Thursday 4 June 2015

Masterpiece Exhaust MP-23

Profile (Translated from the Trading Card)
MP-23 Destron Industrial Espionage Soldier Exhaust
Function: Industrial Espionage Soldier
Motto: “You can’t catch smoke with bare hands.”
As an industrial spy, his role is to infiltrate organisations across multiple planets and steal their economic and advanced technological data. He is employed by the enigmatic interplanetary giant "Marlboor Dynamics," and it is from there that he strategises his espionage missions. Marlboor Dynamics studies the special abilities of mechanical life forms, and they granted Exhaust a "quantize" ability, enabling him to disperse his body into particles, effectively transforming him into a living plume of smoke, making him virtually impossible to apprehend.
STR...8; INT...8; SPD...7; END...10; RNK...7; CRG...7; FPR...7; SKL...8

Other Resources:


The initial reveal for Exhaust showing the intended design. Source:

In September 2014 when it was announced that the next Masterpiece was MP-23 Exhaust, it left a few scratching their heads. Not only was this an entirely new character, it was given its own designation number rather than something like MP-20E, but there seems no logic with Takara Tomy's Masterpiece designation numbers. The Marlboor version is a welcome addition; just like the Diaclone version being hard to find, the Masterpiece version was also inadvertently hard to obtain with many online retailers cancelling preorders. This was due to legal pressure from the American tobacco company Philip Morris, who own the Marlboro brand.

The livery of the original 598 Lancia Stratos were in the colours of Marlboro cigarettes and nowadays in most countries it is illegal to advertise cigarettes. This is apparently one of the reasons why Philip Morris took legal action, as well as to protect their trademarked design. Takara Tomy changed the iconic design but the changes were not enough to convince Philip Morris. Only Japan was able to retail the figure with Hasbro Asia unable to distribute the figure. Some specialist retailers in North America such as ended up repainting the figure in order to sell it. repaint. Source: TFW2005 user Anubis20

The figure must have been made well into production as the unreleased collectors coin from Hasbro Asia as well as unaltered versions of Exhaust have been found on auction websites and have sold for a small fortune, although not as much as the original Diaclone Marlboor Lancia Stratos.

The unreleased Exhaust Collectors coin. Source: eBay

Unreleased version of MP-23 Exhaust. Note the unaltered paint on the car bonnet as well as the box art showing how far into production these got before pressure from Philip Morris. Photo courtesy of GS.

Exhaust was eventually released in March 2015 after a months delay and retailed for 6,500 Yen. Possibly due to the difficulties posed by Philip Morris, Takara poke fun at Philip Morris by including in Exhausts extended bio that he works for "Marlboor Dynamic" and due to the stress from working there he became addicted to "Cy-Garettes".

Exhaust maintains the iconic look of the Group 5 racer, although like Wheeljack the car looks a bit plain without any sponsor logos. Gone is the "Marlboor" reference and instead it is "Lancia", though Marlboor is referenced in the bio. Also on the front spoiler of the car is "GoodFlavor" and on the rear spoiler is "Silverstream" which are more tongue- in-cheek references to cigarettes. 

Transformation to robot mode is identical to Wheeljack, though I would urge caution with the robot head as the "ears" are made of thin plastic and are liable to bend easily and cause a white stress mark in the plastic. In keeping with the Diaclone look the car windows and the root wings are translucent blue and the new head sculpt is a good up-to-date version of the original. Whether it is just mine or down to reuse of the mould, the robot chest doesn't seem to fully close leaving a small gap, something that does not affect my Wheeljack figure.

Exhaust comes with completely different accessories than Wheeljack with the Immobilizer and shoulder cannons. This accessory appeared in the G1 episode of the same name "The Immobilizer" and this was its only appearance in the original cartoon series. The Drone Launchers are Exhausts shoulder weapons and are updated versions of the original accessories. They can also fit on Wheeljack's shoulders for the G1 toy look. Exhaust's hand held weapon which also doubles for Exhaust's exhaust and is a basic recolour of Wheeljack's weapon.


