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numbat's review of: MP-B01 Masterpiece King Exkaiser

Name: MP-B01 King Exkaiser
Function: Galactic Law Enforcement

The latest in Takara’s Masterpiece line is a welcome surprise! Following on from MP-01 Convoy and MP-02 Ultra Magnus, we actually get a whole new mold, and one that I’m sure no person in the Western World was expecting – King Exkaiser!

‘Exkaiser? Exkaiser?’ I’ve heard many ask. ‘Who the Hell’s that?’ All that you ought to need to know is that he is one amazing kick-ass transforming mecha, made by Takara.

For those who want a little more info, here’s a bit. The first thing is, Exkaiser is not technically a Transformer. He instead belongs to a series of, um, series, all with the prefix ‘Brave’ or ‘Yuusha’. Each of the eight Brave series was a separate and self-contained story, focusing on human interaction with transforming robots. Brave Fighter Exkaiser was the hero of the first of these series. Now, these were all broadcast in Japan in the ‘90s, when Transformers G2 had fallen out of the limelight, and Takara was looking for a replacement series, learning from the Transformers experience with the US. The result, in partnership with Sunrise, a company all you anime fans will be well aware of (and if not, shame on you!), was a series of quite fantastic and epic cartoons.

So, Exkaiser is, for all intents and purposes – as far as I’m concerned – a Transformer: he just doesn’t wear an Autobot (Cybertron) or Decepticon (Destron) badge.

Now, this is one complex toy, and the review demands subdivision into Brave Fighter Exkaiser, King Loader, and King Exkaiser. If you don’t understand now, you’ll soon catch on…

(The set also includes some tiny figures of characters from the show – these are not covered in this review.)

Brave Fighter Exkaiser: The little fellow

Alternate Mode:

Brave Fighter Exkaiser’s alternate mode is responsible for a lot of confusion leading up to this toy’s release. Many people, seeing the unpainted prototype photos recognized the similarity with G1 Hot Rod’s (Rodimus Major’s) car mode, and thought that this was some incarnation of the chap.

Indeed, the car mode does look an awful lot like Hot Rod, ignoring colour, and is exceedingly cool.

The white and red colour scheme works beautifully, as it always does on futuristic vehicles. The blue windows just bring it all together, and the lion symbol on the bonnet is a nice, simple, and perfectly executed touch. In fact, that’s a theme in this toy. The whole affair has such simple geo-organic shapes to it that appear simple, but are anything but in the perfect execution and engineering. Highlights for me, perhaps bizarrely, are the taillights, which are beautifully brought out with metallic green.

The only detractor to this alternate mode is the fact that the robot mode hands are visible from the rear. Other than that, measuring in at 3” (7.5cm) in length, this is as perfect as they come.

Robot Mode:

Exkaiser’s transformation is a work of genius. Although apparently simple, it is anything but. Still, amazingly, it’s not fiddly at all. I won’t give away any of the details – it would spoil the fun of working it out (and spending this much money, I don’t want to take anything away!), or interpreting the impressive tome of instructions…

The end result is an incredibly detailed, well-balanced (colour and gravity-wise) and amazingly articulated robot. The predominant colour scheme is, again, red white and blue, but now we have details picked out in gold, with metallic green on the shoulders (those taillights), and the lion’s eyes.

In total I count 18 points of useful articulation (i.e., not joints just for transformation), 10 of which are ball joints. With the incredible centre of gravity, you really can pose this guy as you like! This is absolutely phenomenal, bundled in to a 4” (10cm) tall figure!

The set also includes multiple hands, allowing for a greater ability to showcase, along the same lines as THS-01 Galaxy Convoy, who does not look out of place or scale standing alongside this fellow in standard robot mode. Also, there’s an additional chest-piece, which adds to the amazing representation of this character! However, changing this plate is also the only fiddly and annoying part of the wee guy…

Furthermore, you also get various projectiles that can be attached to Exkaiser’s wrists to appear as though they are being fired! Coupled with the aerial display stand included, the sky is truly the limit in displaying MP Exkaiser!

King Loader: The big rig

Alternate Mode:

King Loader’s alternate mode is a big futuristic rig, measuring in at 10 ½” (27cm) long. It has two cabs located at the front, and a long flat top. There’s loads of lovely detail along the vehicle, with red, white and blue again the main colour pallet, although this time the blue is not used as frequently. There’s also gold and chrome detailing, with a splash of other colours here and there.

I can’t help but think of G1 Skyfire (oh, alright, Jetfire…) looking at the overall design and colour scheme.

I can find no faults with this mode whatsoever, and think it makes a very nice display piece.

Robot Mode:

Technically, King Loader does not have a robot mode. Instead, it transforms into a battle suit of sorts for Brave Fighter Exkaiser.

