Tuesday, 7 June 2016

From Stars to Scrap - Yesterday's Must Haves, Today's Ebay Auctions

When it comes to trying to put together the perfect Masterpiece G1 line up of figures there are some which are obvious stand ins until something better comes along, but others we can never imagine being replaced...until they are.

iGear Weapon Specialist and Medical Specialist

When not-Ironhide and not-Ratchet were announced in 2011 there was a lot of excitement about these figures and when they finally hit the market almost exactly a year later in June 2012, it coincided beautifully with the downscaling of the Masterpiece toy line and release of Lambor (Masterpiece Sideswipe). Hefty figures with intricate transformations and enough accessories for an army, the iGear figures were bolstered in 2013 as MMC's Feral Rex was being released to incredibly positive feedback. It was an incredibly badly kept secret that Feral Rex and the iGear bots had the same designer - Cassy Sark. 

iGear realised that the wealth of accessories were superfluous to most collectors who would have preferred just the figures with alternate heads at a cheaper price point. Capitalising on the Sark connection, iGear re-released their Specialist figures in 2013 without the accessories, with slightly altered decos and extra heads so that the figures could also be used as Tote and First Aid.

Even when the official Masterpiece Ironhide was announced it didn't seem like enough to replace iGear's efforts. TakaraTomy's effort was a bold effort at replicating Ironhide's animated appearance, it was towering but perhaps a little too sleek and plain looking. The reception was very mixed but the reveal of Ratchet began to win fans over as the extra colours and details looked far better. By the time the official versions were in hand, there was no question that the iGear versions were no longer in favour. As a pretty die hard fan of the iGear figures, I had no intent of replacing them and especially not with figures that were too large for my idea of scale but replace them I did.

Fans Toys Quakewave

Quakewave was a game changing figure when it was released in February 2013. Third party figures had slowly been improving and there had been some really impressive releases, but here was a figure that was as good as nearly any Masterpiece figure. When it shipped it had issues like some people found the electronics didn't work or that the legs contracted with a force that could remove a finger, but they were fairly minor gripes along with the "but Shockwave's legs don't look like that" mantra. 

Quakewave is a beast of a figure. The die-cast makes it weighty and it feels like a premium figure, something it is without a doubt but it is also rock solid with no weak joints or issues that plague other third party toys.

Another thing that set it apart from other third party figures, and still does, is the figure's balance. So many figures, official included, tend to fall if a gnat sneezes on them but Quakewave's engineering ensures that the figure is incredibly stable and therefore features a dynamic array of poses that figures being released now could only dream of. Despite being released 3 times in 2013 Quakewave became a very sought after figure resulting in Fans Toys announcing in 2015 a new run with minor changes to distinguish the reissue from the original. A darker G1 toy coloured version was also announced along with an ultra limited clear version which would only have 500 units produced.

However, TakaraTomy really don't like Fans Toys.

When Fans Toys unveiled their Soundwave and Blaster figures before Quakewave, TT were very quick to respond with Masterpiece Soundwave. Fans Toys announced Quakewave in the December and shipped it the first time around in the February to not give TT a chance to beat them to market again. When Fans Toys announced the 2015 reissue it didn't take long for TakaraTomy to announce an official Shockwave, known by it's Japanese name - Laserwave. Preorders for Quakewave tanked so badly that the clear version was changed so that retailers could only order 1 for every 10 regular versions that they bought.

When Laserwave hit there was a problem.

On one hand Laserwave has a hell of a design that looks like he stepped out of the comic or cartoon and he even has the correct legs but his small stature is seriously lacking. Collectors were quick to point out that Laserwave was in the correct scale according to the G1 animation scale chart but it was still a major disappointment for many to have a figure that didn't totally eclipse Quakeblast.

Fans seem to be split 50-50 over which figure is the better of the two but a larger and perhaps darker Laserwave would put pay to any debate. What's interesting to note as a retailer is that sales of Quakewave died as soon as the Masterpiece was announced and despite numerous price reductions it still doesn't sell. Laserwave on the other hand continues to sell briskly and there seem to be a steady stream of Quakewaves appearing for sale on Facebook groups. 

While Quakewave still is a great toy and it occupies a special place in collections, Laserwave is winning the war.

Masterpiece Ravage

Now this is a weird one because it's an official product being replaced by a third party one. The Masterpiece cassettes are cleverly engineered but their small size and the outright ugliness of Frenzy and Rumble work against them. Sure the characters are supposed to be small, but not quite that small.

Ravage is a very cool figure, very poseable and for its size it is hard not to like it and many collectors probably never considered a time would come to get rid of it. Now sure, we're used to official products being replaced or upgraded in the Hasbro lines but not in the Masterpiece line. Masterpiece Megatron doesn't count because this article is about good figures and Apollyon isn't exactly free of issues either.

There really is no contest between these two figures and MMC comes out head, shoulders and hind legs above the official Ravage. 

The Others...

When we sell one figure and buy a newer, better version, we've immediately improved our collection so it's a pretty satisfying experience. Having said that, there are sad aspects to it because variations of that figure or its history are discarded too. 

Unpainted iGear Weapon Specialist Test Shot

Unpainted iGear Medical Specialist Test Shot

FT-03C Clear Quakewave

Clear Quakewave, original release Quakewave, Laserwave, unpainted Laserwave Test Shot

Masterpiece Ravage, unpainted black Masterpiece Ravage test shot, unpainted Year of the Goat Ravage test shot, MMC Jaguar.