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Series: Masterpiece
Allegiance: Cybertron
Year: 2014

Japanese Bio: Let's say Go!
500,000 years ago the Cybertron Army Commander faced a grave challenge; Deathsaurus, who aimed to become the new Emperor of Destruction, threatened the galaxy with his Space Fortress. He was eventually overcome and sealed in the Dark Nebula. The Galactic Peace Alliance was formed in the 21st Century and Star Saber was appointed Commander in Chief of the Galactic Defence Force. Not feeling that he was worthy to lead others, he consulted with his good friend God Ginrai. Now the new Destron Commander, Deathsaurus escaped the Dark Nebula and attacked Sector One, with the aim to steal the Earth's energy.

Star Saber is a Brainmaster containing the Brain of Courage within him; this feature allows him to power up his courage. Transforms into a large jet which can separate into a smaller fighter jet "Saber" and also the "V Star". His weapons include the Saber Blade which can generate light rays and force fields; the Saber Laser gun unleashes a powerful laser. He has head mounted Photon Vulcans and his shoulder proton missile launchers fire an array of Ground Blasters and Psycho Missiles. He is the best swordsman in the universe and has a passion for justice and confidence in his abilities. He usually has a good natured personality but does have a severe side to him brought on by the weight of his responsibility and has an unrelenting attitude towards evil. Highly thought of by the Earthlings, it is a relief when they see him come to the rescue.

Dr. Minakaze's ship was attacked by Destrons as it was on an exploration mission to Mars. Star Saber was only able to rescue his new born child Jean. He became Jean's parental guardian and looked after him with a fatherly kindness.

(Translation from Japanese by Jeremy Barlow of Soundwaves Oblivion Blog)

Robot Mode: We will start with the smaller of Star Saber’s two robot modes, simply called Saber. Saber is a robot somewhere between Deluxe and Voyager in size, so he fits in nicely with your C.H.U.G. figures. Look-wise he is a classic 80s-era Transformer and his colors – white, red, and blue – clearly mark him as one of the good guys, too. Saber is also the spitting image of the robot we saw on the TV screens during the Victory cartoon series, a lot more than the original G1 Saber robot ever was. He is nicely articulated, looks very detailed, and is just an all-around good-looking robot.

Saber is a so-called Brainmaster, a gimmick similar but not quite like a Headmaster. His chest opens up to unveil room for a small figure called ‘Brain of Courage’, which (according to the Victory cartoon) is the actual character with the larger body just being a power-up / extension. Once inserted, closing the chest plate causes Saber’s face to slide up into the previously empty helmet. For the original G1 toy the face was actually part of the smaller Brainmaster figure, here it’s part of the bigger figure and just pushed upward by the Brainmaster. Either way, a pretty good gimmick which you can either utilize or ignore. It does improve upon the Headmaster gimmick in that the head can’t easily come loose and be lost.

Saber comes with a number of weapons. He carries the nose of his jet mode on his left arm as a kind of shield, he can wield the so-called ‘Saber Laser’, a grey rifle, and there is a smaller version of the bigger blade he carries in his super mode, complete with a smaller hilt. Of course Saber can also wield the bigger sword. The nose of his jet mode becomes the hilt for that one and a very long blade (compared to Saber’s smaller stature) goes on top, making for a vastly oversized sword. Personally I think the smaller blade fits much better here, but to each his own.

Overall Saber is a well-done robot with no flaws worth mentioning and a perfect depiction of the robot we saw (sparingly) in the Victory cartoon. Whether you like the Brainmaster gimmick or not is subjective, of course, but even if you don’t, the figure isn’t hindered by it in the least.

Alternate Mode: Saber transforms into a red fighter jet of no particular model. It’s not quite a science fiction style vehicle, but not based in a real fighter, either, to my knowledge. Saber basically lies down on his stomach, tucks in his arms and legs, and puts the jet nose / saber hilt on his head, done. The resulting jet does look pretty good, though, with barely any undercarriage, a working landing gear, and a cockpit that opens up to unveil room for his Brainmaster figure to sit in. Very nicely done and no complaints.

Saber’s jet mode can combine with the V-Star - his ‘trailer’ so to speak - into an even bigger jet. The smaller jet folds down the rear fins, folds up the wings, and slides into the opening at the front of the V-Star. Now we are firmly in science fiction territory, of course, as this is clearly more of a space ship than a real flying machine, but it looks very, very cool. The V-Star adds not just mass, but also additional weapons to the jet mode. The two big guns on the sides serve as main armaments and can flip open to unveil missile launchers. The Saber Laser can be mounted on top of the jet for additional firepower. Also, both the long and short blade for Star Saber are stored inside the V-Star and it has a working landing gear as well. And finally, Star Saber’s big shield serves as a display stand for the big jet. Bottom line: a beautiful, massive flying machine and here, too, a spitting image of the jet mode we saw in the cartoon. Two thumbs up.

