Masterpiece Lambor Toy Review

in 2013, Action Figure Review, Cybertron, Generation One, Masterpiece


General Information:
Release Date: January 2013
Price Point: $80-90 (depending import on retailer)
Retailer: Japanese Exclusive
Accessories: Rocket launcher (non working), Rifle, Piledrivers (flat) x 2, Piledrivers (extended, Amazon Japan exclusive), Collector's Coin (Asian Exclusive)

*Images denoted with an asterisk are from the Amazon Japan web site:

General Images:

*Image courtesy of BWTF Sponsor Image Anime.
**Images from Japan.

Following the release of "MP-10", a new Masterpiece Optimus Prime from 2012, the "Masterpiece" line as a whole is now undergoing a revamp. Instead of focusing on die cast metal, rubber tires and designs with influences from various incarnations of characters, the Masterpiece line is now oriented towards creating cartoon accurate versions of our favorite robots in disguise from Generation One. Even better? The line is being designed so figures are in scale with each other, offering continuity from one figure to the next.

The first release of 2013 in Asia is Sideswipe. Known in Japan as "Lambor" (after his vehicle mode), Takara Tomy has chosen to use this name for this release instead of taking on the English name of "Sideswipe". Unlike previous Masterpiece releases, Lambor goes for the proverbial gold by being a licensed vehicle representing the car his G1 form was designed after: the Lamborghini Countach. The packaging design features the Lamborghini logo quite prominently, and the choice of sculpt is no mystery. By itself this sculpt can represent up to four different characters in five different color schemes that have appeared in the past including Sideswipe in G1 and G2 colors, Tiger Tracks, Deep Cover and Red Alert - all of whom have appeared as toys in one form or another in the past couple decades. This allows Takara Tomy (and potentially Hasbro) to maximize the value of the (presumably) hefty price they paid for the license.

Translations below courtesy of Doug Dlin.

Tech Specs:
MP-12 Cybertron Warrior LAMBOR
Motto..."I don't break the rules, I bend them—a lot."
Lambor is a warrior who prizes justice and is faithful to his mission. On the other hand, he will engage in dangerous activities to accomplish that mission with certainty. On Earth, he has the ability to transform into a Lamborghini Countach LP500S. He is also capable of aerial combat and can fight on par with the Jetrons in midair. Thanks to such reckless behavior, he is frequently in the care of the medic Ratchet.

Pamphlet Translations:
This Lamborghini Countach LP500S is Lambor's vehicle mode. It may be safely said that this pure red vehicular form, which is like the embodiment of his fiery, dynamic personality, has the most stylish exterior among the many Cybertron warriors who turn into cars. However, in direct contrast to his noble figure, Lambor's personality and driving are rough and rude, and he cannot bear a single scratch on his body. He is twin brothers with Sunstreaker, who likewise transforms into a Countach and dislikes getting scratches on his body, yet is his diametric opposite in temperament.

In emergencies, he will rush onto the scene with Commander Convoy and the others and support the commander. While he never jumps out into the vanguard of the troops, there are times when he has led his fellow Cybertrons.

In the overseas version of the line which developed in places like the U.S., the character's name was Sideswipe, meaning "to collide with from the side". When Transformers was localized into a Japanese version in 1985, however, he was christened Lambor, drawing inspiration from Lamborghini S.p.A., the company who produces the LP500S, and became an even more memorable character to the Japanese audience.

Motto..."I don't break the rules, I just bend them—a lot."
Lambor is dynamic, the kind who acts first and thinks later. If he has no way to move forward, he'll open one up personally. Seeing him cut through the vanguard, fearless of getting hurt, one could truly say he is a natural warrior. Even among his fellow Cybertrons, his physical strength is outstanding. By converting his arms into piledrivers, he can throw punches poweful enough to shatter boulders. While is a combat specialist, the potency and destructive force of his strength have often gotten him recruited for civil engineering-type duties.

He is also capable of high-speed flight, making him one of the few Cybertrons who can fight in the air on equal terms with the Destrons, who specialize in aerial assaults. He has also taken part in scattering the Destrons' forces by conducting preemptive strikes on their primary combat strength, Starscream.

For tactical activities, he frequently pairs up with his twin brother, Sunstreaker, who turns into a yellow Countach, and the aerial killing style from their combination is enough to put even the Jetrons into a predicament. Thanks to his recklessness, he is constantly being injured and is frequently in the care of the medic Ratchet.

[Translator's note: Yeah, this directly contradicts the lambor1.jpg's text about his attitude toward getting scratches. There's also a couple of typos which I only figured out from suggested alternate kanji on a Google search.]

A large launcher equipped on Lambor's left shoulder. Normally, it is standard-equipped with flares, which he uses nighttime aerial combat, but by altering the mount at its tip, it can be made to fire a variety of items, including live ammo, lasers, and streams of fire.

This flare gun is Lambor's favorite weapon. In addition to being able to shoot fire, he can attack with lasers as well when fighting back against the Destrons. In episode 7 of the original cartoon, "Rise of the Dinobots!" [U.S. episode 8, "S.O.S. Dinobots"], Wheeljack uses this flare gun, where it serves to cut through the energon chains holding Convoy's group captive.

