Heavy/Scratch: MPM 04 Optimus Prime modifications

Discussion in 'Radicons Customs' started by Lukelbs, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. KayODave

    KayODave Well-Known Member

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    My god just what the hell happened between the design and manufacturing stages of this figure? I think I'm set on buying one right now, then saving up and hoping for a fixed version sometime down the road.
     
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  2. jaraxel

    jaraxel Well-Known Member

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    That's exactly what I'm seeing too and I think it contributes to the problem in truck mode.

    Mine luckily actually sits more or less at the correct place (as you said, QC is just disgusting on MPM04)

    I'm starting to draw the same conclusion as you in this. I'm really really refraining from doing wofata's mods as it seems very heavy handed... not until I have a second copy (preferrably a Takara version without these issues :p )

    Amen. Just horrendously bad QC.
     
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  3. KayODave

    KayODave Well-Known Member

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    This figure was designed and produced as a joint venture between Hasbro and Takara, from what I understand. I'm worried that this figure won't see the fixes it needs unless Has/Tak admits they screwed up, take a second pass on the design phase and orders up a second production run. I hope it doesn't require such extreme lengths, but I fear it will.
     
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  4. Arkmana

    Arkmana Active Member

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    I've shaved down the top and bottom of both door halfs on mine, and shortened the tabs that xcandesent mentioned, and it seems to tab properly.

    One thing I'm curious about...
    The matrix cover and the trailer hitch in truck mode. The instructions say to fold down the cover, then lay the hitch over it. I've noticed they actually should come down together and over lap a bit. (See pic)

    Does any one else do it that way? Does that help un-modded ones at all? Or am I just being thick?

    Edit: Just rewatched Emgo's review, he had it over lapping and it didn't seem to help.
    Oh well.
     

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    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
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  5. Xcandescent

    Xcandescent TRUKKS are the new MUNKYS

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    Nice! I'm reluctant to shave the door halves, because it's gonna be super easy to scratch the paint, but I'll do it if nothing else works out.

    -XCN-
     
  6. Puulis

    Puulis New Member

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    So I used some 0.3mm sheet ABS and plastic solvent cement to add tabs to the rear of the hood armatures, by the hinge that connects to the windscreen. They hook under the rear forearm hood panels and hold the whole hood assembly together acceptably well, without endangering the structural components of the figure.
    top shot.jpg finished_edgewise.jpg finished frontview.jpg
    What I did was cut a thin strip the width of the gap between the components of the red panel marked in green, levered the hood pieces apart with a hobby knife at the far end as shown (stick it deeper to actually get the parts apart far enough) and then slid the strip in between leaving a tab-sized portion (1mm) sticking out the far side. It's best to overshoot a little bit, you can always sand it down later. Then I hit the seams with solvent cement, which soaked right in. Once it sets you can take advantage of the weakened strip to break off the long excess on the center-side - but be careful not to break the future tab off the same way! (If you noticed the stress marks in the earlier pictures, those are a result of me trying to fully remove the red piece while experimenting and not a side effect of doing the mod.)
    instruct.jpg
    Once it's cured for at least 1-2 hours, it might be worth it to cut some thin scrap pieces off the end of your strip and put them underneath the tab with more solvent to reinforce it - I decided not to chance it without the reinforcement because when working with solvent cement there are no second chances. After that, let it cure the whole 24 hour period before trying to use it. If the tabs are too long (again, about a millimeter seems best) now that everything's cured and hard again is the time to sand them down.
    junk-material.jpg
    I've transformed him a few times and fingers crossed it seems to be holding. The tabs do collide with the innermost section of his torso in robot mode, but not enough to prevent everything from tabbing in. If it's really bothersome a dremel could be used to remove the offending material, and even make a tab slot in his torso for the new tab.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
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  7. jaraxel

    jaraxel Well-Known Member

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    The amount of surgeries people are coming up with is quite impressive.

    Which makes this figure all the more infuriating... it's so close, SO CLOSE to being perfect yet so damn far.
     
