Are we really at number 33 already?
It seems like the line only begun a few years ago.
TakaraTomy have been risking the ire of the fan base for a while now. The release of MP-27, Masterpiece Ironhide, was a little glimpse into the future, a future where Masterpiece Transformers were more slavishly similar to their cartoon counterparts than the original G1 toy.
What started with Ironhide continued with MP-29, Masterpiece Shockwave, followed by MP-30, Masterpiece Ratchet, then MP-14+ Masterpiece Alert and now MP-33, Masterpiece Inferno. We already know about repaints of Inferno into Artfire and Grapple as well as an upcoming Megatron which will cement this trend of anime style figures for good but it does make you wonder how far this trend will continue.
For me however, it's fine. In fact I don't mind this move to cartoon accuracy at all. If I wanted realistic vehicle modes then I would buy scale replicas. That being said, let's take a look at Masterpiece Inferno.
The box is of a size similar to that of the recently released Masterpiece Optimus Primal and is necessary due to the size of Inferno in vehicle mode. The front of the box feels a little cramped with Inferno in vehicle and robot mode. For me they could have scaled both images down a little before compositing them together but that doesn't distract too much from this being yet another great Masterpiece box.
As I just mentioned, Inferno comes packaged in vehicle mode so let's take a look at it.
From the front Inferno looks awesome and perfectly updates the original G1 figure for me. I never had G1 Inferno but I have seen plenty of pictures of it and can appreciate how similar this Masterpiece is to it.
From the rear you can see how the focus on making the figures look like their cartoon counterparts had resulted in a more simplified look to the figure.
Sure, the back of the fire truck could be more detailed but I am not offended by the way it looks at all. In fact this modern look to the Masterpiece figures is really quite nice - it means they don't have to strive for complete vehicle accuracy giving them more flexibility to make the robot more cartoon like.
Speaking of the robot mode, it is solid and sturdy. Inferno looks chunky and bulky but in hand feels quite lightweight. As you can see from the image below, Inferno comes with more than just one bonnet. In the box you get the more realistic version of the bonnet as well as a cartoon version. The realistic version suits the vehicle mode quite well and offers a chromed grill and bumper whilst the cartoon version looks more simple and doesn't have chrome. There is also another bonnet with clear plastic supports that allows Inferno to support carrying Alert.
From the front you can appreciate the clean lines of Inferno. There is very little in detail on the figure which for some people may be a problem but for me is rather nice. An overly busy robot with lots of detail is not something that I go for.
But don't despair, there is plenty of detail on the back of the robot mode. Look at all that detail on the butt flaps and upper back area. Which brings me to another neat thing about Inferno - the mystery of the disappearing ladder. It's an absolute work of genius that TakaraTomy managed to hide the ladder by collapsing it into the chest. Sure, it means the ladder in vehicle mode isn't absolutely correct when compared to the actual vehicle, but it is good enough and the fact that it doesn't hang down the back of the robot mode more than makes up for it.
This years Masterpiece Transformers all seem to come with a crazy amount of accessories and Inferno is no different. Included with the figure are three different faces and one different helmet. Let's have a look at the faces with the toy accurate helmet.
They offer a nice range of emotions and look pretty good in general. I find myself liking TakaraTomys faces more and more these days. They seem to be putting a lot of effort into getting them right.
The spare cartoon accurate helmet looks really good with the more cartoon-like style of the robot mode. Though both helmets suffer from the usual problem of yellow paint on black plastic - the yellow ends up looking unfinished and thinly applied.
In robot mode Inferno does so much right. The head is on a ball joint and can be moved independently of the surrounding section, which is not fixed to the roof of the cab and can be moved to give you lots of options for great dynamic head shots.
The right arm can be either a hand or can be converted to the more usual hose attachment. Once again this gives more posing options than just a hand or hose alone would give. The attached hose is chromed to match the chromed bumper and grill but can be changed to a cartoon style hose to match the cartoon style bumper and grill.
Maybe I am weird but I prefer the cartoon style bumper and grill with the chromed hose. Putting aside the debate about whether I am actually weird, the fact of the matter is that you get choice which is always good.
You get a good range of motion from most joints in this figure. The only slight problem I have found is the waist swivel kinda gets in the way of the legs rotating about the hips but that is minor and can be worked around.
When put alongside some of the other Masterpiece releases of 2016 you start to appreciate the standardisation of the style of the figures. Certainly when displayed alongside Ratchet and Ironhide you can see where they are going with this anime style look.
I don't think them all looking this good together is an accident.
They are all able to achieve a decent walking pose and when doing so together they look bad-ass.
In vehicle mode together they scale quite well and look really good. I can't wait to pop a Masterpiece Grapple in there in the near future.
The recent switch to a more cartoon style of figure for the Masterpiece line has certainly not been without it's problems. Some fans are not going to be happy with this change of direction but I think we have to get used to these small reboots as the line grows. It would have been nice to get a Masterpiece version of the G1 season one cast all done in the same style but my feeling is that right now, that isn't going to happen.
Masterpiece Inferno is quite likely to be my figure of 2016 for many reasons but the most important is for it's fun factor. It looks great in both modes and the transformation is fun rather than annoying but the fact that the figure is so chunky and invites you to play with it makes it a clear winner for me.
Thanks for reading and see you next time.