Tomopop Review: Brick Label Masterbrick MB-01 Metalhide


At last, brick bots done right

The great thing about LEGO bricks is that they can be used to build as simple or complex as you want. They're a lot like clay in that sense. Sure, anyone can make a simple LEGO box, or clay flower pot, but in the hands of someone with true talent you get something amazing. Metalhide from Brick Label is that something amazing. They've gone and made something that even Hasbro has yet to do: Take a number of bricks and turn them into a very large and impressive robot that can transform into a vehicle mode without any part swapping or shellparts.

Follow me after the jump to see just what a great imagination and an excellent head for engineering can build!

Figure Name: Masterbrick MB-01 Metalhide
Figure Maker: Brick Label
Retail Price: US$119.90
Available at: BrickLabel.net

I'll just go ahead and say it: Brick Label's MB-01 Metalhide really is the 'Masterpiece', or as they put it, the Masterbrick, of transforming brick robots. LEGO has done countless robots over the years, but none of them really transformed to my knowledge. Mega Bloks has done a lot of transforming robots, but they've all had relatively simple changes. Over in Japan Takara Tomy did an OK job on an Optimus Prime in their DiaBlock line, but it had extremely simple features and transformation. They've also just released some Transformers in their Nanoblock line, but those don't transform either.

Then there's Hasbro. By all rights Hasbro should be making some of the best transforming brick toys around, but they continue to come up short. They started in 2003 with their short lived Built to Rule line featuring characters from Transformers: Armada. BTR wasn't the greatest thing, but they showed promise being able to transform. The 2011 Kre-O line should have been a huge step up, but instead was a step back thanks to being non-transformable. Hasbro did announce some new Transforming Kre-O figures back at San Diego Comic Con, but they've gone back to being extremely simple.

So now it takes a third party to step up and show the big guys how it's done. This is a fully articulated, fully transforming, and pretty darn huge figure. I wont bore anyone with lots of details on the assembly. The instructions are very well detailed, full colored, and show the parts from different angles as you go so you know you're building the pieces right the first time. You're dealing with a lot of parts, so be sure to give yourself a lot of room to work. He's made using 100% genuine LEGO bricks so you're getting quality parts here.

There's a lot of things to be impressed about with this figure when its completed, its size being among them. Standing at about 10 inches tall this is a lot of bot! You'll also notice that he's very streamlined with very little kibble. This is a true transforming figure so he has a lot of small pieces that bend and fold out of the way. His 'backpack', which is barely anything, is a set of armatures that extend his wheels to the front a back of his van mode and doesn't contain much in the way of visible vehicle parts. It's a very creative solution to the alternative of having wheels hanging off his arms and legs.

Articulation is as good as any Transformer. He has a lot of flexibility; not all Transformers can do splits like this. His feet also have some articulation for added balance and there's a swivel below the knee. The knees are more or less double jointed so the range there is good. There is a little forward restriction in the hips, but there's more than enough to get by.

There's also a ball jointed abdomen so there's plenty of range there. The backpack doesn't connect directly to his upper torso so it isn't very restrictive. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, and have a swivel in the body so they can pivot in and out some. He also has articulated fingers. They're simple, but he doesn't really need to grasp anything so they serve their purpose.

His head is neat. Sure, it doesn't look like Ironhide, but this is Metalhide, a homage to the G1 character so it gets a lot of leeway there. It's very creative, getting its shape from folding pieces together like a box rather than stacking them as you'd expect. It gives the head some neat angles that you couldn't normally get otherwise.

For weapons he has to guns that fold out from his wrists. On his right side is a red and yellow heat ray, and on the left is a blue and black ice ray. It's a nice call back to G1 when Transformers, including Ironhide, would replace their hands with weapons as needed. The ability to fold keeps them out of the way when you don't need them while also ensuring that you don't lose them.

He towers over most figures from other Transformers lines. Even next to the original Masterpiece Optimus Prime he almost looks like he's in proper scale. Obviously he doesn't fit in aesthetically with other Transformers lines, but it gives you an idea of just where it lands on the robot scale. At 10 inches tall he stands about the same height as the most recent Masterpiece Optimus Prime.

As mentioned before he has a surprisingly complex transformation. Getting him into his van mode requires unfolding multiple parts on his back, arms, body, and legs. Everything tucks together nicely and thanks to tiny connecting pieces that line up perfectly you get a a pretty sturdy vehicle. As an added bonus: Rubber tires! Love rubber tires. You can also flip the weapons up from the back over the top to be used in vehicle mode!

He's pretty compact in this mode and suddenly is closer to scale with the smaller scale Masterpiece line. Of course he's still pretty massive compared to the original. All in all it's miles above Hasbro's Kre-O Ironhide.

The last point I want to make is the price. I know, US$119.90 is a lot of money, but consider a few things. First off, LEGO bricks aren't cheap, not even remotely. Just walk into the brick aisle of any store and check out the prices on the little LEGO boxes. Now think about the prices that third party Transformers typically go for. A five inch third party Transformer will often go for around this price. Then consider the engineering. Sure, the parts already exist, but it can't be easier to sort through hundreds (thousands?) of LEGO parts to find the right one than it is to build the parts yourself. I think the price is pretty much what you would pay for a similar set sold at mass retail. 

So to recap: Easy to build, massive bot mode, no kibble, great articulation, complex transformation, good looking van mode, and rubber tires. This is a total package for fans that love LEGO, and were greatly disappointed by Hasbro's poor attempts at Transformers block toys. Metalhide is Brick Label's first release, but far from their last. Soon they should be showing off their second figure, Windstorm, a tribute to Powermaster Dreadwind!

[ A big thanks to Brick Label for sending over the review sample! ]

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Brick Label: Masterbrick MB-01 Metalhide reviewed by Jeremy Emerje Crocker


Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Jeremy Emerje CrockerAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Jeremy Crocker here, probably better known around the net as Emerje, I'm an associate editor here at Tomopop. I've been an avid figure collector my entire life. There's no time when I can remembe... more + disclosures


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