Masterpiece Ironhide; a character retrospective.

ironhideboxartG1 Ironhide, one of the most memorable characters from the show, and one of the toys you most wish you could forget.  Sure, there have been other versions of the character in Energon, Animated, Prime, the Movieverse et al, but it’s Cullen’s other character voice that we’re focusing on today.

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Designed by the legendary Kojin Ono to look like the Nissan Sunny-Vanette Coach SGL – but without a license because it was 198x and you could do that shit without getting sued raw – Ironhide the toy is vastly different from his animation model, a look that was reflected in his earliest comic-book appearances.

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Early comic appearance
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Later comic appearance

 

IHshowIf you’re here, I presume you know all about the Diaclone / Microchange origins of the Transformers, so feel free to skip to the next paragraph.  In a nutshell, they were two existing toylines owned by Takara, licensed by Hasbro for release under a blanket brand they co-created with Marvel comics for total mass-media domination.  It worked quite well, because here we are 32 years later, still discussing the toys and hoping for renditions that look a little more like their animation models (pictured to the right).

If you want to see more of the Diaclone version of Ironhide, please go to this excellent page over on Maz’s TFSquare One blog.

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Notice the Diaclone driver, aw…

As much as I love the original Diaclone version of Ironhide and the various repaints we’ve had over the years, and the attempts to “fix the figure” including third party add-on kits, and crappy cardboard heads included with the Encore reissues, it took us over 20 years to get a decent G1 inspired Ironhide toy, in the meantime, only a few lazy cut-and-paste renewed trademark name-drops were all the brand used the name for.

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Beast Wars Ironhide – I guess the name makes sense.

Eventually though, in 2005, the very first Fun Publication run Botcon event brought us a repaint of Energon Towline as TFCC Ironhide.  Again, not without its limitations, but at least he had a head.  Some excellent comparison photos can be found on the wonderful Benny’s World of Transformers by clicking here.

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Energon Towline and TFCC Ironhide

Then in 2008, we got the much anticipated Classics interpretations.  This modern update to the character which some might refer to as Generation 3 (I’ll explain that at some point) was not best received due to its panel-formery nature, but even so it filled a lot of gaps in a lot of collections and at one point commanded a fairly high price on the secondary market.  Hard to imagine nowadays, but these were the days when CHUG ruled all.  At least the more accurate Henkei version has the iconic yellow stripe.
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It was years until we had a “proper” faithful update of the G1 concept, with iGear’s PP05 Weapons Specialist.  Used by many as a classics/MP hybrid placeholder, this was originally intended to be displayed alongside Faith Leader and the never-released Horror Monarch (resized “KOs” of MP01 and MP05 respectively) to represent a new scale version of the MP line.
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Of course, PP05 also holds the dubious honour of being the first 3rd party toy I wrote a profile for.  It’s very wordy, mostly because I didn’t have a brief or wordcount target to work to, but it’s crammed with in-jokes and presented for your enjoyment below.PP05.jpg

 

 

From peaceful industrial Farm-‘bot to Police Force, the road to Weapon Specialist was a long and arduous journey.

Fresh from his protoform, he was designated a life-time of agricultural work on the Energon farms of Broga-957, working with a small cluster of fellow farm-‘bots, generations of whom were birthed from the same protoform batch.

His life was changed one day upon seeing his first flying ‘bot, but wonder changed to terror as the flying ‘bot razed the land, destroyed many Energon vaporators and left several Farm-‘bots as charred husks of wire and twisted metal. From that day, Weapon Specialist vowed to leave his homestead and protect his homeland.

Against his friends wishes, he gave up everything to enlist in the Police Force. Despite bullying at the hands of hot-headed recruits, who picked on him for his cyber-rural background, he strived to improve himself, pushing harder, faster than the other ‘bots. He passed all of the tests with flying colours, grace and and civility, earning the notice of an elite cadre of guards, and en route earned his famous nick-name due to his “nothing can upset me” facade and gentle personality – nothing could faze the ‘bot with the bright future, and no insults could penetrate his armoured hide.

Finally the day came, and like all police units he was due to be upgraded to the standard police 256-OZU-004 body-type. It was meant to be the biggest day of his life and the start of an illustrious career, however during the spark-transplant procedure something went wrong…

An attack on the centre during the critical moment of spark extraction almost claimed his life, but instead left his body incomplete and malformed. His head missing? His face in his chest? His arms, by his waist? No rotor manoeuvrability in his legs?