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  8. Puulis

    Puulis New Member

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    I honestly feel sorry for the designer or designers on this figure. This should have been their career defining design, their pièce de résistance...
    and somewhere between leaving the design table and getting to consumers' hands, someone somewhere mucked the whole thing up.

    I couldn't imagine waking up and eagerly looking at the earliest reviews only to be met with "It's garbage."
     
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  9. Xcandescent

    Xcandescent TRUKKS are the new MUNKYS

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    I'm honestly a bit stuck as to what's causing the actual alignment issue. I've been slowly shaving down the tabs that go into the windshield pieces, thinking that tab pressure might be partly to blame, but it hasn't had much effect. The area that the head nests into is literally the center of the chest, so there's no way to shave any of that; pushing down on the grey base plate to flatten out that joint and lower the assembly DOES help a little bit. There is a pretty big gap between the front windshield/cab pieces and the sleeper cab, but I think that's intentional, based on how the joints and tabs in that area are positioned. The split doors might contribute to the issue, but they definitely aren't the cause, because it still happens when you take the doors out.

    The good news is that the panels DO lie a lot flatter now. It's just that without being able to get at or fix the cause, there's always going to be a slight bump, the windshield pieces will never lower all the way, and the split doors will always be out of alignment.

    -XCN-
     
  10. Puulis

    Puulis New Member

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    After a few hours of looking at the figure, I had given up on that. That's why I decided to add tabs instead, if I can't make the panels line up better I can certainly make them hold themselves in place better. The closest thing I was able to come up with was that the legs didn't sit far enough back, but even with removing material from the inside thighs so they slid back further it didn't do much.
     
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  11. Xcandescent

    Xcandescent TRUKKS are the new MUNKYS

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    So I've gotten to a point where I can't figure out what else to do to fix the hood issue, so I figured I'd take a step back and document everything I've tried so far.

    If you're not familiar with the problem, get on YouTube and search for MPM-4 reviews. In short: there's a large bump in the rear center of the hood in vehicle mode, anywhere from 1-3 mm high. Those pieces can be forced to sit flat on some figures (EmGo's fix), but not on others.

    The problem can be isolated to two groups of parts being out of alignment with each other: the section of parts that makes up the top cab/windshield and sliver extensions to the cab firewall, and the parts on the arms that make up the rest of the cab. (Later steps in the transformation can aggravate the problem, but are not the central cause.) There doesn't appear to be a single cause, but rather a combination of poor manufacturing, poor tolerances, and possibly design and molding errors.

    There is no universal fix, because quality control varies wildly between figures. That means you should take everything I say here as a starting point, and not the be-all, end-all. Also: I don't have a lot of before shots, because I was more focused on trying to find a fix than trying to document. (Again: see Youtube reviews for examples.) Basically, I wanted to hack the damn thing with a Dremel until it made sense, and I didn't really care about anything else.

    So the very first thing I noticed on mine was the the windshield pieces sat crooked. The right piece was higher than the left. Since the tab for the two pieces was all the way in, it was clear that something needed cutting -- and it couldn't be the slot, because doing so would take out the plastic around a very short pin joint. So I shaved down the tab until the pieces sat flat.

    Uneven Windshield.jpeg Uneven Windshield - Underside.jpeg

    The next thing I did was transform him to isolate the affected sections, and try test fitting them. In doing so, I saw that the windshield pegs were actually hitting the outside edges of the holes when going straight up and down. The pegs would never stay pegged down, no matter what I tried. Physically holding them down caused the bottom of the windshield and the rear of the cab to split open, creating a diamond shaped hole. Splitting the back of the arms helped the hood panels stay flatter, at the cost of widening that hole.

    Diamond Gap.jpeg

    For a while, I couldn't figure out if the door panels were part of the problem, so I took them out of the equation entirely by rotating them out of the way, at which point I realized they weren't the primary cause (though they weren't helping).

