Posted November 9, 2016 at 11:01 pm

When your stomach is in knots and you find yourself just dreading the very act of passively existing, I find it beneficial to find small things to force myself to do, just to keep momentum going.  Momentum is king.   You might not do those small things well, 'cuz your brain isn't quite working at capacity, but you kinda just have to make yourself do things anyway, pushing up and through your emotional numbness.  "Fake it until you make it?" maybe?  Not quite, I dunno.  Too platitude-sounding for what shitshow's going on in your mind.  But it's close enough.

With that in mind, let me talk for a bit about Transformers Masterpiece Beast Wars Optimus Primal.

It's Beast Wars' 20th anniversary, and while Hasbro's been all "beast wars, what is that, optimus isn't no dumb monkey, have g1 recycled forever," TakaraTomy has stepped up and given us this amazing thing.  (I've been singing TakaraTomy's praises in contrast to Hasbro a lot more these days, I feel.  Am I weeabooing up or something?)

Let's consider the Generation 1 Masterpiece toys.  Generally, they try to replicate a look from the cartoon, and the cartoon they're sourcing from was cell-animated.  And so the toy, despite all its attempts to look like the cartoon as much as possible, must always fall short, because.... hey.  Three-dee object existing in front of you.  Flat cell-animated image.  And you get into these debates like with the upcoming new Masterpiece Generation 1 Megatron: should he have a silver/chrome finish like a gun or his original toy, or should he have a flat matte light gray like the cell animation?  There's always this dissonance between the source and the product, no matter how hard one tries.  Masterpiece Shockwave might be the closest to achieving a seamless transition.

But Beast Wars' source material is a whole other animal.  (so to speak)  It was CGI, albeit mid-Nineties television CGI, and so the characters from the cartoon are "real."  They don't look different when you look at them from the side versus the front or back, they have texture, they have alternating gloss and matte... and, frankly, they're more visually interesting.  Ironhide and Ratchet are just cardboard box towers.  A CGI model like Optimus Primal has curves and contours and nuance.  Relatively speaking.  This was 1996, again.

And that's where Masterpiece Optimus Primal really succeeds.  He's glossy where he needs to be, he's matte where he needs to be, and, god of gods, his terrible texture-map-in-lieu-of-actual-modeled-fur-because-this-is-1996 is honest to god printed all over him.  It doesn't come out well in my photography, but it looks like someone lightly hand-painted fur pattern everywhere on him that needs to be so.  These interplays of various glossies and faux texture map honestly make the toy come alive.  It's like the CGI model is standing on your shelf.

The painted-on-texture also has me a little on edge.  Does this stuff scratch off easily?  I dunno!  I don't wanna test its endurance so much!  And so I'm extremely careful with this guy.  There is a small bit on his forearm, right over a seam between two adjacent plastic pieces, where you can see the texture painting wasn't successfully applied.  And so I'm always eyeing that.  During transformation, you have to rotate his robot head out at the same time as rotating in his gorilla head, and you have to get the rotation just right through this very tight space so there's no scraping the top of the gorilla head.  I worry that I'll untransform him some day and find a scrape.  And I have no idea how baseless this fear is, as this is a new painting technology to me.  

The transformation is similar to the original, mostly because it kind of has to still be "arms become arms, legs become legs," but the differences are interesting to me.  In the original toy, the ape head folded down and flipped over to become the robot chest; on this new toy, the robot chest is formed from the gorilla's stomach, while the gorilla head hides inside the torso.  The gorilla back rotates upside-down for robot mode.  The gorilla legs are a huge mess of parts on its way to becoming robot legs, rather than the original "just unfold them at the knees, switch the feet, the end" deal.  Lots of flipping and turning there.  I do recommend having fingernails.  There's parts that require a very thin edge with leverage to unsecure them from their location.  Usually on Transformer toys, there's little helpful edges or nobs that give you leverage, but that would mess with the contours and accuracy of each mode.  

He's electronic.  Push down his robot head, and his robot eyes glow.  He comes with a number of alternate faces.  Four for robot mode (neutral, screaming, Dreamwave smirk, and mouthplate deployed) and three for gorilla mode (neutral, growling, smiling).  

He comes with his swords, which he can hold or store on his back, and he has both his flip-out shoulder missile launchers, and his forearm-deployed cannons.  You definitely need your fingernails for the latter.  You can do some folding on his backside to reveal his flight jets.  

Other than my apprehension regarding the texture painting, there's not a lot for me to complain about.  It's about as perfect as a Season 1 Optimus Primal toy as can be possible.   In robot mode, he might as well be a fancy maquette reproduction of the CGI model.  In ape mode... there are seams, but they're all understandable.  And the choice of different faces brings whatever character is otherwise missing.

I think I'll like him if my emotions come back.