Masterpiece Thundercracker TRU-exclusive Review

  Posted in Reviews, Toys and Collectibles on August 31st, 2012 by JediTricks

This is TFviews.com’s review of Toys R Us-exclusive Masterpiece Thundercracker.  This MP Thundercracker is based on the TakaraTomy MP-11 Coronation Starscream figure, itself a significant remold from the original MP-3 Starscream, correcting several issues with that original Masterpiece Seeker figure. TRU is charging $69.99, and this is their first Masterpiece Seeker US release after the first 2 – Starscream and Skywarp – were released through Walmart in ’07 and ’09, respectively, with the former released at $49 and the latter at $60, so inflation on the Masterpiece Seekers hasn’t been too painful at least; meanwhile, non-Seeker Masterpieces Rodimus and Grimlock went for $50 and $70, respectively, in the last few years. Keep in mind that Takara release their own MP Thundercracker in ’08 in Japan, but that was a different mold.

This will be another primarily-photos review, I’ll keep notes in list form in their various sections. Once again, great care was taken to present this figure in realistic light whenever possible. Please be sure to check out the large-sized images, this time linked from the medium-sized photo pages. Also, note that some images are comparing the original US Masterpiece Starscream set to this one. 

- Packaging -

Ok, I heard a few comments on the Bruticus review, so here’s the MP TC packaging. Note that I cut away all the rattan strings and clear bands before shooting these, sorry, but life goes on anyway.

  • The physical design closely mirrors the previous MP Seeker packaging, using the “keystone” design style.
  • The ’12 Generations motif for the graphics comes off messy for a MP figure.
  • I used a piece of matte tape to keep the already-opened top closed in one shot, the original tape was crystal clear but I sliced it and that top just would not stay down without help.
  • The packaging call outs mention things not appearing here: “2 different heads” and “hidden missile pods”.
  • This set’s instructions are wrong from step 5 on through step 27 and into the gimmicks because it’s showing the original MP Starscream’s instructions rather than this remold, so there’s no face-swapping gimmick, the arms and legs transform substantially differently, and so on. I’d suggest entirely ignoring the Hasbro instructions and instead check out these scans of MP-11 Coronation Starscream’s instructions – yes they’re in Japanese but trust me, they’ll make more sense in a foreign language than Hasbro’s native work.

- Accessories -

  • Dr. Arkeville on the left comes from the MP Starscream release, while Thundercracker’s holographic fighter pilot figure is on the right. Arkeville is slightly larger than the fighter pilot. The fighter pilot was clear blue with MP-11 Starscream but is chrome here, calling back to Transformers’ original Diaclone roots (whether intentional or not).
  • The stand reads “THUNDER CRACKER” with a space, obviously inaccurate.
  • The stand parts, missiles, and Megatron nose clip are all from the original MP Starscream, except recolored for TC here.
  • The arm cannons are entirely new, a hair longer, sporting a ball-joint attachment method, and have their 5mm peg on the side rather than bottom (note that the cannons are mirror-twins).
  • Unlike the packaging call-out claim, there is no second head included.

- Robot Mode -

  • Thundercracker’s head is a larger design, it does not sport the face-swapping design of the original, nor is there a second head included. TC’s “ears”, the vents on the sides of the head, are spring-loaded to retract for transformation, allowing the head to be closer to proportion to the body than the original mold enjoyed. The head’s tilt-backwards range is limited to about what a human can do.
  • Almost every part is a remold, even little stuff like the mid-torso panels and hip plates.
  • Removing the swordless scabbards and putting some of that bulk into the legs works well, the front of the legs have been bulked up as well.
  • Thundercracker has heelspurs now so he can stand without falling backwards. He also has a redesigned “toe” on each foot which is more stable, but cannot take to spread-leg poses.
  • The plastic dye has metallic-flake, and in some areas as with most Transformers using metal-flake there are swirls to be found here and there. There are also a number of sprue marks. The gray plastic is slightly milky and brings the feeling back to “toy town” from its Masterpiece-ness, as does the overall lack of paint.
  • The waist has new panels, and the codpiece itself no longer hinges in so the figure retains its look.
  • I don’t mind the faction logos facing upright in bot mode, I know it’s not faithful to the G1 but it looks quite nice.
  • The vehicle mode’s Reflector-themed pilot-art doesn’t show up here as it’s on the back of the shoulders, but the tailfin art does show some.
  • There are tabs which hold the wings into the back, turns out the original MP Starscream has ‘em as well but I never noticed until I saw them here.
  • The middle torso slides out of position fairly easily, worse than the original MP Starscream figure even.
  • Range of motion is fairly decent, although the hip panels require a little thought to use the legs and restrict forward movement a bit.
  • Using the stand in bot mode requires a bit of force to get pegged on.

