Onslaught. Yet. And I only say yet because it looks like the Masterpiece line is going from a one-off character focused toyline to an actual series based on recent events. First of all, I want to congratulate whomever is in charge of the Masterpiece line at TakaraTomy; you have renewed my faith. At first I was all against a second Optimus Prime being released in the series, but as more and more releases have been announced I now see the light. I see it was all part of a carefully structured plan to revitalize and revamp the line in a scale-accurate form (more or less). And I've already sung the praises of the recently fixed MP-11. But I am getting a little ahead of myself here.
I had always envisioned the Masterpiece line as a limited run of five or six of the most popular characters in the Transformers franchise, and for the first few years this was absolutely true. Between 2003 when the first Masterpiece figure was released and 2009 we got only four (!) different molds (Optimus, Starscream, Megatron and Grimlock). Of course there were the obligatory repaints upon repaints but the cold hard facts were we really only got four Masterpiece figures in that entire time. You could go as far to say that with the inclusion of Skywarp and Thundercracker that we got six at the very most. However, since 2011 the Masterpiece line has churned out three new molds already (Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime, Optimus Prime ver. 2 and Starscream ver. 2) with three more on the way before the year is out (Sideswipe, Soundwave and Red Alert). Now granted Starscream was just a retool of an existing figure (but wow, what a retool!) and Red Alert is just a slightly altered Sideswipe (at least he has new parts!) but that is basically four new molds with two retools in just two years! Not to mention Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Frenzy, Rumble and Ravage all getting the Masterpiece treatment as well! So technically that is seven new molds, two retools and two repaints within such a short amount of time (relatively). That's a lot of newness compared to what we've been given in the past.
I'm betting there was some sort of regime change at TakaraTomy sometime around 2010 or 2011 which paved the way for this new scale feature along with introducing some lesser known characters such as Sideswipe. Of course this opens the door for all the rest of the Autobot cars and I'd be willing to bet Prowl is going to be next on the list since he can be easily retooled into Bluestreak and Smokescreen. I am really hoping the plan is to release at least all of the 1984 characters, but I wouldn't be surprised if the minibots (Bumblebee, Brawn, Gears, etc) weren't included. Mostly because I don't think Volkswagen will license their bug to be used as Bumblebee and if he isn't made first then I don't believe the other characters will be either. But here is hoping we finally get an appropriate Hound, Mirage, Wheeljack and (please, please, please) Ironhide/Ratchet. Sideswipe is just the tip of the iceberg.
I am perhaps most excited about Soundwave. It finally looks like we will have a G1 accurate, cassette popping badass. No weird MP3, cybertron or Satellite. Just good 'ol Soundwave as he was always meant to be. And what's this? Reports say he can hold three cassettes?!?! That's just the icing. I know there was a third party company already working on a Masterpiece Soundwave, but it looks like Takara/Tomy really beat them to the punch. Now I completely support Third Party companies when they are providing for a need that Hasbro or TT has obviously missed, but I can't help but smirk a little that they are getting trumped on this release. There is really no way I would buy a Third Party Soundwave now unless it just happened to spit out money or something.
With so many new releases coming it's hard not to be happy about being a Transfan these days. The best is yet to come :)
Sideswipe picture courtesy of EHobby Japan.