"Masterpiece" Prowl (U.S. Release) Toy Review
Product Description (from the Toys R Us web site):
Prowl is a clear thinker who is able to see beyond the chaos of battle and discover the rational route to victory. His logic center is the most sophisticated in the Autobot army, capable of analyzing complex combat situations and making strategic decisions almost instantaneously. Unexpected events have been known to briefly scramble his circuits, but there isn't much this Autobot doesn't see coming. As much as his fellow Autobots would like to see Prowl loosen up and crack a joke once in a while, they recognize that what makes him so brilliant on the battlefield is what makes him so disciplined off it.
Decepticons beware, because the ultimate Autobot strategist is on the hunt for someone to fight! He converts from robot mode to police car mode, and in either mode he's armed for major combat. His blaster comes out when he gets a Decepticon in his sights! This Masterpiece Prowl figure will change your Transformers adventures forever!
Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.
Once upon a time "Masterpiece" Transformers action figures were largely reserved for Japanese releases, but over the last few years they have shown up more and more on toy store shelves outside of Japan. In the United States, the Masterpiece Prowl figure was released as a Toys R Us exclusive in summer of 2014. At $69.99 he was not much cheaper than his Japanese counterpart even via import shops. That said, by March of 2015 he had largely disappeared from store shelves.
Prowl was repackaged in a box significantly larger than the Japanese release. This is due in part to the figure being packaged in robot mode. The figure sits in a clear plastic tray with the rifle in a slot next to it. The tech specs are printed on the side of the box and the back shows how it can fit in Masterpiece Optimus Prime's trailer in vehicle mode. The back also sports a note that this is an officially licensed Nissan product since his vehicle mode is a real life Nissan Datsun 280ZX Turbo>. The box is mostly red and white and uses the same design aesthetic as the "Age of Extinction" packaging featuring the "Transformers" logo on the left edge of the box. It's an attractive looking box, but I have to admit it seems like overkill. I would almost prefer the figure had been packaged in a smaller box in vehicle form just to save space, but I understand the need to make the product stand out on the shelves.
When Takara Tomy and Hasbro "rebooted" the "Masterpiece" line, they decided to move away from die-cast metal, rubber tired giant figures. Instead, since MP-10 (Optimus Prime) the idea has been to create figures inspired by the cartoon series and mostly in scale with one another. Prowl continues this design theory by using Prowl's G1 animation model as the source of his design. Now, the G1 toy was actually had a lot of the details found on the animation model, so some of the key design elements below apply to both the G1 toy and animation model:
- The head sculpt has a curved helmet section with a raised crest in the center and horns coming out the sides. The helmet section has raised areas on the sides. The face has distinctive lines that run down from the sides of the eyes down to the chin.
- The chest is made up of the front of the vehicle with a curved design in front, round headlights and rectangular lines on the edges of the bumper section.
- Behind each shoulder are the car doors from the vehicle mode. You can angle them upward in the same way he had them in the cartoon.
- The shoulders have the front wheels of the vehicle mode behind them, and his forearms have distinct rows of horizontal lines running across them.
- The waist section has two trapezoid shapes flanking the middle where an triangle points downward.
- The thighs have lines that start near the top, angle downward and then turn into a straight line running into the knees.
- The front of each lower leg is a window from the vehicle mode's rear section.
- His feet have the halves of the vehicle's rear bumper on them.
- The weapon design comes right from the G1 toy and cartoon, with a raised section in the back, a central section that angles back where the rifle's barrel sticks out.
To simply talk about the G1 details would do this figure a disservice however. There are many other intricate details that are worth noting. First, his shoulders have distinct lines and designs on them that don't appear in the animation model. His hands have each finger segment sculpted. He even has some extra details on his mid-body, waist and thighs that don't appear on the cartoon show. I personally think going too far with the sculpted details would have taken away from what the designers were trying to achieve: namely a G1 cartoon-esque Prowl figure. I think they put just the right amount of detail and he looks great.
Prowl is cast in white, black, silver and translucent smokey grey plastic. The black and white colors were found on both the G1 toy and cartoon model. However, the translucent grey plastic is more inspired by the G1 toy. In the television show, light blue was used on all the translucent grey parts instead. The black and white parts largely alternate, such as the arms where the shoulders are white but the forearms are black (which then in turn lead to white fists). Silver is used for his elbows and thighs, offering some additional color into the mix. Prowl's deco is more based on his G1 toy than the cartoon. There are orange details on the front of the chest, orange and red details on the rear car lights (on his feet in this mode). Red is also used for the horns on his head, an Autobot symbol on his chest and the triangle on his waist area. Black paint is used most prominently on the chest where it starts on the sides and then curves up to a point in the center. It's also used on smaller details like the windshield wipers on his legs. Silver is used on his face as well as the "Z" logo on his chest. A bit of white is used on his waist area. Overall the deco in this mode looks great, and offers a nice balance between the original G1 toy and cartoon model.
For those curious, the designers did not forget that the G1 toy had many stickers, but their focus was on creating a figure that focused more on the characters's animated appearance (which lacked many of those details). However, a company named "Ocean Designs" did create an officially licensed label sheet which you can purchase at Bigbadtoystore which gives you a lot of these G1 sticker details. This includes the police "shields" on his shoulders and the word "Police" across the back of the vehicle above the rear windshield. While it would've been cool to include this with the figure, the stickers are relatively cheap and they do look great.
