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Cliffjumper
2013-12-31, 02:27 AM
Name: Red Alert
Function: Security Director
Subgroup: Masterpiece


Red alert! Red alert!
It's a catastrophe
But don't worry.....Don't panic
Ain't nothin' goin' on but history, yeah
But it's alright, don't panic.


Red Alert's always been a favourite character of mine – his enrapturing Universe profile, the sheer weirdness of a Fire Department Lamborghini Countach (no doubt some joyless nerd has tracked down a Tokyo Fire Department vehicle register which suggests a Countach was attached to a station for a fortnight in 1982 or something, but screw them - in England in 1986 the idea was fascinatingly exotic), the teasing fictional appearances (why the Hell is he hanging around with the TF:TM characters in 2009? And why is the very idea so inherently intriguing?) and the way that – unlike fellow 1985 oddball Skids – he hasn't been mined out in recent years. His manic appearances in the original cartoon only helped, Red being one of the few Autobots in the show to actually have a personality which couldn't be described using the words brave, enthusiastic and/or cheerful. This was all further capped off when an unaired Transformers PSA about him trying to kill juvenile cyclists was unearthed.


His status as a recolour of Sideswipe means he's always a good bet to show up a few months after any new version of the more famous Countach. Takara's revamped Masterpiece line proved to be no exception, with 'Alert' arriving on the market soon after 'Lambor'.


Alternate Mode


So, Fire Department Lamborghini Countach. Pow. Probably needed them to race the various police Lambos and Datsuns through the streets; it's a blessing Diaclone ended before we got the police versions of Mirage and Grimlock. First impressions of the Masterpiece figure's alternate mode is that it's very low, but then checking pictures of real Countaches out online this seems to be more than the original Transformer isn't as sleek as it should be and the Masterpiece rectifies this somewhat. The only real fault is that this low ride-height means the underside of the car touches any surface you put the car mode on as there just isn't much clearance, though it's unlikely you'll be whizzing this thing along the floor and it's not really a child-suitable toy.


The size is very good, not far off a modern Voyager; considering the quality the new Masterpiece cars offer relatively good value for money. The mode itself looks tremendous, all eighties wedge sculpting. The join lines are perhaps too prominent but then this is often exacerbated on white figures anyway. It's only on the car doors that it's much busier than the original. The detail level is just right – nothing's missing but no-one's gone over the top. The all-plastic car is quite sturdy and has some nice quality touches like the clear plastic headlights and attempt at a tiny Lamborghini badge. The lack of rubber tyres bothers me less than I had originally expected – hubs and tyre patterns are moulded nicely and what could have been cheap actually looks presentable.


There's only one very minor quibble with the mode. The top of the lightbar features a hollow hole for the included (non-firing) launcher and rifle to clip into; Sideswipe had a more subtle moving panel. On Red it's annoyingly obvious, especially as the weapons being plugged in like they never were in anything looks very silly on this sort of thing – do the kind of collectors who buy Masterpiece figures really lose accessories bigger than some Legends figures? Can they really not be trusted to lose them whenever the figure's in car mode?


Robot Mode


Of course, Takara have handily countered this problem by making the toy look superb in robot mode. First you've got to get there, though. Thankfully Red is a joyful step away from the over-complication often seen on fan orientated figures, being an excellent mix of good engineering and solid fun. The inventive leg sections take a few tries to get the flow perfect and the hinging upper head feels like a last-minute design fudge but overall the process is surprisingly intuitive. Everything also feels very solid, with none of the “bits are likely to pop off, so prepare for frustration” ethos seen in Binaltech. The only slightly weird bit are the car rear ankle guards, but I found them easy to get used to after the initial contrast with the original toy's clear shins. Red is generally very solid and – in a welcome development that's finally started appearing in the Transformers line over the past five to six years – three-dimensional, looking good from most angles. The only fudge comes with the shoulders, which are just nebulously connected to a vaguely-defined part of the toy's back.


The robot itself looks fantastic. Red Alert's animation model actually varied considerably from Sideswipe's, generally being closer to the toy where Sideswipe's just loped most of the car parts left on the robot off. The Masterpiece mould is a mixture of both, doing some things which suit Red Alert better (the prominent car roof on the back) and others which suit Sideswipe more (such as the arms clear of car doors). I find the mould makes a slightly better Red Alert, though I've always found Red to have the better scheme and more interesting character, so I may be biased.


That said, Takara have put a few nice touches into making the figures look different. Firstly, Red Alert has a different head, closely modelled on the one used for the cartoon. This has come out nicely and actually won me over on the decision to make it red - being a toy/comic fan I wanted black, but seeing the toy in the plastic it works surprisingly well and is another point of variance when displayed. Red Alert's shoulders have been remoulded with a pair of dummy wheels – as per his animation model – which are a nice touch, if not entirely convincing. Adorably a pair of notches are also moulded on his chest as per the original toy, even though they're not necessary for the engineering of the Masterpiece. It all adds up to a decent attempt to make Red look like something other than a straight redeco of Sideswipe, an effort which is appreciated.


In terms of things to do, Red Alert has very good – if not absolutely stellar – articulation. Arms, legs, waist and feet all have a good range of movement and the figure has a good weight distribution. Only the neck lets the side down, with a relatively restricted range which means a lot of the poses the limbs and body can pull off end up looking unnatural. As well as the faithful G1-replicating weaponry he comes with a little extra - a little clear plastic set of headphones designed to replicate his security warning light-up ears in the cartoon; the effect of a cel-animated light effect doesn't really translate to plastic but it's a harmless addition.

Transformation Design: 9. Fun, complex without being complicated, short on frustration and the need to make things millimetre-perfect. Unlike a lot of recent car Transformers he's also just as much fun going back to vehicle mode.

