to speak of. I never use the stock versions anyway, but I know that many will be disappointed.

Overall though, this jet mode is pretty much everything you would want from a Masterpiece Thrust, to my eye. The colours are lovely, the new wings look cracking, and he of course looks superb next to Ramjet. I'm definitely looking forward to adding Dirge to this mix.

With Masterpiece Ramjet

Transformation to robot mode is almost exactly what you would expect if you are familiar with this mould, though with the obvious quirks of the wings and the few deviations we have already seen on Ramjet. Sadly, it also carries over that design’s flaws, the biggest of which is that the nosecone doesn’t tuck away particularly neatly. It leaves Thrust looking a little, er, well-endowed, and certainly gives a rather comedic alternate spin on his name! Also frustrating is that the back panel doesn’t peg into the nosecone and secure it in place, so as with Ramjet it all flops about a bit. I find this a little unforgivable, to be honest, as it feels like this whole bit could have been easily designed better. I so rarely say anything like this about the official Masterpiece line, but honestly it feels quite lazy.

Not meaning to kick off our robot mode assessment on a downer, I do have to acknowledge that he does look great overall. He certainly evokes the character well, and does a surprisingly good job at utilising the adapted MP-11 mould to appear quite cartoon-accurate. I’m a particularly big fan of the wing placement on his legs, represented exactly as it should be, which immediately gives him a lead on some other versions of this character, in my opinion.

I also think the face works a lot better than on Ramjet. I was a bit concerned with how Ramjet’s visage was going to turn out from pre-release pics, but it ended up mostly winning me over in hand. Still, the subtle tweaks on this release do it a great service, and I find it ends up feeling much more like the intended character because of them. Sadly my copy does have a relatively noticeable paint chip on the nose, which is always a source of annoyance. I keep meaning to find time to try and correct this, but in all honestly I shouldn’t have to on a premium official release like this.

Despite his general good looks, I have found Thrust a bit of a challenge to pose, also in keeping with Ramjet. The adaptations to the mould do make it feel a little bulky and cumbersome, and this added to MP-11’s inherent challenges of having no ankle tilt and awkward feet do make this guy a bit of a stoic solider, unfortunately. Still, there’s more than enough give in the arms to at least recreate a few classic poses, even if the aforementioned null rays do have a habit of needing frequent readjustment. I do also find my copy to feel a little on the loose side overall, lacking the tightly-fit feeling that I get from mould-mates Skywarp & Thundercracker. Sadly, it leaves Thrust feeling awkward and fiddly by comparison, so I suspect he shall be spending a lot of his time looking pretty on a shelf, instead of being given regular handling and attention.

I probably sound like I am a bit down on this figure overall, and in truth that’s not entirely the case. Ultimately, he ticks a box and gives us a decent and certainly good-looking attempt at Masterpiece Thrust. However he does feel a little bit undercooked overall, and perhaps especially in comparison with some of the more recent new moulds that this line has generated. What's especially irksome is the high price of this guy compared to the rest of the line, due to his exclusive Hasbro Asia-status. It's annoying as you can't help but feel that you're paying more for less return, and considering that more and more third party versions of these characters are popping up, it does strike me that TakaraTomy have disappointed on this occasion.

Still, putting the niggles to one side, I have to acknowledge that he certainly looks the business when paired with Ramjet and a selection of other Decepticon comrades, and as I say will do nicely in a shelf line-up if nothing else.

With Masterpiece Ramjet

Also with Masterpiece Megatron

Also with X-Transbots Glider

With Badcube "Fry"

Also with Masterpiece Skywarp, Starscream & Thundercracker

So, Masterpiece Thrust is a thing that now exists, and I equally can’t believe that we’re mere months away from saying the same about Dirge. The blue guy was always my personal favourite out of the three cone-headed evil-doers, and so I really hope that some of my niggles with this release will be addressed in what could be the final iteration of this modified mould. I do wish that these guys were shaping up a little better overall, but either way it’ll be a fun landmark to have the completed trio in my ranks.

What's HOT?
He looks fabulous in both modes! The red & grey are gorgeous, and the new VTOL wings look superb. Overall the jet mode is great.

What's NOT?
Let's be honest, he's fiddly, a bit awkward and not very poseable. The robot feels a bit floppy and just not very well held-together, and bits like the folding null rays are a source of annoyance. Mine also has a bad paint chip on the nose.

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  1. This is the mp line at its worst for me, its just so sub par for the price of admission.
    I both this and the Toyworld one and while the latter is too big and has an evil clown face he wipes the floor with the official in every other way for a significantly cheaper price.
    I've got mp dirge coming of course but its very much a tick in the box now.

    1. nb, lovely work as always Sixo!

    2. Thanks, dude! And yeah, agree with your comments.