Tuesday 14 November 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Legends LG-46 Targetmaster Kup

Release Date: September 2017
RRP: 4320 yen

As TakaraTomy work through the remaining Titans Return offerings before Hasbro shifts over to the Power of the Primes line, they’re going to extra mile to make the Transformers Legends line really special with many figures receiving an upgrade in the form of an additional Targetmaster. One such figure is the Autobot Kup, a core character for the post-movie years of the Generation One cartoon after making his debut in Transformers: The Movie. Interestingly when Takara originally unveiled this figure it sported a desaturated grey colourscheme similar to his appearance in The Rebirth. However in later pics and for the release itself this colourscheme was changed to one based on his more familiar look from the movie and season three episodes.

Kup comes packaged in the standard Transformers Legends style packaging, though the box is considerably larger than other Deluxe-class figures such as Scourge for no discernible reason other than the fact there's a Targetmaster in there as well. Said Targetmaster doesn't even take up all that much space, so when you open the box up you can see just how much pointless empty space there is. But at least Takara make the correct decision to package their Transformers in vehicle mode, because we all know that opening it in vehicle mode and transforming it into robot mode is far more satisfying than the opposite. The box itself features some great art of the toy, along with the usual stock image of it in its various forms. 

Kup's transformation instructions are laid out across a nicely printed paper leaflet, which when folded over also features better quality images of the box art (along with tech specs and Japanese bio) and the next chapter of the ongoing Transformers Legends manga. This chapter sees Kup face off against Sharkticon Gnaw with the assistance of Sue, the daughter of Earth Defense Command Officer Marisa Fairbourne and dashing space rogue Dirk Manus (who appeared in the season 3 episode “Money is Everything). Sue also just happens to be Kup's Targetmaster partner in this continuity, just like how Hot Rod's is Shaoshao Li.

For those without a keen sense of nostalgia for the later years of Generation One, Kup’s vehicle mode isn’t much to write home about. It can be best described as a futuristic pickup truck (hence the name “Kup”), although it’s hardly futuristic anymore given that the movie itself took place 12 years ago. Newer figures such as the Generations mould have tried to spruce it up a bit, but honestly nothing really beats the original. And it seems Hasbro/Takara agree, as the Legends figure is a pretty fantastic update. There’s a few new details and the silhouette isn’t quite as clean to accommodate the extra articulation (the arms especially, which just kind of hang there), but both looks fantastic and is very recognisably Kup. The cartoon accurate colours is a significant improvement over the Titans Return version’s toy-accurate deco, with both colours doing a fantastic job of bringing out all the panel detailing the toy has. For an alt-mode that could easily be dismissed as unimaginative, this toy has really brought along something quite charming.

As stated in previous reviews the Transformers Legends fiction (as per the original Transformers: Headmasters anime) states that the characters themselves are the heads, and then the bodies are lifeless "Transtectors". The Titans Return packaging however names the head Flintlock, and so for the sake of ease that's what I'll be referring to the head component here. Flintlock has undergone a fair few changes to distinguish him from his American counterpart, not only receiving a new colour scheme but also a brand new (larger robot) face that better matches Kup's onscreen appearance. As well as being the perfect match, this new face just oozes personality that the Titans Return version so sorely lacked. A grumpier expression would have worked too, but this slightly smiling expression suits Kup just as well. Flintlock can also fit inside the vehicle's cockpit, however without a firm way to peg it in the figure does kind of rattle around in there when moved. 

Exclusive to the Transformers Legends version of this figure is Kup’s Targetmaster partner, who despite being Sue in the Legends fiction everyone will inevitably be referred to by its original G1 name - Recoil. Recoil shares the same basic body structure as Hot Rod’s Targetmaster partner, however the moulding itself is completely different. Recoil’s colourscheme is also much closer to its original toy, with only a few minor changes to give the figure some (much needed) extra variation. Nevertheless this means that they share an identical transformation sequence as well as articulation, with Recoil sporting ball-jointed shoulders, hips and knees along with a waist swivel that also moves the head in tandem. In gun mode Recoil can be either wielded by Kup in robot mode, or pegged to either of designated holes on the back of his vehicle mode.

Kup’s transformation is fairly straightforward to follow, but surprisingly intuitive for such a basic looking vehicle. The main highlight here is how the front of the truck collapses in on itself, with the cockpit area actually housing the bumper section to form Kup’s chest. The legs also feature multiple moving panels which surround the limb, not only giving it shape but also helping to hide some of the hollowed-out areas many modern Transformers suffer from. Sometimes hinged panels such as these can be still and difficult to move without fear of snapping something, but here everything moves as it should and tabs into place perfectly. It’s pretty amazing to find all this ingenuity from a vehicle mode which from the outside hasn’t even made any real effort to hide the arms.

In robot mode Legends Kup continues to be a fantastic update of the original G1 design, with Takara’s other alterations becoming immediately apparent. In addition to the new head and colour scheme the version of the mould sports brand new arms based off of the animation model, replacing the Titan Returns versions’ cubed shoulders more aesthetically pleasing spheres. Most of the colours are handled by the plastic but the body still has a few significant paint apps, such as the gold banding on the arms and waist as well as the silver bumper peeking through the transparent chest window. Despite being a grizzled old war veteran Kup also has a really clean body almost completely devoid of vehicle parts, the only exceptions being the wheels stored at the sides and in the back of the legs.

If there’s one thing that’s even better than the sculpt it’s the articulation, which benefits brilliantly from Kup’s clean silhouette. In addition to the neck joint provided by the Headmaster connection the body itself features hinged-ball joint shoulders, bicep swivels, hinged elbows, a waist swivel, ball-jointed hips, thigh swivels, hinged knees and hinged feet. Additionally the fists have some sideways motion thanks to the transformation scheme, which don’t offer a whole lot to robot mode posing but are there nevertheless. As an added bonus you can even pop off the shoulders and legs off with ease to recreate the “fix me” scene from the movie. Just remember not to miss a piece out when you put him back together!

In an age where prices are getting higher, figures are getting simpler and Hasbro/Takara are facing stiff competition from third party companies, mainline Transformers have to be something special to catch the attention of collectors. But they’ve been fighting back hard with both the Combiner Wars and Titans Returns ranges, and with Legends Targetmaster Kup TakaraTomy have hit a real home run. Thanks to the new colourscheme and sorely-needed remoulds they’ve turned the passable Titans Returns mould into the ideal G1 update, then thrown in a great little Targetmaster figure in too for extra measure. Third party buyers may have their eyes on Fans Toys Koot instead, but if you like to keep things official then this figure is the Kup for you. Not bad for an old timer.

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