Magic Square MS-01 Light of Freedom (MP Optimus Prime)

Discussion in 'Transformers 3rd Party Reviews' started by mikeszekely, Jan 16, 2019.

  1. mikeszekely

    mikeszekely Well-Known Member

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    I think most Transformers fans would be willing to admit that MP-10, great as it was, is a bit dated by today's standards. While Takara is set to replace MP-10 with MP-44 later this year, a newer company known only for making Legends-scale figures decided to beat them to the punch, and the result is MS-01 Light of Freedom, the first MP-scale figure from Magic Square and the opening salvo in 2019's MP Optimus war.

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    Some people who are going for total cartoon accuracy and basing their image of Prime on a very specific image of Prime's animation model may find MS-01 a little too beefy. Such is their subjective prerogative, but I think he was animated fairly inconsistently and was often drawn, even in the '86 movie, as a little chunkier. Measured from shoulder to shoulder, around his waist, or the thickness of his forearms actually has him fairly close to MP-10, which nobody used to have a problem with. And in a lot of ways, Magic Square fixed a lot of MP-10's other issues. His torso is a little shorter and his legs are a little longer, with better balance between his thighs and lower legs. His arms, especially in his forearm area, are shorter. On the whole, MS-01 has much better proportions than MP-10.

    Cartoon accuracy is another consideration, but a contentious one. I think everyone expects a level of cartoon accuracy in their figures, but after a point there's a divide between people who want their toys to look exactly like the cartoon because that's how they remember the character and the people who feel looking too much like an inconsistently (and often poorly) animated 35 year old cartoon isn't the best way to go (full disclosure, I'm in the second group). MS-01 definitely pushes for more cartoon accuracy than MP-10. He's got smaller faux fuel tanks on the outsides of his legs, and his rear tires are neatly hidden away. The vents on his shins are blue instead of silver. He sheds some of the extra molded detail that MP-10 carries, especially the rivets. Some of the molded detail he does have, including the molding on his thighs and the little triangles above his shin vents, are more in keeping with the line work that was on Prime's animation model. Although his smokestacks, grill, and faux fuel tanks are all chromed he's got more of a matte and less metallic look with a very light gray used for his thighs, pelvis, forehead, and some of his face, and a slightly darker gray for his torso and mouth plate. Still, cartoon purists will likely bemoan the fact that MS went with gray instead of white on the pelvis and thighs, that his fingers aren't more rounded, that he's still got too much molded linework on his shoulders and lats, that he's still got windshield wipers, or that his grill is too realistic. Needless to say, none of those issues bother me. Minor issues that do bother me would be the visible red mushroom pegs that his hands are attached to, the tabs on the inside of his forearms, and that his blue crotch piece is a little too small.

    One other note is that the plastic feels like an improvement over the stuff Magic Square uses in their Legends figures, but still similar, and there's very little paint on him. I kind of like this plastic, and I think it looks fine without the paint, but there are definitely some people who are going to be bothered by them.

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    Given that MS-01 has a little more bulk than Transform Element or Takara's upcoming figures a lot of people are wondering how he compares with different Megatrons, not just MP-36. I think he's a match for Maketoys' Despotron in terms of physical dimensions, but the lack of metallic paint (especially silver) and more subtle molded details aren't exactly a match.

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    Anyway, MS-01 comes with a few accessories. You've got your Energon axe, your ion rifle, an alternate forehead, and some battle damage parts that I will almost certainly never use. Swapping the regular parts for the battle damaged parts requires pulling his lats off on a little tab and simply opening his chest and pushing the windows out. I'm digging the rifle, which has a much better shape and size than the one that comes with MP-10, although it can't fold up and store in his back. I think it also looks better than the replacement rifle that you get if you buy articulated KFC hands for MP-10.

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    Regarding the alternate forehead, the difference if pretty subtle. Basically, the default head (right) is smooth and a little more rounded on top with a flared bill, like a ball cap. The alternate (left) is a more direct copy of MP-10's with molded lines and a wider band that comes to a sharper point over his nose. While I think I'd have been totally fine with the MP-10-style head, in hand the default head looks more correct, so that's what I'll be going with.

