Takara MP-27 Masterpiece Ironhide

Classic Masterpiece box design
Classic Masterpiece box design

The Basics

Takara’s MP-27 Masterpiece Ironhide is the 12th new mold in the relatively recent reset of the official Masterpiece line, making an attempt to keep all of the figures released since MP-10 Masterpiece Convoy (Optimus Prime) in “scale” with each other. I surrounded scale in quotes because the whole subject is a very contentious one among our fandom. But I digress… we’re here to talk about Ironhide! As you can see from the beautiful box art above, Takara has done a wonderful job capturing the G1 animation look in physical form. From the exquisite Nissan Cherry Vanette alt mode to the tall and imposing ‘bot mode, Ironhide is sure to bring back those childhood memories from the original cartoon.

Tech Specs

Since MP-22 Ultra Magnus, Takara has been putting very elaborate artwork on the front of the tech specs card, as opposed to the rather simple artwork on a grid background they used up through MP-21 Bumble. The back of the card still shows 2 shots of the toy (in both alternate and robot modes), along with a bio in Japanese and the 8 main stats that have accompanied Transformer toys since the 80’s.

Tech Specs

The back of the box also shows off the plethora of accessories that Ironhide comes with (which I’ll detail later). It goes over details about Ironhide’s character (again, in Japanese which I cannot read) along with a comparison shot of Ironhide with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee so you can see how he scales with those figures. It also shows how he (and every Earth-vehicle based Masterpiece) can fit into MP-10’s trailer in alt mode. It’s a nice touch, but how many of us display our toys this way? I suppose they’ve set a standard and they must adhere to it! 🙂

Back of the box
Back of the box

Bot Mode

bot1

Ironhide is one beautiful looking, very faithful representation to the G1 animation model. His red is a very rich color, with basically perfect paint application all around. No worries about thin application of the paint like there were on MP-12 Sideswipe here!

Starting from the top, we have a very nice face sculpt that looks like it popped right off the screen. His head has full 360-degree rotation along with a fair amount of up and down movement. His shoulder are softly ratcheted on the forward 360-degree axis, and the outward/upward movement projects a very satisfying, loud clickity sound! Due to the transformation, his shoulders can raise straight up over his head, allowing for much freedom in posing options. He has full 360-degree swivel on his wrists, and the hands are the typical carbot style where the thumb is fixed and the four fingers are all pinned at the first knuckle on the hand. This allows you to firmly plug one of his weapons in place, but does not let you get very expressive with them. As of this writing, KFC will be releasing fully articulated hands which are up for pre-order at the usual online toy retailers. Elbows are limited to a typical 90-degrees of bend (no double joints here).

Ironhide has a full waist swivel, and here is where we start to see some of the issues people have had with this design. If you look at my robot mode picture above, I’ve done a slight tweak to the standard transformation where I’ve left the hip skirts slightly upturned so I can fold the wheels in the help fill in the lower back of the figure. The official instructions show you to have the hip skirts facing straight down so the wheels will fold in flat and lock in place via small tabs. This has the unfortunate effect of giving Ironhide a tire-shaped buttocks. It also leaves him a bit hollow from a straight-on side view, which is why I’ve chosen the alter this step a bit.

Robot back side
Robot back side

You can see the small rectangular slots that the wheels are supposed to plug in to. This view also shows you how otherwise tidy the robot mode really is. There are no gargantuan backpacks or other bits of vehicle hanging off the back of this guy! Takara makes good use of panels in the leg transformation to help hide the wheels and any other obvious van kibble. His hips have a good range forward and backward, with the front hip skirts swiveling up to allow the forward movement. Outward movement is hindered to about 45-degrees by the hip skirts, though this limitation is slightly lessened by the change I’ve made to the transformation. The knees offer a solid 90-degree bend with a very satisfying ratchet, along with swivels just above the knee. The feet offer a very generous inward ankle tilt, but there is unfortunately no toe bend (though the ankles do rock forward and backward a bit). The bumper does flip up to form a heel that helps with stability very nicely. Though there is no die cast in Ironhide, he is very stable and can hold any pose you can get him into very well.

