Cliffbee.com: Masterpiece Prowl Toy Review

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Name: Prowl
Series: Masterpiece
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Strategist
Alternate Mode: Nissan 280ZX



CAR MODE
Height: 5cm Length: 15cm Width:6 cm

   A white Nissan 280ZX with train trim towards the bottom, smoky transparent windows & a red light bar on the roof. He's an update of the Prowl - with greater detail but essentially the same colour scheme. He features silver wheels & black plastic tyres, silver headlights & painted front indicators & taillights. There's a red Autobot logo stamped on the hood. The doors have "HIGHWAY PATROL" & "POLICE" on them along with blue badges reminiscent of the Diaclone logos seen on the G1 toy. It's a realistic enough police car colour scheme & one that's very faithful to the character.

   Masterpiece toys tend to have a great level of detail and Prowl is no exception. There's a petrol cap on the right side, a retracted radio antenna on the left front & rear wipers (painted black), front fender mounted side mirrors, air vents on the hood, targa top lines on the roof, an exhaust pipe under the rear bumper and doorhandles. While the original featured a few of these features, some are aspects rarely seen on Transformers (I don't recall ever seeing a retracted antenna before). The realism is almost perfect - and he is licensed by Nissan. The side mirrors should actually be further back (on the doors) but I assume they were moved for transformation reasons. Given the issues certain Binaltech toys had with door mirrors detaching (ironcally Prowl was the worst culprit), I can live with this aspect (which was seen on the Japanese release of the 240Z, incidentally). Similarly I can live with the move to plastic tyres - they simply last longer than rubberised ones.

   This toy actually has less play value than the original in robot mode. The doors can't open & there's no room for a Diaclone driver (which the G1 toy didn't come with anyway). His handgun can plug into a subtle notch at the back of the light bar. It's a little tricky to do as the post on the handgun tends to fold out instead of pushing into the notch. As the notch itself is a painted piece of plastic, it's a feature I'm hesitant to use - but I appreciate the option being available.

   A wonderful Nissan police car mode which really does look like a scale model as well as an accurate rendition of the iconic G1 character. The side mirrors being shifted are the only real slight here; but there's so much subtle detail here that the overall effect is still an amazingly detailed car mode. The tribute is spot on - well aside from fewer of the "police" murals which the original toy sported.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Conceptually similar to the original toy with the hood becoming the chest, the doors becoming wings, his roof becoming the back, arms hidden under the hood & the rear folding down & rotating to becoming his feet with the rear window as his shins. There are some clever tricks that improve on the original, with the shins actually pivoting out from within the feet and then pivoting back - rather than using an extension which can loosen over time (and this also allows for more poseability). The shoulder cannons are now integrated & the arms are symmetrical under Prowl's hood. The side mirrors actually hide underneath the hood (they're soft plastic, so this won't cause them to snap) & the head is now it's own piece rather than the central strip of the hood.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 16cm Width: 14cm

   A white robot with black forearms, waist & detail on his chest. Prowl has silver thighs, a silver face with blue eyes & a red crest. The front of the Nissan sits on his chest while the rear is his toes and the rear window is his shins. The doors sit behind his shoulders, adding more black. Again it's a close match to the G1 toy - the Diaclone badges on his shoulders are omitted which is the only notable difference. While the colour scheme isn't especially striking it's strikingly Prowl.

   As in vehicle mode, this robot mode is Prowl with a greater level of detail. While there are enhancements to the sculpt in areas such as the groin and waist, his most notable upgrades are the head and boots. The head is now a helmet-shaped head like the cartoon - there's no hood panel at the back. His boots are not as sloped as the G1 toy; the shins are taller and slope less as seen in the cartoon. This is achieved through the folding and rotating joints added in to the transformation (rather than just the hinges seen in the Diaclone mould). Prowl's defining features such as the doors behind his shoulders, red crest, shin windows & Nissan chest are all here. While the sculpt doesn't jump out at you here, that's because it so easily replicates the G1 toy from the face to the sculpted grooves on his thighs to the 280Z taillights on his toes (which are actually sculpted now rather than just stickers). It's so familiar that it's easy to miss these little things, which is a testament to how well the designer has done here.

   Prowl's play value is markedly enhanced compared to G1. The gun is essentially the same, but now his hands can actually grasp it - there's a tab on the side which plugs into his plan in a Binaltech sort of fashion. He has integrated shoulder cannons - they fold out from behind the torso similar to Classics Prowl. Which means we can't lose them & also means no need to set aside in vehicle mode. The G1 cartoon differentiated Prowl & Bluestreak by leaving off Prowl's shoulder cannons & you can easily leave them folded away if you wish (as I have chosen to do). There are no firing missiles here - although Amazon Japan's release did come with a single missile launcher that could be placed over a shoulder cannon or plugged onto the rear fender (the missile doesn't fire).

   The head and waist turn while the shoulders are ball jointed with hinges to swing up & out. The elbows are hinged with rotators while his wrists turn. The arm poseability feels like that of G1 but it's actually a significant improvement over what was excellent arm motion for that era. The hips swing and lift out to the sides - I'm impressed that there are panels on the sides of his hips which lift out. His knees are hinged and while there's no rotators, there are rotators which allow the entire leg to twist so the range of motion isn't impeded. The nature of his shins transitioning to the feet all as the rear of the car limits ankle poseability - but the transformation joints in his ankles to allow them to wiggle to adapt to action poses, which impresses me. There are useful heelspurs & I really like how the left one is the exhaust pipe - it feels like the designer has thought of everything on this toy. While his arms are an improvement on G1, the legs steal the show thanks to the massive upgrade from the legs-held-together-with-pins.

   An excellent robot mode that I'm seriously struggling to find any fault with. Poseability is wonderful, the colours work & the tribute is simply spot on. He both displays and plays well here. I love the upgraded head shape, the updated leg shape & leg poseability. Prowl's articulation is all useful & he really does feel like a natural upgrade of the G1 toy. I guess one could argue with the lack of a missile (or a single launcher) but then given that the cartoon Prowl lacks shoulder launchers & this toy is aiming for cartoon accuracy, it's not a significant complaint.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of (aside from the extra Amazon accessory). I have the Hasbro release, but from what I've been able to determine, it's the same as the Takara release. The mould was retooled as Bluestreak & Smokescreen.

OVERALL

   Given that this is only the second of twelve possible Diaclone moulds (well, basic designs) that Masterpiece may give us, Prowl's an amazing effort. It's normal for this sort of line to take a while to really get going - and while Masterpiece isn't a new line anymore the Diaclone cars are relatively new to the line - it's already in full swing here. What impresses me most is how natural it feels; this toy just feels like an extension of the toy I grew up with. Both modes are natural upgrades of Prowl with new technology while the vehicle mode is a pretty damn accurate Nissan 280Z. The colours & detailing are fantastic while the robot mode poseability is excellent. My only real gripe is the 240Z mirrors on the vehicle mode (and while it doesn't bother me as I'd rather leave out the shoulder cannons, two missiles would have been nice for those who would choose to use them). Recommended for any G1 fan despite these two minor issues - he's playable, G1 accurate & has excellent engineering - 9/10

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