Durability: 7. He won't last too well in the hands of a child and the large amount of paint adds a wear factor you won't get on many 2013 toys. However, nothing feels outright fragile and the tolerances seem very good.


Fun: 9. Good transformation, two good modes, captures the character nicely, decent range of articulation. He's low on features beyond “transforms from awesome car to awesome robot” but he does the main job so well it's not a problem.


Articulation: 9. Great weight distribution and sensible joint layout means there's a good mix of poseability and stability.


Value: 9. He's not cheap but you get what you pay for; compared to the price of some War for Cybertron abomination he's very reasonable.


Overall: 9. Not perfection but really as close as you're going to get for either Red Alert or a transforming Countach. Anyone who likes the character or the Autobot car moulds in general should own one version of this mould and for my money Red Alert's the superior option.

inflatable dalek
2014-01-07, 08:26 PM
Wait... he has a flip top head?

*CHECKS*

Oh, that's why I could never get the car mode properly flush.

I'm going to blame the instructions.

So, you're obviously mad for the Masterpiece cars, and I know you're perfectly happy with the previous MP Prime and probably won't be getting V2 as a result, but where do you stand on Soundwave?

Knightdramon
2014-01-07, 09:20 PM
MP10 is very nice as an in-scale model with these cars :up:

As I was puzzled in the acquisitions thread as well, the KO of Red Alert comes with the red piledrivers. You might want to make a note of that 'cause, you know...there might be one or two people left in the fandom who might whine about their toy missing things that were never there :lol:

EDIT: Also, you're like the only person besides me who appreciates the differences between Alert and Sideswipe. Almost everybody else is like "fake wheels on shoulders duh why no"

Blackjack
2014-01-08, 01:11 PM
The Countach mould is quite beautiful, no? Don't own one, but a short experience fiddling around with one, I like it quite a lot.

Cliffjumper
2014-01-08, 11:48 PM
So, you're obviously mad for the Masterpiece cars, and I know you're perfectly happy with the previous MP Prime and probably won't be getting V2 as a result, but where do you stand on Soundwave?

I'm happy with Prime seeing as I've left it too late to get the smaller one... The big one is a majestic figure but sadly looks too absurd with the cars. Sadly about the only way I'll be able to switch would be if I could sell the 20th Anniversary one for about the price MP10 goes for...

Soundwave I'd love but at the moment I simply cannot justify that sort of money on a single item... I'm only getting the cars by hawking surplus DVDs on Amazon, and Soundwave is a lot of surplus DVDs.


As I was puzzled in the acquisitions thread as well, the KO of Red Alert comes with the red piledrivers. You might want to make a note of that 'cause, you know...there might be one or two people left in the fandom who might whine about their toy missing things that were never there :lol:

Oh, are they not on any official ones? Ooops! I guessed they were some sort of exclusive like the Sideswipe ones (which also come with the bootleg)... Will edit that.

EDIT: Also, you're like the only person besides me who appreciates the differences between Alert and Sideswipe. Almost everybody else is like "fake wheels on shoulders duh why no"

Mmm... I can kind-of see where they're coming from as the rest of the toy is free of dummy parts (as is the Datsun) but really it's hard to see the downside to any sort of retooling that puts a bit more distance between the figures.

The Countach mould is quite beautiful, no? Don't own one, but a short experience fiddling around with one, I like it quite a lot.

Mmm, it is nice - both MP car moulds so far are among the best moulds Transformers has come up with for a while, and the general high-grade finish and detail really shows up just how many corners have been cut on main-line stuff from ROTF onwards.

inflatable dalek
2014-01-09, 03:28 PM
Have the bootleggers not bootlegged a cheap Soundwave yet?

Warcry
2014-01-09, 05:20 PM
Considering what they're selling the bootleg cars for, I don't think a bootleg Soundwave would be any cheaper than the Hasbro version went for. Unless they sell him without the tapes, which account for at least 70% of the fun.

Soundwave I'd love but at the moment I simply cannot justify that sort of money on a single item...
Obviously you need to do what I did and count the cassettes as separate items.

"No honey, I'm not spending $130 on one Transformer. See, there's six of them!" :glance:

But seriously, the Hasbro version with all the tapes included was pretty good value for money compared to pretty much all the other Masterpieces. Whether or not you can find one now for non-scalped prices, though...that's the question.

Cliffjumper
2014-01-09, 05:37 PM
Yeh, the bootlegs really aren't dirt cheap, just cheap-er (especially for Sideswipe when I got mine, though I understand there's a second run). I do think that - providing you like the ethos of the line - the MP cars offer very good value for money compared to current Voyager figures.

With Soundwave, like MP10 I've probably missed the boat... It'll probably annoy me more in X years when I've got a full set of cars or something, but then aftermarket prices only tend to rise so high; he'll hit a peak in about six months when the shelves are definitely scoured and then probably stay there or thereabouts for years (or drop if there's a reissue... and I would say with a non-licenced alt mode Soundwave's one we'll see again).

MP-10 strikes me a little bit like Classics Magnus, in that lots of people weren't really interested when he came out but then because of other releases (FP City Commander Armour for supporting cars) he suddenly becomes more desirable.

Knightdramon
2014-01-09, 11:22 PM
There's a year of the horse MP10 Prime coming to the UK for around 120 pounds...colourscheme is a bit absurd in anything but the robot mode though.

Soundwave *is* worth it at the 120 or so pounds TRU ask for him in the UK. He's essentially a big playset with all 5 cassettes.

MP10 Prime and MP11 Starscream both suffered from the classics magnus syndrome, yes. Not anymore :swirly: