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

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

MakeToys MTRM-11 Meteor

When MakeToys revealed their intentions to do a Masterpiece-style Starscream, it was seen as a very bold statement of intent. One that indicated the Boys at M'Toys not only felt they could improve upon the official MP-3 and MP-11 iterations of Masterpiece Starscream - in itself something most believed wholly possible - but also convince enough collectors to buy it and replace the expensive incumbent to make the project worthwhile. Well, Meteor - formerly Howling Meteor - was released in short supply at TFCon just recently and is due for full release later next month. I've got the figure in question right now, so it a success or a howler? 

I'm an enormous lover of MP-11 Coronation Starscream, it's pretty much guaranteed to be the first thing I grab in a collection fire. Starscream was my first fixation as a kid in the cartoon and my first Transformers toy, even if later years meant I became a bigger fan of characters like Mirage, Cyclonus and Greatshot. I got MP-11 very late in the game and was smitten. So much so, that I have since bought that mould 9 times over. I'd like to think that with their recent astounding track record of quality figures, had I not been sent Meteor as a review sample, I would have bought him anyway for the love of such an accomplished company and Masterpiece Starscream.

Let's put this one to bed immediately. MakeToys have produced a Masterpiece-style Starscream robot that is far closer to the animation model than MP-3 or MP-11. The proportions are excellent right down to the curve of the legs and the finish on the painted red waist pieces. He's clean and neat for the most part in the way he presents himself in both modes and the colour is more in line with the on screen representation than MP-11. In robot mode, Meteor is better looking and more accurate than MP-11. There, fuses lit.

Meteor doesn't have the panel detailing or the surface sculpting that MP-11 does, but then he also doesn't have swirly grey plastic that never seemed to bother me before on MP-11. What he does have are two replacement faces (one smirk, one shouty), a replacement head with Despotron's hand around his throat, two null rays and two bomb attachments. Instructions are decent by MakeToys standard. The box is quite a classy looking piece of kit too, with Starscream colours really popping against the black background.

Meteor almost fully abandons the real world aesthetic and goes completely cartoon, in the same fashion that a number of TakaraTomy Masterpiece releases have in the last 2 years. Gone are the rotors in the chest, the rockets under the breasts and all of the details under the flaps, the radar in the nosecone and brakes that made MP-3/11 such fun jets to play with. In a way, MakeToys have gone quite cynically cartoon with nothing left beneath the surface to discover as with the MP-11 and MP-3 mould. The result is a gorgeous screen Starscream, if that's what you desire. The canopy is no longer clear, it's now an opaque and shiny orange and it does not open in jet mode to seat a pilot. A major addition to Meteor is increased posability.

Before we dive into posability and expression, I just have to comment on how hefty and substantial Meteor feels when picked up. Those die cast thighs really add weight. Also, picking him up does not cause the shoulder assembly to slide up and frustrate upon each handling the way MP-11 does. Back to posability, an MP-scale Starscream is once again graced with ankle tilts, and boy were they necessary! There's double-jointed elbows and knees, and he can actually use the knees because you don't have bits of wing getting in the way! The ratchets are strong and feel quality. Also, rejoice folks, there's a waist swivel. Visually it can jar, though, because it causes the lower part of the canopy to split.

Finally, your Masterpiece collection can house a Starscream that lives up to the posability and expression of its Megatron, Shockwave and its Soundwave - plus whatever else 3rd party you've amassed. A convincing kneel, run, wide stances, dynamic attack and action poses are MakeToys bread and butter, made manifest in Meteor. It's not all rosy though, I found it a bit tricky to get him to actually stand sometimes, such is the nature of the double-jointed feet ratchets and the small exhaust acting like a heel, somewhat assisted by the folded up fins around the back of the calf. When he's stable, though, he looks the absolute business. I often found good balance and stability were achieved when I adjusted the double-ratchets in the feet. One of them is a softer ratchet than the other so, it can feel counter-intuitive to fold the feet out, then rotate them up on another inner joint that has more resistance, but it's the key to solid standing and posing. There's a double-jointed abdominal connection too, so play your cards right and you could end up with a nice ab crunch among your poses too.

In order to make the robot mode look seamless, you occasionally have to slide up the waist to close the gaps in the abdomen. It's not a massively secure connection so I do wonder if, over time, it will be harder for the red crotch piece to stay up, keeping the look complete and coherent. Because of the transformation and partial concealing of the hands (independent index finger with 2 points of articulation!), there's a rectangular gap in the forearm which occasionally means you can see right through the arm. I actually didn't notice this until I saw a lot of complaints about it online. See? Don't read reviews, folks! Anyway, I use it to my advantage. The way the hand folds up means you basically have some extra wrist articulation to add more expression to a figure that's already absolutely drenched in Starscream character.

Now, take a moment. Look at the poses this figure is pulling off. This is an astounding MP-scaled cartoon-accurate Starscream.

Extraordinarily expressive and begging to be placed in a hundred of your cartoon and movie re-creations, Meteor is simply gorgeous. If I leave him all day and have to focus on another figure, go to work, get busy etc and come back to him, I am immediately wowed all over again. It's not the same for folks online who have not handled him, they are fixating on a number of things that I keep insisting are vapid concerns in hand. Some of the photo angles I posted had Meteor's arms outstretched, so I had comments about stubby arms. Some photos pre-production had him at an angle where the feet looked huge, they aren't. Forearm gap, total non-issue in hand. 

Hollow sections on the back of the wings. Absolute deal-breaker and sole reason to not buy. Collection offended, game over. 

Not for me, however.

Again, I picked the figure up in hand and turned him around...what can I say? I just do not care and it does not affect my enjoyment of the toy in the slightest. For the few collectors who display their toys in robot mode facing away from them, or in jet mode on an elevated display, I'm sorry if this bothers you and I am grateful that it does not bother me. If MakeToys showed him with filled in wings and parts to cover the hollow segments up, and that's irked you, fair enough. Just see the figure in hand, play with it, feel how incredibly substantial he feels and the phrase "cheap" will not cross your mind. If anything, I look at those calves and that nosecone just partway down the back and I think it's a very neat and tidy rear, nice solutions employed.

I wanted to be sure not to blindly defend the figure as there were elements of robot mode that were causing me concern. One of them was the work it sometimes took to get him to hold a natural-looking pose and not topple if I had not gotten the ratchets in exactly the right place on the feet, the sliding crotch piece and, now, the painted die-cast thighs. See those notches in the middle of the thighs? That's where they clip into the lower leg when they fold (not slide) inside them. I already see some tiny spots of paint wear and transfer there, so this is not a figure I will choose to transform toooo regularly. I'll be keeping an eye on that.

Another complaint I've been hearing from those who have not got the figure in hand has been the "ugly" headsculpt. What?! OK it's extremely hard to photograph it when not in close-up mode as above, but apart from the smirk face, I think all of the faces and helmet on Meteor are just fine. It's not MakeToys' finest work, but I hold it in my hands and I am pretty damn convinced it's cartoon Starscream. The contrast is such that in most pictures it's having its features obscured, and that's a shame. It's true that his red shoulders cannot be angled forward like in the cartoon or on MP-11, and that's a shame too as it would have truly completed the robot mode cartoon look.

Although the hand around Starscream's throat on the extra head is for MakeToys Despotron, I've just hidden MP-36 Megatron's hand in his forearm and positioned him so that it looks like he's got his hands on Meteor, and it works more than well enough for a photograph. It took a lot of balancing to get Meteor to hold the run. The ankle does not tilt the other way and the weight of the thighs means that this is not as immediately achievable on him as with something like Cupola or Contactshot. It should also be noted that the null rays on his arm have the capability to be extended outwards on another little arm. There are examples of its use on the back of the box but it's not something I've seen any need for, especially when trying to preserve that cartoon G1 Starscream accuracy for display or photography.

Now for jet mode. Not a lot wrong with that, is there? Again, you have the smooth surfaces and lighter colour than MP-11, aiming directly at the animation model. He looks great with the bomb heads attached instead of the null rays. I still struggle a little with the (unpainted) hinges in the middle of the vertical fins. I love the shape of the jet as viewed from the top and I like that I have an alternative - not a replacement - to MP-11's hyper-detailed jet mode. I find the landing gear and undercarriage to be a spot of afterthought, not as well integrated or sculpted as MP-11's. When you look at the rear, you'll notice that the exhausts are covered at the bottom by Meteor's feet, breaking the immersion a little. Viewed from the side, you will notice a very flat underside at the rear of the jet, an area I believe MP-11 also does better than Meteor. Some have also expressed a lack of appreciation for how, just in the space between the vertical fins, the curved rear bodywork is not completely seamless on top between the end of that section and the start of the exhausts. 

