Masterpiece Alert Toy Review

in 2013, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Generation One, Masterpiece

Masterpiece

General Information:
Release Date: January 2013
Price Point: $80-90 (depending import on retailer)
Retailer: Japanese Exclusive
Accessories: Rocket launcher (non working), Rifle, "Circuit trouble" accessory

*Images denoted with an asterisk are from the Amazon Japan web site:

General Images:

Following the release of "MP-10", a new Masterpiece Optimus Prime from 2012, the "Masterpiece" line as a whole is now undergoing a revamp. Instead of focusing on die cast metal, rubber tires and designs with influences from various incarnations of characters, the Masterpiece line is now oriented towards creating cartoon accurate versions of our favorite robots in disguise from Generation One. Even better? The line is being designed so figures are in scale with each other, offering continuity from one figure to the next.

The first release of 2013 in Asia was Lambor (aka Sideswipe outside Japan). Released at about the same time was Alert (aka Red Alert outside Japan). In Generation One, Alert was a redeco/retool of Lambor, so history has repeated itself once again with the release of this figure. With this release and the recent announcement of a "Tiger Tracks" redeco of this suclpt as well, my statement about this mold being reused over and over to recoup the investment behind developing the figure seems to be coming true. This review is going to largely focus on the changes made to the figure for this release. For a more detailed look at the sculpt and how it aligns with the Generation One appearance of the character please read Masterpiece Lambor's review.

Translations below courtesy of Doug Dlin.

Tech Specs:
MP-14 Cybertron Security ALERT
Function...Security
Motto: "Caution can never be overused."
Profile...Alert is the most highly strung member of the Cybertrons. A whiff of smoke, a crackle of electricity, or the faint scent of leaking fuel—anything, no matter how small, triggers his sensory circuitry, and he can prevent trouble before it happens. Most of his comrades find his edgy nature unpleasant, but they all properly appreciate him with regard to his contributions toward his professional duties.

Pamphlet Translations:
Alert's vehicle mode is a fire-chief version of a Lamborghini LP500S, a very effective form for leading rescue teams of his fellow Cybertrons or a civilians.

The "F.D." markings on the hood and doors stand for "Fire Department", and between them is added a shield emblem, which stands for protection against disaster.

When a disaster occurs, Alert accompanies his partner Inferno, who transforms into a fire engine, to the site to perform firefighting and damage rescue activities. Alert is prudent and logical, while Inferno is short-tempered and makes decisions on the fly, so they have frequent clashes of opinion owing to their different personalities. However, they trust one another as mechs who share the same motive, and there is a deep bond between them.

When he forms a troop with his fellow Cybertrons and rolls out, he exercises his sensors to their fullest, checking whether there is no danger to his teammates. Those sensors detect even trivial threats well in advance, and are particularly attuned to the approach of Destrons.

Despite being endowed with a Lamborghini Countach vehicle mode, which is capable of high-speed travel, with his strongly cautious nature, he is seldom seen traveling at top speed outside of emergencies.

ALERT
Function...Security
Motto..."Caution can never be overused."
Alert is the Cybertrons' security member, single-handedly in charge of security management for their base, from the avenues of information, communication and secrets to the whereabouts of the troops within the base. He has advanced sensors with the ability to detect all manner of dangers. Not only is his visual acuity such that he can perceive a 2 cm microchip at about 360 km, his hearing is sharp enough to catch the sound of a pin dropping from about 2.2 km away.

Alert's overly neurotic behavior sometimes gets in the way of those around him, but it's merely the flip side of his dedication to his duty, putting the safety of his teammates above all else. His teammates understand that well enough.

ROCKET LAUNCHER
A large weapon equipped on Alert's right shoulder. Normally, this weapon would fire projectiles or lasers, but in Alert's case, he prefers to load it it with firefighting agents or livesaving equipment. Alert considers rescue activities to be his duty, so how to rescue his teammates and/or people is more important than how to attack the enemy.

PARTICLE BEAM RIFLE
Alert's favorite weapon, which fires a high-energy particle beam. In episode #49, "Broadcast Blues" [ep. #34, "Blaster Blues"], he even uses it as an emergency response tool during a disaster; when he and his partner Inferno encounter the scene of a mountain forest fire, he cuts down trees with it to prevent the spread of the fire.

CIRCUIT TROUBLE
In episode #23, "Steal the Negavator" [ep. #33, "Auto Berserk"], he takes a direct hit from a missile fired by Frenzy, and the brain circuits (logic circuits) in his head get damaged. This causes Alert's suspicions to become extremely strong, and he ends up being used by Starscream.

Vehicle Mode Images:

Vehicle Mode:
Alert's vehicle mode is a modification of Lambor's. Lambor is a straight up Countach in his vehicle mode, but Alert is an emergency vehicle so he has been given a lightbar attached on top of the vehicle. The lightbar is a newly sculpted piece made of translucent red plastic painted white in the center. The center section has a hole to accomodate the weapons in this form. What this does is give the weapon a bit of extra height compared to Lambor.

There are no other changes with Alert from the base sculpt. However, his deco is completely different. His primary plastic color is white, with black wheels and a dark grey translucent plastic used for the windows. Clear plastic is used to create the headlights. The white is very bright and it pops even more with the black parts. Black paint is used on a lot of the same areas as Lambor. This includes the sides of the vehicle, the vents/air intakes and the larger line sections on the back. It's also used on the front end under the headlights. There is some white paint used. I mentioned the lightbar earlier, but it's also used on the entire translucent grey section to fill out the cabin cover details. The white matches up beautifully with the white plastic.

