Masterpiece Inferno
If official Takara releases didn’t come out at such a glacially slow pace, would third party companies be as successful as they are? I love most of the official figures, but literally can’t wait for them to release my favorite characters. The official Inferno figure checks all the cartoon aesthetics and handles the ladder backpack very adeptly.
Unlike Inferno or Backdraft who have actual ladders, Inferno has what amounts to a scaffold. Maybe this is how it is on real fire trucks? The not-ladder is on a ratcheted hinge that can reach just shy of ninety degrees, but it doesn’t swivel. It is composed of three sections that can only extend little more than the length of the truck. There is a flip out nozzle at the very end. There is also a silver handle next to the not-ladder, but it doesn’t swivel. He has lightly tinted windows, and headlight and grill details. Like the other two options, he also has hose and support details on either side. However, he doesn’t have panel details like Maketoys Inferno or chrome plating along the back like Ocular Max Backdraft. He also doesn’t have any paint applications. Screw holes are not visible from the side at least. He rolls just fine on three pairs of plastic tires. His rifle stores in the gap between his arms under the not-ladder or on top of the cab.
Transformation out of truck mode is very straightforward and satisfying. I love how the ladder compresses and folds away. His back is almost as clean as MP-10. I do wish the box, which his head sits in, would tab securely into place. The inner arm panels on both arms seem to keep popping open. I think I can keep them closed with a tiny dab of museum putty. Going back to truck mode was also easy. There is no fiddliness at all.
Like Masterpiece Ironhide before him, Inferno is a beautiful red from head to toe. The only paint application is a dash of yellow on his helmet and blue for his eyes. The line work is kept to a bare minimum and mostly to his upper body. He goes very well with Ironhide, but might seem a little simple next to MP-10 or any of the Autobot cars. As a whole, I really love the look. The face sculpts are done very well. He’s somewhere in between Hellfire’s pudginess and Backdraft’s sleekness.
His head is on a ball joint that sits on a hinge so he can look up and down quite a bit if you pull his head out on that hinge. The bucket sits on a swivel so it can turn independently from his head. It also has a double hinge I think that’s meant for transformation, but it’s there if you want it. His shoulders are on ratcheted swivels and hinges, and can raise to almost 90 degrees. He swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist, and thighs. His thumbs are fixed. The rest of his fingers are single-pinned and articulate as one unit. He has single-jointed elbows and knees, with ratchets in the knees. Both joints can get quite a ways past 90 degrees. If you disengage the tab, he also has an ab crunch. His hips are on ratcheted universals. I like how his hip skirts are simply integrated into his hips so you don’t have to fiddle with them separately. He has ankle rockers and ratcheted tilts.
Of the three Infernos available, this one takes the win on included accessories. He comes with his rifle, his hand nozzles, a hose, a plastic water spray, two widgets, two alternate front grills, an extra head, three alternate face plates, and a sheet of extra Autobot and fire department emblems. His rifle is a bit disappointing, being the smallest amongst the three Infernos and without any paint applications. It uses a Masterpiece-style tab that works well once you finagle it into place. He has one hand nozzle that is chrome and another that is white plastic. The hose and water spray are fun accessories. The hose is made of a soft, rubbery material. I couldn’t figure out if it were meant to plug into him somewhere. The nozzle can split open for some reason. The water spray can fit on the hose nozzle, his hand nozzle, the ladder nozzle, or his rifle. It’s made of soft, translucent plastic so probably won’t break. I think the two black widgets are communicators, but I’m not sure. They peg into his forearms and can be stored inside his left arm if you don’t have the fist folded in. You have the choice of a chrome or silver painted front grill. The third grill doesn’t have headlights, but has supports to cradle Red Alert so you can replicate that ending scene from Auto Berserk. The alternate head is rounder with his crests coming off at angles. In the cartoon, he had both designs, depending on the episode. You can swap the unhappy face for another unhappy face, a happy face, or a screaming face. If you use the rounder helmet, you can use the second unhappy face or the happy face, but not the first happy face or screaming face. The helmets and faces simply slide forward to come off.

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px ‘Helvetica Neue’; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px ‘Helvetica Neue’; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 14.0px} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} span.Apple-tab-span {white-space:pre}

I’ll be using Inferno on my Masterpiece shelf. He looks and feels great so there’s no reason for me not to keep him with the rest of his official brothers. I particularly love how the not-ladder disappears in robot mode. I’ve shuffled Hellfire and Backdraft to my secondary and tertiary Masterpiece shelves. Each of the three options brings a different aesthetic to the table and none have any screamingly bad engineering designs. Once again, I will have to wait impatiently for the next official Masterpiece figure and the nerd-rage-if-not-released Grapple, but that’s why I love third party companies.