A few months ago, I spent some time marveling at how much Masterpiece Optimus Primal dedicated itself to looking like the CGI model. Well, motherfuckin' Masterpiece Cheetor is here, and he's all like, ha ha ha, that's cute, but get a load of fuckin' me.
Beyond the observations about Generation One Masterpieces I made in regards to MP Primal, here's another: I feel like the G1 Masterpieces.... homogenize the style a little bit. They sand down the edges, scootch things to and fro to make a toy look more what a character looks like in your mind's eye. Heads are shrunk, hands are less big and mitteny, proportions are massaged, etc. But Cheetor, moreso than Primal, makes apparent to me how much of a bigger commitment there seems to be to making the Beast Wars Masterpieces especially media accurate. Yes, sure, it has been remarked upon frequently that the spots on Cheetor's surfaces are purposefully made to look stretched like the 90s CGI surface texturing the cartoon model had. But.... Cheetor's THUMBS, man. Cheetor's CGI model had long-ass freakish thumbs. And yet here they are on this toy. Long-ass freakish thumbs. No sanding down the edges, no massaging the visuals to look more like Every Other Masterpiece Fist. He closes his fingers into a fist and his thumb still stretches far beyond like the head on a coiled snake. It's just Cheetor's actual freakishly awkward CGI hands, replicated in plastic.
The toy itself, much like Primal, transforms similarly to the original. The cheetah forelegs still end up on the back, the robot forearms still hide under the spine just behind the cheetah head, the robot legs still become sort of cheetah hind legs. There's a t-bone steak-shaped piece on the small of the cheetah's back that flips down to be Cheetor's crotchpiece. The differences between old and new are all in the details. The cheetah forelegs are now articulated (versus not at all) so that they can fold across each other on Cheetor's back. Pulling the robot arms out of the cheetah's back is a little more complicated now; there's way more moving pieces involved to get things just so. The hind-leg-to-robot-leg transformation is... I mean, you still see robot parts easily in cheetah mode. You're going to. It'd be impossible to engineer otherwise. But it minimizes the robot parts as best as one could hope while also making a more natural cheetah hind-leg shape.
And, yeah, the cheetah head on the robot mode chest is fake. The real cheetah head is buried inside the robot torso JUST BEHIND the fake robot mode cheetah head. There's little wire cheetah whiskers rooted into the real cheetah head, which bend a little when shoved inside the torso cavity, and you kind of have to groom them back into shape whenever you transform him back. Whether I think this whole charade is a good creative decision changes depending on what time of day it is.
There is a crazy amount of paint on this guy. I spent a good while trying to identify places on it that were unpaintable nylon plastic, because 99% of his parts have paint on them somewhere. But there are a few small hinges here and there that appear to be unpaintable nylon, like the yellow inside the cheetah forepaw's wrists. (Unpaintable nylon is generally used for structural reasons, which is why HasTak bothers to use it at all, and it's why you can find it buried within MP Cheetor's joints only.) All of Cheetor's gold is paint, so you don't hafta worry about GPS. Altogether, MP Cheetor is just ... visually dense.
Like MP Primal, he has a set of swappable heads with different expressions for both robot and beast modes. For robot mode, he's got Stoic and Grrrr Angry and OH SHIT, and for beast mode, he's got Half-Lidded Stoned, Grrrr Angry, and OH SHIT. The beast mode head's jaw is openable in each iteration, and also there's three sets of eyes you can swap into whichever beast mode head you're using. One set looks left, another center, another right. It's not QUITE as elegant an eye articulation solution as with the Figma Elsa (let it gooooooo) I have where the eyeballs are literally articulated (but you have to use a little pick to move them), but I appreciate that this is an option at all.