As is the case with numerous other Cybertron warriors, Lambor's arms can change into weapons. These "pile drivers" are used in episode 59 of the original cartoon, "Mystery of the Insectrons" [U.S. episode 15, "A Plague of Insecticons"], when they burrow through bedrock. According to series setup, They can exert about 3.6 metric tons of pressure up to 5 times per second, and are particularly effective in close combat and in breaking through fortifications.

Vehicle Mode Images:

Vehicle Mode:
In the Generation One/G1 era, Takara (and later Hasbro) often played fast and loose with licenses and alternate forms. Many of the vehicle modes from the first couple years of G1 were replicas of existing vehicles but no licensing agreements were set up unlike years later when the Alternators would each require their own licenses with different car companies. One example of this was G1 Lambor, who was obviously a Lamborghini Countach but he wasn't officially licensed as a Lamborghini product. Now, almost three decades after the original figures' release, Lambor takes this form again but this time he's fully licensed. This grants the figure a bit of legitimacy while at the same time it forces the figure to adhere to a certain level of detail and accuracy to the real life vehicle it may not have had otherwise. As you'll see in this portion of the review, this winds up being a Very Good Thing.

First let's talk scale. Lambor has been made so he is in scale with MP-10 Optimus Prime from last year. This means he's smaller than that figure, but if you put the two side by side they roughly match up to how they appeared on the television show (keeping in mind that the TV show often played fast and loose with scale). In this form, he measures about 5.5 inches long (about 13.9 centimeters). This size puts him in a nebulous ground between the "Deluxe" and "Voyager" Class of figures. What this does allow him to do is fit in MP-10 Optimus Prime's trailer, which is pure awesome.

Now let's talk design. The Countach is often regarded as one of the most exotic and daring car designs of its time. Its futuristic appearance, low profile and unconventional construction is often loved be designers and hated by auto-engineers. The design of this figure carries over many of the vehicle's distinctive elements:

  • The overall shape is flat and sleek, with an origami inspired appearance that looks like something folded out of paper instead of constructed.
  • The front headlights have a distinct rectangular shape and placement unique to the car.
  • The front end of the vehicle has a fender section that breaks at two points for small lights.
  • The sides of the doors and the area behind the side windows both have distinctive air intakes, sculpted and designed based on the ones found on the real life vehicle.
  • The shape of the doors represents the "scissor" design of the doors, which swung up to open instead of out. The doors do not open on this figure however.
  • The sideview mirrors have a distinct cone shape in the front, leading to a round mirror on the sides.
  • The rear section features a heavy use of the trapezoid theme found throught the vehicle. Each of the rear lights features three "lights" against such a shape.
  • The rear spoiler is based on the one from the real life vehicle, with a wide, angled shape that comes to a point in the center in the front.
  • There are four exhaust pipes in the back, two on each side.
  • The wheels feature the distinct pattern of five circles on the sides found on the real life Countach.
  • On the front edge of the hood is a sculpted area for the Lamborghini logo, a shield shaped piece with bull inside.

The fidelity to the design is quite incredible and it shows that as accurate as the G1 vehicle was to its source material, having Lamborghini itself approve the designs makes a lot of different. It's not that the G1 design was bad, not at all, but the proportions of some of the parts on that figure were off compared to this one, which features them with much more fealty to the original vehicle.

Lambor is cast in red, black and translucent grey and clear plastic. Not only were these the classic "Lambor" colors from Generation One, but one of the many Countach models often photographed in real life is also red and black in color. Most of the panels on the vehicle are red, with smaller parts such as the wheels set in black. The windows are dark translucent grey and the clear plastic appears on the headlights.

To create a consistent appearance across the vehicle, red paint is used from front to back, which is a couple shades lighter than the red plastic the figure is cast in. Black paint fills in a lot of detailing including the front fender, the vents and even lines along the top part of the vehicle's rear section. White, silver, black and red are used together for lights in the front and back. Black paint is used for the words "Lamborghini" and "Countach" on the back, both printed in specialized fonts. Silver is used on the sides of the vehicle for the rims and a tiny bit of gold is found on the Lamborghini logo. The finishing touch is a large, tampographed Autobot symbol on the hood. The symbol is really a white outline of the Autobot symbol design, the red is "filled in" by the red paint used on the hood itself. Overall the visual of this vehicle is impactful and really looks amazing.

Lambor isn't just a pretty car however. He is a warrior after all so the figure has been set up so it can use its weapons in this form. Combine his rocket launcher with his rifle and use the black connector piece to connect the weapons to the top of the cabin section. There's a small rectangular section there that will push in and then spring back when the weapon is removed. It's a really nice piece of functionality to add into the figure.

