Masterpiece Showcase: Part 2 – 1984 Decepticon Cassettes

Masterpiece Showcase: Part 2 – 1984 Decepticon Cassettes

One thing that I was never able to do the first time around was to “collect them all” and gather all of the figures shown in the catalogs. With the Masterpiece line however, I’m finally able to work towards that goal with modern updates of the original figures.

The evil Decepticons fool you as cassettes, but they transform to either a jaguar, condor or robots! - 19) Rumble/Ravage 20) Frenzy/Laserbeak - Decepticon Cassettes
Soundwave’s minions!

Like Soundwave, the original cassettes were from MicroChange and transformed into a 1:1 scale micro-cassettes. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll ever get a modern set of alt modes that work as well as these. The Titans Return tablets worked on a technical level but didn’t really look like real-world tablets and there was no explanation as to why you would be inserting them into something else. I suppose, to make it more relatable, you could make Soundwave into a car carrier and his minions cars but you loose that special relationship. To keep the relationship, you could make Soundwave into a Drobo enclosure and the cassettes into hard drives but it’s not very relatable to most people.

All of the 1984 Decepticons cassettes came out in 2013 shortly after Soundwave so this is another easy to complete step of my Masterpiece collection completion plan.

1984 Cassettes

19) Rumble and Ravage

Rumble and Ravage

MP-13 Rumble

Rumble (yes, he’s red) came in a two-pack with Ravage.

Rumble robot mode
Rumble cassette mode

The most poseable of the Masterpiece cassettes, the robots feature several ball joints.

Rumble poseability

To recreate his trademark special power, Rumble includes a set of pile drivers that mount on his arms.

Rumble with pile drivers

Both backpack rifles can be stored within the pile drivers when not in use.

Rumble weapon storage

There’s also an accessory that allows you to mount the pile drivers to the robot’s back, but mine is packed away somewhere.

MP-13 Jaguar

Ravage (Jaguar in Japan), like the condors, features a fully integrated transformation where the missiles fold into the cassette mode.

Jaguar
Can’t loose these missiles!
Jaguar cassette mode

Another feature of the new design is that head splits and includes a flip-out nose which is very easy to miss during transformation.

Ravage nose

20) Frenzy and Laserbeak

Frenzy and Laserbeak

MP-16 Frenzy

For some inexplicable reason, Frenzy comes with blue versions of Rumble’s pile drivers, mine never left the box.

Frenzy robot mode
Frenzy cassette mode

MP-13 Condor

Too famous to wait, Laserbeak (Condor in Japan) was released along with Soundwave.

Laserbeak condor mode
Laserbeak cassette mode

_) Enemy

Not featured in the catalog, Enemy was part (literally, it was glued to the front!) of a Transformers AM radio available in 1984. The Masterpiece version was released as part of MP-15/16E.

Enemy Robot Mode
Rumble is red and so am I!
Enemy Cassette Mode

Additional Reading

Third-Party Alternatives

As mentioned in part 1, Ocular Max has a series of larger cassettes for any of you who feel that these are too small and don’t mind that they don’t fit inside Soundwave.


Read the Entire Series

Masterpiece Collection Showcase

Masterpiece Showcase: Part 1 – 1984 Decepticon Communicator

Masterpiece Showcase: Part 1 – 1984 Decepticon Communicator

One thing that I was never able to do the first time around was to “collect them all” and gather all of the figures shown in the catalogs. With the Masterpiece line however, I’m finally able to work towards that goal with modern updates of the original figures.

Soundwave, disguised as a cassette recorder, locates and identifies Autobots, then informs other Decepticons of their whereabouts. His cassette changes to a golden condor! - 24) Soundwave/Buzzsaw - Decepticon Communicator
So cool in 1984, so unidentifiable to anyone under 30.

The original Soundwave toy was borrowed from MicroChange where tiny robots transformed into common household objects. In this case, “Cassette Man” transformed into a 1:1 scale micro-cassette recorder. Micro-cassettes were not very common in the US so it was usually presumed that he was supposed to be a full size audio cassette player.

Admittedly, the “Decepticon Communicator” category is pretty easy to complete since it consists of only two figures:

Soundwave and Buzzsaw catalog view

24) Soundwave and Buzzsaw

Unlike the original, Masterpiece Soundwave came with Condor (aka Laserbeak) while Buzzsaw was released in a two-pack with Frenzy.

MP-13 Soundwave

Despite being released in 2013, Soundwave is still an impressive figure even though it is not as pose-able as the MP-36-style Masterpiece designs.

Soundwave robot mode

The Masterpiece version is compatible with most cassettes from 1984 as well as the Masterpiece versions. In fact, he can now hold three cassette minions, besting the previous record holder, G1 SoundBlaster, which was a Japan-exclusive remold of Soundwave for 1987 that held two cassettes.

