Generation 1 TRANSFORMERS fans have all the reason in the world to rejoice. For the past few years, Takara Tomy and a couple of wonderful third party companies—mainly Fans Toys—have been giving fans of the original Transformers figures what they have only dreamed of over the past three decades: highly accurate, fully transformable G1 figures. These ARE your daddy’s Transformers, the way they originally looked, before all the different iterations and Bay abominations. Represented are the Autobots and Decepticons, in the way the first generation of fans grew up watching them on TV and reading about them in books and comics from the 80s. Nostalgia anyone? Yes please, with a Energon-cherry on top!
With the praise and accolades out of the way, it is with great irony that I review what is my least favorite figure of the Takara Masterpiece line thus far: MP-25 Masterpiece Tracks.
Right off the bat, let me say that this isn’t a bad figure. In some ways it’s a pretty awesome figure, but in most ways it’s average and frustrating.
Tracks, by design, is an awesome looking character. His alt mode is a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C3. And what a pretty alt mode it is. The Chevy Stingray is a beautiful car, and Takara nails the sleek design of not only the charater but the actual car as well. This could be displayed with any toy or model car collection and aside from the obvious lines and joints for his transformation, no one would be the wiser.
Tracks was one of the first “Triple Changers” without actually being recognized as one. Effectively, while in his alt mode, he can sprout wings and turn into a flying car.
This mode has always looked a little funny to me. Even as a kid I was a little put off by the less-than-impressive design. He sprouts wings and all of a sudden he can fly. That being said, the whole “Decepticons can fly and Autobots can’t” thing has always bothered me. There are some episodes and instances where certain Autobots could fly when they normally couldn’t, and then there are those, like the Dinobots, that could always fly. Needless to say, if I were to go back and nitpick 80s cartoon logic—or lack thereof—we’d be here a long time talking about something other than an $80 toy.
On to the transformation. I’m going to say this, and I’m not ashamed of it: I’m a timid Transformers transformer. Some collectors get these pieces and get right into transforming them, then transforming them back, and so on and so forth until they are experts. I tend to be the opposite. I display my Transformers in their bot modes, so if they come packaged in their alt modes I leave them that way for a month or so, then transform them once, and that’s how they stay.
These figures are imported form Japan, so even though the instruction pamphlet has detailed pictures on how to transform each figure, the written instructions are in Japanese, which, sadly, I don’t read. Enter the internet. Remember those brave collectors I told you about? Well, a few of them post videos on YouTube on how to transform each and every figure. My being a visual learner, these tutorials come in most handy. Ultimately, if you are a hands-on-do-it-yourself person, or someone that needs to be walked through it, my advise is the same: Take Your Time. The fine details it takes to make these figures look and perform the way they do also makes them somewhat fragile in places. Patience and time is what you’ll need to see that nothing accidentally snaps off.
I found Tracks to be a bit tedious in the transformation, especially around his head and backpack/wing and shoulder area. There are some precarious joints. I’m not a fan of the shoulder joints at all on this figure. There are a couple of swivel joints that you must futz with to get the proper pose for the arms where ball joints tend to work better. I am in no way an engineer, and the skill it takes to produce these figures is commendable and excellent, but I wish they would have come up with something a little more durable and fluid. The torso swivel and leg joints are exactly as you’d expect, and near perfect in every way. The left knee joint on my figure is a bit loose, so over time that may worsen, but with the minimal movement I give these guys, it should hold up for a long time. I do really like the hinge/joint that is the ankle, and the hand transformation is the best I’ve seen on any of the MP figures. Another great feature is his Autobot chest emblem. The piece flips to conceal his allegiance when he’s in his alt mode, but when you flip it you get a very pronounced red and black emblem with a bright yellow background. Very well done.
But, that backpack, and all the empty space left between the body makes for a horrendous side view. Not to mention the two shoulder missile launchers are grossly under-scaled.
The accessories are good, not great. There are two pairs of side mirrors that you manually install on the figure. Neither pair stays on very well, so be cautious there. Using a toothpick to push in the mirror hinge tends to lead to a tighter fit, but the slightest touch will knock them off. The Blaster in alt mode was a nice touch, but the human Raoul from Episode 43 “Make Tracks” is laughable at best. Aside from being ridiculously undersized, the paint apps are atrocious.
As you’ve probably surmised, this is not my favorite addition to my Masterpiece collection. Posed head on Tracks looks great, but that’s about it. I’ve even been tempted to display him in one of his alt modes as opposed to bot mode. As I’ve always been a bigger Autobot fan, I am happy to have Tracks, but he still only scores 6 out of 10 stars. There are too many strong nitpicks I have to go any higher.
Tracks is still in stock at BigBadToyStore for $79.99.