Review: Transformers Masterpiece MP-11T Thundercracker

takara transformers masterpiece mp-11t thundercracker

If you collect Transformer then chances are you have crossed paths with at least one  of the hundreds of uses of the Masterpiece seeker mold at one point or another in your life. Whether it be the original MP-03 version or the updated, more cartoon accurate MP-11 remold this mold has been around the block several times, popped into the newsagents, grabbed a Racing Post and done another lap for good luck.

Never does it become boring though as each of the original three Seekers was so distinct in personality that you don’t feel like you are just buying a cheap repaint – even though that is exactly what you are doing.

MP-11T completes the group finally, and gives us Thundercracker, who has recently evolved from just being one of Megatrons go to henchmen into a character who isn’t really a villain and loves Earth soap operas….awesome.

takara masterpiece thundercracker mp11

You will be stunned to hear that the F-15 Jet mode of MP-11T Masterpiece Thundercracker has no changes from the horde of previous uses of the MP-11 remold besides a spanking new paint job.

Landing gear is there and still snaps your nails as you try free it from it’s snug home beneath the nose of the jet. There is an air brake that can flip up from the back, the jet thrusters are manoeuvrable by virtue of being attached to ball joints and the nose cone can open to reveal a Silver radar array.

The checklist of “features” matches exactly with what we got from Skywarp, Starscream, Sunstorm and Green guy (Acid Storm), so far so familiar.

takara mp11t thundercracker side view in jet mode

Opening cockpit is also still present and can seat a small translucent Orange holopilot that everyone leaves in the box. I’m not sure when they switched from Dr Arkeville (the previous occupant of that spot in the tray within the box) but it makes little difference as few people will care. If you are the one person out there who has to have the pilot seated at all times – more power to you.

In the holopilots defence he is the lone accessory you get with Masterpiece Thundercracker. Visible shrinkage has occurred with the accessory load out for each release of this mold yet that has not been matched by a drop in price.

In point of fact it has just got more expensive and justified by the fan base as “it’s an exclusive, limited release”.

takara mp11t in jet mode like G1 box

As a counterpoint to Hasbro’s toy based darker Blue colour scheme lavished on their Masterpiece Thundercracker, Takara went with the nerd bible of the Generation cartoon.

For me as lovely as it is it feels like it needed to be lighter to truly match what I think the animation model looks like. Grabbing the Henkei Thundercracker toy of the shelf to use as an example as to what it should like – I was surprised to see it is actually the same ruddy colour.
My memory is going with age.

It’s quite a tough shade to pin down as under different lighting conditions it looks totally different. Then again, my eyes are in a terrible melting state so could just be struggling to adjust to Thundercrackers appearance as a flying bottle of Lenor.

transformers masterpiece thundercracker thrusters

As an expensive exclusive and with Takara being so famous for their consistent push to cartoon accuracy it comes as a surprise that the three core seekers don’t perfectly match up in jet mode. You would expect all three to be the same with just a switch in colour palette but all three have little deviations that will irk OCD collectors.

Whilst the basic layout is the same, Thundercracker comes with Silver outlined Decepticon symbols where Starscream and Skywarp were both gifted with plain Purple. It’s not a problem but when you put the three together it stands out, as does the weird decision to make the wing badges slanted. That is so slight you may not even notice it at first but once I did my eyes were repeatedly drawn to it as if no other part of the toy existed.

Thundercrackers tail fins have stripes which match Skywarps, but are again different from Starscreams.

But the most jarring difference is the nosecone which on Thundercracker is Black whereas Skywarp and Starcreams nosecones are the same base colour as the rest of the jet. Black in Skywarps case and Grey for Starscream.
Aesthetically it looks nice on Thundercracker but that’s not really the point because as soon as you put the three together it’s a very obvious change and flies in the face of the cartoon accuracy Takara generally strives for with their Masterpiece line. Thundercracker a jet nose in the cartoon was baby Blue.
MP-11T’s alt mode looks fantastic in it’s own right, as an individual piece, but if you are collector who paid the premium for him to be the third part of a definitive seeker set you might be slightly aggrieved that it is not as exact as you may have expected.

masterpiece thundercracker cockpit

It’s a fairly tidy mode with no paint problems and everything locks together insanely solidly. Much more tightly than any other version of this figure I have ever owned and it took some force to snap the air brake section into place whilst transforming MP-11T into jet mode.

Quality control problems rear their head in a couple of minor but annoying places. Thundercrackers nosecone has a slight dent in it which is easy to miss with the eye but shows up something chronic in photos. So not only is it already the wrong bloody colour- now it’s not even the same flipping shape. Cheers guys.

Also the front section of his cockpit doesn’t like to settle into place and so sticks up slightly and doesn’t sit as flush as I’d like.

Normally minor irritants like this wouldn’t cause me to bat an eye lid but on such an expensive, exclusive figure you expect tremendous care to be taken. An element of luxury that you typically get from Takara’s Masterpiece releases feels faintly lacking on Thundercracker.

transformers masterpiece thundercracker and soundwave

If you’ve handled this toy in one of it’s previous lives then you won’t need me to blather on about the transformation. It’s exactly the same there are zero changes to report.

By some chance if you haven’t then you should know that it is not a tough or particularly complex transformation once you get the hang of it and can even be enjoyable….when parts aren’t falling off. On my MP-11T the wings and left tail fin fell off during transformation. Perhaps I just got a dud but it seems to happen to me with EVERY Masterpiece seeker I buy. The clips that hold them in place never seem to grip tightly enough and i’d like to have seen those designed differently as that sharp fear that something may have broken gets old real fast.