Soundwave with Ratbat in his deck
Still rocking the micro-cassette scale!
Soundwave tape deck mode

Similar to how the G1 toy could store his weapons in his “battery compartment”, Masterpiece Soundwave’s weapons store in the back of the tape deck mode.

Soundwave tape deck mode back view

MP-16 Buzzsaw

The best part about this mold is that it features a fully integrated transformation where the booster packs fold into the cassette mode.

Buzzsaw condor mode
Can’t loose these accessories!
Buzzsaw cassette mode

As a Masterpiece, Buzzsaw is much more pose-able than the original.

Buzzsaw sitting up
Now featuring “sitting up” action!
Soundwave launching Buzzsaw
Buzzsaw eject!

Third Party Alternative

Ocular Max has released a larger version of Buzzsaw called Buzzard scaled so that the alt mode is the size of a normal cassette rather than a micro-cassette. However, since for me a lot of the fun is the interaction, I haven’t really paid much attention to it.


Read the Entire Series

Masterpiece Collection Showcase

MP-15E/16E Cassettebot vs. Cassettron

MP-15E/16E Cassettebot vs. Cassettron

The exclusive Cassettebot vs. Cassettron set has finally arrived at JunkionHQ!

Cassettebot vs. Cassettron Cassette Mode

It’s not an original thought, but if there is a logic to TakaraTomy’s Masterpiece numbering system I have yet to decipher it. For a release containing a straight repaint and a remold from MP-15, a straight repaint from MP-13B and an unreleased pre-mold, the 15/16 release number seems odd to say the least. I would think that a new number or a Legends inspired MP-EX would be far more fitting.

Cassettebot vs. Cassettron Beast Mode

One thing that surprised me is that everything in the box is in a little plastic baggy. I don’t remember the previous Takara cassette sets being packaged like that.

Enemy

Enemy Cassette Mode

Enemy is a repaint of the Rumble/Frenzy mold inspired by the G1 radio and voice changer accessories. As you can see, Enemy is a deep burgundy and navy blue which looks very good on this mold.

Enemy Robot Mode

He does come with pile-drivers but, even though he’s red, he’s not Rumble so isn’t allowed to use them.

Stripes

Stripes Cassette Mode

Stripes is a slight remold and repaint of Ravage inspired by a character in an early draft of the original Transformers movie. The original Encore cassette was Ravage with Steeljaw’s weapons so, in this version, Ravage’s rockets have been dramatically reduced in size and vertical wings have been added to the sides. Unfortunately, since the wings and rockets are part of the hip they can end up in odd locations when posing the figure.

Stripes Beast Mode

I know this is due to how parts line up in cassette mode but, for a character called Stripes, he has very few actual stripes.

Wingthing

Wingthing Cassette Mode

Wingthing is a Ratbat repaint based on G1 Soundwave’s Action Master companion. Like Stripes, this is another orange repaint, but it is a slightly darker shade which helps it stand on its own.

Wingthing Beast Mode

I do like the Ratbat mold, for anyone who doesn’t have it yet this is probably the least expensive way to get an official version.

Nightstalker

Nightstalker Cassette Mode

Nightstalker is the only new mold in this set and is clearly a pre-mold of Steeljaw, which will hopefully see a release soon along with a Masterpiece Blaster. According to TF Wiki, Nightstalker is most likely inspired by a G1 Marvel UK “design-a-decepticon” contest winner. The original Encore cassette was Steeljaw with Ravage’s weapons so, this version has rockets with flip out side wings to mimic those on G1 Ravage. Unfortunately the missile pods do not lock in place when in cassette mode.

Nightstalker Beast Mode

Due to the mechanics of the transformation he turns out to be about 2/3 the size of Stripes or Ravage. Despite the size however, Nightstalker is very pose-able and fun.

Nightstalker and Jaguar

Transformers Prejudices

After coming clean about being a “Rumble is Red” guy in my last post I started thinking about my personal Transformer Prejudices. For example the reasons that, for me, Rumble is red, Thrust is the best Seeker (with wings behind his shoulders BTW) and Twin Twist is an important character is all due to the fact that I owned the toys as a kid.

A lot of the G1 arguments we have in the fandom are topics where both sides are technically correct. Of course, my side is more technically correct, but I digress.

Scale

We talk about this a lot; Masterpiece Ultra Magnus is too big (disagree), Masterpiece Grimlock is too small (conditionally agree), Power of the Primes Predaking is too big/not big enough (too early to tell). Lets be honest, there is no possible way that you can make everyone happy using a physical object to represent anything animated in the original cartoon.

TFwiki.net Hoist driving HufferScale – I don’t think that word means what you think it means (photo from TF Wiki)

With deliberate mass-shifting and abundant animation errors it’s simply impossible to represent the characters as they were shown.