The other colors appearing on this figure are red, silver and gold. The red color is used on the sides for striping on the lower part of the vehicle. The ltters "F.D." are on the sides with a shield symbol in the middle of the two letters. A similar pattern appears on the front on top of a red section in the middle of the hood. These letters and shield however are white outlined by black. Above that is an Autobot symbol. These details come straight out of the Generation One iteration of this character and they look fantastic. Black is found on some smaller details like the sideview mirrors and the windshield wiper. It's also used on the Lamborghini symbol sculpted into the hood. Gold is used for the smaller detail on the symbol. The silver is used for the sides of the wheels, a detail that's often been missing from many recent releases. The final color touches are found on the back of the vehicle where the rear lights are painted white and red surrounded by black. In between the two are the words "Lamborghini" and "Countach" in distinctive fonts.

Alert looks fantastic in vehicle mode. I like the use of the weaponry on the lightbar. It gives him a feature that G1 Alert did not have and I can imagine his weaponry being used for defense or rescue.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons if attached and split them up, then set them aside for now.
  2. Swing each of the front wheels down.
  3. Swing each of the doors out to the sides to begin forming the robot arms.
  4. Rotate each of the arms out, then around and straighten them out.
  5. Swing up the panels on the forearms and swing out the fists, then close the panels.
  6. Lift up the cabin cover piece.
  7. Split the spoiler in the middle and swing each half up.
  8. Flip the car over and swing up the black panels towards the back.
  9. Rotate the rear wheel well sections around.
  10. Swing the inner halves of the rear lights up.
  11. Straighten out the foot pieces and swing out each heel piece.
  12. Align the black panel from the underside of the vehicle with the rear light panels to form the front of each lower leg.
  13. Swing the hood piece down, revealing the robot head. A tab on the piece above the waist connects to a matching gap on the hood section.
  14. Fold in each of the side windows on the cabin cover section, then push the piece against the back.
  15. Straighten out the arms and fists.
  16. Attach the rocket launcher to one of the sides near the shoulder.
  17. Place the rifle in either hand.

Robot Mode Images:

Robot Mode:
While Alert's vehicle mode features a significant difference from Lambor with the addition of the Lightbar, I wasn't sure if anything would be changed for the robot mode. Luckily I was wrong and underestimated Takara Tomy's willingness to make this figure distinctive from its base sculpt. There are a few changes to the sculpt for the robot mode. The first is the head. The top part of the head has been modified, specifically the "horns" on the head don't stick straight up at all, but instead they're slightly shorter and go up and out at angles. The animation models for Lambor and Alert in the animated series were not always consistent, but the heads were drawn at times with different proportions, so this choice is a wonderfully simple one that makes the figure look distinctive while not overdoing the changes. The face and the piece over the face on the helmet section is also new and a bit more sleek than Lambor's face.

Another change made to the figure was really unexpected: the shoulders. The shoulder pieces have been changed entirely to match how they appeared in the animated series. In the G1 series, Lambor had shoudlers with curved armor on them, however Alert was drawn with wheels on his shoulders - which matches how the G1 toy looked. Even though Masterpiece Alert's wheels don't technically wind up on his shoulders, that detail has been preserved from the animated model. His shoulders feature "faux" wheels on the sides. This works out perfectly as his "real" front wheels wind up inside the chest in this form. It looks brilliant and it was a super pleasant surprise!

Showing how detail oriented the designers were, two circles have been added to the top of the chest piece. This is meant to emulate a similar design element from G1 Alert and it's great not because it's the "best detail ever", but it's so subtle and could have been left out but it's there and looks great.

White color dominated the vehicle mode, but here Alert's colors are much more varied. White is still a feature color, found on the shoudlers, chest and lower legs but red and black also come into play. His upper arms, mid-body, "helmet section" and thighs are all cast in red. The waist section, the front panel of his lower legs and fist are all black plastic. These colors match up with his appearance in the animated series, which really featured red more than the G1 toy actually did.

The paint details from the vehicle mode's hood carry over here, giving Alert his distinctive chest design with an Autobot symbol and the "F.D." letters with the shield in between. Silver paint is used for the face, forearms, feet and the sides of the wheels on his shoulders. The back portion of his rocket launcher is also painted silver, but I noticed a tiny bit of sloppy paint work where the silver section meets the red "rocket" section. Your mileage may vary. His eyes are painted metallic blue. They're actually a separate plastic piece slid into a slit inside the head. A blue color is found on the hex shapes on his lower legs. This color is a carry over from the G1 figure which had a sticker with a similar color in the same area. Overall he looks great and really faithful to the G1 animation model and toy.

All of Alert's joints are nice and tight. His functionality remains the same as Lambor's, however his extra accessory is different than Lambor's. No piledrivers here, instead he has a "crown" of sorts that fits over his ears. This piece is cast in translucent blue plastic and looks like "sparks" are coming out of his head. This is a direct reference to an event in the episode "Auto Berserk" where he had been damaged and sparks were shooting out of his head. It's a really fun accessory in that it doesn't focus on being an "action feature" but instead references something distinctive to the character, which I love.

Final Thoughts:
I love Alert every bit as much as Lambor. The retooling done on the figure is fantastic and well thought out. He looks awesome and the deco is spot on to the original animation model. This isn't "just a redeco", it's a distinctive figure all its own and deserves a place alongside your other Masterpiece figures!