- Dorian MacQuarrie
You are never going to finish your collection. Or at least, Takara will do their darndest to prevent it.
Okay, maybe that should be "you are never going to be finished with collecting"?
With the recent talk (legitimate or otherwise) of a 35th Anniversary Optimus Prime on the horizon, aka MP Optimus Prime 3.0, Takara have once again moved the goal posts. Just when you felt your collection was headed towards completion, they've rebooted things and given us a new aesthetic to buy into. I think it was inevitable we would eventually see a more cartoon styled MP Prime to go along with their wonderful Megatron and other such cartoon focused releases. Some are expecting this to be a complete relaunch of the Masterpiece line and honestly, I wouldn't mind. Seeing the recent reveal of MP Prowl with animation accurate bright blue windows did cause me to vomit a little; a styles clash if there ever was one. But a brand new, cartoon accurate Prowl on the other hand? I'd be keen on that. In my Sunstreaker review I floated the idea of Takara releasing a new Sideswipe to better match his golden brother. This is something I think we will definitely see in the coming years as Takara try to change the direction of their product to keep us digging into our wallets to buy more and more toy robots.
Be it the pressures of business or an insidious plan to keep collectors on tenterhooks, rarely does a line reach full completion. Rarely do we have the entire cast of a show or every iteration of a toy we were hoping to buy, and even with something as grand as Takara's Masterpiece line, it was always going to be the same. Once the heavy hitters are released it's time to move on to another project and release those same big name characters in ever new and updated versions. Call it the fetishisation of Generation 1 and the seeming inability for companies and collectors alike to explore new and different ideas or just call it good business sense, one way or the other, you're never going to have that complete collection of Masterpiece styled bots. Of course in this instance "complete" depends on your personal definition. Complete might mean a certain core cast or sub-group of Transformers and not necessarily every single release or member of a team. But for those who seek to have a complete Season 1-2 cast of G1 Transformers, your time is running out and it might be Takara who decide when things change. I'm sure this will leave a large enough gap for a multitude of Third Party companies to step in and complete those missing figures but regardless of how much noise a group of collectors make, I doubt it would still be financially viable once a new Masterpiece styled line is fully underway, building off the back of seminal releases such as Inferno, Sunstreaker or the aforementioned Megatron.
We have of course seen this before. As new lines roll out, new aesthetics take over and lines can remain incomplete. Generation 1 gave way to Beast Wars, which in turn gave way to Car Robots/RiD and so on and so forth. It's easier to accept when it's off the back of a cartoon. It feels more self contained and expected. Look to the Generations line though and see how with every iteration of that particular line, Classics, Universe 2.0 and Generations itself, the goal posts were ever changing and from one wave to the next we started to drift away from aesthetics laid down in the early waves. Again, this was probably easier to accept as a Generations shelf can accommodate a varying degree of different aesthetics and toy lines given the nature of the Transformers brand and the world it presents.
Masterpiece on the other hand, the seemingly iconic representations of these characters? When that changes, it's more difficult to accept. I have written time and again about the diverging aesthetics of the line. Sideswipe and Sunstreaker encapsulate this perfectly and never was there a bigger red flag (or yellow in this case) that the line was going to change, restart, reboot, call it what you want, but the goal posts would be moved. Takara will usher in a whole new set of cartoon accurate MP toys and not just current moulds with ghastly blue windows but brand new versions of Sideswipe, Prowl, Starscream etc. It's bound to happen. It must happen. It's not in Takara's interest to allow us as collectors to finish up and complete a line. Sure, plenty of us will just find something else to collect but that might be a product from a different company altogether. Takara have captured the adult collector market as never before but with no other core product in their repertoire to keep those same adult collectors engaged, they'll just need to start all over again but in a new and interesting way.
And on that grim note, keep it #Refined
Follow Dorian on Twitter @Vigadeath