Description

Non-affiliated, Non-lengthy, Non-articles about Transformers

Sunday, 30 April 2017

MakeToys MTRM-06 Contactshot



Get comfortable in your chair, grab a beverage of your choosing, slap on some synthwave (I'd recommend Droid Bishop, Carpenter Brut, Perturbator or Kalax) and prepare to spend some time with the Transformers-based toy of 2017 thus far. I am of course referring to 3rd Party company MakeToys' Re:Master series MTRM-06 Contactshot, their stab at a Masterpiece-level Autobot Targetmaster Pointblank. Without a shadow of a doubt, this was my most anticipated 3rd party product of 2016, and although it came out in early 2017, he has not disappointed at all.





Contactshot is one of a number of MTRM figures that MakeToys have put out since the first, MTRM-01 Cupola (Chromedome) in 2015. I feel like there are two sub-sets of this line, one being the Headmaster/Targetmaster era figures of a scale similar to the majestic Takara Transformers Masterpiece MP-9 Rodimus Convoy, and the other being more in scale with the post-MP-10 TakaraTomy Masterpiece Autobot cars and such. Contactshot very much fits in with the former, standing in glorious harmony with Cupola and Ironwill (Hardhead).






Contactshot is based on the 1987 Autobot Targetmaster Pointblank and his Nebulan partner Peacemaker. This character is obviously blessed with badass names, whatever era, region or side of the IP fence he sees release. In Japan he was called Blanker, I just love it. Along with Sureshot and Crosshairs, his western cartoon debut came in The Rebirth with the other Headmasters and Targetmasters, and he enjoyed further screen time in the Japanese Headmasters series. The toy originally saw release in all major markets; Asia, Europe and North America having the privilege of lesser known Autobot Targetmasters.



This stellar figure from MakeToys wowed a lot of us when it was revealed, and all through the prototyping phase. As soon as it was in collector hands, the depth of quality ingrained in his essence was clear for all to see. One of those figures that makes you smile just by the act of picking him up in your hand, Contactshot comes with Pointblank's signature blue shield accessory and his Targetmaster, called "Targetwarrior". Contributing to that smile will be the excellent weight of the figure - not too heavy and definitely not light - the immaculate finish on him and of course, the spectacular looks and proportions that made the original Pointblank such a winner.



In addition to the toy and Japanese Headmasters cartoon-based default helmet and face that Contactshot comes with, there is also another odd-looking helmet with a single horn in the middle, based on his very short appearance in The Rebirth episodes. There is another origin for this helmet, though...

Pic courtesy of Gangustars.com

Pic courtesy of Gangustars.com
These Takara concept drawings for Pointblank show him with quite a different head design similar to the Rebirth representation, and it makes you wonder if the cartoon representation in the west was a result of this. Origin of the single horn? Could be. Interesting how at this stage, the Targetmaster concept was not integrated into the toy's concept.




Back to this marvel, Contactshot comes with a stoic and shouty face for each helmet type. The faces are not entirely compatible with both helmets, unfortunately. If you really squeeze the Rebirth-style face into the toy-style helmet, you can mount it on the figure and it looks convincing from certain angles (see second pic above). Visual differences include the above head having separate eyes and a longer chin than the Rebirth-style head which has an eye band. Both are far better in hand than promotional photography suggested. I thought I'd struggle with what I was calling his 'galactic chin', but it's a total non-issue in the flesh. It's also a phenomenally nice headsculpt overall. Classic classic Generation 1.




The shield and Targetwarrior can interact with Contactshot in numerous ways when he's a robot. The Targetmaster has a large red barrel part that can come off, leaving a thinner one underneath, meaning the red barrel can be attached to the blue shield, making that a weapon also. The shield can be mounted on the arm facing forwards or backwards, and also clipped onto the windshield on his back for storage. Weapon grip is excellent, utilising the very good tab and rail system seen on Cupola and Ironwill etc.