Takara decided to base their post MP-10 Masterpiece scale on the following guide (photo from TF Wiki):

TFwiki.net G1 Scale Chart

This is great-ish. We have a standard scale for the robot modes that is consistent across the line. However, take Bumblebee…

Sideswipe & Bumblebee robot mode

…looks about right…

Sideswipe & Bumblebee vehicle mode

…wait, is that a child’s pedal-car model of a Volkswagon?

Personally I like the approach that Takara took since I primarily display my collection in robot mode.

Masterpiece Autobots

However, eagle-eyed readers might notice MP-8 Grimlock standing between Ultra Magnus and Optimus Prime, a clear violation of the scale chart. To compound the violation is Bullsfire DB-01 Air Strike, my Swoop stand-in which, unlike every other Masterpiece themed Swoop, is scaled to match MP-8. I did pick up FansToys’ FT-05 Soar but it is far too large to fit into my display.

Ultra Magnus

I don’t think of Ultra Magnus as a repainted Optimus Prime in armor because I didn’t get the toy until I was in college and the animation model always transformed straight from the car carrier to the bot.

Ultra Magnus with Minimus Ambus

Sure, I’ve read the Dreamwave comics where he was “revealed” as wearing armor and I’ve read the IDW comics where he was “revealed” as Minimus Ambus, just one in a long line of Ultra Magnus cosplayers, but that was long after my opinions were solidified.

Takara vs. Hasbro vs. Third Party

TakaraTomy vs Hasbro Hot Rod

There are a lot of fans that will, very emphatically, argue that one is inherently better than the others, often followed by declaring how poor those other two options “really” are. I tend to double dip into Takara for my main collection when a deco (Henkei chrome) or additional accessory (Targetmasters) warrants it then use third party versions to fill gaps, primarily on the Masterpiece side. If I have a third-party version and an official version comes out I tend to display only the official.

Takara, Fansproject, Hasbro sharing the spotlight

Masterpiece Cassettes

With MP-15E/16E Cassettebot vs. Cassettron due out by the end of the year I wanted to spend some time with the previous Masterpiece cassettes.

Cassettrons cassette mode

The cassettes have been available as part of Takara’s Masterpiece line releases; MP-13 Soundwave with Condor, MP-15 Rumble & Jaguar, MP-16 Frenzy & Buzzsaw and MP-13B Soundblaster with Ratbat. In the US Hasbro released Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Ravage, Rumble and Frenzy with their Masterpiece Soundwave set then again with their Year of the Goat Soundwave repaint. The Transformers Collectors Club brought the Ratbat mold to the US as part of their G.I. Joe and the Transformers box set (still available as of this writing as part of their going out of business sale).

Cassettrons group

I did not pick up the original US version of Soundwave since I had already imported the Takara releases.

Let’s go through them mold by mold:

The Cats

Ravage has always been my favorite cassette – the original G1 set with Rumble were the only cassettes in my collection the first time around.

Jaguar cassette mode

Jaguar is a great mold and I love the way that they managed to integrate the rockets into the cassette.

Jaguar

The Year of the Goat release (and all of the “year of the…” releases as far as I’m concerned) is an odd duck. The clear and grey plastic is certainly distinctive but also quite “love it or hate it”.

Ghost Ravage cassette mode

I tend to think of it these as “ghost” versions.

Ghost Ravage

The Robots

The robot cassettes are the only ones that have external accessories with their separate wing blasters and pile drivers.

Robots cassette mode

Ok, let’s just get this out in the open – I’m a “Rumble is red” guy. As I mentioned above, Rumble was one of the only two cassettes that I owned as a kid so the red toy color scheme made a stronger impression on me than the blue cartoon color scheme.

Robots

The Birds

This has to be my favorite of the Masterpiece cassette molds

Birds cassette mode

Like Ravage, the designers found a way to integrate the booster backpack into the cassette mode without sacrificing the look of the figure.

Birds

The Bats

For collectors in the US, this is the most difficult to acquire of the Masterpiece cassette molds since it wasn’t included in the US version of Soundwave. (I’m aware of the KOs but am specifically referring to official releases here)

Bats cassette mode

Like the other non-robot cassettes, Ratbat’s backpack is fully integrated into the transformation. Ratbat also holds the honor of being the only Masterpiece figure released in comic book colors.

Bats

Unofficial Bonus: Autoscout

Autoscouts cassette

Many years ago two versions of the one-hit-wonder Autoscout from the G1 episode A Prime Problem were released. I still include the TFC Toys version (on the left in the photos) from their Gears of War set in my Masterpiece display. I much prefer the transformation on this one over iGear’s version although iGear’s cassette mode has the better deco.

Autoscouts angle

Coming up…

When MP-15E/16E is released we’ll have another four members of the cassette army. I’m waiting…