Masterpiece Theater - Sideswipe & Red Alert
Takara started off their Masterpiece Transformers Autobot Cars perfectly. You see, back in the 80s, independent of whether or not you were into Transformers, really, even if you were somewhat oblivious to cars, you were STILL a member of one of three camps: the Porsche 911, the Ferrari Testarosa or the Lamborghini Countach. I was, and still am, an avid fan of that third camp. So, when Takara announced that they were following their newly scaled Optimus Prime MP-10 with Lambor, aka Sideswipe, well, first I cursed Takara for making me throw money at them…then I threw more money at them when I realized why settle for one Countach when I could have two with Alert, aka Red Alert? And, while we’re at it, look, I’ll be honest, I’m just barely holding on to enough willpower to hold back from getting the G2 black Sideswipe.
Now, once you get your mitts on one, the first thing you’re going to notice is the price to size ratio…and the sticker shock that comes with it. The vehicle modes are generally going to be smaller than those of the $15 American deluxe class (although some stores are selling deluxes for up to $17 now) and you’re going to pay around $70-80 to get your hands on these. [And I remember when deluxes were $10. And not hollow. God I’m old. – Ed.] Look, I could try to sweet-talk it and say that they used the same paint on these that Lamborghini used on actual Countaches, but only the most die-hard autophile would care. And it’d be nice if I could sell you on these the same way I was sold on the earlier Alternators line, where the vehicle modes had detailed interiors as well as functioning hoods and trunks [bonnets and boots for anyone reading this across the pond…although we highly doubt it…that makes the assumption that ANYONE is reading this. – Ed.], but I can’t…because they’re not there. What I can try to sell you on is the appearance of both modes and the engineering it takes to get there. With their vehicle modes, the outsides scream of an accuracy that we really haven’t seen since the initial waves of Generation 1. Although, one difference between these versions of Sideswipe and Red Alert and their G1 counterparts and their Masterpiece predecessors is the fact that the tires are a hard plastic. If it wasn’t horribly tacky, I’d be inserting a sideways frowny face, possibly with tears, into this review. [Holy cats…you actually stopped from doing something tacky? Stop what you’re doing, drinks are on me! – Ed.] But yeah, that’s kind of a bummer.
The transformation is as involved as any other Masterpiece release with all sorts of tiny bits and pieces that fold up or unfold, whichever the case may be. Also like any other Masterpiece release, most bits lock securely into place in either mode…although generally more for the vehicle mode than robot mode. It’s in the transformation where you learn just how dense these guys are and the engineering that allows for that. Only here does it make sense that OF COURSE there are no detailed interiors and other such niceties. Every bit of moving plastic devotes itself to either one mode or the other…and the often fan loathed kibble is kept to a minimum…that is, unless it was vital to the character’s silhouette. We don’t get that here with these two…but it’ll become a factor later on down the line. The one consistent thing about the engineering is that even though the vehicle modes are, as I said earlier, the size of a deluxe…the robot modes end up being just a hair shorter than a voyager class. [It’s a short voyager, sure, but still! – Ed.] Top that off with a very good number of joints to allow for the articulation that’s come to be expected not only in modern Transformers but especially this Masterpiece line and…well…I guess it’s true what they say about dynamite and small packages.
I get it…it’s still kind of hard for me to overcome, even now when I have so many of them…these two and the others in the line are really small for what you pay for them…but each transformation is intricate enough where…yeah, you better hang on to those instructions! You’re paying for the engineering and…if you’re honest with yourself…you’re paying for the absolute perfection of either mode: the perfect styling of the Lamborghini model that even now nearly everyone will recognize or the dead on cartoon model accurate robot mode. And the fact that they’re the same toy? That one does indeed fold up or unfold into the other? That, my friend, is Transformers Nirvana…and wouldn’t you pay extra for that?
I did…and I sure don’t regret it.