Skyquake87's Review: Masterpiece Tigertrack
Bio: A fierce and dedicated sentry, Tigertrack patrols Autobot installations with unmatched vigilance. His incredibly acute sensor packages enable him to spot approaching enemies through extreme low-visibility conditions, and can even see through camouflage screens and other optical illusions. Combined with powerful weapons and blazing speed, Tigertrack is one tough 'bot to get past!
Man, I've wanted Tigertrack for the longest time. Or it feels like it, at least. Back in 2002, Transformers fandom was a quietly thrilling time for me. The turn of the century suddenly saw the old Marvel comics back in print (thank you Titan) and, joy of joys, re-releases of the original Transformers toys (thank you Hasbro). As giddy and exciting as I found those, I was also fascinated by the origins of the Transformers toys, which were scattered over half a dozen Japanese toylines, chief among them Diaclone. I liked seeing familiar faces in different get ups, and ended up picking up a few of E-Hobby's 'exclusives' which brought the Diaclone colours for a number of these toys into the Transformers universe, making legitimate characters out of them. For the most part, anyway. Probably best not to dwell on the mess that was made with the now nameless Minibot recolours.
The Countach mould which had spawned Sideswipe had had many colour variants as part of the Diaclone line. Whilst I snapped up Deep Cover and Clamp Down (yes yes, he's the emergency service version that gave us Red Alert, but the base is the same, so shut up at the back) and was suitably impressed by them (especially the oddly not-a-Decepticon Deep Cover with his emo colour palette), I was blown away by the yellow Sideswipe. I don't know why. There's just something that appeals to me about it on some gut level. Whatever, I just thought it was proper ace and I wanted one. There's also some moderate intrigue with this being the intended toy for Sunstreaker. The figure was eventually re-released, but only as a frustrating limited edition Figure King Magazine mail away effort in a boring box, which meant he instantly cost an arm and a leg on the aftermarket. So he's become one of my 'if only...' collecting fantasies, which is tempered by the reality of handing over a wedge for what is, at the end of the day, a fairly unremarkable toy, being a very silly thing to do.
Fast forward ten years, and we have the newly re-energised Masterpiece line that has fandom all a-swooning. Me, I've been less impressed. Whilst I love my Masterpiece Grimlock and am very impressed with Masterpiece Soundwave and his five little friends, I've been unimpressed with the Masterpiece Autobot Cars. Mainly I think, because I liked how Binaltech had done something similar a decade ago, by having the whole licensed vehicle to robot thing going on, but with the added benefits of greater detailing, glossy paint, rubber tyres, chromed parts, die cast and even things like steering. Although there were some stinkers, the line to me, was a proper updating of those familiar old 'Geewun' faces. These new Masterpiece cars don't feel like that. They're totally plastic and roughly the same size as a modern Voyager scale figure, which ultimately makes them glorified Generations figures.
Of course, being the shallow hypocrite that I am, my interest was piqued by the announcement that the Sideswipe mould would be getting a recolour ...as Tigertrack, you know, the one guy I really want. Better yet, this version isn't some super limited, never going to own it in a million years effort, but something with a modest production run that means if you're interested and you like the less obvious stuff, there's a strong chance you can get your hands on it.
Still comes in a boring box, though, with him all greyed out. Rubbish. Although the seller I bought this off did pack in the oddly sold Amazon.jp chromed piledrivers which made up for this. A bit.
