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Knightdramon's Review: Masterpiece Ironhide

Name: MP 27 Ironhide
Function: Cybertron Security
Subgroup: Autobot Carbots
Size Class: N/A

I'm sure there's very few TF fans who do not know who Ironhide is. Optimus Prime's trusted bodyguard, always centre-stage in the G1 cartoon, good natured bot with a southern accent.

Ironhide pretty much faded into obscurity after the 1986 movie, the name kept alive only by toys that looked nothing like him getting that designation. The second "proper" Ironhide to emerge is the 2007 movie one, which shares a lot of traits with our old G1 bot. After the success of the 2007 movie, Ironhide once again took centre stage and has been present, in one form or another, in every TF iteration ever since.

Toy-wise, Ironhide was a disappointment in G1. Due to the cartoon "humanizing" all the toy models to make them more super-hero like and children-friendly, Ironhide went from a short bot with a sticker behind a windshield for a face and a battle platform to a rather generic humanoid with a van windshield for a chest. When I got my G1 Ironhide back in the early 90ies [EU Classics series!] I distinctly remember being disappointed at the lack of similarity between what I grew to want from the TV show to what I got in the toy.

The second G1-iteration toy Ironhide was the 2008 Universe figure, which garnered a lot of unnecessary, in this reviewer's opinion, hate back then. It was a very decently articulated bot which suffered from a very, very panel-oriented transformation that "shredded up" the truck mode, and an assembly oversight that meant you could never align the bot torso properly unless you cut away some pieces.

Fast forward to 2015, we get the first glimpses of an MP Ironhide [I believe it was summertime 2015] at a toy show, alongside a tease for MP Primal. Ironhide has once again, traditionally, suffered criticism almost from the get-go due to some odd design choices when it came to his waist section and where some panels ended up.

Initially scheduled for December 2015, his release date was pushed back to the end of January 2016. As of this review he has been out at most major retailers for roughly a week.

Following a rather mixed response for MP Tracks, many fans were sceptical about Ironhide, his design choices, and if he's truly an MP figure. I think I can safely say that he is unanimously well-received and feels more like a misplaced Soul of Chogokin release [taken as a compliment] than a standard MP release!

Vehicle Mode

Ironhide makes his debut in the Masterpiece line as an accurate, licensed replica of the Nissan Cherry Vanette. This is undoubtedly the most iconic version of Ironhide and the MP line finally does it justice.

I am not really a car expert but this is the 1978 version of the model, and it is a model I frequently saw on the streets in the 90ies. It's not a particularly impressive or beefy model [which is why I find the live movie 2007 GMC truck really does the character more justice] but it does the job it's supposed to.

Pretty much every visible bit of the van is painted. A candy gloss red paint encompasses the entire chasis. The door handles and backdoor hatch handle anre picked out in silver, which matches the silver used on his rims. The rear lights are clear plastic [3 different shades, no less!] while the read bumper and exhaust are chromed. The windows are all clear blue plastic [all exactly the same shade] but the last window on either side only features clear plastic for half the window---the back half is solid red. It matches some cartoon appearances but not the actual vehicle, where those windows are either fully opaque or fully clear. The front bumper and headlights [just the headlights] are also chromed, while the headlights' frame is silver. The top of the van has a gunmetal gray section in the centre, and each side features the characteristic yellow line running through, although for some reason there is a gradient in the colours. The line starts off yellow but fades to murky orange about halfway through.

The van has an impressive amount of moulded detail, including door handles, gas hatch, the rims design, windshield wipers and even a ridge on what is functionally the slider for the side doors of the van. No doors open throughout the van. Despite being fully licensed there's no sigil or badge of Nissan on the van. Thanks to the glossy paint the segmentation lines on all the moving bits are not immediately visible, although if you pick up the figure you can clearly see all of them. There are no unsightly gaps or rough edges though.

The van is very roughly 14 cm long, less than 6 cm wide and around 7.5 cm tall, which enables it to fit nicely in the MP10 cab or on Ultra Magnus' carrier. He expands quite a lot for transformation [think Animated Lockdown] so do not be put off by the relatively meager size in car mode. That being said, he is roughly in visual scale with the rest of the carbots and does not look out of place with them.

There aren't many gimmicks---he rolls and that's it. There's a springloaded panel on his roof [on the gray section] that you can plug any of his 3 guns [detailed in the robot mode section] for an attack mode like all of his car mates. His two smaller pistols can be inserted into the gapped slots on his underside for storage, but be warned that it is quite a tight fit and getting them out requires some force. Lastly, there's a panel [only visible in van mode] homaging the G1 toy face sticker bang on centre on the front windshield.

