Articulation: 21 total points - swivel + hinge neck; 5 points each arm: Double jointed shoulder, bicep swivel, hinge elbow, swivel wrist; Waist swivel; 4 points each leg: Universal joint hip, thigh swivel, hinge knee.
Colors: Molded black, red, light grey, clear red; Painted silver, red, black, orange, purple, blue.
Accessories: Missile, small missile pod, machinegun
Release Data: Released in the United States in March of 2015 at a retail price of US$44.99
I was pretty surprised to find out this would be joining the Leader Class toys. We basically heard that Leader Decepticons toys were off the table entirely for the movie lines because they just don't sell enough. Leader Class Generations was kind of amazing enough on its own, but getting a new Megatron as the second toy in the assortment was really unexpected. One-upped immediately after with tell that Armada Megatron was the redeco for it. Still, it sort of fills a need. Hasbro got away with the Classics Nerf-Gun style Megatron at retail once, but apparently could never do so again. And while we had the Deluxe Megatron last year, that was far from a typical G1 representation, not to mention being quite tiny. I kinda feel like they might have overcorrected with this though...
While I may not be all that sure how I feel about a Megatron this big, I can't deny that's rather well realized visually. There's a slightly more complex level of detail than you'd get with a Voyager equivalent, but with the extra surface space to spread over the figure doesn't look in any way cluttered. The balance of design style and sculpting is maintained against ending up overly busy. There's a good sense of economy of detail all over the robot mode, and it ends up looking really good in the final result. And the deco just builds on that. The majority of the toy is coated in a very nice silver paint. There are extremely few places where you ever get to see the base plastic color of the main body. The silver has just the right quality of shine to it without overpowering everything. I tend to dislike using this as a descriptor but this level and quality of paint makes the toy feel a little more "premium" than if most of this had been done through the use of "silver"-colored plastic.
Megatron is far from the most complex design to revisit, especially if you take many cues from the cartoon model. It's one of the most stacks-of-boxes, so it's not only easy to reproduce but there's plenty of room to play around in that framework. And I think it's especially interesting how much they tried to stay to that model in a figure that would become a tank.
The headsculpt has been something questioned on and off since the reveal, and all I can say is that it works well in person, but doesn't always photograph favorably. There's something about the face where in three-dimensions it looks good reliably, but sometimes something gets lost in the photos and it alternates between chimpanzee and old woman. Just know that you don't get that from it in person. It is in fact probably one of the best takes on the traditional Megatron face that we've gotten, certainly putting the Masterpiece to shame in terms of resemblance. The helmet shape is about as spot-on as I could ask for, the triangle design on the forehead is done correctly, and while the face is a little more detailed, it's in a way that's to the benefit of the appearance and strengthens it in looking like cartoon Megatron. Think of it kind of like what Megatron would have looked like using the same general model but with a higher budget animation house. What's really great is how the sculpt manages to keep the head and helmet looking separate enough to reinforce that they're not all one piece. There's a subtle layered effect so it looks like the face is set inside, and that's probably the final key in it looking so good. Megatron has lightpiping with a nice shade of clear red plastic. Sadly it's not the best at evenly transmitting light and in normal conditions you're probably going to end up with an uneven and kind of dull glow. I expect the majority of people would disagree on this, but I kind of wish it would have had toy accurate yellow eyes since they would probably have glowed more effectively. On the other hand, the red eyes look so good in the overall deco, it's hard to imagine having another color in there and it looking good.
Megatron has his fusion cannon, whether you initially think so or not. Basically the arm cannon has two ends: the missile launching end that's used for tank mode and Armada Megatron, and the other end which while shallow has a large bore opening that is quite consistent with G1 Megatron's fusion cannon. The cannon is attached on a hinged plate and has a swivel. The swivel lets you decide which end you'll use, and the hinge gets it all out of the way so Megatron's elbow can still work. Laid flat, the cannon fully blocks the movement of the elbow. The cannon can't flip all the way around to lay flat against the side of the arm, but the position it can take isn't nearly as strange or wrong looking as the description of the process would probably make it sound. And if you absolutely have to have it flipped all the way over, you can by closing the forearm panel. Of course in the process you pretty much lose the fist entirely, so that's a trade you have to accept if you're really passionate about what side of the arm the cannon seems to be attached to. The only thing particularly missing relative to the cartoon design is the barrel sticking up behind the shoulder. There's not much of anything you can do about that, and I have tried to work out options with what the toy comes with, but short of complicated and permanent modification, that's just not going to happen.