    It's worth mentioning that the tolerances on the upper door panels are also bad. They're difficult to peg in all the way, and doing so causes the bottom back of it to cave in, which then makes it very hard to line up with the bottom door panel. Even if you line them up, the door panels won't sit totally flat against each other; the tiny interlocking edges around both panels tend to pop and force each other apart. I haven't really tried to shave down those edges, because I don't want to scratch the paint. I also don't know that shaving the peg or the hole on the upper panel would solve the alignment issue; if it's closing crooked, that implies that the joint itself was set at an angle instead of straight up/down. Either way, doing so wouldn't solve the main hood issue, but might keep the doors from making it worse.

    Uneven Doors.jpeg Uneven Doors 2.jpeg

    Later on in the transformation, there's a part where the toolboxes behind the gas tanks are supposed to peg into holes in the blue leg panels. The slots on the panels are way too far forward, which has the effect of throwing several other things out of alignment. I had to really extend that slot backwards for it to seat properly without popping. This is one of wotafa's fixes, and I used stills from his video as a guideline.

    Extended Side Hole.jpeg

    The back of the sleeper cab also matters. You want all the rear hinges seated flush to give the front parts enough room to flatten out. Unfortunately, the transformation makes the head rub up against the very center of the chest, and it's clear that there isn't enough clearance there to work with. In order to force the gray hinge down all the way, enough pressure is put on the head that the face starts rotating outward. There is probably no fix for this, because you can't cut the head or the chest piece for additional clearance. (In the pic, notice the extra blue on the side of Prime's mouthpiece. That's the rotatable face piece popping out from the pressure.)

    No Headroom.jpeg

    At this point, you should probably look at Actar's video around 4:15. He has a theory that the entire upper section is affected by a molding error, which causes the rear hood parts to ALWAYS sit at an angle when pegged in all the way. (One key difference between his sample and mine: I could never get the pegs to sit all the way in ever, without physically holding them down. In fact, there's lots of pegs on the figure that won't stay pegged in at all, for no apparent reason.)

    Since we already know that the windshield pegs are causing gapping problems, it made sense to gradually shave them down, test the fitting, and keep shaving if needed. By the end of a couple of days, I'd halved the size of the pegs. This helped a lot, but did not completely solve the problem. The pegs still won't stay down, and the two sections are still slightly out of alignment.

    (I'm honestly not sure why those pegs exist -- they don't ever peg in properly, and they don't seem to do anything but throw the front end out of whack. Maybe on a properly assembled figure they serve an actual function? Someone who's more of a risk taker than I am might want to try hacking the pegs off to see what happens.)

    Pegs 1.jpeg Pegs 2.jpg Pegs 3.jpg Pegs 4.jpg

    I'd shaved off so much from the pegs at this point that I figured there's gotta be something else contributing. (The joint next to the windshield pegs, maybe?) What I intended up doing was using slight pressure movements to force the outer arm sections slightly downward, in order to match the remaining angle of the hood pieces. This gets super tricky, because you have to keep pegging other parts in and redoing it as you go.

    Final 1.jpeg Final 2.jpeg

    Pretty good, but give it a slight nudge, and the bump comes back (albeit much shallower than before). And I'm out of ideas.

    There are other mods, which are mostly focused on either mechanical weakening or reinforcement to force the hood together. There's Puulis' mod above this post, which adds tabs to hook and hold the center pieces down. And there's wotafa's shoulder mod, which lops off one of two circle joints holding the shoulders in place. I don't speak Japanese, so I never really understood the full reason for it -- I think he's bending and possibly sliding the weakened joint upwards -- but I did notice in his before and after images that he had eliminated a large gap between the blue waist piece and the gold painted bits of the shoulders when transformed into truck mode. That gap is pretty minimal on mine, so it seemed there would be no benefit (and potentially permanent breakage) if I attempted it. The fact that such a gap existed at all is some damning evidence of how badly they've botched the manufacturing.

    There will apparently be a Takara release of this guy at some point. I'm really curious to see if they'll have addressed the manufacturing issues by then -- or if they'll do nothing at all.

