Kool Kollectibles content

23 Jul 2021

Transformers Masterpiece MP-52 Starscream

Controversy always tends to follow a Takara TF Masterpiece release these days, and even more so when the character has also been released by 3rd party companies. When it's a major character like Starscream, with a brand new Seeker mold, it's a recipe for heated debate and comparison. Add the potential for quality control issues, and it could be a disastrous release for Takara.

Hound turned out this way, with many reports of brittle plastic and breakages. There were some initial reports of cracked plastic on Starscream too, but I hoped mine would be mostly OK just as it was with Hound. In the end, mine had one small issue, but overall I think it's another fantastically designed figure from Takara.

Click the link below to check out my video review, and comparison with the old MP-11 Starscream, over on the Kool Kollectibles YouTube channel. Make sure to give the video a thumbs up and subscribe to the channel too! 😁

Box art is the typical classic MP style, with some nice photos of the figure and included accessories. The figure is packaged in jet mode, so collectors like myself who prefer to display the figures in bot mode will have to transform at least once. This is OK, despite the transformation usually taking up to 60 minutes for me since I go so slowly.

The included set of accessories is decent, and follows the trend of Takara including homages to specific events in the G1 cartoon series. This time the set does not include the coronation kit with his crown, shoulder pauldrons and cape, but I believe this is included in Japan via a mail-in order once you buy all three new Seekers. Hopefully non-Japanese retailers are still able to sell this as a separate set.

What you do get is a decent flight stand that works better in jet mode rather than bot mode. It's a shame I can't use it with MP-11 since I'll be having that in jet mode now. The blast effects are decent, but like the other figures I won't tend to use them. The new Megatron gun is painted nicely, but does appear a lot smaller than previous Megatron guns that came with the previous Seekers.

My favourite of the accessories would have to be the swap out face plates. I love that Takara have made these over the more recent series of figures, and they really do add to the expressiveness of the characters. The smirk is such classic Starscream, and the one that I will use in my display.

As I mentioned earlier, there were reports of cracks in the plastic. Before I even took the figure out of the box, I checked one of the most commonly reported areas, being the base of the rear stabilisers. Sure enough, my right stabiliser had a tiny hairline crack at the base where the pin is inserted to allow the stabiliser to rotate.

I've rotated that part during the transformation, and it doesn't seem to get any bigger. It's hidden away under the folded wings in bot mode, so in the end it doesn't bother me too much. I was more worried about any cracks in the ankle joints that might affect the stability of the bot standing. Thankfully after checking both ankles, my figure doesn't have any cracks in that area, so the figure stands quite well.

Many people have said the jet mode is worse than MP-11, but I strongly disagree on that point. The paint app alone makes MP-52 stand out so much more. In fact, the panel details are made even more apparent due to the paint app, whereas the panel lines on MP-11 are barely visible since it's just unpainted grey plastic.

I'm also not bothered about the underside of the jet mode, where people would prefer it to be sleeker like the real jet. My thoughts on that are the same as for carbots, where I don't really care about how the car looks from underneath. If there are any design compromises to be made, and they make them to affect the underside as opposed to the top, that's perfectly fine to me. I display my cars and jets usually from the top or angled like the photo below. I don't display them with the bottom facing up 😆

I also love that the null rays are transformable this time, to give them the fatter look in jet mode and the sleeker look in bot mode. This is cartoon accurate and I love the way in which the transformation just rotates around to suit both modes.

The transformation to bot mode is perhaps not as complex as that for MP-44 Optimus, but still has its fair share of tricky parts. Similar to the way in which the panels fold away for Optimus, I love how the panels fold for Starscream's legs. They make for a beautiful cartoon silhouette much like MP-36 Megatron.

The clipping of the ankles into place does require a little force, so I am not sure if this is contributing to some of the breakages. I made sure to hold the pieces as close to the base of connection as possible when clicking together to reduce any torque or pressure. Some of the transformation videos I watched showed the fingers quite a distance from the point of connection, which always scares me. I applied this too when I unclipped the thigh area to extend the legs. By doing this, I didn't hear the rather unsettling crack that I heard in many videos.

