For a while now Transformers fans have been treated to modern interpretations of classics characters from the 80s and 90s in the form of Masterpiece figures from TakaraTomy in Japan. The only problem being that some figures take longer to be announced and released than others or in some cases have yet to be announced let alone released.
This means that fans who would like a modern display of generation one characters are faced with a dilemma - wait for the missing figures to be announced or find another source of updated figures. This is where the now ever present third parties step up to the plate.
For me, the figures that are produced by third parties have always been considered stand ins for the real thing, stop gaps until the official figure is released. Until very recently I was in the habit of selling on these figures when I eventually picked up the official version but I think I have had a change of heart and have started to appreciate these unofficial figures as great toys in their own right.
It started with Wrestle from MakeToys which is a fine rendition of the Grapple character. Initially only available through the MakeToys online shop and then later through other online retailers, Wrestle was a fine attempt at updating the original Grapple figure.
It is a lovely figure which takes the bulky crane toy from the 80s and drags it kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Due to the reuse of the mold, the MakeToys version of Inferno, Hellfire is similarly good and updates the original generation one figure in much the same way.
Although quite bulky and chunky these figures could achieve a remarkable number of interesting poses due to their modern engineering.
They were not without their issues, for example the waist skirts that are connected and do not move independently so therefore are prone to breakage or Hellfires 'ears' popping off due to lack of articulation, but these seemed like a small price to pay to have an MP style figure for the collection.
The next third party figure to make me reconsider my stance of treating them as stop gaps was Despotron from Maketoys.
This figure is awesome dispite a couple of small problems, mainly knee related or floppy barrels. Released at a time just prior to the announcement of an actual Masterpiece Megatron, Despotron is different enough from the aesthetic that TakaraTomy are working to now to be a keeper.
The transformation is really quite interesting and satisfying. It even looks good with actual Masterpieces.
More recently I picked up Mastermind Creations version of Inferno, Backdraft. I decided that having just Hellfire meant I wasn't giving Backdraft a chance. Turns out they are both rather nice interpretations of the Inferno character.
This version of Inferno is much less chubby than the Maketoys version making for a more athletic and lean bot mode. The cab sits much less proud making more dynamic poses really quite easy. The ears are better design than the Maketoys version which means you won't be popping them off during transformation. It also looks really good with official Masterpieces.
Given how good these third party interpretations of original G1 characters are getting, it seems almost a crime to sell them on once the official version is released.
Everything comes to he who waits and Masterpiece Inferno did eventually arrive from Japan. It nails the character in a way that Hellfire and Backdraft don't. It's engineering is superior, it poses much better than the third party efforts, it doesn't try to be accurate to real life and instead embraces its anime heritage and most important of all, it feels good in the hand.
With Masterpiece Backdraft in hand have my feelings for these third party figures changed?
Will I be selling them on?
I thought I could continue to appreciate them both and could find a place for them in my collection but sadly they are doomed to the same fate as every other Masterpiece stunt double I have ever had... Resale.
That's not too say they are bad figures, Backdraft is especially close to bring a legitimate alternative to a Masterpiece Inferno, but for me they have no place in my collection.
The fate of MakeToys Despotron, on the other hand, will no be so clean cut when the time comes. Our maybe it will, who knows ;)
If you want to read my thoughts on Masterpiece Inferno then head over to my review.
RobotoChan reviews MP-33 Inferno
Thanks for reading and see you next time.