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    One area MS was really able to improve over MP-10 was articulation. MS-01's head is on a hinged swivel, so he can look up about 45 degrees, down until his chin touches his chest, and rotate. His shoulders rotate on friction joints. Like MP-10 you can pull his arms out from his body to reveal a hinge for lateral motion, but unlike MP-10 it's ratcheted and can get a full 90 degrees. Plus, when fully extended he's got butterfly shoulders that can go a little backward and about 60 degrees forward. He's a double-jointed friction elbows. Each joint can do 90 degrees by itself and combined can curl his arm nearly the whole way up. I think using the lower joint first looks more natural, but it's much tighter than the upper joint. He's also got two bicep swivels, one at the top of the bicep and one between his elbow joints. Again, the joint I think you'd want to use most of the time (the upper one) is the tighter one. His wrists can swivel. He's got individually-articulated fingers. The thumb is on a ball joint with one additional knuckle hinge, and the fingers are pinned at the base with one additional knuckle hinge. His waist can swivel. Due to a system of hinges for transformation he's also got an ab crunch that can go 90 degrees forward and at least 45 degrees backward. However, using the ab crunch can really break up the sculpt. His pelvis has hinged flaps in the front and sides; the front flaps on mine are a tad loose, and pulling out the side flap also pulls his butt down and out. With the flaps out of the way you get a little less than 90 degrees forward and about 45 degrees backward on a ratcheted universal joint, and just over 90 degrees laterally on a soft ratchet. His thighs swivel around the universal joint, and although you can't swivel them all the way around you can turn his legs 90 degrees in either direction, which is plenty. His knees are double-jointed, friction on top, ratcheted on the bottom. Part of his knee opens up to reveal a diecast piston inside. A lot of people think the knees are ugly, but they don't bother me, especially if you only use the lower joint. Again, both joints can do 90 degrees by themselves, and combined you get nearly 180. His toes can bend up and down, and there's a little play in his feel and the whole foot. Plus you've got about 90 degrees of ankle pivot.

    His rifle uses the standard MP method of having tabs on the handle fit into slots on his palms. His axe works sort of the same way, in that there's a handle that tabs into his palm, but it goes with it's chunk of spiked orb on the bottom of his fist. Then the part with the axe fits over the top. YMMV, but the tab on one side of the axe handle was longer than the other kept pushing out when I tried to put the axe on his left hand, but it works fine in his right hand.

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    If you're like me, you might be thinking that his axe is a little on the puny side. I don't usually pose my Primes with axes anyway, but if it really bothers you the axe from MP-10 will mostly fit around his fist.

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    Depending on the exact look you're going for, MS-01's smokestacks can slide up and down on his shoulders. I personally like the bottom of the stack to be roughly even with the shoulder, but in the cartoon it's often drawn reaching to nearly his elbow. The pipe at the top of the stack can slide in and out as well, so sliding the whole thing down doesn't leave him with short stacks.

    Like any good MP Prime you can open his chest and reveal the Matrix of Leadership inside. It is removable, and as Matrices go, it's ok. It's mostly diecast with silver and copper paint and a smooth translucent blue orb... I just happen to think that the Matrix that came with MP-10 had a better sculpt. And no, MP-10's doesn't fit in MS-01.

    Much ado has been made of the fact that, mostly due to his transformation, there's no Matrix cover besides the chest windows themselves. In hand, I do wish there had been some sort of cover, as the Matrix is visible through the windows, but it's not as bad as I thought it'd be.

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    Speaking of transformation, it's pretty smooth, intuitive, and enjoyable. In some ways, it's similar to MP-10's. His head still folds into his torso, although it goes in through the back instead of the chest. His lats still fold down and spin 180 degrees to bring out the tires, flaps on his back still ride those spinning lats to bring the headlights and the sides of the bumper forward. His waist still rotates 180 degrees, his toes still fold up, and his thighs still collapse into his lower legs. The differences are that there's more going on with the legs to bring out his rear tires and truck mode fuel tanks, the piece with the headlights and bumper is has more of the cab front on it, and panels unfold from his arms to fill in the sides of the truck. Also, there's no faux grill. The grill and Matrix chamber pull out, the Matrix chamber spins around to reveal the bumper, and then the whole thing rotates 180 degrees and pushes back in.

