Wednesday 6 December 2017

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-12+ Lambor

It was only a little over a month ago that I was looking back at a variant edition of the first release of MP-12 Lambor, (Sideswipe to you and me), the write-up for which can be found here. Of course, that first release stretches all the way back to 2012, and was in fact the original Masterpiece carbot, so it's an unusual opportunity to be looking back at other versions of it twice in such close proximity all these years later. Yet here we are with the newest version, MP-12+, which sees the mould being given a bit of a makeover in an attempt to make it even more cartoon accurate and bring it more in-line with some of the current Masterpiece releases (such as the upcoming MP-39 Sunstreaker, which is released this month!).

Confused? Don't be; it's not a new thing. In fact, just last year TakaraTomy released the first "anime edition" figure with MP-14+ Red Alert, itself a redeco of that character. Whilst some collectors wished that there'd been some further retooling to allow for cartoon-accurate placement of the doors on his robot mode arms, there's no denying that it was still a worthwhile endeavour overall. I for one was quite charmed with MP-14+, despite having been extremely skeptical about the idea when it was first announced. In fact, I even typed up a few thoughts on him in my 2016 year in review write-up. Generally I thought the changes to the paint scheme were enough of an improvement to warrant a re-do, although I was a little wary of too many other previous releases receiving the same treatment. No-one wants to discover that half their collection is suddenly becoming "outdated" by having new versions released.

MP-14+ Red Alert (with the original MP-14 in the back)

MP-14+ (left) vs MP-14


Funnily enough though, despite some obvious candidates for receiving the "plus" treatment, it's taken TakaraTomy well over a year to produce a follow-up release and even then it's a character from the same mould. I might have thought that someone like Bluestreak might be a more obvious choice, but then I guess it makes sense that they would want to capitalise on that Sunstreaker release. And hey, I'm certainly not complaining - I love the Lambor mould after all! I'm not going to go into too much detail on the design itself here, as I think I have already covered a lot of that elsewhere, but I will go through some of the key changes on this release to what we've previously seen, and if indeed it's worth your time to pick this guy up.

MP-12+ with MP-14+

So, where to start? Well the obvious place is that sweet vehicle mode. It's always been a thing of beauty, but there's no doubt that this updated version brings a little something extra to the table. I mean, just look at it!

Strewth. Is it getting a little hot in here, or is it just me? Yes, MP-12+ is most certainly a lovely thing to behold. At once immediately familiar, but still different enough to be eye-catching.

Glorious. The paint on my copy seems to be very well-applied and looks really lovely. It's much more in keeping with recent Masterpiece releases that often seem to have a less obviously-applied, but more uniform and glossy coat of paint, as opposed to some of the original carbots where the paint could often be a bit thicker and, on occasion, a little sloppy. It will be really interesting to see this version lined up in Countach mode with the upcoming Sunstreaker release, but for now at least, he looks great next to the likes of Badcube Sunsurge.

With Badcube Sunsurge

In any case, what's actually different between MP-12+ and the 2012 version? Well, there are definitely a few key changes that have been made, although the variations are certainly a lot more subtle here compared to MP-14+'s overhaul of the original Red Alert. Looking at them side-by-side, you'll notice new tinted-blue windows and grey wheels as the most obvious examples. The windows I think look fab, and really add a pop of colour to the proceedings, although I could honestly leave the grey wheels as they look a little odd. Also on the strange side is the black rear section of the car, although this is intended for better robot mode accuracy, so it's a bit of a trade-off. You'll no doubt also notice that the Autobot logo on the bonnet is now significantly larger than it was before, an effect mostly employed for the benefit of the robot mode. Oh, I have to admit I'm also liking the sections between the side windows being painted red now, as opposed to the previous version's black; yes, it was more real-world accurate before, but I think it looks better this time around. Call me a heretic if you will.

Again, closer inspection will reveal that the paint feels a little more uniform on the new version, and looks a little brighter too. I think part of that is that some of the panel lining is now less obvious, which also gives the effect of the car mode appearing a bit more vibrant somehow. I have to say that I really like it overall, and I do think that this new version brings something that maybe previous versions of this figure haven't. It's a shame that the panels on the side of the car still don't sit completely flush here, but it is noticeably better than on previous versions. Ultimately, it looks great!

(L-R) MP-12+, MP-12, MP-12 TF Expo version

Transformation to robot mode is completely unchanged from previous versions of the mould, but you may immediately notice some tighter joints and sturdier construction. It certainly feels as though this upgrade is more than just skin deep, with MP-12+ generally giving the impression of quality. Once you're done, you'll notice that he's also not looking too shabby here, either!

