Sunday, July 6, 2008
Transformers G1 - Targetmaster Stepper.
This here is a repaint and retooled mold of Autobot Jazz named "Stepper". It was once upon a time said to be one of the most sought after TF toy by fans and collectors. He was released back in 1987 in Japan as a Japan only exclusive Targetmaster partnered with Cyclonus's Targetmaster Nightstick. For some reason, Takara never released Cyclonus and Scourge as Targetmasters figure hence both their Targetmasters are given to "Stepper" and "Artfire" or "Autofire" a Japanese mispronunciation. Artfire is a retooled and repainted version of Inferno and he is partnered with Scourge's Targetmaster - Fracas. The picture above is the original packaging of the 1987 release of Stepper and according to a price guide book, this figure is once priced at USD $1000 Buckeroos!!!
So when the Takara book cover series announced it's release, i was overjoyed with glee and ordered 5 pieces of this very sought after baby.. or so i thought LOL!!! Apparently, this really cool figure is not known to most of the "So Called" local TF collectors and fans and is now perhaps one is the least sought after TF toy from the entire book cover series. Maybe the lack of an animated version of them might have caused this reverse effect from it's original release.
But no matter what it is with the masses... to me, this is still a gem to have in my collection no matter what. He is a sad example of how a once unobtainable figure is not appreciated when it is finally being made obtainable to every Tom, Dick and Harry. Imagine how hard it used to be to obtained such a piece back in 1987!!! There is no way for anyone around the world to know of it's release unless u r Japanese or u r a frequent visitor to Japan. That's the Pros and Cons of having the internet :P
Like all things Takara, Stepper comes with chrome parts and weapons. It's really a double edge sword when it comes to chrome parts. For one... it's very nostalgic to see chrome or die-cast parts for a toy as toys nowadays are majority made of 100% plastic, Only high end toys are made of die-cast and would probably cost u a pretty penny to obtain them. The cons however with a die-cast toy or toys with chrome parts and weapons is storing them properly so that it won't get scuffled or tarnished in time. Especially when u r not a "Re-Boxer" LOL... it's a personal term for someone who actually put his/her toys back into it's original packaging after he/she had taken it out to play or admire. But we all know that toy collectors never play with their toy collection, so the concept of it being a toy is somewhat moot LOL.
The above tech spec of Steeper is translated from it's Japanese text by this site. Here a different name is given to Stepper's Targetmaster, Instead of using the name Nightstick, it is named "Flashfire" a former Nebulan police sniper, which would make sense since he's a Targetmaster after all. Ricochet's tech spec is obtained from the same site as well.
Then in 2004, Hasbro released their version of Stepper naming him "Ricochet" in their Commemorative Series. Since i've already got 5 pieces of Stepper in my collection, i wasn't really very keen in getting Ricochet just becoz it was released under a different name and packaging.
The decision no to get it was a good one indeed as Hasbro really did a crappy job by first not giving it gold chromed weapons like that of Stepper's. To further lessened the appeal of Ricochet is the fact that it's got really long and awkward looking missiles. I mean... what gives?? Is Ricochet compensating for something else with really long missiles?? LOL
To wrap up this very technical review of Stepper, without much personal memories of owning this toy back in the 80's in the first place. I would recommend those of you out there who is actually thinking of owning this piece to go for the takara version aka Stepper and just completely ignore Hasbro's Ricochet. In terms of value for money.. Takara got chrome parts, better packaging and comes with a collectors card of the figure. Hasbro's packaging is made up of thin flimsy cardboard and the toy has chromeless weapons and ridiculously unsightly long missiles!!! LOL