Thursday 7 September 2017

Masterpiece Starscream MP-3

Profile (Translated from the Trading Card)
MP-3 Destron Air Commander / Starscream
Function: Destron Air Commander
Motto: "Conquest is made of the ashes of one's enemies."
Starscream does not hide his ambition in wanting to replace Megatron, the Great Emperor of Destruction. Starscream believes the Destron army should rely on cunning and speed to defeat the Cybertron warriors, rather than Megatron’s strategy of ferocity and destructive force.
STR:7; INT:7; SPD:9; END:7; RNK:9; CRG:8; FPR:7; SKL:5

MP-3 Starscream with Transformers Collection Starscream

MP-3 Starscream with Transformers Collection Starscream

After two initial Masterpiece releases (MP-1 Convoy and MP-2 Ultra Magnus), Takara released MP-3 Starscream in September 2006 for 9800 Yen. It was clear in this point in the Masterpiece line that there was no clear vision as there is today. MP-1 Convoy / Optimus Prime was produced as an anniversary figure; the design drew from the original toy and cartoon and was loaded with gimmicks as well as a lot of die-cast metal. MP-2 was just a simple white repaint of MP-1 but with MP-3 Starscream, the eventual aim was to recreate a realistic jet mode.

The first and last Masterpiece Seeker as of 2017

A prototype of MP-3 Starscream had been designed by Hironori Kobayashi who was the lead designer on MP-1 & MP-2. It was felt that Starscream would not hold the same appeal as Convoy so Takara invited Shoji Kawamori, a famous mecha designer, to be the design supervisor and gave him freedom to change the prototype as he saw fit. (Shoji Kawamori had previously worked on Takaras Diaclone line as well as creating the VF-1 Valkyrie which would turn up in Hasbro's Transformer line as Jetfire and he had previously worked on the THS-02 Hybrid Style Convoy which was also released in 2006.)

Design before (left) and after (right)

MP-11 Starscream (left) and MP-3 Starscream (right)

The aim for a realistic jet appears to have been instigated by Shoji Kawamori and he attempted to conceal visible robot parts from the underside of the jet mode but conceded this would be too difficult to achieve without hindering the robot mode.

Changes that Shoji Kawamori made to the prototype:-

  • The robot arms were altered so they would appear like the underside of the jet when transformed. This however meant the arms in robot mode would appear much thicker.
  • One of the major changes were the tail stabilisers were removed from the legs and attached at the robots hip. In the interview in Starscreams instruction manual, Shoji Kawamori says this change came about because the tail section obscured the engine in silhouette. In the 2006 November edition of Hobby magazine it was mentioned it was to give the appearance of wearing two samurai swords.
  • The null rays were made as a separate accessory and additional missiles were designed to fit on the underside of the wing.
  • The robot feet were redesigned
  • The wings were redesigned and hinged differently. The gatling gun sections were separated from the wings and attached just above the robots shoulders.

A crown and cape for the MP-3 Starscream prototype were created and the finished MP-3 Starscream still kept the ports but these were not released for this mould. Incidentally the crown and cape for MP-11 Starscream do not fit MP-3.

MP-3 Starscream Prototype with cape and crown.

Overall Shoji Kawamori did create a very realistic jet mode for Starscream and was successful in concealing the robot parts underneath, albeit the robot chest and fists and this is still the main weakness for all Transformers with jet modes. To display Starscream in vehicle mode, you could be mistaken that this was a 1/60 scale model of an F-15E Strike Eagle jet. Colour wise the green/grey may suit a realistic jet mode but in robot mode it just doesn't feel like Starscream. Starscreams motto is printed on either side underneath the cockpit although this has a habit of wearing off as it rubs against plastic parts during transformation.

Starscreams motto

Alternate missile attachments

MP-3 Starscream also comes with a small Dr Arkeville who appeared in a few episodes of the  G1 cartoon. The figurine is cast in the same green grey plastic as Starscream and has a painted white lab coat.