Being a MakeToys product, you can almost guarantee a great in-hand experience, but Contactshot excels as a toy and an action figure. Posability is absolutely terrific, with everything you want in abundance. Swivels everywhere, two-way ankle-articulation, a full range of head movement, freedom in the arms and shoulders and a quality waist swivel. Those gorgeous shoulders of his can be raised up, exactly how I used to do with Binaltech Overdrive. The two have a lot of similarities in appearance, actually.




He's one of those bots that only stops giving when your imagination does. There's great stability in his dynamism as well, meaning all my favourite stances and poses are effortlessly achieved. Solid as a rock with some tasty lower body ratchets to make handling a real pleasure. Once you start allying posability of this magnitude to breathtaking looks, throw in a pinch of vintage attachment and preferred scale, the makings of an all-time great start coming together. One drawback that collectors have identified is that the Targetmaster cannot be mounted at the end of his wrist as in the Headmasters cartoon. Remember, for the Headmasters show in Japan, these were not binary bonded Cybertronians and Nebulans. They were in fact from the planet Master, the big robot being a 'Transtector' controlled by the 'Master figure.




In terms of accuracy, well you can see for yourself just how much he remains faithful to G1 Pointblank. The Targetwarrior, ironically, ends up smaller than G1 Peacemaker. You just end up asking yourself if anyone else ever need try to compete with what MakeToys have done with the character at this scale. Speaking of scale, as much as I like the modern Masterpiece direction, I do miss the more substantial size and feel of the MP-9 era Masterpiece figures. Not that there were all that many, I guess I am thinking about how Cupola and Ironwill really satisfy visually as well as in-hand. Contactshot fills out more of this beloved 1987 'Masters era in that scale. This is my dream collection, currently.



Pulling off that convincing kneel, Contactshot continues to tick every box I can throw at him as a robot. Just look at that group, and imagine how tragic it would be if MakeToys don't give us Re:Master versions of Crosshairs, Sureshot, Brainstorm and Highbrow. I suspect even if TakaraTomy go down the 1986 movie path, their Kup, Springer, Blurr and Arcee would scale more with MP-28 Hot Rodimus in robot mode and MP-22 Ultra Magnus in vehicle mode, so as to mount the car carrier successfully.

As we've mentioned vehicle mode, let's kick it up a gear!



Would you just look at that. While I agree that Transformers and related products should come packaged in vehicle mode as they used to, allowing one to work towards revealing the robot, it was a tremendous feeling getting Contactshot into vehicle mode. There is such a sense of substance and style, a marvellous tribute to the aesthetic and futuristic vision of the time. I see laser grid line horizons and segmented neon sunsets, all to the sound of synthesisers. 



In the same way Cupola first wowed me with his in-hand vehicle mode, Contactshot does the same while being infinitely more attractive. The cockpit is gorgeous and that's where Targetwarrior sits. I know this is a major bone of contention for many, and I guess it's going to be my main gripe with an otherwise sublime package. Targetmasters as a concept were all about a robot weapon that could attach in both modes, but there's nowhere for the Targetmaster to attach to Contactshot in vehicle mode. 




Sure, he can drive it, and that's amazing and appropriate at this scale, but you have to stay true to the concept. You can leave Targetwarrior precariously balanced in half-transformation as above, or do what I did. I came up with a configuration for the Nebulan to create enough friction that when slid into the blue rear wing, it can act as a legitimate attachment point. If done right, he will stay in place even when Contactshot is held aloft vertically.




Back up a bit, before we dissect the vehicle mode, let's talk about the process of getting there. If you can peel yourself away from that delicious robot mode, that is. Contactshot's transformation needed to be accessible and repeatable, but I would have settled for the perfect complexity level of Cupola, a sit-down-and-enjoy transformation with purpose that takes you through a multitude of steps with a hugely satisfying conclusion. This is not that. This is moments of proper cleverness, lots of logical stuff and exactly the right balance of involved and simple you want. All that, and even more satisfaction on completion. This is the refinement of the concept, the peak of powers. This is what you get when it all goes right.