Tigertrack is really nicely proportioned in robot mode, in the same way the original toy was. There's a good balance of colour too, with the yellow broken up with white and black. Some dabs of red and blue on his shins and feet give him some extra points of visual interest. His bright colours just make him look a bit more exciting and interesting than Sideswipe, like a bowl of custard that's exploded in your face. The arms are these nice cuboid blocks with these great wee grabby hands. His broad shoulders are a bit gappy, but look the part and I kind of like that they look totally unconnected to the main body. They're certainly nice and solid, anyway. His bonce is great too. It's the same one used on mould mate Red Alert (it says here) so is just a neat update of the original toys' horned space helmet. Although its hard to see from the pictures, he also has some sexy deep blue eyes. The vast expanse of bonnet that makes up the chest does look a bit overbearing and is much better in hand than any images show. Strange that. He has a couple of Autobot insignias you can slap on this. I've left them off. Lacking the silver background, they're just a blurry red splodge on the bonnet to me. The legs are nice and stocky too and give him some great balance, even though they are rather hollow, being made up of a load of panels that clip together. He comes with a cool looking shoulder mounted rocket launcher. It's a minor disappointment that this thing doesn't launch any missiles, compromised as it is by having a port to connect the rifle to. As this is just destined for a collector's shelf, its not a big deal. The silver rifle I'm not too keen on. It just looks a bit cheap and horrible, truth be told. 8/10
The Lamborghini Countach is one of the sexiest looking high end sports cars ever made. So tis nice that Takara Tomy have done the thing justice. It's a beefy, low slung wedge of a thing and its cool as. Rendered in bright yellow, it looks incredible. I've always liked yellow on sports cars, just really suits them. Sadly, the brighter hue does rather show up the join lines. Tigertrack's display piece ethos is further cemented as there is very little clearance between the wheels and the ground. As tightly packed as all the robot parts are inside this thing, the chasis is just a little too low to the ground to allow this thing to move very smoothly, which is a shame. The paint to plastic matching is excellent overall, although as ever, the roof section is translucent plastic so the paint is given a slightly different hue and as a result doesn't quite match the bodywork, but its not through wont of trying. One thing to mention is how awesome it is to see the idiosyncratic hubs on this thing. Always synonymous with the Countach, they were understandably lacking on the Diaclone version and seeing these here instantly tickles my nostalgia bone, triggering memories of gawping at those glorious airbrushed Atrhena posters of the thing. You can put the combined missile launcher/ rifle on the roof for a fun looking attack mode, thanks to a neat recessed weapon port. 7/10
There's no doubt that Takara Tomy have learnt considerably from what Binaltech taught them a decade ago. There's a similar feel to the way the parts are jointed and move between one form and another, but its just all so smooth and slick. The roof and tops of the doors are perhaps the fiddliest bit to do, but aren't frustrating or annoying. There's clearly been a lot of thought and care put into how this will all work and I for one am suitably impressed. The only niggle is getting the chest clipped onto the tab on the waist – but I wonder if I've just got a duff one. 8/10
He's all plastic, so he's going to outlive me. He does feel incredibly light though, like there's nothing much too him and a strong breeze could take him out. This lightness does mean he can survive a tumble off a shelf. There's nothing that feels fragile or easy to break. He probably won't survive having a brick dropped on him, but other than that he's sturdy enough. 8/10
Honestly? There's Deluxe and Voyager class toys with more points of articulation than Tigertrack. That said, he has enough to strike some decent poses thanks to the use of some of the best joints to hit Transformers toys – swivel joints, universal balljoints and all that carry on. There's no waist joint or neck, but he doesn't really miss these things. 6/10
Nice as he is, Tigertrack, in common with a lot of collector toys doesn't really offer play value in the same way a regular Transformers figure does. His play value and fun factor is mitigated by being a fairly complex figure that's just been designed to look hot in vehicle mode and pretty in robot mode. Like the larger Masterpiece toys, he's more decorative than anything else. So if that's how you get your jollies, you'll probably get more out of him than I can on this front. 5/10
Tigertrack was produced as an exclusive for the Tokyo Toyfare, so expect to pay above the norm for these new Masterpiece cars. He usually retails for around £70 and if I'm honest, he's not worth that much. If, however, you're after an affordable Tigertrack figure, then he's a no brainer. It pays to shop around at a bit as well, as his price has come down slightly from what it was. 5/10
In truth, there's not really much to recommend about Tigertrack. He's a figure squarely aimed at the hardcore obsessive. Unless you've some particular interest in the Transformers heritage, he's not a figure to be sought out over and above mould mates Sideswipe and Red Alert. He doesn't offer the same sort of nostalgia glow as Sideswipe or Red Alert and whilst he may end up pinch hitting for Sunstreaker, he can't really pull off that character's distinctive look. The lightweight all plastic construction also stops the figure being a true Masterpiece and whilst the design and engineering is first rate, these things don't really recapture the quality feel of their original toys. That's not why these things are popular and I know I'm in the minority when it comes to this opinion. I just expect premium materials for the premium price and Tigertrack, much as I am pleased to own a version of him, just falls exceptionally short in this area. 6.7/10