MP Cheetor comes with two guns. The original toy had two guns, as well, but only one of them
made it onto the cartoon showed up much at all. The original toy had a water squirter gun fashioned from Cheetor's intestines. You heard me. Anyway, that's the one that was frequently represented on the cartoon. The Masterpiece version doesn't watersquirt, sadly, but it does finally paint those intestines pink. The second weapon, was Cheetor's cheetah ass. You ripped off his ass and folded back the tail and there was a barrel under there and Cheetor grasped his own ass and shot his ass at you. The Masterpiece version is very similar, only differing in how the tail folds underneath instead of over the top. My favorite part is how the Masterpiece version of the gun borrows some of Cheetor's midsection and sculpts them into the buttocks-shapes of the original toy's ass gun. Cheetor's ass gun is no longer made out of ass, but transforms from non-ass into a more ass-like shape. For nostalgia.
THIS TOY IS AMAZING. It is not perfect, though. One, he's really bad at holding his ass gun. It doesn't peg into his palm like the gut gun, and you kind of just have to wedge it loosely into his grasp and hope gravity and friction work. Secondly, and this is the biggest, he doesn't seem to, like, peg together in his cheetah midsection in beast mode. Mind, when you set him down in cheetah mode, this self-resolves, because he is jointed so that he closes himself up if he's standing on something. However, once you pick him up, he kind of flops open like a real cat hanging over you lazily but if a real cat also showed you the robot parts inside him while he did so. Cheetah mode is FOR DISPLAY ONLY, it seems. You pick him up to play with him and he kind of goes ploop. It's weird, because the rest of him is so satisfyingly stiff.
That's it, that's what's wrong with him, setting aside the "is the fake cheetah head on his chest a bad thing" situation. There is so much love in him, though, those bits are overshadowed pretty strongly. I don't even fucking like Cheetor that much, and I have fallen hard for this action figure.
NOW WHERE IS MY DINOBOT, GIVE ME DINOBOT, HE WAS ANNOUNCED, SHOW ME PICTURES
Look, you guys, you have to take my word on this. Titans Return Kup's colors are pretty good! He's not, like, various flavors of cyan as most photographs of him seem to claim. I swear to you, his torso, crotch, and half of his legs are this amazing vibrant teal. This amazing vibrant teal is impossible to photograph correctly, and not even Photoshop color correction can produce it. I tried. I can get close. You will look at these photographs and think, okay, whatever, that's kinda teal, but nothing to write home about. But it is. You would write home about this teal.
Unlike Sixshot (and Perceptor), Kup is not just his 1980s toy with more articulation. He's the flavor of Titans Return toys that tries to do a little something new. Mind, he still looks generally like his original robot and futuristic pickup truck in either mode, but how he gets there is a fun jaunt. For example, on the original 1986 Kup toy, you merely bent him back at the waist, tucked his arms under his hood, and generally you were done. This new version's a bit more complicated. The entire lower third of the vehicle, from front hubs to back hubs, unwraps and then rewraps to form his legs. The arms fold out of the back of the cab, which has an open drivers compartment which you have to compact in on itself for robot mode. The head, as always in Titans Return Deluxes and larger, is a little robot guy. His guns can combine into a larger gun which the head guy can ride, or it can plug into his back to replace the missing "hood" that his new transformation no longer creates.
I've talked about the teal, but beyond that, Kup's colors seem to take their cues from his original toy (and Marvel Comics appearances) rather than his appearances in animated media and subsequent comic book series. The dark gray helmet (and partially dark gray legs) are a clue to this. To me, this means this toy represents Marvel Kup, who I also call Murderkup, because he likes to murder. His earliest characterizations in the Marvel comics were that he had an insatiable battlelust. Mind, this was partly because the writer needed counterpoints to the more pacifistic Fortress Maximus to keep the desired narrative happy, but in the absence of Kup's "I'm old and I have many stories about being old!" characterization from the cartoon, his battlelust is a striking take. He just wants to kill and kill, because it's fun and he's good at it. I think this might have seeped a little into Kup's IDW appearances, where, sure, he's an old guy (and currently billions of years older than the universe itself, which is a.... long story), but he's also a member of the ultraviolent Wreckers.
Eventually painted my Kup's forearms and fists gray to more complete the Marvel Kup look. Good ol' Murderkup.