It’s even more strange when you consider how unyeilding Thundercrackers jet mode in terms of trying to prise it apart in places.

masterpiece thundercracker g1 reflector visualizers

Once you have pieced Thundercracker back together he is just as easy on the eyes as all the others. The MP-11 molds strength has always been how it looks in both modes and in Thundercrackers colours that is especially true.
He is covered in just the right amount of detail without it ever being a distraction and the lack of the MP-03 hip kibble is just as pleasing it always is on this mold. A clean looking robot mode  is a hallmark of Takaras Masterpiece line and MP-11T is every bit as uncompromising in that respect.

If I could change anything about the physical toy it would be the spikes hanging off the bottom of his wings having the ability to fold up out of the way onto the back as they can get in the way when you are moving the legs. Yes, the wings can still splay outwards on the hinge for dramatic, anime style looks, but i’m a traditionalist and prefer them snapped tightly into place.

A minor nitpick I never see anyone raise but has always bugged me about the Masterpiece seekers and that is how the neck sits above his chest vents when it should actually be set slightly below them. Kinda makes all of the MP Seekers look like  a Val Doonican tribute act with turtleneck jumpers.

Masterpiece thundercracker starscream and skywarp
Whilst by and large the seekers look the same, just in different colours, some strange differences crop up between Thundercracker and his brothers that fuel the suspicion that Takara didn’t pay as much care in ensuring these guys were the definitive set of the original Decepticon jet trio.
MP-11T is virtually the same as Starscream in terms of paint app layout, and skips the Silver arm stripes, Purple stripes around the chest intakes and Yellow wing lights that Skywarp was given yet Thundercracker has the Decepticon badges in the same orientation as Skywarp, but they are Silver backed and angled.
transformers thundercracker mp11t back shot
Most egregious is the lack of Decepticon badges on the back of Thundercrackers wings and whilst only a small thing (and nowhere near as annoying as the nosecone) when you are paying a premium for this figure you expect no cutbacks.
What again is odd, is that paint apps have been added specifically the crotch and shoulder panels have been painted Silver (these have been left unpainted on Skywarp) and his hidden chest missiles are all painted Red.
Masterpiece Thundercracker mp11t transformers
It doesn’t feel like the lack of the symbol on the back of the wings is down to cost cutting, it’s a minor contrivance most folks won’t even notice but it furthers the sense starts that Takara gave Skywarp and Thundercracker to different designers who each had their own ideas about how they wanted them to look.
I can applaud that to a point, I’m all for artistry, but that point is not an expensive figure that only really exists to be the final piece of a themed group.
Consequently we end up with differences that aren’t awful but are disappointing and put a negative spin on what is an otherwise nice deco.
takara masterpiece thundercracker skywarp mmc sphinx
The quality control on MP-11T is mostly alright and I’ve already mentioned bits falling off, and the nose cone having “battle damage”, but of all the versions of this mold I have handled this one has by far the tightest joints with knees that are so tight you worry they may snap- fortunately they don’t. Miraculously MP-11T is the one where finally the torso sits tightly in place and doesn’t want to move when you rotate the shoulders.
Most confounding  then is the volume of sprue marks are visible across Masterpiece Thundercrackers body which strengthens the impression of a lack of care taken for a premium product. It’s not the end of the world but it cheapens what is marketed and priced as a high end collectible for a specific audience.
This may be done to the toll taken by the amount of uses the MP-11 mold has seen but nonetheless it is unsightly. Masterpiece Ultra Magnus suffered a similar fate with sprue marks and that was the first use that mold had seen so maybe it is just something we are going to see more of going forward?
Paint is mostly great even if the application of Silver around the sides of his chest intakes looks like Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys was just liberally applying the paint.
masterpiece mp-11t thundercracker head
In toy form the Seekers always get the same heads and there’s nothing new to add with MP-11T. It’s easy to portray characters differently when you can give them different voices as they did in the cartoon, which is not a luxury the toys have. But a different expression for each would have gone a long way in making them even more their own character, even if just the completely different colours each has does a great job of implying they all have very different personalities.
There’s no accessories to speak of in this mode as he lacks the stand that came with MP-03, though is still compatible with it if you have one lying around, but he does retain the connector pegs for the coronation gear that came with Starscream if you want to go all bizzaro and make Thundercracker look his most decadent.
masterpiece skywarp and thundercracker
MP-11T is a fine use of this mold but with a lack of stuff in the box and the mold creaking with overuse it’s not as perfect as you’d wish for. Most likely the QC problems I encountered are a product of the sheer use this mold has seen and it is now starting to show signs of wear. Hopefully with the upcoming MP-11NR Ramjet having brand new parts that will also see a brand new, fresh set of molds created and we won’t see so many sprue marks.

Most of the criticisms are quite minor but when you are dealing with a niche collectible, with the premium this figure commands you expect the definitive version of the toy and any issue no matter how small is pulled into sharper focus.
Putting out seekers, two of which as high end exclusives, that aren’t definitive leaves you with an inkling that there could be a re-release later down the line with these gripes all corrected. Especially where choices made to alter the colour of things like the nosecone are concerned that lead to such a stark difference with the other two figures Thundercracker is intended to compliment.

transformers mp11t masterpiece thundercracker null rays

Masterpiece Thundercracker is a great figure and personally I like that each of the three Seekers have elements that make them different and unqiue as it implies character and personality.

It is much easier to pick out faults in something you’ve seen seen times before when it doesn’t have that wow factor of being a brand new mold experienced for the very first time.
Having a complete set of the original three seekers in updated Masterpiece form is a beautiful sight to behold and seeing them stood together lording it up on a shelf makes the thoughts about the expense float away on a strong wave of nostalgia.

Which is what most of us look for most from this hobby I would guess.

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