Now look, it's not exactly like this robot mode was ever a slouch, but something about this upgrade definitely brings out some of the best qualities on offer here. The combination of the vibrant red with the white highlights and black parts really pops. It's a strong look, and I feel like the redeco definitely breathes new life into this well-known mould. My only complaint here would be the slight paint chip my copy is sporting on the left foot, but otherwise he appears pretty flawless!

The upgrades don't stop there, though. The familiar shoulder-launcher & handheld rifle both have a new paint job and are looking good, and this time round the rifle even does a decent attempt at pegging into Sideswipe's hand. Don't get me wrong, it's not perfect, as if you close the fist too much it will pop out, but it's definitely the best fit of any version of this mould so far, and a welcome improvement on MP-14+ in that regard. He also comes with no less than three sets of piledrivers this time around, including recoloured versions of the set found with the original MP-12, but also the Amazon exclusive set from that release as well as a repaint of the variant set first included with MP-14C Clampdown, in a bit of a twist. I'm not sure that this figure really needed all three, but they're there anyway!

Beyond that, what's changed to the robot mode? Well, the grey wheels do come across a bit better in this mode, and the black rear section from the car mode now allows for unbroken colouring on the shins & ankles, so all of that helps with an extra flair of cartoon accuracy. Beyond that, the extra-large Autobot symbol at least somewhat sells the chest as being a little smaller than it actually is, visually-speaking. It's not quite the compressing-chest gimmick that some collectors would like for this mould, but it's a clever solution and I think it works nicely. I have read a few complaints about the symbol itself looking too large, but I like it myself. Other than that, the most obvious difference is the face. MP-12+'s face is noticeably better defined and better painted than MP-12's, and the off-white looks significantly better than the previous silver, in my opinion. Eagle-eyed collectors will also notice that they have in fact used Red Alert's face here, instead of the version seen with MP-12, but it looks all the better for it. They've also seemingly positioned the face slightly further forward than before, so it looks more distinct. This was one of my favourite improvements on MP-14+ over the previous version of Red Alert, so it's good to see it replicated here.

MP-12+ (left) vs MP-12 (right)

(L-R) MP-12+, MP-12, MP-12 TF Expo version

Is this version significantly better than the previous ones? Well, actually I'd be tempted to say that it is an improvement overall, yes. I could honestly take or leave stuff like the black ankle sections or the grey wheels, but for me the obvious areas that make this "Plus" version worthwhile are the overall finish on the paint job, the significantly improved, tighter joints and the newly-painted face. They're small touches yes, and the gap between this release and the older version is certainly not as dramatic as it was on Red Alert, but it's still appreciated nonetheless. That said, if you already own and are happy with your regular MP-12, I don't think it's an essential "updgrade" - you'll no doubt find you're OK to stick with what you have! If you're in the market for one version over the other, then for me it would be MP-12+, but ultimately it comes down to which you personally prefer the look of.

With MP-14+ Red Alert

Of course, the real test will be in seeing this version lined up next to his "brother" release, Sunstreaker, which fortunately isn't too far away now! In the meantime, I can honestly say that I'm very happy to have added him to my burgeoning collection of Lambors! I've mentioned before that I'm far from bored of this mould yet, and MP-12+ just re-emphasises that for me.

MP-12+, MP-12, MP-12 TF Expo version, MP-12T, MP-12G, MP-14C, MP-14, MP-14+

Right then, Takara - what about that Deep Cover version?

What's HOT?
Look, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying this version is essential for those of you who already have MP-12, but for my money it IS an improvement. The mould itself is one of the best anyway, but this version has a stunning new deco', improved joints, better-defined face and just generally looks fabulous.

What's NOT?
The grey wheels are a little odd, and although the gun grip is the best on any version of this mould it's still not perfect.

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  1. Takara is abusing with this mold, which is certainly fantastic but slightly dated. I already have Mp12 and Mp14, I feel satisfied even if the versions "plus" meet my taste more. In any case, the background you used for the photos is fantastic!

    1. Thanks so much, dude, and sorry for the slow response! I must admit I was very skeptical of the idea of + versions to begin with, that was until I had them in hand... I'd still go for that Deep Cover repaint even now!

  2. Me: The MP12 mold seems a little dated compared to MP39, they should redo it!

    Also me: Wow those pics are awesome I think I should buy an MP12+ and probably the G2 version too. :D