He was put on spark support, and trapped in that body for 26 long cycles. Finally, after years of waiting, an experimental procedure by a Medical Specialist who was afflicted by the very same uncommon condition freed them both and made them mold brothers.

After vast cycles trapped in his hideous body, during which time he was passed over for the best Guard unit, Weapon Specialist’s once jolly demeanour has been replaced with that of a gruff pragmatist, one who has set out to make a name for himself and re-invent himself as a Weapon Specialist, siding with a new leader, a leader he has faith in, who has stood up and taken charge, voicing his opinion against the council to warn about the coming tide of evil…

But that was just the start…

The first of many.

Yeah, it does go on.  Did you spot all 72 subtle jokes and references?

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They did say Weapon,s Specialist

 

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First iGear teaser

PP05 was also released as Medical Specialist (Ratchet) as well as re-issues which came with new heads to make Micromaster Tote and First Aid (in retrospect, this should have been Fixit, damnit!).

Designed by Cassy Sark under the pseudonym Bal Dillinger, PP05 was released in 2012, the same year that Takara release MP10 and rebooted their MP line in a scale they were happy with.  Ultimately, rendering the fragile PP01 Faith Leader obsolete.  Would PP05 come to suffer the same fate?

It would take four more years for the MP to be released for us to have the answer to that question.

MP-27 – Ironhide

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The early pictures of Ironhide – like so many MPs – did not do him justice.

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After the (slight and lessening) disappointment of MP Tracks, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and with vested interest and bias on my side, I fully expected to keep PP05 as my go-to MP Ironhide.  Until I opened the box.

I always like my first transformation experience to be without instructions and from alt. mode to robot.  Ironhide doesn’t disappoint.  Everything about the packaging and contents is classy before you even remove the weighty and SOLID feeling figure – although I was disappointed with the lack of a look-back at the legacy of the Ironhide character through the years, one of my favourite things about previous MP paperwork.
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Looking at the vehicle, although there are panel detailings that you can’t avoid on a Transformer, none of the windows are sacrificed for the conversion which adds to an altogether great looking vehicle.  From the front, above, and behind it’s a very solid looking vehicle.

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Breaking it open for the first panel move seemed tough at first as it’s very nicely held together, but as soon as you get things moving it effortlessly falls into place.  I managed to transform it first time (without instructions, remember) in under 6 minutes without rushing.  That’s pretty impressive, considering I can’t do that with most MP or 3P toys I’ve transformed multiple times previously.

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In robot mode, all of the joints are solid, with great sounding and feeling ratchets (ho-ho) making the toy feel substantially classy throughout.  Even the much lamented hip panels look decent in hand and the ass-wheels which upset some, are – let’s face it – on the figure’s ass.  Other than betraying the etymology of his name (Rubber-Hide doesn’t have the same ring to it), they really don’t matter or get in the way, and they don’t subtract from the figure at all.
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As a huge fan of Sideswipe and the Fairlady molds, as well as all of the Decepticon Masterpieces this far, I have to say, this is a stunning and very welcome addition to the MP range.  I’ve often thought that maybe the Autobot cars are slightly too small for the range considering the height of many other characters, and will cause robot/alt mode scaling problems further down the line (as evident with UT Buzzing, robot mode scales well with Carry, Cupola, and MP10, there is no way the alt. mode scales to anything).  The more I look at my MP collection, the more I’m convinced that I will have to display my 84/85 bots away from my post-movie guys to fix scale issues, but honestly?  My shelves are split anyway.  Somehow, MP27 acts as the missing link for the Autobot range, tying the cars nicely together with MP10 through a perfectly sized – yet bigger than I initially believed – figure.

Overall, I absolutely adore everything about this figure, including the plethora of weapons on his additional platform.  I’m so pleased they made this figure all in one, and didn’t try and give us his battle sled made from his alt. mode roof or something.  I did have thoughts about trying other 3P releases to make Ratchet and Ironhide have different molds, as I do enjoy my 3P MP homages, but after holding this?  No chance.  Maybe I might go that way for a Diaclone inspired redeco choice, but right now, I’m all about the MP.

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So what about PP05?  Well, I think I still have a place for him, but back over in the Classics section where he scales okay with Toyworld Orion.  026.jpg

Kudos Takara, you’ve made a believer of a doubter yet again!  Please give me more MP figures for me to mindlessly consume!!!

Ironhide was purchased from Kapow Toys and this honest review and feedback was in no way bought or solicited.  MP Ironhide is still in stock and available right here.  Buy with confidence, Kapow Toys are awesome.

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