Monday 6 February 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Legends LG-35 Super Ginrai

Release Date: December 2016
RRP: 9180 yen

One of the most anticipated 2016 releases from TakaraTomy’s Transformers Legends line also happened to be one of its last. Over in the West the year saw Hasbro’s Combiner Wars come to its end, replaced with the Headmaster-inspired Titans Return. Kicking things was a new version of Powermaster Optimus Prime, however simply giving the figure wasn’t enough for Takara. In Japan there was no Powermaster Prime, with the figure instead becoming the entirely new character of Ginrai – an ordinary human with the power to join with a lifeless Transformer body, eventually becoming the Cybertron leader in Transformers: Super God Masterforce. As a fitting way to mark the stark differences between the new characters, Transformers Legends Super Ginrai is an extensive remould of Hasbro’s figure – boasting an all-new face, chest, arms, feet and more.

Just like the rest of the Transformers Legends line Super Ginrai comes in packaging heavily reminiscent of the original Generation One boxes. The figure comes packaged fully on display in vehicle mode, with the weapons just above and the Headmaster component boxed off away in its own corner. As well as some great stock images of the figure in all three of its modes, the box also sports some gorgeous art of Super Ginrai, adding to the wonderful array of artwork the line has showed off so far.

The instructions are printed on a huge fold out pamphlet, documenting the steps from vehicle mode to  both base and robot modes. On the other side are the latest pages in the ongoing Transformers Legends manga, as well as tech specs and another look at that gorgeous artwork adorning the packaging.

While Legends Super Ginrai might feel like an all-new figure to some, in fact he's actually pretty unique in that he's not just a remould, but a remould of a remould. As previously stated TakaraTomy have made some pretty extensive modifications to Hasbro's Powermaster Optimus Prime, but that in turn was a remould of the Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus figure. The similarity in the vehicles gives it away, but it becomes even more apparent when you look at the identical leg moulding. The upper legs in Ginrai's case, and the entire leg area when it comes to Optimus.

Getting back to Ginrai himself, the big change here is the newly moulded cab area far more accurate to the original G1 toy/design. The beige plastic used the trailer and guns has also been changed to a far more appealing shade of grey, with the back cannons also now sporting some nice metallic blue paint apps as opposed to be entirely black. The cab is jointed and can be moved left and right in a realistic vehicle turning motion, with all ten of the wheels free-rolling. An additional feature not pictured here is that the back of the trailer can be opened, revealing space large enough to house smaller sized Transformers inside.

Now anyone who's watching Super God Masterforce will know that this isn't a case of the Headmaster being a partner robot, but a human pilot with the ability to merge with the lifeless 'transtector' and become a Transformer. As such the Headmaster is Ginrai himself, with Super Ginrai being the name of the larger robot combined with the truck trailer (unlike this toy, the original Ginrai/Powermaster Prime had a smaller robot mode separate from the trailer). In the West Powermaster Prime's partner was named Hi-Q, but for the Titans Return release he was renamed 'Autobot Apex'. But whereas Apex was an unpainted figure moulded in grey and red plastic, Ginrai has been done up to match the original toy perfectly. As well as being moulded in white and red plastic, he also sports black boots, a painted visor and skin tone for the exposed mouth section. However the robot head piece is completely different from that of Apex's, depicting a classic Optimus Prime-style face complete with faceplate.

When in vehicle mode Ginrai can be stored inside the cab, which can be split open to reveal a perfectly shaped seat to house him. Once the cab is closed up again, the Headmaster is completely concealed thanks to the lack of clear plastic windows on the figure. That said, with the seat being placed in the centre rather than either side even if they were transparent you wouldn't be able to see much of him facing head on. It also means the cab can only hold one figure rather than two like a proper truck, which would have made quite a nice feature if there was more space to implement it.

A special feature of the Titans Returns Leader class figures is that they all include a third "base" mode, which of course has also been ported over to their Japanese Legends versions. If you think that these base modes look like a half-transformed robot then you'd be exactly right, with Super Ginrai's essentially consisted of splittling open the trailer section and raising the robot arms to form large towers complete with gun turrets. It's an odd look that few will probably pay any real attention to, but as something that's clearly an in-between mode it does make a somewhat believable battle platform.