Finally apart from all the overt, upfront details to give the toy the best accuracy to its source material as it can, there's one that's generally hidden and rather more obscure. When you pop up the chest panel as is required for transformation, on the inner torso structure you'll find an odd half-sphere in the abdomen. This is a detail taken from an episode of Beast Wars and represents Megatron's spark casing. Admittedly the seam lines are running in the wrong orientation, but I'm not gonna let something that nitpicky be held against it. The fact is we got a visual element from one episode of a cartoon from like fifteen years ago that relatively few people would even know what it was without being told. That's pretty fantastic if you ask me, and is a great finishing touch for the robot mode's visual design.
Things start to not go so well for the robot mode when we look at the articulation. Now don't take me the wrong way, there's some good stuff in here. The neck I particularly like for being a combination swivel and hinge joint and actually providing a substantial looking neck as well as a good ability to tilt backward and forward. On some level I might have liked side-to-side tilt, but I can easily live without that when it comes down to it. The shoulders might be the first place someone will see an issue. For one they seem a little bit low-set on the torso. This is another thing that can be exaggerated by photos and look worse than the reality. In truth I haven't given this a lot of thought in general practice. The shoulders have a great range of movement, with ratcheted swivels front and back, and some leftover room around transformation joints lets the shoulder pitch forward and backward a little bit.
The elbows ratchet to a 90 degree bend below a smooth swivel joint, and the wrists swivel as well. Be sure the fists are oriented properly with the back of the fist facing out from the body or else the arm panels won't be able to close over them correctly. I could kind of wish for more joints in the arms. A double elbow might be nice, but I'm not sure how much specific use I'd get out of it with the arms being so bulky like they are. If anything I think I'd want to get rid of the wrist swivel and replace it with one at the top of the forearm so the raised panel can be moved out of the way. Now naturally a swivel there and at the the wrist would be ideal, but in a parts count pinch, the forearm swivel can accomplish the same action as a wrist swivel while offering a greater general benefit.
Megatron does in fact have a waist swivel. It's on the stiff side, and happens to also be the one casualty of the existence of the backpack. If you keep all of that down where it stays out of sight and doesn't hurt the robot's overall appearance, it's close in enough on the body to stop the waist from moving. So to make use of that you will have to raise the backpack some and keep it there until you don't have the body turned anymore. I'm just as inclined to ignore it. My Megatron has that so stiff it take s a great deal of effort to move at all, and I think I put a higher priority on keeping the backpack unintrusive than I do on pitching the torso this way or that.
There's a nice hidden thigh swivel, and there's mechanical detail sculpted in the hip joint side of the thigh that's revealed when you turn the swivel. But the thigh swivel can only turn a short distance before being stopped, and since there's no identifiable obstruction on the outside, I'm left to think that the joint itself has a stop put on it to actively prevent it from going beyond this point, and again I'm left asking why.
The transformation is just involved enough to feel satisfying to do while
staying simple enough that it's very clear what goes where and how it gets
there. Some finer points might need a little extra scrutiny, but there's not
really anything that you won't be able to work out on your own. There's one
part that's not obvious on its own, where the robot's pelvis flap tabs in at
the back to fill out the surface of the tank more. It has the most vague hints
of any element, though they are there if you look for them. There's a lot of
places where things click together which I appreciate, and the tank ends up
coming together with a good feeling of solidity. It's really pleasant to take
through the process back and forth.
In a time when we're used to the idea of Transformers compressing significantly and vehicle modes being much smaller than their robot forms, Megatron breaks away from the trend. The tank is very large just as the robot was, in a way that makes it stand out nicely. I don't have my original G2 Megatron handy to compare directly, but this Megatron's tank mode feels similar in size to how I remember G2 Megatron. It might be causing regret in me that this toy does not shout "Megatron attack!" when you smack it in the head now that I've made this realization.
What's interesting to me is that in transforming, you go from a robot that has just the right amount of detail to not look cluttered to a very visually busy vehicle mode. Like getting toys that are able to change their colorscheme between modes, it's a nice extra touch in transformation to really distinguish the two forms by hiding a lot of detail sculpting in one or the other mode. But while there's a lot more going on visually, it's all appropriate detail. There's reactive armor plates all along the sides, riveted panels (and consequently plenty of panel seams), vents, hatches, and more. It's all stuff that belongs on a tank. It's busy, but it looks right because a lot of attention was paid to getting the right details in there. More of note in this mode than the robot, there are 5mm Mini-Con-style hardpoints on the tank - needed for the Armada variant of the figure but still usable by this version. They're one of the only places we see the natural plastic color, a similar light grey to the structural, unpaintable plastic that was on the knees.