The folding of the chest piece to reveal the faux bot mode chest went a lot smoother than I thought it would. The rotation of the nose cone had many reports of issues, but holding close to the base again made it a lot easier for me. As long as the folding is performed at the right angles, it will all collapse quite easily and fold up into the chest cavity.

One tricky part was clipping the top of the shoulder intakes into the peg at the rear. These never looked like the slots were aligned, but as long as you make sure the joint where the wings fold down are telescoped out, then this should help in pegging it all in place.

Lots of collectors seem to hate the use of faux parts, but for me I think it's design genius by Takara. They always do it as part of an integrated transformation sequence, and it allows for the best proportions in either bot mode or alt mode. In the case for Starscream, I think this design choice makes for a great jet mode, but also perhaps the best cartoon accurate bot mode ever made for Starscream.

There are also a lot of complaints about the lack of waist swivel. Again, I am completely in favour of this design choice by Takara. I would much prefer an unbroken centre chest piece, than have it split just so that I could rotate the waist. I think the character looks far better with an unbroken centre chest piece, and I would not really use the waist articulation anyway. I think the great ab crunch and other areas of articulation give the figure all the articulation points needed to get it into some awesome poses.

In comparing the bot modes of the old MP-11 to the new MP-52, it really is amazing at how much toy engineering has come in 10 years or so. The old Seeker mold was definitely great for its time, but now looks very dated in comparison to the new. The proportions in the chest and legs are the biggest difference for me, and how well the kibble is hidden in the newer Starscream.

People were reporting that the new Starscream was also far too short, which is simply not correct. It's perhaps only a few mm shorter than MP-11, noting that in my photo above I actually did not push the MP-11 loose torso all the way down properly. In looking at the old G1 character scale chart, I also think the new MP-52 scale in bot mode perfectly complements that of MP-36 Megatron and MP-29 Shockwave.

Some have also complained that the size of the head is too big. I'm not sure why that is, because I think it fits in well with the proportions of the body in bot mode. Other 3rd party figures, and even MP-11, have the head far too small for that pin head look. I don't think the head is so large that it looks like a bobble head. For me, it matches fine, and looks great with the swap out face plates.

Another concern of collectors was the darker shade of grey in the paint application. I think in some photos the colour does appear too dark, but in hand I find the colour perfect. Compared to the unpainted plastic of MP-11, it just stands out so much more with a more premium aesthetic just like MP-36 and MP-44. For me, this MP-52 bot mode is the definitive G1 cartoon Starscream.

I love how expressive this figure can be to convey those classic Starscream moments. The neck articulation allows MP-36's hands to grasp his neck in that iconic choke hold. The fingers allow lots of expressive gestures, and again that smirk is just classic Starscream.

Posed next to the previous Decepticon releases, I'm so glad that Takara has gone down this route of making the figures as close to their cartoon representations as possible. It really does look like the figures have jumped out of the TV screen!

The only sad point for me is that it highlights now the need for a new Soundwave mold! At the very least, I think Takara needs to give the old MP-13 mold a + version cartoon repaint like some of the carbots. That would be a fantastic way to close out the use of that mold.

In closing, if you're on the fence about getting this MP-52 Starscream figure, I would still highly recommend it. Particularly if you're a fan of the cartoon aesthetic, I think this figure will speak to you on many levels. Yes I think the reports of QC issues (my hairline crack included) is disappointing, but luckily for me my issue didn't stop me from really enjoying the figure.

Hopefully if you get this, yours comes without any QC issues, or only minor enough to not be a problem. It's a shame these production issues tarnish the reputation of these releases, but overall I still think they are some of the best engineered and designed toys in our generation. Can't wait to see what they release in 10 years time!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with Kool Kollectibles on so many levels. The only thing I disagree with Kool Kollectibles is that the figure being packaged in alt mode is still fine even if you are displaying it in bot mode. the reason being you get to experience the alt mode. sure, you can disagree with me. but trust me, I've got my mp52, and i personally display my figures in bot mode, but i enjoyed taking pictures of jet mode. both modes look good. idk why you don't enjoy taking snaps of alt mode. at least do that, y'know? other than that disagreement, i perfectly agree with every thing Kool Kollectibles had said.