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Non-affiliated, Non-lengthy, Non-articles about Transformers

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Transformers GT

 


Ignored, under-appreciated, maligned, ridiculed, misunderstood. Just some of the terms you could use to describe how Transformers GT was met by the majority of the Transformers collecting community. Unfortunately the line used a mould from Transformers Alternity that had already been massively milked for repaints, increased the price to almost unacceptable levels for even those who showed an interest, and then got released during the height of Takara Tomy's Masterpiece output. Didn't stand a bloody chance.






I've already extolled the virtues of this micro-line of Transformers endlessly on the TFSource Blog, and if you weren't interested then, you won't be now either. I, however, rate it as one of the most wonderful creations ever to have come out of Transformers. The bottom line is, Takara Tomy collaborated with world famous Japanese touring car series organisers SuperGT and Nissan (NISMO) to take the 1:32 scale Alternity Nissan GT-R mould, re-tool it into NISMO's bespoke GT-R circuit-racing GT500 vehicle as best they could with the street-car mould as a base, and then accurately decorated four GT-Rs into the NISMO, Calsonic, S-Road Reito Mola and Team Kondo Advan liveries. Alongside those four main releases was a Legends class figure that was only given out during pitlane walks at SuperGT race events.


GT-02 Saber

GT-03 Megatron

GT-04 Maximus

The characters chosen for TFGT were all heavyweights, Optimus Prime, Megatron, Star Saber and Fortress Maximus - although their relevance to the Japanese market is greater as each acted as leader for their faction during different Japanese Transformers series. I think despite the fact that these are Japanese racing cars from a Japanese company sold in Japan primarily, there was a conscious attempt to add appeal for overseas markets, hence the use of "Prime" instead of "Convoy" and the English language descriptions and profiles on the astoundingly ornate and attractive packaging. The toys themselves are criminally beautiful, the liveries are so faithfully produced, down to the absolute finest sponsor detail. Tyres are rubber and smell great (as does the model-paint deco), there's a die cast skeleton, Microman-style "GT Sisters" are included and much has been done to make the items feel race-centred.





One way in which that was achieved was taking the iconic head sculpts for those 4 characters and adding a racing-style helmet visor as well as a microphone for pit-to-car communication. The person on the other end is meant to be the GT Sister.

Misaki and Prime

Megatron with Misaki (Prime), Anna (Saber) and Noa (Megatron)

Maximus and Hiiro

In addition to that, all the robots' weapons are racing-themed as well. Prime has an air gun for changing tyres, Saber has a "Gas Fill Blade", Megatron has a fire extinguisher fusion cannon and Maximus has his "Master Jack Sword". Just brilliant. The GT Sisters - which mimic the Japanese race series "Race Queens" can hold the weapons too with their multiple hand-types which are included and interchangeable, but they're so unbelievably hard to pose stably. They also are not in scale with the cars and therefore cannot sit inside. A blunt tool for the detractors to strike with.






I simply don't understand how if you loved Binaltech and Masterpiece, you wouldn't be completely besotted with these figures. The attention to detail is phenomenal and the robot modes are such gorgeous homages mixed in with some of the most beautiful and contemporary racing machinery in the world. Not being able to afford them or justify the spend for 4 more Alternity GT-R moulds, I get that completely, but dismissing the line out of disinterest I couldn't fathom. It's such a major step for Transformers to be in bed with major car manufacturers, and we're seeing the payoff in Masterpiece, reportedly a result of Tomy's long-standing relationship with global car marques. Flexing those relationship and licensed racing car muscles has surely helped pave the way for the racing car Masterpieces we're getting with Smokescreen and Wheeljack.


The Alternity GT-R mould is limited in some ways (tiny arms, not a great deal of leg and ankle freedom) and SuperGT is even more limited, only four GT500 Nissans in the series, so we were never really going to go far beyond the four licensed characters. Having said that, a black Nissan GT-R GT500 test car could easily have been re-purposed as Black Convoy, and news has reached the community that the 30th anniversary of Transformers will bring us the Team Mach liveried GT300 Nissan, so one race class below the TFGT cars, but undoubtedly using the same mould. It's also another Prime. Missed opportunity.





"Safety Prime" is the Prowl-a-like pace car from the Transformers GT series, a Legends class figure which was a giveaway during pitlane events at SuperGT races. Not an easy toy to find although there were a spate of them available for a while. I got in there before people realised this was going to be the hardest part of the collection. You do really need all 4 figures for the full race grid effect, and I can understand why asking that of cautious spenders is even more unlikely. But, they don't come more cautious than me and I harbour no disappointment with this series at all, it was a major highlight of Transformers collecting in 2013. A deep love of motorsport helps, and I realise most collectors won't see the relevance or understand that avenue of appeal, and hence won't buy in.




I did though, and at a time when the kind of things going out my door may appear like a neon "I'm giving up" signal, it couldn't be further from the truth. I love Transformers but I sold a lot of them because I had/have to. I love motor racing and Gran Turismo where a significant amount of the western hemisphere's SuperGT consciousness came from, but I gave up my sim racing hobby and prized equipment because I had to. To have these exceptional figures that tie together the best aspects of both of those hobbies is something very special. They also have the unique distinction in my collection of being the first aspect of Transformers or pre-Transformers - toy or otherwise - that I actually fully completed in all these years.

Forget "Dream Pitstop Scene", for me this was the dream toy line.

"Dream Pitstop Scene"

Masterpiece compatible - and advertised as such

Promotional poster in Dengeki Hobby and TFGT story manga in KeroKeroAce

You can read more on Transformers GT here in the TFSource articles I published last year:


All the best
Maz


5 comments:

  1. I own the Fortress Maximus GT figure, and I really like him. I was skeptical at first, since I had the Alternity Thundercracker figure and that figure still confounds me to this day. I've had thoughts about getting more of the GT line, Star Saber in particular, but the price just keeps pushing me away.

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    1. They're so worth every penny, though. People spend more on first-time 3rd Party company products and settle for mildly above average toys yet won;t take a risk on these. Saber is STUNNING and completely worth it. Check Yahoo japan auctions, they;re more affordable there, and often in more than sets of 1.

      All the best
      Maz

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  2. As you point out, these guys never stood a chance released as they were just at the start of Takara’s Masterpiece assault on the 1984 cast. I dabbled a bit with the alternity range and I could very much take it or leave it but these guys? Every facet of each figure is faultless from box to toy and I don’t think I will ever display transformers without them again. The added bonus was that my internal struggle between completist and realist didn’t apply to a line with four figures in it. You know… before I learnt of bloody safety prime. Ugh. I need to track him down.

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    1. Such a well expressed sentiment, and completely shared by me. Safety Prime is worth whatever you need to pay, it rounds off the line perfectly. You have I assume heard of the fifth GT coming out, the 30th anniversary Takara Team Mach liveried Convoy?

      All the best
      Maz

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    2. Beyond a space on the official website which I hoped would be a fifth figure, I wasn't aware of it continuing. But I'm delighted (if a little surprised) it is.

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