Release info for Wheeljack was released alongside Bumblebee, if I recall correctly. People had been betting on a Masterpiece Bee since Starscream, but I’m sure Jackie here was much more of a surprise.
The paintwork is, for the most part, very clean. More importantly though, it’s held up so far between transformations and grinding parts, so I’m very glad to see that Takara didn’t skimp on the durability.
The cannon plug on the top of the roof is actually hidden fairly well, as it’s just a little cube that gets pressed inwards when you clip the weapon on. With Wheeljack’s pins and stripes paintjob, it blends in rather smoothly.
Jackie’s transformation is a bit more complex than the last few Autobots, I think. While his legs are pretty straightforward in how they form the front of the car, working the arms around his rear plate and clear fins can be tricky and almost terrifying given the aforementioned pieces are fairly thin and fragile.
I remember being a bit apprehensive when I first eyed the prototype pictures. He seemed a bit too thick up top with ultra-skinny thighs, but then I took a look back at the previous Autobots and realized that it’s been no different.
Wheeljack’s design and subsequently transformation differ quite a bit from previous Autobots in that his vehicle hood doesn’t actually make up his chest. He has a significantly slimmer side profile as a result (if we’re not talking the length of his shoulder cannon).
As always, these figures aren’t called Masterpieces without good reason. Jackie’s range of movement is fairly unhindered; we traditionally haven’t gotten more than 90-degree bends out of the limbs for most Transformers before, so this figure’s not falling short on any ends.
I really like how special attention is given to the neck joints for all these Masterpieces so far. Most Transformers I’ve come across use either a simple ball joint or a one-way swivel joint; these Masterpieces use the swivel at the base to allow for head turning and another joint on the back of the neck that allows the head to tilt up and down. Talk about not cutting corners.
I suppose it’s made up a bit with his shoulder cannon though. It can peg onto either the right or left sides, and has a neat little tilting function so Jackie can still get a line of sight with the big bulky thing right next to his head.
In what I can only assume to be a throwback to the ‘ol G1 toys, Takara decided to make the cannon two pieces – the “missile” is removable, but doesn’t actually feature a trigger/spring firing mechanism. It kind of just…comes out. I mean I guess?
Wheeljack’s a really solid figure, and exhibits all the quality we’ve come to expect as standard for Masterpieces of this caliber and class. I suppose he doesn’t have too much in play value, but these are more collector-oriented pieces anyway, so I’m actually pretty glad Takara isn’t forcing useless gimmicks or funky features into the figures and opting more for accuracy and authenticity to the characters.