"Legends" Targetmaster Kup with Recoil Toy Review

in Action Figure Review, Autobot, Deluxe, Generation One, Legends, Targetmasters

Legends

Hot Rod General Information:
Release Date: September 30, 2017
Price Point: 4000 Yen (Takara Tomy suggested retail price)
Retailer: Japanese Exclusive
Accessories: Headmaster figure, Recoil Targetmaster figure/weapon

Translation below by Doug Dlin:
Kup loves telling tales of his experiences as a veteran soldier, so the sense of security he gets from always having his partner Recoil by his side as someone to talk to is something he wouldn't trade for anything. He also understands the inadequacy of his own components as an aging mechanism, and thus he seems to be taking his powering up into a Targetmaster as an opportunity to regain his powerful self.

When Takara Tomy decided to release the Titan Master figures in Japan they did not follow the exact same release pattern as Hasbro. Instead of just having the characters packaged as Headmasters/Titan Masters, they decided to go the extra mile and include a Targetmaster weapon for those characters who were Targetmasters in Generation One. One of these characters was Hot Rodimus (whose full name for this release is "Targetmaster Hot Rodimus"). This figure is a retool and redeco of "Titans Return" Hot Rod. Check out my Hot Rod review for a detailed look at the sculpt. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

Packaging:
The "Legends" packaging is a combination of modern and Generation One elements blended together into a box. Unlike the "Generations" versions of these figures the "Legends" figures are packaged in boxes. The box is rectangular and set horizontally. With the figure packed in vehicle mode behind a window, it recalls the design that was used for the G1 Targetmaster packaging. The packaging uses a vertical Transformers logo on the left side of the box (if you are facing it). On the other side is package art for the character and a grid background, a detail inspired by G1 packaging. Recoil is on the lower left of the package in robot mode while Kup's head is in the upper right hand corner and labeled as "Head Master" (two words, not one). The back of the packaging shows the figure in both modes and Recoil's ability to transform into Kup's weapon. It also shows the ability for the Head Master to fit inside the vehicle mode in a small window to the side.

Head Master

Unlike the "Titans Return" line, the "Legends" line seems to be treating the Head Master figures as the core personality of the character. Much like the "Headmasters" cartoon in Japan, the body was basically a large mech suit (known as a 'Transtector' in "Headmasters" and "Masterforce" lingo) being controlled by the smaller head. Now I grant this is not exactly in line with the Kup history most fans know, but it makes sense in the context of the toy line since Takara Tomy is not necesarily following the whole "Prime Trilogy" story. With that in mind, the Flintlock figure from "Titans Return" Kup has been reused, but given a deco based on Kup's own colors.

The Head Master figure is cast in much less aggressive color tones than its "Titans Return" predecessor. Instead of a brighter teal the colors here are a dark teal color along with light blue plastic. This combination brings the figure more in line with the deco of the vehicle/robot/body and the G1 animated series. The parts that make up most of the Head Master are the same sculpt as "Titans Return" Flintlock including the head, torso, arms and legs. The eyes and face on the head are painted light blue and grey respectively.

The retooled piece on this figure is the "face plate" for Kup. Many fans were not happy with the head sculpt on "Titans Return" Kup so it looks like Takara Tomy took it upon themselves to fix that with this release and I have to say, they succeeded. I didn't hate the "Titans Return" head sculpt, but even I will admit it was less than optimal. This sculpt however is fantastic. This one uses the G1 animation model as its inspiration, so the helmet section is not as tall as the "Titans Return" version. Little details are different too. For instance the hexagon in the middle of Kup's head is lower and does not have horizontal lines running through it. The face is also designed to look more like the G1 cartoon Kup complete with angled cheek lines and "bags" under the eyes to indicate his age. Other details such as the circles on either side of the head are still present. I'm very impressed with Takara's sculpt and I do prefer it over the "Titans Return" version.

The face plate is cast in the darker teal plastic seen on the Head Master's arms and lower legs. The top of the head is painted light blue, as is the hexagon. The area inside the hexagon is silver while the face is grey. His eyes are blue. This matches up nicely with the colors on the G1 animation model for Kup and it looks great!

Recoil

Replacing the two blasters included with "Titans Return" Kup is a completely new figure: Recoil! In the Generation One era, Recoil was Kup's Targetmaster partner from the planet Nebulos. This figure is a completely new sculpt developed just for this set.

Robot Mode:
Most of the time when new interpretations of characters are designed for sets like this one (especially in the "Legends" line) the designers rely on the G1 designs and stick pretty close to them. However with Recoil, the designers seemed to want to exercise some more freedom. Instead of being G1 Recoil reborn with more articulation, this figure only has some superficial similarities to G1 Recoil. He has visor eyes, a round helmet section, some lines on his shoulders and chest. However he has a lot more sculpted detail than his G1 counterpart and unlike G1 Recoil his shoulders are not curved but instead are more blocky in design. All that said, the figure looks good. If you had to reinterpret the character this is a great way of doing it.

Recoil is cast in gunmetal grey, silver and grey translucent plastic. The gunmetal and silver make up his body while the translucent plastic is used to form the blaster barrels on his back. There are silver paint applications on the face, forearms and lower legs while the eyes are painted light blue. It is very uncommon to see smaller accessory/figures painted so seeing this is very refreshing and welcome.

There are seven points of articulation on this figure. This includes one on the shoulders and two on each leg. His waist can turn, which turns the head at the same time.

Transformation to Weapon Mode:

  1. Swing the weapon barrels on the back up over the head.
  2. Rotate the waist/hip area around.
  3. Rotate each lower leg around.
  4. Swing the legs up and connect the tabs on the lower legs to the corresponding grooves on the top of the weapon.

