‘Chances are if you are in your late 30’s to 40’s then you recognise the above picture above as G1 (Generation One) Optimus Prime, one of the most sought after and treasured toy a kid could have. (Well, it’s actually a re-issued G1 Optimus Prime, but it’s very close.) I’m not going to go into who Optimus Prime is. (By now, you should be used to how much time and energy we put into providing hyperlinks to help.) I’ll just say that Optimus Prime is a pretty big deal in the Transformers universe. I never had him, and he is but one of many Transformers that I wanted as a child.
Much to my delight, being an adult gives me the spending money and right to buy many things that I could not have as a little boy. This is something that many geeks enjoy as adults. It has turned many of us into collectors to correct what we saw as mistakes of the past by fulfilling decades old wishlists. Saying this, you can possibly imagine my surprise and joy in finding out that not only had old Transformers been rereleased nearly identical to their previious editions, but Hasbro and Tomy/Takara (the Japanese company that owns the rights to the original molds and toys that Transformers were based on) also released re-engineered Masterpiece Transformers that were superior in every way to the old G1 Transformers.
I have been curious about Hasbro/Tomy/Takara’s Masterpiece line of Transformers for several year now. Back then it was a line of huge versions of Transformers that were not only model accurate when in machine mode, but engineered to be extremely accurate to the robot forms in the cartoons. The idea was not only better than the best of both worlds, but a level of realism and surrealism that neither machine modes or bot modes had ever reached. There was one problem: price. Back then, Masterpiece Transformers could cost anywhere from $100-300, which was too much for me.
But…many things have changed since then. Third parties started making their own Masterpiece quality versions of Transformers, that were at tiimes better engineered for more realistic bot modes, but also much cheaper than the first party Hasbro/Tomy/Takara Transformers. Also compainies started making knockoff (KO) that were for the most part perhaps slightly less well made, but much less expensive. Basically, more choices meant more competition so that even official Hasbro/Tomy/Takara Transformers had to not only sell for cheaper, but revise how they were made.
Along with the price decreace of recent years, KO companies started their own innovations such as making their own more “official” KOs by making replicas of official pieces, but giving them their own names and making slight differences. Sometimes those changes even made the KOs better than the offical Masterpieces.
“Okay, great. Thanks for the…history lesson,” you might say. Why did I choose to say all of this in an article? The reason is that I intend to make review articles for different Masterpiece Transformer collectibles, but it won’t be like most others. In fact, they probably won’t be like any others.
Thank you for reading our Masterpiece Transformers primer article. I hope to write many more articles for you about specific Transformers in the future.