The engineering alone in Laserbeak was enough to deserve the Masterpiece moniker in my book, and Soundwave is still my favourite of the MPs to date. With subsequent announcements and releases of the core cassette minions in MP-15 and MP-16, there was one obvious omission - Ratbat. Immediately rumours were started around if, how, and when Ratbat would be released, with the most valid being that with a Soundblaster repaint. And of course it didn't take Takara long to confirm the rumour.
Now when I started collecting the MP line, I had decided against getting the repaints, which by that time consisted of MP-9B Black Rodimus, MP-10B Nemesis Prime, MP-11S Sunstorm, and MP-12T Tigertrack. Do you see the pattern with just that list? Takara will repaint figures no matter what to ensure that the MP line remains profitable!
But again, I refused to fall for that trap.......until I saw the first colour teaser photos for Soundblaster and Ratbat. Effectively in one fell swoop, Takara hooked me on repaints from which I have no return!! As soon as I saw the photos, I knew I had to have it, and knew that meant I had to have the other black repaints as well to complement it in the display! So I ordered MP-9B and MP-10B that day, which turned out great because they look awesome! :)
I ordered Soundblaster with another black repaint, MP-12G G2 Sideswipe, and they both arrived together beautifully packaged from Robot Kingdom as usual. The box art for MP-13B is very similar to that of MP-13 as expected, with effectively the same accessories in their variant colours.
The set comes with the usual instruction booklet, collector cards, red Megatron, red energon cube, additional chest piece, alternate hand tool, and the clear case for Ratbat (not sure why they went with clear instead of the pink translucent plastic of the other minions).
As usual with the MP releases now, the collector coin is also provided, which is a really nice touch. It's very similar to the MP-13 coin, but with a darker gun metal shade and name.
But onto the figure, and what two amazing figures these are! The incredible Soundwave mold looks simply beautiful in black, although this time it's not a painted glossy black like MP-10B. Most of the colouring is just in black pastic, although the diecast feet are painted in the nice glossy black. But overall, it looks awesome.
One thing I really do like is that Takara fixed the slight mold issue with the mouth plate on the headsculpt. On all the Soundwave releases, the left side of the mouth plate had a weird indentation on the side, which is not present on this repaint. Another positive is that the eyes are a much brighter reflective red that the MP-13 Soundwave that I have. And up close, it just makes Soundblaster look frickin amazing! And yes, Soundblaster does have the silver crest on his forehead, unlike the early batch of MP-13 Soundwave that missed that little silver detail.
The chest plate however is something that I don't think too highly of to be honest. Here Takara tried to do the right thing in that the base chest cover is the red plastic, which is an homage to the original G1 repaint toy. However, it does not have the gold paint around the edge, and does not have the Decepticon insignia, which makes it look awkward.
The additional chest piece however does have the gold trim and insignia, and is a purple plastic as an homage to the way the character looked in the cartoon. So it's great that Takara catered for both looks, but since this purple chest cover is the add-on piece, it sticks out too far from the chest and so makes his chest look bulkier than it needs to. In the grand scheme of things, it's probably a minor quibble, but I would've preferred if they had the standard chest cover as purple with the insignia, and had the red cover as the add-on!
Articulation wise and all other aspects, the figure is pretty much identical to Soundwave. The hip joints are still their ridiculous tight configuration, so be careful not to overly stress those joints. The transformation between modes is fairly intuitive, not overly difficult, but with the right amount of engineering to make it enjoyable (unlike the MP-9 mold).
For Ratbat, he is a little engineering marvel just like Laserbeak was! In fact, I prefer Ratbat in that none of the joints felt fragile or loose or overly tight, unlike some parts of Laserbeak/Buzzsaw. I never felt I was close to breaking anything. The only joint that may be of some concern is the main joint to fold down the gold thrusters on his back - that felt the most vulnerable, but nowhere near some of the joints in Laserbeak.
The transformation again is fairly intuitive, and the way they designed how the thrusters integrate into the cassette mode is pure genius in a tiny little package. I love the headsculpt on Ratbat too, and the nice glossy black paint on his chest. In fact, the paint app overall is probably better than that on the MP-15/16 minions. I love Ratbat every bit as much as the others!
Soundblaster looks beautiful in alt mode, as you can see above. Mine did come with some paint blemishes, especially on the silver parts of the legs that become more prominent in alt mode since they form the front face of the cassette player. But overall, the paint app on Soundblaster is pretty decent.
Where the figure does shine of course is when it's displayed with the other black repaints. As you can see below, they complement each other beautifully, and I could not see my collection without any of them now that I've seen them up close.
So if you're on the fence still about getting MP-13B Soundblaster and Ratbat, my recommendation would be to get it for sure!! Ratbat alone is already asking for crazy prices on ebay, so soon it's going to be cheaper just to get the set here than trying to get Ratbat alone to complete your core cassette minions!
If you need further convincing, perhaps you can check out my two-part review on the Kool Kollectibles youtube channel! Head on over, have a look, subscribe, like, and comment with your own thoughts! :)
Video review - Part One:
Video review - Part Two:
So I hope you like my quick look at this repaint. I love it, and certainly highly recommend it to any Transformer fan :)