Back of the box

■ The new lone Destron, a covert corporate warrior. (Translated from the back of the box)  
With its bright red and white livery and unique body design, the Lancia Stratos Turbo has made a name for itself in races around the globe and continues to captivate fans to this day. This Lancia Stratos transforms into the Destron Industrial Espionage Soldier, Exhaust. He is a new character created for the Masterpiece series and is a covert corporate warrior who receives orders from Soundwave on which companies to infiltrate and steal data and technology from. Exhaust's weapon is not just a gun, but a versatile spy tool that can also decipher codes, pick locks, and provide optical camouflage. The cannons on his shoulders fire AI drones that can infiltrate enemy strongholds. Additionally, he comes with the Immobiliser, an instant freeze device invented by Wheeljack that appeared in the 14th episode of the cartoon series "Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers" entitled "Immobilizer". Exhaust stole the device from the Cybertron base using his unique infiltration abilities.
 This product has the same body as the Lancia Stratos Masterpiece Wheeljack but features a new head sculpt. The car mode reproduces the stylish Lancia Stratos Turbo and can be transformed into a fully posable robot. The new warrior, Exhaust, adds to the allure and story of the Masterpiece series. We hope you will add this to your collection and enjoy its charm alongside your other Masterpiece figures.

■ Lancia Stratos Turbo (Actual Vehicle Notes) (Translated from the back of the box)  
The Lancia Stratos is a legendary rally car that made history by bringing the Manufacturers Championship to Lancia for three consecutive years from 1974. It all started when Bertone proposed the idea of designing a Grand Tourer (GT) equipped with a Ferrari 246 GT V6 engine to meet the requirements of the FIA Group 4. Lancia took up the challenge and created a masterpiece that exceeded all expectations. The Lancia Stratos has a short wheelbase that allows the car better performance to take sharp turns, and its strong frame structure is encased in a serviceable monocoque cowl. This vehicle was built specifically for circuit and endurance races. The Group 5 machines, commonly referred to as "Stratos Turbo", had their engine changed to a dry sump, fuel injected and supercharged with a KKK Turbo. In an endurance race, it produced 360 horsepower, 530 horsepower in the sprint race and 560 horsepower with extreme conditions. The vehicle's silhouette follows the typical formula of a wide body and spoiler with the iconic red and white colours of the Stratos Turbo from the late 70’s. The Lancia Stratos was used in races such as the Giro d'Italia, and it continues to fascinate speed enthusiasts with its cutting-edge appearance. Its success on the track and its stunning design have made it an icon in the world of rally cars, and it is still admired and sought after by car enthusiasts around the world. 

■ Length: 3710mm 
■ Width: 1750mm
■ Height: 1100mm
■ Wheelbase: 2320mm
■ Engine: Fiat-Ferrari 236LV 6 Cylinder 3 valve head Turbocharger manufactured by KKK
■ Maximum Power: 155 horsepower

Vehicle Mode: Lancia Stratos Turbo (Translated from the instruction pamphlet)
The Lancia Stratos Turbo is the car mode that Exhaust chose as a disguise to infiltrate Earth and steal the Immobilizer. This car was developed by Lancia to win the World Rally Championship; it is bright red and white in colour with the number 598 on the side of the car. This car mode soon became Exhaust’s favourite and he has used it since completing his mission, using it as his vehicle mode even when he isn’t on Earth. The maximum speed is 250km/h which is by no means the fastest amongst the vehicle-type Transformers but he can effortlessly shake off pursuers with short bursts of hyperspeed propulsion and excellent manoeuvrability. Exhaust made a deal with Marlboor Dynamic and acquired various abilities in return for being their test subject. One of these is his “Quantize” ability which disperses his body into particles turning him into a living plume of smoke allowing him to evade capture. In this particle state he can move at high speed although not as fast as his vehicle mode. He causes extensive damage when he passes through high precision machinery. Another ability is the “Power Syphon” which allows him to extract energy from any lifeform. He absorbs his target's energy using the palms of his hands and he also has the capability to drain their mental faculties. He first tested out his new abilities when he stole the immobiliser from the Cybertrons. In battle, his presence instils a sense of fear in those who face him. His Quantize ability consumes a lot of energy and prolonged use risks exceeding his energy absorption capacity which will drain Exhaust himself. Because of his abilities, he is constantly in a power crisis and like a vampire, he is always in search of energy. His name “Exhaust”, refers to emissions and is an appropriate name seeing as he can turn into a plume of living smoke.

Robot Mode: Exhaust (Translated from the instruction pamphlet)
● Function: Industrial Espionage Soldier
● Motto: “You can’t catch smoke with bare hands.”
● Profile
Exhaust, a Destron soldier, specialises in infiltrating private corporations as an industrial spy to steal cutting-edge technology, financial information, and high-value goods. To achieve his objectives, he blends in with the day-to-day activities of the business and operates covertly behind the scenes. Exhaust managed to infiltrate Marlboor Dynamics, an interplanetary giant with a diverse workforce of aliens, by taking a post in the Public Relations Division. From there, he used the company as a base for his espionage operations against other corporations. Marlboor Dynamics sought to improve its technology by integrating alien technologies from different civilisations, including Transformer technology. They decided to tolerate Exhaust's activities outside the company on the condition that they could use him as a test subject. Through Marlboor's experiments, Exhaust gained various special abilities, but his double life as an office worker and a spy began to take a toll on him. To cope with the stress, he became addicted to "Cy-Garettes” and was using more of them every day. During an annual check-up, his doctor warned him about the negative effects of his habit on his body. To blend in and conceal his true identity, Exhaust plays the role of a highly adaptable individual who can confidently handle any task. However, he is a perfectionist with an elitist mindset who cannot tolerate even the slightest mistake or failure. He takes pleasure in bringing down his rivals in the company. Despite being under the command of Soundwave, his superior in the Destron army, Exhaust continues to work at Marlboor Dynamics to this day.