Prowl has an awesome thirty points of articulation in this form. This includes seven in each arm and six in each leg. Note: for the legs I am counting the ability of his foot to pivot in and out a bit since it can be key to getting him into certain poses. This also includes the ability of his fingers to swing out on a single hinge on each hand. He also has waist articulation. Even better he's stable thanks to his wide feet and heel pieces so you can pose him without fear of him toppling over. The attach his weapon you swing open a hand and fit the small tab on the weapon handle into the corresponding groove in the palm and then close up the fingers. You can also store the weapon by attaching it to the lightbar on the back.
Unlike his G1 animated counterpart Prowl has shoulder cannons which can swing out from his back. This is a carry over from this basic sculpt also being used for the Streak figure. However, there was one animation error in Generation One which showed Streak in Prowl colors with his shoulder cannons (seen in "More than Meets the Eye" Part One) so if you really need a "fanon" justification there you go.
Transformation to Vehicle Mode:
- Detach the weapon and swing the handle up, then set it aside for now.
- If you have the shoulder cannons deployed, swing them back.
- If you have the doors in an angled position, straighten them out.
- Push the arms down a bit at the shoulders.
- Rotate each fist so the top of the hands face forward.
- Swing each forearm up against the shoulders.
- Swing the top of the vehicle cabin section back and then flip out the piece that forms the middle of the vehicle's front end.
- Rotate the waist around.
- Swing up each heel piece.
- Swing down the inside panel on each foot.
- On each foot swing the clear window panels up.
- Move each foot piece in, so it looks like his "toes" are pointing at each other at an angle.
- Swing the lower leg out a bit from the knee joint.
- Push each lower leg up, collapsing it against the thighs.
- Swing the feet up, matching up the small peg on the inside of the foot pieces to the corresponding holes at the top of the each lower leg panel.
- Push the lower legs together.
- Swing each of the panels from the inside of the feet up.
- Push the robot head down.
- Lift up the chest piece to begin forming the front of the car.
- Swing the arms forward at the shoulder sections.
- Swing up the chest and connect it to the panel making up the top of the car.
- Connect the tabs on the leg section (now the rear of the car) to the panel with the lightbar.
- Swing the car doors in.
- Push the robot head down again so it's behind the panel that forms the mid-section of the robot mode.
- Swing each arm up then in so the wheels face outward.
- Each forearm has a small groove which connects to the small tabs underneath the car hood.
- The weapon can be attached to the hole at the back of the lightbar.
While it may seem like a pain in the skidplate sometimes, having a Transformer become an officially licensed vehicle has its perks. Chief among them is that the car has great detailing because the design is beholden to the approval of the licencor (in this case, Nissan). Thanks to this, Masterpiece Prowl transforms into an incredible representation of the Nissan Datsun 280ZX Turbo>. Specifically he is based on the model of the Datsun that was used as a police vehicle in Japan. He has many of the key details of this vehicle including:
- The vehicle has a long front end leading to a cabin section that curves downward at a pretty severe slope in the back.
- The side view mirrors of the vehicle are mounted above the front wheel wells.
- The headlights are round and set deep inside a partial cone shaped section in the front.
- There is a raised, circular emblem on the front end of the vehicle, similar to the real life police cars.
- The front of the car has a distinct curve coming up in the center.
- There is a lightbar mounted on the top of the vehicle. Note: in some models of the real life vehicle there was a small siren light instead of a rectangular light bar.
- The rims on the wheels have a distinct shape with four thick sections in an "X" pattern with smaller sections in between them that have a single vertical bar. This same wheel rim style was used on the G1 Prowl action figure.
In addition to all these details, there are others which are not necessarily unique to the Datsun. For instance, there are windshield wipers sculpted into the windshield and the back window. There is a gas cap cover on the right side above the wheel well and towards the back on the left side is what appears to be a small antennae. He also has other small details including the door handles, vents on the hood and license plate panels in the front and back. There is little doubt that this is a fantastic sculpt that does more than justice to the real life vehicle.
This mode is still mostly black and white while most of the silver plastic is now hidden out of the way. The lightbar on the top of the vehicle is translucent red plastic while the windows are all translucent grey plastic. It is worth noting that the translucent red plastic used on the lightbar is darker in color than the Japanese release. Most of the details in this form are carried over from the robot mode such as the Autobot symbol and "Z" emblem in the front. What you do get to see now is the way the black colors come together to form the lower half of the vehicle's color from the front all the way to the back. The doors also show off their "Highway Patrol Police" logos with the yellow and blue "shield" emblem (a carry over from his G1 design). This mode also gives you a better look at the painted windshield wiper details which look fantastic. The finishing touch is silver on the sides of the wheels. Overall this deco looks great. I do find myself wishing that he had the stickers I mentioned earlier included but if you look at it from the perspective of replicating the cartoon deco, this figure does the job nicely.
Prowl's wheels are plastic, not rubber but he rolls on them just fine. As mentioned above, his rifle can attach to the lightbar, giving him some firepower in this mode.
Masterpiece Prowl lives up to his name. He's a fantastic representation of the character both on screen and from G1. He looks great in both modes and his articulation in robot mode is fantastic. Truly a fantastic figure. Highly recommended!