The transformation is deceptively simple. I say deceptively, because, really, it’s not at all. You can get a good way to the final product through the simple parts, but in this case the devil truly is in the details. There are so many little panels to flip, and clasps to swivel, not to mention a box to invert, before you get to the end. It reminds me very much of the sequence in Transformers: The Movie when you see Unicron transform from Galvatron’s perspective. I’m sure you know what I mean.

Still, it is very satisfying when you reach the end.

All you have to do now is leave the suit open… Exkaiser’s gonna need it…

King Exkaiser: The whole shebang

Alternate Mode:

As a sideline, keeping up the suspense for what I know everyone is waiting for, the two alternate modes can also combine. This basically gives you King Loader being towed by Exkaiser. The result looks so much like what Rodimus Prime should have been… Sigh…

The only problem with this is the reverse transformation of King Loader. The feet are a nightmare. They take so much effort to flip back, and it feels like you’re gonna break him every time…

It’s such a conundrum, as the mode looks soooooooo goooooood…

(Oh, and much the same as Galaxy Convoy, there’s a flying mode that looks crap.)

Robot Mode:

This is it. What you’ve all been waiting for. Anybody who buys this toy is forking out the cash for this mode, without a doubt. Sure, all the features help, but this guy rocks too much to be ignored.

Loading the much smaller Exkaiser into King Loader, you close up the suit, and you have – KING EXKAISER!

Standing at 9” (23cm) tall, he dwarfs Exkaiser, and looks great displayed alongside THS-01 Galaxy Convoy Supermode.

The level of articulation is truly awe-inspiring. And, remember, Exkaiser is inside King Exkaiser – his legs within the large suit legs! Yet the articulation is so superb! There are 19 meaningful points of articulation (with a myriad of smaller details, allowing you to strike any pose you could imagine, thanks to the again excellent centre of gravity, and wonderfully articulate ankles. I won’t give away all the nice features, but you can store a short sword in leg compartments, and his knees flip open to reveal cannons!

Furthermore, you are able to remove the mouth plate on his head, giving two very different looks. The face sculpt actually looks quite similar to the ever elusive C-00 Primus…

We also, again, have a selection of hands, despite the primary hands being articulated at the fingers (one joint for all four fingers). This allows a number of nice poses.

The accessories are also mind-boggling! We have a collapsible short sword, attachable projectile (along the same lines as Brave Fighter Exkaiser’s), and, of course, the beautiful 8 ½” (21.5cm) long sword! This guy means business!

The colour scheme is again – you guessed it – red, white and blue. However, we again have gold highlights – most notably on the lion’s head, which is perfection with the glowing metallic green eyes! There are also perfectly printed symbols on his wings. All in all, he reminds me of Jetfire again, as well as RID Ultra Magnus, and would certainly not look out of place in Galaxy Force or Cybertron collections.

The sheer level of articulation, transformation, and the fact that this is a suit with a smaller robot inside just defies belief! And the whole piece is perfection in simplicity. The shapes and curves are all just perfect.

Oh, and I forgot to mention (well, delayed, really) that nearly the entirety of King Loader is made of metal! This toy is absolute pure Transformer perfection. There is no excuse for it to be missing from your collection!

Given the serious investment required to pick up this guy, I thought I’d write a slightly longer summary than usual. However, bear in mind - this guy is a masterpiece...

Transformation: 10 – Exkaiser’s transformation is exceedingly complex for such a tiny figure, although not overly fiddly. King Loader, on the other hand, has a grossly simple transformation. The devil, however, is in the details. The number of tiny things which have to be flipped about makes for an overall complicated affair. King Exkaiser himself is rather fiddly to achieve, but the transformation / combination is simple enough, despite the amazing engineering!

Durability: 5 – The guy is generally solid as a brick, but the big fellow is almost uniquely made of metal, allowing for chipping (although mine hasn’t yet, and I have to say he has held a huge amount of my attention after work since receiving him – much to my fiancée’s dismay…). Furthermore, King Exkaiser’s feet are a real nightmare to unflip after combining King Loader with Exkaiser in alternate modes. I am seriously concerned that it will break, and, even so, it can take an age to manage to flip the feet out. I don’t know if this is a design flaw, or if this guy is just too solidly built, but, considering the price – it’s terrifying! Furthermore, the number of spare hands in particular is a disaster waiting to happen – particularly the 4mm long hands of Exkaiser…

Fun: 10 – It’s impossible to describe how much fun this guy is.

Price: 2 – MP-B01 King Exkaiser does not come cheap. I picked mine up for a whopping £70 ($125). And, certainly my fiancée’s response upon my opening the box was – “That’s not your £70 one is it? I thought it was big!” Furthermore, given his Western obscurity, he is not too easy to find. Still, in my view, he is more than worth the price.

Overall: 9 – There is really very little reason why this guy should be absent from your collection. I know the ‘not actually being a Transformer’ thing is a major stumbling block for many, but you really have to ask yourself why. There is not a better Transformer out there, fun-wise, aesthetics-wise, and especially engineering-wise. Grab him if you have the money, and actually find him.
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