Regarding the transformation, it's been refreshing to see some sections done differently to MP-3/MP-11. I especially like how the legs fold up and how the vertical fins fold inside them. The wings are nicely done too, with the rotation of the long pointy sections closest to the jet body being pretty neat. The weapons have to be removed and re-attached, similar to G1 Starscream, so if you appreciate the non-partsforming engineering of MP-11 in that respect, you may not enjoy that feature. I like how the wings clip to the body in a few locations more securely than some of my MP-11 dynasty do.

We need to talk about the nosecone transformation. There are faux canopy sections in the bottom and the top of that section that have been very sweetly engineered to work well in both modes and still allow for that waist swivel. The C-clip that connects the main nosecone section to the canopy assembly is prone to disconnecting. It's probably the only frustrating aspect of the transformation, but even then, you just clip it back on. I have managed the transformation from jet to robot without it coming off.

Go Go Gadget aneurysms! The thing I find funny about everyone complaining about the hollow sections under the wing potentially affecting a jet mode display are that if you dislike hollow spaces, the wings are the least of your concerns! There is a gap at the end of the fuselage between the breasts, there is a gap above the waist etc. The wings actually look mechanical and sculpted by comparison. My only visual issues with the jet mode remain the opaque canopy, the hinges in the middle of the vertical blue fins and the flat rear underside of the jet. All of which I am happy to live with, but I'm also of the opinion that overall, MP-3/11 are much more representative of an actual F-15 Eagle.

More comparably real life accurate Starscream on the left (MP-11) and closer-to-animation Starscream on the right (Meteor). That's the distinction in my head and it's what makes me happy to keep hold of both of these gorgeous Starscreams. Do I wish the 'F' pattern had been recreated on Meteor? Yep. It's not something that pops up in the cartoon but it's borderline essential Starscream right there. If we are talking complete immersion, you have to be amused how both of these jets still have the dark grey squares at the wing connection point to pay homage to the G1 Starscream toy's rotating black peg holes.

So I think I actually prefer Meteor's transformation to MP-11 and his brethren, I am also more likely to do it often...unless I notice any further progress in the paint wear around the thigh notches. The jet mode is not real life accurate and aviation enthusiasts may struggle with that, based on what they want from their Masterpiece Decepticon Strike Planes. It's still a lovely jet mode, genuinely, in hand it's beautiful. In robot mode you have a figure that is so much more aesthetically coherent with the current Masterpiece Transformers line and the cartoon accuracy for which it strives. Look how effortlessly Meteor slips in besides MP-36 Megatron, MP-13 Soundwave and MP-29 Laserwave. There's no contest there between MP-11 and Meteor in terms of compatibility.

Regarding feel and quality, Meteor is as good as anything MakeToys put out in their Re:Master line. The posability allows him the freedom to actually BE the traitorous G1 Starscream on your cartoon display shelf, looking completely natural in all the poses your imagination can dream up. For what MakeToys set out to do, create a Masterpiece-style Starscream in the current TakaraTomy animation-model aesthetic with high articulation and seamless display potential, they've succeeded tremendously. 

I fully believe that upon handling, much of the criticism laid at his door, visually, will vanish into a pleasurable in-hand experience. I've laid out my concerns with the mould and issues that arise with play and transformation, and I'm interested to see how these develop over time. It's not a perfect figure and it will not suit everyone's tastes, but I am utterly thrilled that a Starscream like this exists. I'm happy it was MakeToys who produced it and I am absolutely in for their Skywarp, Thundercracker and coneheads from this mould, as painfully expensive as that will be. I catch myself sometimes marvelling at the fact that a fully cartoon Starscream is now available in toy form, and while I believe it possible that TakaraTomy have plans to release another set of Seekers somewhere down the line to fit more with their Masterpiece direction, Meteor is my season 1/2 Starscream and MP-11 is my movie Coronation Starscream. I feel extremely privileged to own both.

All the best


  1. I've become reacquainted with 'll my collection this last week, having gone through the process of dust proofing my detolfs. And it struck me how short the mp11 mold falls for me, to the the point I've got rid of the coneheads. Getting such a glowing review from you means I'm much more excited for this figure, and all the rest. Replacements all round! Thanks Maz.

    1. I hope it matches your expectations, mate!

      All the best

  2. Maz, is there any chance that the coronation gear from mp11 can be made to fit on Meteor?

    1. The crown is definitely too big, it slides down over his face. I doubt the rest of it is a decent fit either.

      All the best