Weapon Mode:
This weapon mode is inspired by G1 Recoil's design. The most distinct feature are two long weapon barrels that come to a very narrow opening towards the end. There are small greebles on the sides and some rectangular details on top. The barrels are cast in clear grey plastic and painted silver except in small gaps to break up the color. It looks great and matches up with the overall design of the G1 weapon very well.

The weapon can be held by any Transformers figure with a 5mm port. Interestingly, the designers included a 5mm port on the bottom of the barrels, allowing you to connect this weapon to other weapons. Even weirder, there are two Titan Master pegs on the top of the weapon in case a Prime or Titan Master wants to ride on the weapon (I guess?). "Legends" Hot Rod's Targetmaster also has this feature and while fun, it is very curious.

Kup

Vehicle Mode:
It is not just the Head Master that received the retool treatment, Kup himself was retooled for this release as well. The retooling was focused on his arms, and while they are visible in this mode they are not a crucial part of the vehicle form so I will focus on them more in robot mode.

Other than the tooling change mentioned above, this is the same basic sculpt as "Titans Rerturn" Kup. That's fine by me because the basic shape and design of this vehicle form is spot on for the character. It features his distinctive front section that angles downward and the sides have wheel wells that go over the front wheels while his rear wheels are sort of hidden in the back. True to his name he has a truck bed in the back where there are ports for weapons and pegs for Titan Masters (or Headmasters and Prime Masters) to stand on. You can also still lift his cabin section cover up and seat a 'Master figure in the driver's seat. Not only does the vehicle look great but it is also fun to play with.

Early photos of this figure were desaturated so it made Kup look almost grey. In the final product however the figure is actually a green-grey color based on his appearance in the Generation One animated series. Moset of the plastic is the green-grey while the lighter plastic is a light teal color. The wheels are black plastic and the cover to the driver's area is a translucent blue that is mostly see through. There are some light teal paint applications on the front wheel wells and (surprisingly) the rims on the wheels. Grey paint is used on a hexagon shaped area in the front, matching up with Kup's G1 animation model. On top of this is a tampographed Autobot symbol in silver and red. Going the extra mile, this figure also includes paint details on the back. The rear lights are painted yellow. Between the details in the front, the rims and these lights this pushes the deco on this figure far past its "Titans Return" predecessor in quality.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach any weapons and remove the Head Master from the cockpit. Transform the Head Master into head mode. Set all this aside for now.
  2. Pull the front wheel wells out slightly.
  3. Swing the panels on the truck bed up.
  4. Swing the panels with the rear lights on them down.
  5. Swing the panels that form the sides of the vehicle in.
  6. Bend the side panels at the hinges towards the bottom to begin forming the robot legs.
  7. Swing the truck bed panels down to form the front of the lower legs.
  8. Swing the robot feet out.
  9. Rotate the front half of the vehicle around.
  10. Swing the robot arms out to the sides (they are very obvious in vehicle mode).
  11. Straighten out the arms and fists.
  12. Swing the cabin cover open, push the front of the vehicle in, then push the cover back in place.
  13. Collapse the upper body down against the waist/hip area.
  14. Attach the Headmaster.
  15. Connect the Targetmaster to either fist.

Robot Mode:
When Takara Tomy decided to release Kup, they could have easily just added the Targetmaster and changed the deco and called it a day. Instead, they decided to go the extra mile and modify the arms in addition to a new deco! Two main pieces have been changed. The shoulders are now round pieces connected to the ball joint. The upper arms are the same, but the forearms are now more tube shaped. Both of these changes bring the sculpt more in line with the G1 animation model. These small changes made a huge difference in the look of the figure. I mean, I liked "Titans Return" Kup but this just takes the sculpt to another level. Very well done, Takara Tomy!

To further match up this figure with its animated counterpart's appearance, the colors are very carefully laid out on this figure. Unlike the "Titans Return" version which is overwhelmingly blue/teal in color, this figure is a heavy contrast between the light teal parts and dark green-grey parts. These colors also match up fairly well to the animation model. For instance, his shoulders and forearms are green-grey while the upper arms are light teal. Kup also features an Autobot symbol on his chest, but on the lower half instead of the top half (where "Titans Return" Kup had his). The "belt" on his waist/hip area has been painted black with the center painted yellow. Speaking of yellow, his forearms have yellow paint in the bands that wrap around the forearms. Finally, some light teal is used on his knee armor. The end result is a deco that manages to capture a lot of the finer points of the animation model in a way the "Titans Return" figure did not. I am very impressed and happy with the look of this figure.

From a functional standpoint all the articulation points on this figure feel about the same as my copy of "Titans Return" Kup. He does get an added bit of functionality thanks to the new shoulders. There you will find Titan Master pegs on top, allowing a Titan (or Prime) Master to stand on his shoulders. It's a cute little extra and it adds to the functionality of the robot mode so I dig it.

Final Thoughts:
In many respects, "Titans Return" Kup now feels like he was the prototype figure for this one. I absolutely love the new deco and new parts. I also really love the new Targetmaster figure and the deco on the Head Master figure. In every way this takes the original "Titans Return" Kup figure and ramps it up. Highly recommended!

Pros:

  • New deco is cartoon accurate.
  • New shoulder and forearm pieces help make the figure more cartoon accurate.
  • New Targetmaster figure is a big plus.

Cons:

  • Robot arms are plainly visible in vehicle mode.
  • Since this is an import it will cost you more than the average "Titans Return" Deluxe.