In base mode Ginrai has four places to store a Titan/Headmaster - in addition to the opening vehicle cab previously shown there's also a central cockpit in the middle of the base and two rotating gun turrets on either side. Placing these minifigures in their designated spaces really adds some life to the mode, taking it from a weird oddity that feels more nostalgic than practical into something that's actually pretty damn cool. Even if its a mode unlikely to be displayed by many collectors, if you have a decent amount of Headmasters to populate it the base mode would definitely make a great centrepiece. 

While the transformation may seem rather daunting looking at the instructions (and not made easier by the fact that there's no "base to robot mode" steps), you get a pretty good feel for it simply by going from truck to base mode. The biggest confusion is the feet, which are a pretty confusion mess of moving parts without the instructions nearby to see just how everything is supposed to fit together. Everything else is a fairly simple case of working out how the panels wrap around each other and how the pieces clip together, which should be straightforward for anyone with previous Transformers experience. And for everyone else, the instructions are nice and helpful. As far as comparison with the Titans Return Optimus goes the big difference to note here are the forearms, which are not only filled out but also collapse to provide a more aesthetically pleasing size. The Ginrai Headmaster is a little small on its own to make a decently sized head for the figure, so the body also has a larger stylised helmet/faceplate which fits comfortably over it.

With Super Ginrai now in robot mode you can see the full extent of the remoulding TakaraTomy have done to this figure. Even though Ginrai is now a Headmaster the engine block protruding from the chest is the perfect homage to his Godmaster/Powermaster origins, and in general the figure has a look and colourscheme that's significantly closer to the original G1 figure. A new chest and better colours are only a fraction of what's different here though, with perhaps the biggest (and most controversial) change made to the Hasbro version being the feet. While Powermaster Optimus Prime sports some fairly standard feet that were unchanged from Ultra Magnus, Super Ginrai has completely new parts to match the original toy. While on paper this sounds perfectly fine, the truth is G1 Powermaster Prime didn't really have feet - they were more like little blocks that poked out of his giant stumpy legs. As a result Legends Super Ginrai has come out with some rather odd looking shoes, which put off many potential buyers who weren't won over by the accuracy of it all. But rest assured while these feet do take a little bit of fiddling around to get used to, they are perfectly functional and the figure doesn't suffer from any significant balance issues. 

Simply put - Legends Super Ginrai is wonderful. The vibrant colours give off the illusion of a nice clean sculpt, but up close the figure is covered in all sorts of nicely moulded detail. Takara's remoulds have done a wonderful job of mixing G1 toy accuracy and modern engineering, making this toy truly a sight to behold.

In robot mode Super Ginrai has a wide range of articulation, including a rotatable head, double-jointed shoulders, elbows, double-jointed hips, wrist swivels, upper leg swivel, hinged knees and ball-jointed feet. It's a shame there isn't a waist joint as the icing on the cake, but at least the head is able to turn to make any action poses look good. There's no denying that the rather unorthodox design for the feet does make them a little fiddly, but they can hold poses so long as the rest of the leg is posed properly as well. Could Takara have done more with them? Probably, but what we have here is definitely more than enough. In addition to his twin rifles, the missile pieces on Ginrai's shoulders can be fully rotated as well as removed and placed either in the figure's hands or the connection ports on the forearms. If there's one thing this figure isn't short of, it's weaponry. 

If there was any reason to opt for a TakaraTomy version of a figure over a Hasbro one, Super Ginrai is definitely it. Hasbro's Titans Return Optimus Prime is a great looking figure in its own right, but the extensive remoulding, brighter colours and G1 accuracy Legends Super Ginrai has to offer make it in a league of its own. And on top of being incredible on its own, it also has the forthcoming Godbomber (released in the US as 'Apex Bomber' figure as additional selling point - with the two of course being able to combine into an updated form of God Ginrai. If Godbomber turns out anywhere near as well as Ginrai has, then I have little doubt that God Ginrai will end up as one of my favourite figures of the year. Super God Masterforce fans rejoice, your time is now.


ZeldaTheSwordsman said...

Actually, the forearm length on Powemaster Prime is about the same as on Ginrai. The telescoping in Ginrai's arms has more to do with how the trailer roof panels were re-jointed.

yu_ultidragon said...

I am looking for readable instructions I just got a Transformers Legends Ginrai; looks like it has everything but the instructions. If there is a way to scan them for people to look at the instructions that would be great; no I have not gotten the bomber just yet...