Review: Transformers MP-20 Wheeljack

Well, it’s that time of year again for Transformers collecting, the time of the year that TakaraTomy sucks the money right out of our wallets with the Transformers Masterpiece line. 2014 previously saw the release of the MP repaints G2 Sideswipe (which I reviewed here) and Soundblaster, and still to come are the new-mold MP Bumble(bee) in November and Ultra Magnus in December. Definitely a good (or bad, depending on how you see it) year for Transformers Masterpiece. Last month saw the release of one of the most anticipated MPs and the first new-mold release of the year: the crackpot Autobot inventor himself, Wheeljack.

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Vehicle Mode

If there’s one thing the Masterpiece line is incredibly good at, it’s making some damn fine alternate modes. MP-12’s Countach was near perfect (and not just for being a Countach), and the Fairlady Z trio was equally brilliant. Wheeljack does not disappoint: this is the Lancia Stratos Turbo properly sponsored by Alitalia and looks a-mazing.

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The green and red stripes are clean and look gorgeous against the lovely white plastic. The painted red rims in particular really enhance the car’s look, something that the G1 toy actually lacks. Seriously, everything about this car is perfect. No paint mess-ups, nothing breaks up the Stratos’s shape (even the angle of the car’s rear is preserved, unlike the MP-12 Countach). You even get two sets of plastic side view mirrors to stick on the sides of the car, just in case you lose one pair.

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Like all good Transformer vehicle modes, Wheeljack rolls like a dream. While the traditional MP weapon storage system of “stick the gun on top of the car” is still preserved with his missile launcher, Wheeljack’s pistol can be pegged into the bottom rear of the vehicle to serve as a tailpipe! This is the best kind of weapon storage and it works great. There really is nothing bad I can say about this vehicle mode.

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Transformation

I’ve heard a lot of people comment that the Masterpiece cars have been getting progressively easier from Sideswipe to Prowl to Wheeljack, but I honestly feel that they’re all just about on the same level of difficulty. Wheeljack is a good balance of intuitive simplicity and complexity, with the only real troublesome areas being the order of conversion on his arms and body. Transforming his legs back to vehicle mode can get a bit challenging the first few times, as well. One major problem area is his two wings, made from a very thin clear plastic. There are joints on the wings to move them out of the way so that you don’t break them during transformation… but these joints are ridiculously tight, which just makes you feel even more like they’ll break. I haven’t heard any breakage reports yet, but take special care when moving them around.

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Robot Mode

Surprise! Wheeljack looks amazing. Out of the three MP car molds, I definitely feel that Wheeljack pulls off the cleanest robot mode, with the only notable car kibble being the bits of spoiler and trunk hanging off his arms. He definitely has the nicest back of the three, at least. Everything locks in with pleasing solidity, and nothing feels too loose or too tight: he’s all just right. Aesthetically, he looks pretty darn close to his animation model, but for some reason the dark grey areas in the cartoon are black here on the toy. It doesn’t bother me in the least, but it is a bit of an odd choice.

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Wheeljack manages to also be one of the most articulate of the Masterpiece figures thus far thanks to the multiple joints in his ankles that allow for movement pretty much wherever you want them to go. Combined with the big, wide nature of his feet, Jackie can pull off some serious posing. He can also look waaaay up. Other joints include: universal neck, shoulders, and hips, single-bend elbows and knees, bicep, wrist, waist, and thigh rotation, and the MP car-standard articulated hands. He’s also the first MP car to not have a big plastic skirt hindering his hip movement. Go Wheeljack!

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The small pistol that formed his tailpipe in vehicle mode can be pegged into his hand a la previous MP weapons, but unlike the Sideswipe and Prowl molds’ loose tabs, Wheeljack holds onto his pistol with a deathly firm grip, almost making it difficult to peg in and out of his hand. He also comes with his missile launcher which can be mounted on either shoulder, and the missile itself is removable. At first I thought this was a spring-loaded launcher, but the missile just slides in securely. It’s a bit of an odd feature, but it does no harm and it looks good. Speaking of odd features, if you unscrew Wheeljack’s head and pop his faceplate off, you get to see the true face of Wheeljack in all its mustachioed Animated-esque glory.

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Overall

Wheeljack is probably my favorite Masterpiece to date, and that may very well just be a sign that the Masterpiece toys are getting better and better with each release. Nearly everything about this toy is perfect, and I can’t think of anything to improve it or make it look any more like the perfect G1 Wheeljack… because it is the perfect G1 Wheeljack. The robot mode is spot-on, and the vehicle mode is heavenly– I’ve preordered MP-23 Exhaust just so I can have the two Lancia Stratos Turbo cars, regardless of the robot. Wheeljack is great. If you’re a MP collector (as most TF fans rightfully are these days) or you just like Wheeljack, do not hesitate to lay down the cash to get him shipped to you.

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Where to Buy

A Hasbro release has yet to be announced or even rumored for Wheeljack, but given the release of MP Prowl and the planned release of Sideswipe stateside, odds are good for Wheeljack’s import as a TRU exclusive… but why wait that long? Order Wheeljack now!

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