    -XCN-
     

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  12. Arkmana

    Arkmana Active Member

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    One thing I have tried is to shorten the "Y" part of the bonnet, that is attached to the windshield. (See pic with halo's), as mine seemed kinda smoothed together. I also shortened the tabs between the hood and windshield, and shaved the doors down. Every thing tabs perfectly....

    ...Until I put the truck and legs/feet together. I think one problem is the small horizontal gas tanks at the base of the door hits the big step, and forces every thing out of whack.
    Might shaved down the gas tank, or widen hinge to allow the bottom door to sit slightly higher and see what happens.
     

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  13. Arkmana

    Arkmana Active Member

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    Right! In addition to the above, I have now shaved down the bottom of the gas tanks, as well as the corner of the silver panel that sits under the door.

    I also noticed the grey rotater on the vertical gas tank/ shoulder pads were slightly warped inwards, preventing the bottom door tabbing in.

    Quick blast with lighter and to reset.

    Now fits perfectly every time! 1502044543912141180225.jpg 1502047002858511885097.jpg 1502047086997839530073.jpg 20170806_202107.jpg
     
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  14. eltonlin98

    eltonlin98 MPM-5, take MPM-3 down a peg or 2.

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    Quick questions, has anyone succeeded with swapping the misassembled/reversed blue truck panel hinges, and can anyone recommend the best pin removal method [only ones I know of are the punch the pin out with force (really small though, may damage the plastic here) or using a soldering iron to heat it up].

    Also, for owners of MPM-4, what scale is this figure? Trying to source out parts to build accurate truck mirrors
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017
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  15. deathzero23

    deathzero23 Well-Known Member

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    Good to see many people doing their best to perfect.. ehem.. perfect (hahaha) this forsaken MP figure. Hahaha.

    If I were one of the lead design team of this from Has-Tak, I'll be embarrassed big time because there are people outside Has-Tak that are much more passionate fans than the makers and designers themselves. Embarrassed that such kind of people able to figure out what went wrong with toy design both in the aspect of even identifying weak & faulty parts of the product.

    We all know that someone working from Has-Tak is lurking here and reporting this to their bosses.
    Telling like, "Hey Boss, somebody found out the issue on the product."
    And the Boss will be like, "OMFG! We're Doomed!"

    lolz
     
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  16. deathzero23

    deathzero23 Well-Known Member

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    Instead of following Wotafa's carving of extended cavity on the blue panel, why not shave off a part of the toolbox tab?

    which is much stable?
    a.) Carving an extended cavity (wotafa)
    b.) Shaving of portion of toolbox tab
     
  17. KayODave

    KayODave Well-Known Member

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    Depends on how offset the two are. If you have to shave off too much of the tab you could end up breaking it.
     
  18. Arkmana

    Arkmana Active Member

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    It could just be my one, but I found as long as the legs are fully pushed back, the leg covers on the double hinge are pushed up completely on the grey hinge, and the ab section feeds through the trailer hitch, then the tabs should line up without any mods. I think it's just a case of finesse.
     
  19. deathzero23

    deathzero23 Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm..
    Familiar with the tab and cavity connection between the truck's tail-lights (black plastic) and ball hip (it's a ball-hip right?)?
    I see that those parts are kinda useless.
    Why they didn't use a sliding lock-tabbing mechanism instead of using small tabs and cavities when pulling back the ball hip?
     
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  20. Xcandescent

    Xcandescent TRUKKS are the new MUNKYS

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    I had to extend the hole by around 1 mm or so, because that's where the tabs naturally feel once everything else was seated in properly. Shaving down the tab would've meant no tab.

    Again: there are massive variances between figures due to poor manufacturing and QC. Some figures might need certain fixes, others won't.

    I think the thought was that the tabs didn't actually need to lock, because there are multiple other mechanisms to hold the truck down. It's still a bad design.

    There's a lot of really questionable design decisions with tabs in general on this figure. There are tons of tabs on this figure that don't tab at all, or the tabs work themselves out when you try.

    -XCN-
     
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