If you collect Transformer then chances are you have crossed paths with at least one of the hundreds of uses of the Masterpiece seeker mold at one point or another in your life. Whether it be the original MP-03 version or the updated, more cartoon accurate MP-11 remold this mold has been around the block several times, popped into the newsagents, grabbed a Racing Post and done another lap for good luck.
Never does it become boring though as each of the original three Seekers was so distinct in personality that you don’t feel like you are just buying a cheap repaint – even though that is exactly what you are doing.
MP-11T completes the group finally, and gives us Thundercracker, who has recently evolved from just being one of Megatrons go to henchmen into a character who isn’t really a villain and loves Earth soap operas….awesome.
You will be stunned to hear that the F-15 Jet mode of MP-11T Masterpiece Thundercracker has no changes from the horde of previous uses of the MP-11 remold besides a spanking new paint job.
Landing gear is there and still snaps your nails as you try free it from it’s snug home beneath the nose of the jet. There is an air brake that can flip up from the back, the jet thrusters are manoeuvrable by virtue of being attached to ball joints and the nose cone can open to reveal a Silver radar array.
The checklist of “features” matches exactly with what we got from Skywarp, Starscream, Sunstorm and Green guy (Acid Storm), so far so familiar.
Opening cockpit is also still present and can seat a small translucent Orange holopilot that everyone leaves in the box. I’m not sure when they switched from Dr Arkeville (the previous occupant of that spot in the tray within the box) but it makes little difference as few people will care. If you are the one person out there who has to have the pilot seated at all times – more power to you.
In the holopilots defence he is the lone accessory you get with Masterpiece Thundercracker. Visible shrinkage has occurred with the accessory load out for each release of this mold yet that has not been matched by a drop in price.
In point of fact it has just got more expensive and justified by the fan base as “it’s an exclusive, limited release”.
As a counterpoint to Hasbro’s toy based darker Blue colour scheme lavished on their Masterpiece Thundercracker, Takara went with the nerd bible of the Generation cartoon.
For me as lovely as it is it feels like it needed to be lighter to truly match what I think the animation model looks like. Grabbing the Henkei Thundercracker toy of the shelf to use as an example as to what it should like – I was surprised to see it is actually the same ruddy colour.
My memory is going with age.
It’s quite a tough shade to pin down as under different lighting conditions it looks totally different. Then again, my eyes are in a terrible melting state so could just be struggling to adjust to Thundercrackers appearance as a flying bottle of Lenor.
As an expensive exclusive and with Takara being so famous for their consistent push to cartoon accuracy it comes as a surprise that the three core seekers don’t perfectly match up in jet mode. You would expect all three to be the same with just a switch in colour palette but all three have little deviations that will irk OCD collectors.
Whilst the basic layout is the same, Thundercracker comes with Silver outlined Decepticon symbols where Starscream and Skywarp were both gifted with plain Purple. It’s not a problem but when you put the three together it stands out, as does the weird decision to make the wing badges slanted. That is so slight you may not even notice it at first but once I did my eyes were repeatedly drawn to it as if no other part of the toy existed.
Thundercrackers tail fins have stripes which match Skywarps, but are again different from Starscreams.
It’s a fairly tidy mode with no paint problems and everything locks together insanely solidly. Much more tightly than any other version of this figure I have ever owned and it took some force to snap the air brake section into place whilst transforming MP-11T into jet mode.
Quality control problems rear their head in a couple of minor but annoying places. Thundercrackers nosecone has a slight dent in it which is easy to miss with the eye but shows up something chronic in photos. So not only is it already the wrong bloody colour- now it’s not even the same flipping shape. Cheers guys.
Also the front section of his cockpit doesn’t like to settle into place and so sticks up slightly and doesn’t sit as flush as I’d like.
Normally minor irritants like this wouldn’t cause me to bat an eye lid but on such an expensive, exclusive figure you expect tremendous care to be taken. An element of luxury that you typically get from Takara’s Masterpiece releases feels faintly lacking on Thundercracker.
If you’ve handled this toy in one of it’s previous lives then you won’t need me to blather on about the transformation. It’s exactly the same there are zero changes to report.
By some chance if you haven’t then you should know that it is not a tough or particularly complex transformation once you get the hang of it and can even be enjoyable….when parts aren’t falling off. On my MP-11T the wings and left tail fin fell off during transformation. Perhaps I just got a dud but it seems to happen to me with EVERY Masterpiece seeker I buy. The clips that hold them in place never seem to grip tightly enough and i’d like to have seen those designed differently as that sharp fear that something may have broken gets old real fast.
It’s even more strange when you consider how unyeilding Thundercrackers jet mode in terms of trying to prise it apart in places.
Once you have pieced Thundercracker back together he is just as easy on the eyes as all the others. The MP-11 molds strength has always been how it looks in both modes and in Thundercrackers colours that is especially true.
He is covered in just the right amount of detail without it ever being a distraction and the lack of the MP-03 hip kibble is just as pleasing it always is on this mold. A clean looking robot mode is a hallmark of Takaras Masterpiece line and MP-11T is every bit as uncompromising in that respect.
If I could change anything about the physical toy it would be the spikes hanging off the bottom of his wings having the ability to fold up out of the way onto the back as they can get in the way when you are moving the legs. Yes, the wings can still splay outwards on the hinge for dramatic, anime style looks, but i’m a traditionalist and prefer them snapped tightly into place.
A minor nitpick I never see anyone raise but has always bugged me about the Masterpiece seekers and that is how the neck sits above his chest vents when it should actually be set slightly below them. Kinda makes all of the MP Seekers look like a Val Doonican tribute act with turtleneck jumpers.
Most of the criticisms are quite minor but when you are dealing with a niche collectible, with the premium this figure commands you expect the definitive version of the toy and any issue no matter how small is pulled into sharper focus.
Putting out seekers, two of which as high end exclusives, that aren’t definitive leaves you with an inkling that there could be a re-release later down the line with these gripes all corrected. Especially where choices made to alter the colour of things like the nosecone are concerned that lead to such a stark difference with the other two figures Thundercracker is intended to compliment.
Masterpiece Thundercracker is a great figure and personally I like that each of the three Seekers have elements that make them different and unqiue as it implies character and personality.
It is much easier to pick out faults in something you’ve seen seen times before when it doesn’t have that wow factor of being a brand new mold experienced for the very first time.
Having a complete set of the original three seekers in updated Masterpiece form is a beautiful sight to behold and seeing them stood together lording it up on a shelf makes the thoughts about the expense float away on a strong wave of nostalgia.
Which is what most of us look for most from this hobby I would guess.