Flip up headlights and blue wing mounted further back

I'm not saying it's MP Ultra Magnus levels of excellence, but it's a damn good transformation and I enjoy it every single time. The way the arms rotate, retract and have that rotating side panel that tabs into the side of the cockpit is wicked. The way the hood of the car rotates around and allows the robot head to hide seamlessly within is gorgeous. The way the leg panels come apart and accommodate the fully folded-out feet, which then become the sides of the car, really impressed me. The only bit I'm wary of is the massaging of tabs to complete the picture, as inevitably tabs can wear, and I'm seeing a bit of that on the ones that connect the feet to the outer legs. Overall, out of Cupola, Ironwill and Contactshot, the latter has my favourite conversion.


I always thought the G1 Pointblank vehicle mode was lovely and sleek, but next to Contactshot he really seems more awkwardly proportioned. Make no mistake, MakeToys have absolutely killed it with this vehicle mode. The 80's pinup factor is further amplified by those heavenly flip-up headlights mounted halfway back along the chassis! It reminds me a lot of those old Vector cars. While the red is not perfectly colour-matched with G1 Pointblank, he does have the flame and moulded details nailed. Am I tempted to put a rubsign on the hood? Maybe I am. This is Transformers, not vintage car collecting!




While the main figure scales very well with MP-9 and co, Targetwarrior seems rather diminutive next to Takara/Hasbro Offshoot, the Targetmaster partner of Hasbro's MP-9. Targetwarrior's posability is limited too, as his arms do not rotate outwards. Offshoot there outshines him significantly with his all-in-one transformation, better posability and far more heroic proportions. That's not to say I don't like Targetwarrior, his transformation is fun and clever in how it ties up the handle and thinner barrel behind his back.

And you cannot say they don't cut a wonderful image together...


That, right there, is everything to me. The emotion, expression and aesthetic of this wonderful period of Transformers creativity that brings back the fondest of memories. MakeToys are reproducing this with spectacular results. They are making a great case for parts moulded in colour instead of overuse of paint that chips and leaves your expensive figures looking as if they were handled carelessly.





The absolute beauty of the current Transformers and 3rd Party scene is that we are finding the more obscure corners of the brand being explored, not just by MP-scale IP-rippers but by the official mainline Titans Return and Legends figures too. I would never have imagined I could create some of the above group shots using such an array of era and scale-spanning figures. FansToys, DX9 and Fans Hobby getting into the 1987 stuff like Sixshot, Galvatron and the Monsterbots just enhances the experience. My foray into 1987/88 vintage Generation 1 a couple of years ago could not have been timed better, as I now feel everyone is catering for lovers of this era generously. Contactshot carries some serious weight in this regard, absolutely nailing Pointblank in a way very few toys have.




I'm so glad the possibilities and avenues for completion of a Masterpiece-scale collection have started to become a reality beyond the Ark crew of 1984, and now the expanded roster of 1985. I also love how toys like Fans Hobby Feilong and MakeToys Contactshot are attracting collectors that previously had zero connection (or sometimes knowledge) of characters such as Pointblank, such is the strength of the toy. It's no mean feat to make a figure look this good with such a variety of others.


In conclusion, let me remind you what MakeToys Contactshot has to offer. You get two scintillating modes; a robot with fantastic expressiveness and posability, as well as a vehicle mode that exudes stylised futuristic beauty while still screaming supercar. You get a simple and clever transformation that encourages repeat enjoyment. You get solidity, quality and a high level of commitment to the original character of Pointblank. The Targetmaster figure lacks a little posability when compared with the best of today's mini-figures at this scale, and lacks a couple of key interactivity functions expected of the Targetmaster concept, and that stands as the main gripe with MTRM-06 overall. 

My preferred scale, my beloved Pointblank, my darling era of Transformers, my 3rd Party company of choice, my desired level of posability, complexity and cleverness.

My favourite figure of 2017, and my favourite 3rd Party release yet.


All the best
Maz















No comments:

Post a Comment