Starscream is also the first Masterpiece figure to come with a face swap gimmick. The head can be bent back and the silver face portion pulled forwards and rotated. The neutral face turns into a smirk. As mentioned above Starscream looks like a scale model and it also feels fragile as one as well which makes transforming this very cumbersome. Both MP-1 and MP-2 were very solidly build but Starscream has a tendency to break, mainly at the wing hinges which are incredibly tight. From MP-11 onward this issue was been fix. The gatling gun sections just above the shoulders also get in the way and will pop off during transformation.

Overall the MP-3 Starscream is not a bad figure, if you are after a detailed jet mode this is the version to get as long as it won't be transformed too many times as the wing hinges will break. I've transformed mine three times and there are already white stress marks appearing in the plastic. The prototype of MP-3 was eventually revisited and tweaked for MP-11 Starscream which was released 6 years later in 2012. The best addition made to MP-11 was that the engine on the rear of the legs fold out to become the robots heel; the MP-3 mould is a pain to get it to balance and stand upright.

Overview (Translated from the instruction pamphlet)
In the first series of the Transformers cartoon, Air Commander Starscream, second in command of the Destron Army, was the stand out character. He was always repeating himself that he should be in command as well as being antagonistic to the Emperor of Destruction, Megatron. Although Starscream was repeatedly rebellious, his schemes always failed. Even though Starscream was punished by Megatron, he was never demoted from his position and by the next episode they acted as if nothing happened which sometimes came across as amusing. No one would take any exception to Starscream and his character can not truly be hated as he is truly a character who represents the Transformers. The character called Starscream is loved by fans even after his first appearance more than 20 years ago. Under the “Masterpiece” brand and under the supervision of Mr Shoji Kawamori, a multi-creator whom Japan is proud, Starscream has been reproduced with a grade comparable to a scale model of the actual jet machine. With a premium look and detailed markings, we would like you to enjoy this new take on Starscream and explore the new possibilities.

Function: Face Change (Translated from the instruction pamphlet)
This face change gimmick expresses the character of the ambitious Starscream. Scenes when Starscream attacks his opponents frequently show him with a cruel smile.

Item & Function: Null Ray & Missile (Translated from the instruction pamphlet)
The Null Beam (also called Null Ray) emitted from his arm mounted guns can also disable the function of mechanisms as well as being able to cause destruction. In the animated TV series, the chest missiles were only used in the episode “Secret of the Incas”.

Person: Dr. Arkeville (Translated from the instruction pamphlet, spelt as Archeville in English on the instruction manual)
The evil genius scientist, Dr Arkeville who appeared in 4 episodes of the animated series sits in the cockpit. In his first appearance he was called Archville but later appearances he was called Arkeville.

Transform: Jet Mode (Translated from the instruction pamphlet)
Transforms into a jet fighter. In the TV animation “S.O.S Cybertrons!”, Megatron (in gun mode) is fitted to the underside of the jet aircraft. Using the Megatron gun which came with MP Convoy, this sequence can be reproduced.

Stabilizer Mode (Translated from the instruction pamphlet)
With the revised Masterpiece version, by deploying panels at the rear of the robot mode it is possible to produce a feeling of a real jet aircraft which was not present in earlier versions of Starscream.

Engine (Translated from the instruction pamphlet)
It is possible to open and close the characteristic engine and upper air brake. The latter also recreates the internal hydraulic actuator feature. The movement of the vector nozzle and flap movement which adjust stability, in robot mode as well as jet mode, should not be overlooked.

Radar Dome (Translated from the instruction pamphlet)
Gatling guns are in place either side of the fuselage and the radar dome has been reproduced inside the nosecone. The landing gear has been produced using heavy die cast (zinc alloy).

Legs (Translated from the instruction pamphlet)
Along with the enhanced realism, the ankles have also been redesigned. Starscream in the animated series could quickly withdraw or rush from the atmosphere as well as being able to orbit the planet.