Worth mentioning (barely): Star Saber also has something resembling a base mode. It was never seen in the cartoon and isn’t mentioned in the instructions, but you can unfold the V-Star in much the same way as Powermaster Optimus Prime’s trailer for a kind-of, sort-of base mode. It looks terrible, so I refrained from taking any pics, but it’s there, so I wanted to mention it. Moving on.

Super Mode: In many ways Star Saber is very similar to the previous Japanese good guy leader Ginrai (aka Powermaster Optimus Prime). A smaller figure with a Master-gimmick unites with a trailer / add-on to form a much bigger super mode. It’s even mostly the same design, as the smaller robot folds up into a square to slide into the bigger robot’s empty chest. Of course the two robots look completely different, but the similarity kind of struck me.

The bigger robot is Star Saber, of course, the main reason to get this figure at all. This is how Star Saber looked in the majority of the Victory cartoon. A really big guy (he was the same size as the combiners Dinoking and Leokaizer), he towered over most others and couldn’t have looked more 80s Anime if he tried. And where the original G1 Star Saber toy was kind of blocky, Masterpiece Star Saber is tall, lean, and fully articulated to boot. Articulated to the point that he can unhinge his shoulders in the back, so as to better wield his big sword two-handed.

Apart from the iconic look, Star Saber also features every single gimmick the original figure and the cartoon characters ported. His helmet unfolds from the back on a small arm, but the arm features a snap-release mechanism, so he can turn his head with the helmet on. He can store both his laser rifle and his sword hilt on his back (the blades being stored inside scabbards in his shoulders) and even the big shield can be put back there (though not at the same time as the sword hilt). And while the laser rifle looks awfully small in Star Saber’s hands, the big sword just looks awesome when he wields it.

Which brings us to the one tiny flaw this figure has, though: the hands. Or maybe the sword handle, take your pick. The point being that Star Saber can hold his sword one- or two-handed, but the long sword handle doesn’t really fit solidly into his hands. He can hold it, it doesn’t fall off or anything, but something like a tiny peg to put it firmly into his palm wouldn’t have gone amiss, I must say. Still, it’s a really tiny flaw on an otherwise perfect figure. This is Star Saber from the cartoon, no doubt. One of the greatest Transformers figures ever. Two thumbs up and a big, big smile.

Accessories: Apart from the various weapons and add-ons, Star Saber also comes with a Masterpiece Collectors Coin in a cardboard box. Said box resembles Star Saber’s chest, both of them. Flip open the Star Saber styled chest to unveil the Saber styled chest, underneath of which is the coin. The front side shows Star Saber’s head, the back side his super jet mode. While not something I would necessarily have needed, it’s a nice little extra.

Remarks: When the original Transformers cartoon was already long over, the Japanese continued the TV adventures of the Autobots (Cybertrons) and Decepticons (Destrons) in their own exclusive cartoons. First came Headmasters, then Masterforce, and in 1989 we got Victory, which once again featured a new supreme commander for the good guys. His name: Star Saber. Star Saber was the quintessential Japanese good guy leader: fearless, kind, super competent, utterly flawless, a father figure, and, of course, a walking bundle of power ups, super modes, and combinations. Still, I very much liked the look of Star Saber in the cartoon and was overjoyed to get the original toy (or rather a very good knock off of it) a few years back. I was even more overjoyed when Star Saber was selected in a fan poll to get a Masterpiece incarnation. I was... well, not overjoyed, but at the very least interested, when Star Saber recently made his first western media appearance in the pages of the IDW comics, where is a very different kind of character, being portrayed as a religious crusader.

Side note: while the Japanese release of Masterpiece Star Saber gets a profile text based on Saber’s role in the Victory series, the limited Australian release gets an English-language bio based on his role in IDW. So whichever version you prefer, Star Saber aims to please. Also of note: the decision to give him a different profile text for Australia spawned a tremendous outrage in a certain Transformers fan forum because apparently it constitutes a massive “fuck you!” to Japan, Japanese culture, and all Japanese people in general. Whether any actual Japanese people were involved in said outrage is unknown to me.

As for the toy, I can only say this: brilliant. The original Star Saber toy was cool, but was a product of its time, meaning blocky and with only rudimentary articulation. Masterpiece Star Saber, on the other hand, is the spitting image of the animated character we saw in the Victory cartoon series. He has the look down pat, features all the gimmicks, is fully articulate, and just plain awesome. Just about the only negative thing I can think of is that he either needs better hands or a better sword handle for the big Saber Blade, so he can hold it better, but that’s pretty much it. Otherwise, a superb Transformers figure. Fully recommended to everyone who is even remotely a fan of the Japanese G1 cartoons and characters.

Rating: A
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