As gorgeous and fun as this vehicle may be, it's not perfect. Over the last decade, fans have gotten enough "real life vehicles as Transformers" to know what is and is not possible. Many licensed Transformers have featured certain design elements including rubber tires, doors that open and in some cases, trunk and hood pieces that open. Many have also featured a detailed interior with a dashboard and seats based on the real life versions of the vehicle. Sadly, Lambor features none of these design elements. The rubber tire "loss" is clearly a cost cutting measure, most likely compounded by the need to pay for the Lamborghini license. The other features seem most likely sacrificed in the name of design. The Lamborghini is quite simply a very thin car and there's not a lot of "wiggle room" to hide robot parts in the frame of the vehicle. Almost every ounce of space is used up in this form by hiding the robot arms, fists, legs etc. Given that, it's not a total shock that some details like a steering wheel or seats would be missing, but I do find it disappointing.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons if attached and split them up, then set them aside for now.
  2. Swing each of the front wheels down.
  3. Swing each of the doors out to the sides to begin forming the robot arms.
  4. Rotate each of the arms out, then around and straighten them out.
  5. Swing up the panels on the forearms and swing out the fists, then close the panels.
  6. Lift up the cabin cover piece.
  7. Split the spoiler in the middle and swing each half up.
  8. Flip the car over and swing up the black panels towards the back.
  9. Rotate the rear wheel well sections around.
  10. Swing the inner halves of the rear lights up.
  11. Straighten out the foot pieces and swing out each heel piece.
  12. Align the black panel from the underside of the vehicle with the rear light panels to form the front of each lower leg.
  13. Swing the hood piece down, revealing the robot head. A tab on the piece above the waist connects to a matching gap on the hood section.
  14. Fold in each of the side windows on the cabin cover section, then push the piece against the back.
  15. Straighten out the arms and fists.
  16. Attach the rocket launcher to one of the sides near the shoulder.
  17. Place the rifle in either hand.

Robot Mode Images:

Robot Mode:
As much as the vehicle mode was made to look like the real life model, the robot mode of this figure was designed with the animation model in mind, and the results are pretty spectacular. In many respects, this is the "show accurate" version of Lambor fans have waited over twenty years for. The last time we had a figure this close in appearance, he was an Action Master and couldn't actually transform. Not so this time! This figure manages to represent the animation model very well, featuring key details of his G1 cartoon appearance including:

  • The head sculpt features the stylized appearance originally based on the G1 toy. There are "horns" on the sides of the head, a small central crest and vents on the side with a face inside the "helmet" section.
  • On either side of the head are rectangular shaped extensions, a detail sometimes downplayed (or removed altogether) in the animation model.
  • Like the G1 figure and his animation model his chest is formed from the front end of the vehicle mode.
  • His shoulder sections have a curved armor section that is beveled, a detail taken directly from the animation model.
  • His forearms have squared off sections on the top and inside, but curved on the outer part where it's made up by the car parts.
  • Lambor's mid-body leads to a waist section with a triangular detail in the middle.
  • Each lower leg has a six sided detail near the knees, often represented in the animation as a generic rectangle.
  • His rocket launcher features a targeting scope on top and two cone shaped pieces protruding from the back.
  • His rifle is a detailed version of the rifle seen on the TV show, including a long barrel and a rectangular base section.
  • Each lower leg has the vehicle mode wheels showing prominently on the sides with the bottom of the wheels pointing forward.

A lot of the details noted above were directly taken from the G1 toy and then modified for Lambor's animation model, thus a lot of common points between the G1 toy and this one can be found. However, while the G1 figure looked a lot like a robot with car bits all over him, aside from the wheels on his lower legs and maybe the car cabin section on his back, his other parts are all distinctly "robot parts". The designers did a great job of getting a lot of his vehicle mode bits hidden in this form, especially the front wheels and the way the cabin section cover panels all fold in and press up against the back. Overall I'm really impressed by ow this figure looks.

Lambor wasn't exactly the most hyper detailed character on the original G1 TV show, but this figure throws in some nice detailing for good measure. On the panel where his head is attached there are some raised, angled details. He has lines running across his forearms and thighs, matching up with similar details on the animation model. He also features a bit of extra detailing on his shoulder area with a circle and two lines on each. Again, the details aren't super rich, but they don't need to be given what this figure represents.

The same colors from the vehicle mode carry over here with the addition of white plastic. The colors match up with his animation model, with the red focused on the upper body and shoulders while black and white are the main colors on the rest of the figure. His face, rifle and feet are all silver along with the details on either side of his head. In a really nice bit of deco work and design, the forearms are white on the inside, but red on the outside and underneath, much like the TV show model.

Lambor has twenty five points of articulation. This includes six in each arm, waist articulation and five in each leg. You can strike some pretty dynamic poses with this figure and his joints are tight enough to keep him in those poses for display. He can hold his rifle in either hand and you can attach the rocket launcher into either hand. Swing his hands into the forearms and you can attach his piledriver accessories, which are based on the ones he used in the episode "S.O.S. Dinobots". If you ordered this figure via Amazon Japan, you would have gotten a different set of accessories which are more like jackhammer ends used by the character in "Dinobot Island Part 2".

Final Thoughts:
Masterpiece Lambor isn't a perfect figure, but he's definitely an awesome one. He represents both the Countach and the animation model extremely well and is definitely worth having as part of your collection. If you've never started with the "Masterpiece" line before, this is a good "jumping on" point. Recommended!