Translated Interview from the instruction booklet:-

Designers Operation / Shoji Kawamori
Mr Shoji Kawamori supervised the design of MP-3 Starscream. As well as being a leading writer in Japan, Kawamori who is more familiar with jet aircraft than anyone else, was able to use his unique insight into the creation of MP-3 Starscream. In Kawamori’s interview, you can see the enthusiasm he has for this item.

Could you please give a few words on your involvement.
Originally I based the VF-1 Valkyrie of “Super Dimension Fortress Macross” on the F-14, I thought it would be fun to challenge myself to apply transformation to the F-15 series motif. I’m pleasantly surprised that this was achieved.

Did the initial prototype change significantly?
I supervised MP-3 Starscream following directly on from the Hybrid Style 02 Convoy. When I saw the prototype that Takara Tomy had initially made, they said it was okay to change it considerably so at this stage I took the opportunity and made various proposals.
When you looked at the prototype from the top, it had a very good finish, however when you looked it it from the underside it looked like the original Diaclone Jet Robo, in other words just like the Transformers Starscream, it made me say “well?”. It certainly was a matter of concern. As it is an aeroplane I wanted it to have air resistance. Of course as it’s a Transformer you would assume the robot mode would have an uneven look, but I would not accept this outlook. As its a transforming toy I wanted everything to connect smoothly.

Is it pretty close to the real thing now?
In order to put the transformation in place without any difficulty, you are going to see parts which don’t form part of the real world jet. I was originally going to use the F-15 but to utilise space when considering the robot limbs I decided to go for the F-15E Strike Eagle. The charm of the F-15 is the rounded mechanical parts. However at prototype stage the engine in Starscream's calves was obscured by the tail fins which was undesirable. It was regrettable that the feet were just wings and the silhouette I wanted to achieve fails. I therefore took the decision to lift the tail section. I was also able to make the robot feet transformation more interesting. Including the parts for transformation and number of joints, it is almost double that of a Valkyrie.

What are your favourite features in robot mode?
Although it was part of the prototype, I thought the gimmick of the nosecone folding in the nose cone was very well done. Although that was interesting, as I mentioned earlier I was concerned with the problems of air resistance so I had to see that other areas were done on the same spirit to achieve the quality. I also like the nozzle, it’s different from the real jet as it was hard to achieve. I ended up using a three dimensional swinging nozzle to attempt to increase ground contact in robot mode. Oh, the gatling gun on the side of the aircraft is another point. On the actual Strike Eagle jet, the gun is only on the right hand side but as Starscream is a Transformer he has them on both sides. In robot mode e is now armed on both shoulders. Recently my robot modes have been purposely removed of any human proportions but on this occasion Starscream has a taste of modern elements but in keeping with the nostalgic style. Just as the Valkyrie became the Super Valkyrie, there is always room to improve.

How about the colouring?
Although the finalised colours will divide opinion, we had prioritised to reproduce the Strike Eagle. I pushed forward the style of a real jet so the next approach to follow would be the realistic colours. As I mentioned we didn’t want the top side and the bottom side of the jet to look out of place. Blue is used for the robot's arms and torso, but this does not fall apart in jet mode. This point made us determine the final colouring of the jet. If you think about the character of Starscream you think of other colours so I would anticipate further colour variations to come. As an aviation fan I’m interested in colour variations.

Please give us a few words on the future.
I would like to continue participating in supervising the Transformer designs in the future. Personally I’d like to work on Binaltech looking at original and retro cars. I’d just be happy if I could revisit the Diaclone Robot Base using current engineering (laughs).

Releases using the MP-3 mould:-

MP-3 Starscream (2006, Takara)


MP-6 Skywarp (2007, Takara Tomy)


Masterpiece Starscream (2007, Hasbro)


MP-7 Thundercracker (2008, Takara Tomy)


Masterpiece Starscream (2008, Hasbro & Takara Tomy USA Edition)

Source: eBay

Masterpiece Skywarp (2009, Hasbro)

Source: eBay

MP-3G Starscream Ghost ver (2010, Takara Tomy)


View the full photograph gallery here on Flickr.

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