All in all this is a very nifty and compact van mode. Truth be told it is nothing outstanding on its own but the transformation process, which involves the upper half of the van briefly exploding outwards and then contracting itself while the legs fold and flip around to do away with any recognizable van bits is very, very satisfactory. There's quite a lot of clever engineering and the fact that such a compact van which can fit in the MP trailer can expand to a seeker-sized robot is impressive, but be very wary of tolerances [detailed towards the end of the review].

Robot Mode

During transformation, Ironhide feels like the love child of a number of transformation schemes and styles from various figures released in the past decade, all melded and perfected into one. The upper torso is formed from the compressed panels of the top section of the van formed in a way not very much unlike BT and HA Skids, with more intense compressing and folding than ever before. The arms are pretty much a high-end and more complete version of Prime RID Knockout with a few extra joints, and the legs bring to mind Soul of Chogokin Ideon with the panels closing and folding as well as a hint of the relatively more recent MP Ultra Magnus.

MP Ironhide stands roughly 21-22 cm tall to the top of his head. He is gorgeously painted and manages to pretty much do away with almost all the van bits to present us a reasonably accurate version of the stylized and rather generic G1 cartoon design.

The overwhelming majority of his body is coated in paint. All the red sections are coated in a glossy deep red. His thighs and waist are a glorious silver. His shoulders are gunmetal gray, which carries over to his backplate. Both faceplates are a rather lovely shade of light gray. The clear dark blue windshield perfectly frames his chest area, adorned by the chromed headlights and bumper, which end off with the painted turn lights and the light silver abs piece. A lovely Autobot symbol with the painted black windshield wipers finishes off his chest details.

There are a few unpainted parts on his robot frame. His stock fists are unpainted [thankfully, more on that later], the gray platform his head is on and the red shoulder tabs are also unpainted plastic. The gray of his torso [not really visible from the front] as well as the back of his thigh joints are knees also appears unpainted, but these pieces are not really visible from the front.

Sculpted detail is present but not overwhelming. In order to stay as accurate to the cartoon source material as possible, Ironhide features a lot of smooth details without even a hint of panel lines. His shoulders, upper forearms, thighs, lower legs and feet are all smooth surfaces with largely no sculpted lines. This "blandness", so to speak, is broken up by the intense detailing of the platform his head is on, some forearm detailing on his lower arms, and some rather lovely detailing on his backpack and sides/back of his legs and torso. His headsculpt did draw some criticism when initially unveiled, as it was deemed to be too long or too youthful for Ironhide, and Takara has delivered a reasonably accurate sculpt framed on a lovely helmet. There are two faces included with the figure, a standard stoic face and a lovely "yelling" face.

Kibble is rather minimal in this mode. Thanks to a lot of panel shifting, the lower end of the van just vanishes into smooth legs, with the only remaining pieces of "kibble" being his side skirt pieces with the wheels that wrap around his back and the side windows that end up on the back of his forearms. This makes room for a very clean and poseable robot.

With a couple of odd choices of joints, articulation is simply brilliant. The thighs have a full range of forward motion [skirt armour cleverly flips up to accommodate that], but are slightly restricted if you wish to splay them side to side or backwards, as the side skirt pieces and wheels will impede their motion. The knees are ratcheted and offer 90 degrees of bend [single joint]. There's two swivels--one on his thigh piece and one just over the knee joint. The feet have got an impressive inwards tilt and a little bit of a backwards and forwards motion. Do note that the bottom of the feet is the back end of the truck, which is fully painted, but his heel and toe edge out a few millimetres which means you won't be scratching any paint when putting him down on any surfaces.

His waist rotates around just enough to pull of some cool poses [roughly 45 degrees in each direction before getting stuck on other parts]. His shoulders are ratcheted in two parts and can fully rotate around and outwards. His upper elbow part can freely rotate on a very tight joint and his elbow is pinned for 90 degrees of bend. His stock fists can freely rotate around, his four fingers are jointed and can open up and due to his transformation he can even bend his wrist downwards quite a bit without really breaking the sculpt. His head is on a ball joint [full rotation all around but not quite that much of a tilt to the side] and the platform it is on can be lifted forward to get that "looking down on you" angle. He can look up and his neck is sculpted in a way that it does not break his sculpt at all.

If there's one thing I'd change it would be to give him ratcheted thighs as well, as he is a larger figure and would benefit more from them.

If his transformation was not that evocative of a Soul of Chogokin release, then his accessories surely are. TakaraTomy really pulled all stops on this one, giving us pretty much every single bit of gadget that Ironhide was ever seen on for 2 seconds a a time, and topped it up by offering us an homage to the original toy as a base.

Irohide comes with an additional yelling face [as described above] and Takara have finally perfected the way of changing them around---unlike Bumblebee's ordeal, you only have to push his crest forward to disengage the face from the one tab it sits on, and change them around. He also comes with a card cutout for his chest and a little radar that plugs on his forearm to simulate the two seconds he spent getting readouts for the skeletons used for the Dinobots.