I'm just sad he doesn't get to have a cy-gar this go-round 'cuz it'd futz with his Titan Masters gimmick. Also because Hasbro would never sculpt a damned cigar into their robot toy for children. That too.
Toys from the current Transformers team seem to fall into two categories: Slightly reworked designs of old toys with new Transformations, and.... the old toy, but now with knees. Titans Return Sixshot is definitely the latter. He's essentially the original 1987 Sixshot toy with articulation added. And GUESS WHAT. I'm happy with him.
Maybe it's because I never had the original toy? I don't remember being particularly interested in him, anymoreso than with other toys in the Transformers pack-in catalogs from my youth. Possibly because he was never in any real fiction. He shows up for three seconds in the cartoon, and spends half a second in each mode, and in the Marvel comic he only appears wadded up into the corner of one panel in a group shot. Bizarrely, he had an IDW one-shot issue based on him, but even that story never landed with me.
However, over in the Headmasters anime, he appears a bunch, and in the bad English dub he referred to himself as a "ninja consultant" while the voice actor did all his lines into a paper cup. That's the most endearing the character has ever been to me.
But this toy of him, I really like it. He turns into "six" "things," and while each mode is mostly distinct, they're all obviously made out of the same semblage of parts. They kind of have to be. This toy isn't magic. When you have a toy turn into a robot, a winged wolf, a "submarine," a jet, a car, and a tank, a lot of that toy's parts are going to be pulling double- or triple-duty. Obviously, the robot limbs also become the wolf limbs. Obviously, the jet's wings are going to feature in a lot of the other modes. Obviously, a lot of the non-wheeled modes are gonna have wheels somewhere on them.
The enjoyment, though, is how relatively simple it is to get him from one mode to another. The trade-off for "six modes all using the same limited amount of parts" is that there's no chore in transformation, and there's so many possible transformations to do. You're always just a few steps away from another mode, keeping the toy in play. YOU ARE NEVER SATISFIED. Wait, that sounds bad. Well, it's not!
It should come as no surprise that the robot mode is the strongest. He looks like a robot! He's got a chest and limbs and a head! Definitely a robot. Because Sixshot is Leader Class, he's big enough that his requisite little head-robot-dude only transforms into his face. His helmet fits around that, and also stows inside the chest while in the other five modes. This means you technically don't have to remove the head-robot-dude for transformation if you don't want to.
But if you do, your winged wolf mode is going to be missing the back of his head. In this mode, the robot face sits directly behind the wolf's skull, filling in that plastic void. This also gives the winged wolf mode the same Naruto ninja headband the robot mode does (under his helmet). This is fantastic. The winged wolf mode itself is okay. It's good by default just for being a beast mode, as beast modes rock. But it's fairly perfunctory. The arms become forelimbs and the legs become hindlimbs. The gun pegs on as the tail.
To make a jet you fashion everything into a wedge. Everything except the wings. To make a car, you compress everything into a box. To make a tank, you bend the car in half and fold down the rest of his treads.
This is hilarious.
I dunno, he's fun to fiddle with. I like him. However, he's coming out later in more interesting colors (redecoed with a new head as his own son, Quickswitch) as part of a box set that includes Nautica. So if you only want the mold once, and also want Nautica, I'd hold out. I want both versions, because I am eccentric.
It's amazing the difference between the last Transformers team and the current one. The last team wanted to do a new Perceptor, but original Perceptor was, um, a microscope, so they made him a halftrack truck. Like, you could feel echoes of the plea to marketing for that guy. "LOOK HE HAS WHEELS AND TREADS, HE'S NOT A SCIENCE THING, PLEASE LET US MAKE PERCEPTOR, BOYS DEMO AGED 5-12 WILL BUY THIS."
Meanwhile, the current Transformers team just straight-up remakes the original Perceptor, now with 10% more articulation because the original wasn't too bad about that to begin with. He's a microscope, yo. Again. And by "microscope," we of course mean "Perceptor's robot mode folded up to look like the original Perceptor's microscope mode, which also looked like Perceptor's robot mode folded up and not too much like a microscope." Do kids want this? I'd like to think so, because science is important, but who knows. Here's your regurgitated 1985 Perceptor. Hasbrobadger don't give a shit. Hasbrobadger don't care.
