Mastermind Creation’s PS-01A Sphinx (Alternative) is the second version of their Masterpiece-alike Mirage. The original release was molded in a darker blue plastic more reminiscent of the G1 toy, whereas this release is a lighter shade closer to the animation model.
The packaging and bio card art are somewhat Diaclone-ish with a G1 grid background. The front of the bio card shows character art, while the reverse shows a photo of the toy in both alt and robot mode along with the bio text and tech specs. The bio reads:
“Sphinx has only one speed when in vehicle mode, fast. He was one of the last to choose a vehicle form to blend in with, watching his compatriots choose forms that made them essentially invisible but sacrificing speed and agility in the process. There is no hiding in his chosen form, it is bright and loud and everyone thinks that they will see him coming from a mile away, which is exactly the way he likes it.
Luckily he has a special ability that his enemies never see coming.”
His tech specs clock in as follows:
- Strength – 6
- Intelligence – 9
- Speed – 7
- Endurance – 5
- Rank – 7
- Courage – 5
- Firepower – 6
- Skill – 10
The back of the box has a cool throw-back to the G1 days with the inclusion of a line graph of his specs that show more visibly with the included red decoder strip. Pretty cool!
Sphinx has a very satisfying bot mode which is fairly accurate to the original character. There are a couple concessions that had to be made, such as the engine bits on the knees, but these hardly detract from what is a beautiful figure.
His head screams Mirage, from the Egyptian-style head dress (wow, I literally just got the Sphinx name now!) to the sweeping rear of the helmet reminiscent of the Death Star troopers. I have noticed that his head articulation is a bit weird though, where having the head sit forward as intended prevents much side-to-side rotation, and if you move the neck joint backward to allow for more motion it places the head in an awkward position.
The shoulders have a great range though, along with a bicep swivel and elbow joint. The forearm can get a bit wonky however, since the panel covering the top doesn’t lock into place which allows the attached hand to rotate up and down in an unnatural way. The wrist does swivel, and the fingers are jointed at the first knuckle typical with Masterpiece figures of this scale. His thumb also swivels up out of the way to allow for easier insertion of his gun into his hand.
Due to transformation, Sphinx has a nice waist swivel. His hips are typical fare, and his double-jointed knees allow for good poseability. There are small side skirts on his hips that flip up (very) easily to allow for outward leg motion and his “toes” can swivel to give the illusion of ankle tilt. One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is the use of die-cast in the skeleton of this figure, and I bring it up now because it helps increase the stability of bot mode. The dark gray bits inside of the wheels that form his heels include die cast, as well as some of the framework in his torso. This gives Sphinx a nice heft that feels good while handling him.
And look how clean the back is on this guy! Everything has a place to go during transformation, and besides the aforementioned sliding panels on the forearms everything clicks, snaps or locks into place very well in robot mode. It’s even nice having the wheels on the feet like they are because it makes him glide across the table when moving him around.
I have not played with the original PS-01 release of Sphinx, but I’ve heard many tell of the trouble they had with the front wheels collapsing under the vehicle’s weight and sagging a bit. So far, this seems to have been fixed, at least on my figure. Sure, you can push down on the front to cause this to happen, but it appears unlikely to happen on its own.
The tires are made of a nice soft rubber compound that is very grippy but has the unfortunate side effect of causing the tire to push off the wheel a bit if you’re not careful. It’s not an issue now, but we’ll see after some number of years how this material holds up. There is also a nice holographic driver that can sit in the cockpit, though I don’t recall ever seeing this in the cartoon. It is made of a nice translucent blue plastic, but is only the upper torso, head and arms… not a full figure.
I’ll go over the paint here, since most of the details are meant for alt mode anyway. He has his accurate number 26 on the front and sides of the vehicle, though the nose is detailed after the real race car and doesn’t have a place for the Autobot logo like he had in the show. There is also a nice crisp CITANES printed along the side, just as the G1 toy had. The tires say GOOO YEAR in a nice attempt to fool your eyes into thinking it says GOOD YEAR, obviously to avoid copyright issues. The wheels and engine are covered in a beautiful chrome and the front and rear spoilers have a good coat of silver paint, which looks much nicer than if they had chosen to go plain white.
I can’t say for sure, but it appears to me he scales very well at least with MP-12 Sideswipe. Perhaps he could stand to be a bit smaller in alt mode, but I don’t think anyone but the most hardcore will argue that he looks bad next to the other car bots.
As I mentioned earlier, everything has some place to go during transformation and things hold together very well. Sphinx comes packaged in alt mode, and the instructions show the steps from alt to robot only. It’s easy enough to do, that following them in reverse should be no trouble for anyone. The only concern I had was with collapsing the front wheels into the torso; it felt as if something might snap if I pushed too hard since there is a mix of plastic and die cast in that area. Once I fiddled a bit with it, everything went into place as expected and I assume further transformations will be easier now that it has broken in.
Sphinx comes with a small handful of accessories that would be expected with a figure of this size. He comes with a silver-painted gun that looks very similar to his on-screen counterpart, and has a nice missile launcher that clips on his shoulder. The missile itself is covered in chrome, while the rest is black plastic. It’s worth noting that it doesn’t clip on very securely, or offer much in the way of poseability. A good friend of mine, autotronprime on TFW2005, is currently working on a new adapter to allow for a greater range of motion and more secure connection. You can check out his Shapeways store or follow him on Facebook for updates on this. Sphinx also comes with an alternate face which has a bit more of a smirk on it, and a piece to replace the back of his head so you can do away with the sponsor logos that are tampo’d on it for alt mode.
Quality and Final Thoughts
Mastermind Creations has done the collector community well with the Sphinx figure. I have no reservations about recommending this figure to anyone to go along with their official masterpiece car bots. He has what I feel could be considered a Takara-level transformation, he is solid in both modes, and the paint work is gorgeous. He fits right in aesthetically with the other Masterpiece releases and anyone outside the collector community would be hard pressed to even be able to tell this wasn’t an officially produced piece.