He also features a clip on backpack with additional flame booster effects for that one time he flew in the sky. The backpack can also be pegged on the arm as a trendy double barreled blaster.

In addition to these, he has 3 interchangeable hand accessories, each coming in a set of two. He has some static-pose hands, opened up with each fingertip being barrelled for bullets or spray or whatever he used that one time, two gunmetal gray hoover like blaster-type cannons and two red barrel tips that he used to get that glue/cement out of his hands.

Furthermore, he has a modernized version of the toy's battle station launcher, all chromed out [top is chrome, non-firing missile is chrome, base is gunmetal gray, extra joint is silver] which has three points of articulation on the arm and can plug on his back to re-enact the scene in MTMTE2 or 3 where he flies with Bluestreak after the Decepticons before getting shot out of the sky.

Lastly, he features 3 handheld guns. The biggest gun is again a modernized version of the toy platform gun of the G1 toy. The smaller two are replicas of the pistols he briefly used in the 1986 movie. The pistols are fully coated in silver while the larger gun is chrome on a gray handle. All three guns need quite a bit of fiddling to get in his hands securely, which is why I am glad that there is not a coat of paint on his hands to further complicate the process. All guns use a tab and slot system seen on all other carbots, but it is exceptionally tight on Ironhide so please be mindful as you could end up with a broken thumb on the figure!

All guns have a designated spot to sit on the battle platform. The battle platform is moulded in red and decently detailed on the base side, but hollow underneath and plain on the outer sides. This is a neat extra that will not double as anything other than a base to slot all the stuff on, as it is too small for Ironhide to use it as an actual battle platform.

Overall I would say that this is a very nice, high-end release in the MP line. There are merits and faults with the figure, but none necessarily overshadow the rest.

Ironhide is very decently articulated, very finely painted, and features a very intuitive transformation that compresses and hides a lot of his mass. He goes from medium sized car to almost MP10 sized robot and has a plethora of display options to go with it.

He does feel like a love child of many different transformations coming together, each working in unison with the rest, and the overall result is generally a pleasure to change back and forth.

However, due to exactly how he compacts down or expands around himself, he is a bit more hollow in parts and is generally lighter than you'd expect. While the designer has undoubtedly worked magic on getting a van to become a relatively kibble free robot, he is best viewed from certain angles as his torso relies on the front of the van to get a definitive shape and looks lacking from other angles.

My only real gripe with him is with the tolerances in transformation. There are some insanely tight tolerances on many parts---I am not a fan of how you have to flex the plastic each and every time you fold the panels of his legs over the tab that's left over from the side of the van, or how you're sandwiching are keeping in very, very close proximity to each other the thin clear plastic bits on his upper torso. Furthermore, I still have not found a way to clear his arms/side of the torso properly when going back to or from van mode, as they inadvertently bump on his backplate.

Despite these drawbacks, I honestly feel that MP Ironhide is yet another step in the right direction in the rebooted MP line, and this is the first time that the "collector's line" has brought us a decent Ironhide figure; the Binaltech line skipped them, and Alternity did not go that far. The transformation is scary but very clever and makes me hopeful that some bits could be smoothed out for the upcoming Ratchet. The robot mode is imposing, accurate and very articulated and the overal price for this package is a steal in my opinion.

If you were on the fence about this release after MP Tracks, I would advise you to either get one now or wait for the Ratchet retool---both/either are worthy of your attention if you like these characters or high end transforming figures in general!

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: Both 5 and 10! 10 as it is an ingenious and very refreshing, no parts-forming way to get two perfect modes, but 5 as there are many clearance issues with both upper and lower body.
Durability: 7. Nothing feels brittle but I'd be careful with the clear plastic compressing together for the upper body, the tight tolerances and his very snug fit on the handguns. All joints are decently stiff and he can take a fall in robot mode!
Fun: 10. This really feels like a premium release. It has all the tidbits from the cartoon so everybody can re-enact their favourite scenes, the transformation is satisfying and the robot mode poses and displays well with the others in the line.
Aesthetics: 7. He looks very retro in either mode, which is a plus or a minus depending on your POV. I am a fan of the retro look stemming from a well-engineered and complex transformation, but it's not everybody's cup of tea. Do note the relatively odd proportions on his waist/sides of the body.
Articulation: 8. Only thing missing is double jointed knees and elbows, but even so, he's great.
Price/Value: 10. Complex bot, large robot, so many accessories you don't know what to do with and all that for roughly 10.000 yen before any discounts. I got mine, shipping included, for less than 60 pounds which is a bargain for the UK market.
Overall: 8. Transformation issues with clearance aside, no real faults on this one. While I find his accessories superfluous, I don't begrudge them. Looking forward to Ratchet.
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