- Transformation -

  • The changes here are very welcome, they remove nearly all of the fiddly annoyances in the first MP Seeker mold.
  • That said, tabbing the wings to the arms can be challenging and easy to miss.
  • The way the heelspurs were implemented makes you wonder why the original didn’t have them this way, especially since they can been treated as optional for G1-accuracy.
  • Transformation is notably smoother than the previous version.
  • Little alignment issues crop up as they did in the original MP Starscream – the nose pulling the cockpit halves out of alignment, the spine panel popping out – but are less pronounced this time around.
  • The cannons can be moved into the wings without being removed thanks to that little ball-jointed arm design, provided you don’t want to use the missiles (and you don’t mind looking at the 5mm pegs in robot mode, I swapped them in this photo set so those pegs were on the back in bot mode).

- Vehicle Mode -

  • The Reflector-themed “Say Cheese” fuselage art and the Soundwave-themed “Sonicboom” tailfin art is not going to suit every fan’s tastes, it’s a little bit of fun and style the way many real-world pilots customize their fighters, but it does stand out.
  • The tampographic work on the tiny set of Reflector images is a miss on both sides on my figure.
  • A different pilot name is found on either side of the cockpit despite Thundercracker being a single-seater. Having the side tanks remolded out from the original MP Starscream means that Thundercracker’s not even a two-seater F-15E  (that variant normally has two seats, but the MP Starscream jet mode only had one seat).
  • Using the stand is quite unstable, the redesigned torso halves-as-fuselage parts no longer have a clean notch to receive the stand and things just don’t hold. The torso halves rock on their arms enough to make getting the stand onto the jet very difficult, and it takes just a light touch to send it tumbling down. Due to the instability, the stand is not recommended for jet mode display.
  • Including tampographics for the G1 intake stickers is a great touch, although it’s another step into “toy town” for some Masterpiece purists.
  • Looks like my canopy has a hairline crack, didn’t notice this in the store as it runs almost on top of the mold seam. I guess this is something to watch out for, but hopefully mine is a one-off issue.
  • Vehicle mode can sport either the robot-mode cannons or the missiles, but not both at the same time. The cannons can be popped in and out of their arm ball-joints with little trouble.
  • The undercarriage is a little squarer, leading to more visits to “toy town”, but also enjoying a better rear landing gear design from the original MP Starscream, one that stays all the way open.
  • Really, black painted copyright and Euro-safety text under the wings instead of another Decepticon faction logo? Lame.

- Conclusion -

Masterpiece Thundercracker addresses a number of those annoying issues with the previous MP Seekers quite well, but in the process becomes less sleek in vehicle mode and loses a bit of cohesion in robot mode, yet I’d still call this mold a clear net gain over the original. The Thundercracker deco calls back well to the G1 design, but curiously adds a few pieces of flair that are fun but certainly polarizing. I quite like this figure, but at $70 and the name “Masterpiece”, extra consideration is required and it’s those fine touches on which MP Thundercracker comes up a tad short: the overall deco, the fit & finish, the lack of paint, and a flight stand that puts an expensive collector item at serious risk. The new arms and legs also feel a tad more $12 deluxe figure in design than $70 Masterpiece, but that’s fairly subjective and they surely make it a more usable Transformer overall.

Overall, I would recommend Masterpiece Thundercracker with only light reservations, provided the collector has heard the warnings of certain issues ahead of time.


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