    The truck mode is ok, overall. The cab loses some of MP-10's details like the rivets and the ladder by the fuel tank, but the fuel tank isn't squished like it is on MP-44. Plus, unlike TE-01 and MP-44, MS-01 retains the stripe on the cab. I know some people want it gone in the name of cartoon accuracy, but I think the cab looks unfinished without it. Unfortunately, behind the cab things are a bit of a mess with a hitch section that's very obviously robot legs. I don't think he's any worse than MP-10 in that regard, but I can't argue that Transform Element looks way better back there than Magic Square.

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    The overall dimensions between the MS-01 and MP-10 are fairly similar, with MS-01 being slightly shorter top to bottom and front to back, but nearly identical in width and overall length. Like MP-10, MS-01 has rubber tires and chrome on the stacks, grill, wheels, bumper, and fuel tanks. It's worth mentioning that the side mirrors on MS-01 don't feel as good as MP-10s, and one has even popped off on me, but aside from those mirrors MS-01 fits together better than MP-10.

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    One thing I find odd about MS-01 is that the instructions have you turn around part of the vents on his shins, revealing a flatter surface with a pair of tabs per leg. The tabs don't work with MP-10's trailer; all you can do is kind of perch the trailer on him, and even then it's a little too high. Yet skipping that step doesn't hinder anything else. You can get the same truck mode without flipping those panels around. So why'd MS do it? Why have those four little tabs? Could MS be working on a trailer for MS-01 at a later time? I've skipped buying trailers for GT-03 Op Ex and both Fans Hobby's Laser Optimus and Scourge figures, and would honestly have preferred if MS-01 worked with MP-10's trailer. But if the price is reasonable I could probably talk myself into buying an MS trailer for this guy.

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    Sometimes it's the little touches that get me. You have to undo the sides a little, but you can open the cab on MS-01 just like you can with MP-10 and the G1 toy. Unlike MP-10, though, you don't see the back of his head. Instead there's a little centered seat, painted in black. That's absolutely an homage to the molded seat left in the G1 toy for a Diaclone pilot, and I love it even if I don't have any Diaclone reboot guys to stick in there.

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    One last thing to mention. Due to how the panels in his arms unfold and lay against the side of the cab, you can pull his doors open. Looks pretty cool from the front, but from the side there's just a wall of red behind the door.

    2019 looks like it's going to be bringing us not one but three excellent MP-style Optimus Primes. None of them are absolutely perfect, though, and it's mostly small subjective details that make the most difference. I know some people prefer the cartoonier look of TE-01 and MP-44, but I hate the white thighs and pelvis on both, I really hate the backpack on MP-44, and while I could live with the lack of a thigh swivel on TE-01 it still bothers me more than anything on MS-01. Some have criticized MS-01 for being too similar to MP-10, but I honestly think that's a strength. I loved MP-10, and MS-01's improvements to articulation and changes to the legs and the overall proportions fixed my biggest complaints with it. There's also the fact that most of you probably already have MP-10, and even with its flaws you might be thinking it's good enough that you don't want to replace it. And that's fine. All I can tell you is to take a look at the options. If you think TE-01 looks better, maybe go for it. Even with MS-01 in hand I'm still thinking about grabbing one. But if you like the way it looks you'll probably be happy with MS-01, and I personally think it's inexpensive enough that it's worth buying to replace MP-10, so I recommend it.
     
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  2. God Orion

    God Orion Well-Known Member

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    Very good review! That convinced me I made the right choice buying TE01. That is because I already have a MP10. Well MPP10 that is
     
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  3. Rewind

    Rewind Rewound

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    Great review! I'm even more excited to get mine now.
     
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  4. zfarsh

    zfarsh Big Penguin Chief

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    Nice Write-Up, thanks for sharing
     
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  5. PurpleAndBlackSmokeStacks

    PurpleAndBlackSmokeStacks Well-Known Member

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    Nice write up. I have TE-01 and really like it, but I am still thinking about picking this up at some point in the future.
     
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  6. sonifire

    sonifire New Member

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    danger now I'm even more confused on if I should get ms-01 or TE-01, very good review.
     
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  7. HunterRose

    HunterRose Well-Known Member

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    Great Review mikeszekely!
    I got mine late last night and he's beautiful in Robot mode. Haven't transformed him yet. But I'm plenty happy with it so far.
     
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  8. sonifire

    sonifire New Member

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    I'm actually starting to want mp10, idk why but I do now.
     
  9. Galvatron super

    Galvatron super Member

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    I have the toy and love it! the waist bothers me though ...