Also he has a third "tank" mode, just like the original, which is rendered on the cardback but not present in the instructions. This is not a great tank mode. It's a terrible tank mode. I mean, they tried, but it just looks awkward and doofy. I can see why they left it out of the instructions. (there are extra tabs and slots for it, plus some extra pieces, so it's not, like, an "oops this toy can still do the original third tank mode" thing, it was definitely intended on purpose)
But, look. Credit where it's due. His microscope still works. It's a functional microscope. The amount of magnification isn't great, but you can even rotate the little nob on the scope and it'll do a small amount of focusing. That's a surprise in 2017. Transformers these days aren't often budgeted individualized gimmicks that aren't part of the line-wide Mega Gimmick. This isn't Armada.
Perceptor's head pops off and transforms into a little dude. His name's Convex.
Also, what I am here for is that this Perceptor is designed specifically after IDW's Perceptor -- at least, the one that featured in All Hail Megatron and beyond, including Last Stand of the Wreckers and More Than Meets The Eye. It probably helped that his IDW comics design is close enough to the original toy that you can do the IDW comics Perceptor and most folks will think, Hey, it's the original style. But the sculpted shapes of the arms and knees and such give him away, if not the fact that he comes with a friggin' sniper rifle. Sadly, he's got two normal eyes, and not a normal eye and a big ol' targeting grid monocle. Also, I guess, the scope is on the wrong shoulder for IDW. The original 1984 toy could switch the scope's placement, but this toy keeps it over his left shoulder, like it was in the cartoon.
If you want a Perceptor that's like the original toy but now he can bend his knees at the hips, this is your toy. Also if you want a toy that'll fit better into your Lost Light display shelf. Or if you just like Headmasters. Or if you're desperate to throw money at something shiny to distract yourself from the rise of fascism, I dunno.
Hey, remember the Jumpstarters? If you're old enough, probably, because they were those two pull-back-and-go autotransforming dudes who weren't on the show, which means you probably got like sixteen of them at Christmas after they were the only things left on the shelves. For years of BotCons, you could probably come home with a basket of them at $5 a piece, despite being vintage guys.
I don't mean to trash talk 'em too much -- I mean, their concept was actually pretty cool. You pull them back on their wheels in vehicle mode, they lunge forward, a trigger trips, and they flip up into the air and (hopefully) transform and land on their feet. And by "transform" I mean they unfold at the hips and then they're done. Again, these were simple guys, and they were simple guys who weren't advertised in the cartoon OR in the American comics, so they weren't exactly sought after. Dudes didn't even get animation in their television commercial!
But, hey, Titans Return has given us a new Topspin (the jet guy of the two Jumpstarters), and he transforms like a real big boy Transformer now! And jeez does he. Dang friggin' dude takes what was once a simple "put your own face between your legs" transformation and makes it a whole deal. He doesn't even fold over anymore. Instead, his lower legs open up and swallow the thighs, then his arms collapse in on themselves to get rid of his biceps and his fists, then those arms hide up against the hull of his vehicle mode. But before that can happen, Topspin does this Triggerhappy-esque thing where you disengage his hips from his body, then rotate the entire front of the chest around, and then reattach the hips to the other side of the torso. Reveal the, um, "forks" at the front of the jet mode and then put his cockpit together, and you've got him in vehicle mode.
You transform his head into a dude and you put that dude inside it.
There's a lot going on here.
Like other Titans Return toys, he has two weapons which combine into a larger weapon which his head guy can sit inside. Combined, it kind of looks like a Combiner Wars fist/gun to me, since it has four finger-ish guns at the front.
Also, this guy feels huge. He's not that much larger than the largest of Titans Return Deluxe Class guys, but he just feels massive. He's wide and bulky and he looks like he could stomp you. (It helps that his wavemate Perceptor is relatively scrawny.) Topspin's searing Allspark Blue is vibrant and I like him.
I found him at Walgreens.