Alt Mode

Nissan Cherry Vanette
Nissan Cherry Vanette

Ironhide’s alternate/vehicle mode is a very clean rendition of the Nissan Cherry Vanette that he took the form of in the G1 cartoon. Though there are some obvious panel lines, the whole thing snaps together very tightly, with no real gaps to speak of, and this offers a lot of play value as you don’t have to worry about something popping out of place or collapsing in your grip as you “vroom-vroom” him across your desk or floor!

As you can see, the paint is just as perfect here as it was in robot mode, with some nice touches. The nice 3-tone stripe down the side is sharply applied, the Autobot logo on the front is clean, and the roof has a painted sunroof to replicate the original vehicle’s look. There is also a spring-loaded port on the roof to allow for a weapon to be plugged in. The bumpers and headlights have a very nice chrome on them, and the tail lights are actually clear plastic lenses, adding to the realism of the design. The windows are a translucent blue that do an OK job of hiding the robot parts inside… but what is this we see?

G1 robot face homage
G1 robot face homage

Oh Takara, you cheeky bastards! They molded in a face on the armature that holds the upper part of the robot torso together during transformation, in homage to the G1 toy’s face-sticker that was applied to the driver’s seat to give the robot something resembling a head.

Transformation

Generally, the transformation on this guy is fairly intuitive and easy-going. That’s not to say you won’t need to instructions for it, but once you’ve done it it’s fairly easy to repeat smoothly the second time through. It does a nice job of going from alt mode to robot mode all while hiding bits behind folding panels and creating a clean robot look. The forearms hold a bit of vehicle kibble on their underside, and the aforementioned wheels on his backside are a bit of a let down, but without a fair amount of extra engineering and parts count I don’t think it could have gone another way.

The rear wheels do a neat trick on double hinges to hide away in the lower legs, and the side of the vehicle splits up into panels the encase the shins in a nice solid package. The arms flip out to the side on a multitude of hinges and ratcheting joints that are surprisingly complex for how smoothly the whole process is. The head is technically visible through the rear side windows on the vehicle mode, but you’d be hard pressed to tell that’s what it was without knowing already. Once the roof has been exploded open, it’s just a matter of folding and flipping parts around to create the robot mode. The rear roof does a 180 to fold up underneath the front windshield that is so iconic to Ironhide’s look, and to make the upper torso extremely dense and solid. And just like his alt more, the robot mode all fits together so nicely that there’s no worry about picking it up and having something fall out of place (except the face, but I’ll get to that in the quality section below).

Accessories

Boy oh boy, does Ironhide include some accessories! Let’s start with the battle sled, which is meant to homage the battle platform that the top half of the G1 toy turned into. There is a larger turret-style gun with removable missile that can plug in the even further complete the image. Sadly, there are no tank treads on the underside. I count over a dozen different pegs and ports to allow you to attach all of the other accessories. These include: 2 silver laser pistols, 1 G1 inspired static laser gun, a jetpack, 2 jetpack flame effect pieces, 2 large round red nozzles, 2 smaller rectangular gray nozzles, 2 hands with holes in the fingertips (for shooting out liquid nitrogen, natch), a radar dish for his forearm, an alternate screaming face, and an insert for his chest window to go along with the radar dish. Whew!

Battle Sled
Battle Sled, Fully Loaded!

Most of these pieces are in reference to one G1 episode or another, such as the episode titles “S.O.S. Dinobots”, where Ironhide’s scans found dinosaur bones, which led to the creation of the Dinobots. Here you can see the small insert which helps re-create that scene:

Scanner

The battle sled also has a secret storage space underneath for the extra face. A bit creepy, sure, but at least you won’t lose it!

Face under the sled

Quality

This is something I’ve touched on a couple of times already, but Takara has really outdone themselves on the QC for this release. The only real nit pick I can come up with is that the method to swap the face out, while rather simple and easy to do, is a double-edged sword in that it can be very easy to pop the face off while moving the head. The top crest slides forward to release the face for swapping, but on some copies of this toy it can be pretty loose. Mine seems fine so far, but I have seen many examples online where it’s an issue. Perhaps a little Future floor polish could help tighten up either the slider or the small peg on the back of the face to keep in place?

Other than the face, the rest of the figure is solid. The ratcheting joints work very well and the swivel joints are all tight enough to hold any pose you put them in. In short, you won’t be disappointed with this toy if you’re still on the fence about getting it (unless the butt wheels really irk you!).

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