Weapon: Immobilizer (Translated from the instruction pamphlet)
The instant freeze device was originally invented by the Cybertron Engineer, Wheeljack. During an attempted theft by the Destrons, it was destroyed by Ironhide but later repaired and stored securely at the Cybertron base. Unfortunately, the device has once again fallen into the wrong hands after being stolen by Exhaust, who utilised his new Quantize and Power Syphon abilities to carry out the heist.

Weapon: Drone Launcher (Translated from the instruction pamphlet)
Exhaust is equipped with specialised long-range weapons on both shoulders. The warheads are artificially intelligent and can guide themselves, travelling through corridors or air ducts to ensure they reach their target. He possesses a multitude of warheads, each with varying levels of intelligence. The drone with the highest intelligence is used as an autonomous probe.

Weapon: Gadget Gun (Translated from the instruction pamphlet)
Exhaust carries a small gun which serves as both an assault weapon and a spy tool. It can fire powerful silent needle-type rounds and is also capable of deciphering codes and picking locks in prisons and safes. Additionally, the gun features an optical camouflage spray which allows him to easily invade or escape enemy territory undetected. The Gadget Gun is a versatile spy tool, packed with a variety of functions to aid in his espionage missions.



I've already touched upon some of the history in the G1 Wheeljack article but to expand, Lancia built two cars to take part in the 1976 Group 5 racing; these cars were the Lancia Stratos Turbo silhouette series (note: a silhouette series is a car which has resemblance to a production model). The cars numbers were #598 (Driven by Carlo Facetti / Piero Sodano) and #599 (Driven by Raffaele Pinto / Arnaldo Bernacchini), both of which were in Marboro livery. The 598 car won the Giro d'Italia on the 20th October 1976 whereas the #599 car caught fire due to overheating problems during a practise race in Zeltweg Austria and was destroyed.


In 1977, the remaining 598 car was repainted with the green Alitalia livery and numbered 539 and was driven by Sandro Munari and Piero Sodano to victory in the Giro D'Italia in 1977. After this race it was shipped to Japan to take part in the Fuji Speedway but it never competed becoming part of the Matsuda Collection. Years later it was eventually sold to London based car designer Christian Hrabalek who boasts the largest Lancia collection. The car still sports the decals from the 1977 Giro D'Italia race.

(Out of interest, Christian Hrabalek designed the 2005 Fenomenon Stratos which is what Transformers Prime Wheeljack is based upon with the smaller Cyberverse version sports red colouring harking back to the Marlboro/Marlboor version.)

2012 Transformers Prime Deluxe Class Wheeljack

There are currently three known replicas, one in the Matsuda Collection which is in the original #598 Marlboro livery; one residing in Italy built from a Group 4 car with parts from the damaged #599 car; and one which is owned by Hennessy Racing.


Second release of the Lancia Stratos from 1983 (Source: eBay)

The original Diaclone release in 1983 was based on the green Alitalia livery (deliberately misspelled as "Alitalla") which later became Wheeljack. The second release in 1983 was based on the Marlboro livery (again deliberately misspelled "Marlboor"). Though in different colours and with different robot heads, both share the same box art. The Marlboor version is scarce and commands very high prices on the secondary market, seen by many Diaclone collectors as their "Holy Grail". This version was not released in Italy in GiGs Diaclone line or in the French Joustra Diaclone line making this all the more hard to find.

Source: eBay


Exhaust would make an appearance in the mainline Transformers Generations Selects series as a repaint of the Deluxe Class Wheeljack from the 2020 Earthrise series. Renamed "Decepticon Exhaust", the rally car mode shares a similar silhouette with the Lancia Stratos with a wedge shape and the windscreen in a very similar shape as well. The "sponsors" have been toned down on this release with the text "Bandit", "Exhaust" and two dice with the number 7 printed on the side of the car. Also on the side of the car is Japanese katakana text which translates as "Decepticon". Interestingly for this release Exhaust sports the "Mercenary" insignia rather than the Decepticon logo.

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