There's a couple places where the visual aspect of the tank doesn't work out
that well. Majorly the turret is split in half with the cannon running through
it. It's not especially uncommon on tank mode Transformers, but given the size
of this toy it stands out more and is more unfortunate that steps couldn't have
been taken to disguise it and get the turret looking more solid. For as much
attention was put in to making the rest look good and realistic, this stands
out all the more in not being able to have some panel cover and close things
in. The other spot is the specific call out I made during transformation, where
the pelvis of the robot clips in and fills out the back end. That piece is
black plastic, where the rest of the drive base of the tank is silver or
occasionally light grey. It is also surrounded by the knee joints, which are a
separate, if similar light grey. So the area this piece occupies is an
intersection of four plastic colors, plus silver paint. It stands out. It
really stands out. There's a 5mm peg joining the other Mini-Con hardpoints, but
aside from that the whole upward surface is the hollow side of the pelvis armor
and the reinforcing walls, so it doesn't even look solid here. There's also the
most visible gaps between parts in this area, where the rest of the tank has a
generally solid appearance even where different parts come together. I get what
they tried to do, and I appreciate the consideration given to trying to fill
things in so a big empty space wasn't left at the back, but... it looks better
empty. If you don't clip the pelvis in and fold it down as far as it'll go, it
stays out of sight from above and the absence of surface back there doesn't
seem wrong. I had it that way by accident the first couple times I transformed
Megatron and thought everything looked fine. And even better after now seeing
how it's supposed to be.
Megatron also has two small arms. One is a tiny missile battery - theoretically five tubes, but one is lost for function's sake. The other is a machinegun. The machinegun has a tab on the back that fits a slot on the front of the missile pack to let them become a bigger rifle. Generally this just makes it more convenient to handle these weapons in robot mode so you don't need to figure out how to house both individually. I imagine there's a component of that in this function anyway, since this lets you have both weapons carried in one hand - probably the left because it should seem silly to anyone for Megatron to be carrying a gun in the same hand his giant cannon is strapped to.
Ultimately these pieces are more for the sake of the tank mode anyway. The missile battery especially is scaled better to fit in with the tank and is of the style you could expect to find on real tanks. The machinegun is an appropriate inclusion too, though it's way oversized compared to the machinegun station on a real tank. But compromises so it actually looks reasonable being carried as a weapon by the giant robot. The tank looks fine without these accessories attached, but adding them to the ports on the back corners of the turret finishes off the look of the vehicle mode very nicely.
If you don't want to display the tank with the extra weapons but you don't want them just rattling around loose someplace, there's storage provided for. The robot legs have 5mm peg holes which are in just the right place in vehicle mode to let the weapons be plugged in and stay just above the plane of the tank treads so they won't affect the vehicle's ability to roll. Or skid. Of course, these same ports could be used to store the weapons in robot mode as well!
See, G1 Megatron being a gun had some of the decorative engraving you might find on a handgun, and so those swirled lines are represented on the stickers here in case it matters to you to have that on the robot's chest. But the chest is painted silver, and these lines are printed in big white rectangles of sticker, meaning they will never, ever blend in with the toy. There's also an extra vent detail sticker meant for the cannon, which doesn't exhibit so much problem.
But the way all of this came together seems very much to demonstrate some kind of miscommunication in production. It's reasonable to believe that if the plan was to have faction stickers that one wouldn't be painted on the toy in the first place. That's how it went with Whirl and Roadbuster, after all. And if that wasn't there, the stickers could have been printed on clear plastic to fully blend with the toy, including the chest lines. It would have worked great! But maybe a deco designer didn't get the memo, or a decision was overruled at a higher level, or who knows what? But the toy got stamped, and perhaps the only way to make the stickers work at all at that point was to request a change from transparent to opaque material without otherwise being able to make any changes. I can't see any other situation that explains this without making some - or multiple someones - seem alarmingly oblivious. On the other hand, this kind of choice almost just fits in with things like that cod piece, doesn't it?
But, setting anything else aside I'm kind of happy that I decided this toy didn't resemble the IDW design for Megatron nearly enough to want to use the Autobot stickers, since my sheet is cut off-center, so the border around all in faction symbols are very noticeably uneven. So I wouldn't have been able to use them anyway.
There's a lot I like about this Megatron, and a few things that bug me a whole lot. And it's not always easy for me to tell which side is winning. A lot of this toy feels like an exercise in having a specific idea of how something should look or work and pursuing that without regard for what it will do to the final whole. The pelvis plate is a good example of this where it seems like someone was determined to make sure the pelvis looked as much like the cartoon shape as possible no matter that doing that limits the poseability at the hips. The tank treads follow suit, they're an expression of wanting a certain look or feel to the toy, and they're pushed through even though they don't really work right and at the loss of joint mobility. But this same motive to achieve a specific look and style also gives us a lot of good in the design of the robot plus a largely great looking tank mode. There's so much that I like and enough that I hate that it drives me a little nuts.
I also have to consider the price and weigh my feeling that a toy this big and expensive ought not to have some of the basic problems that have appeared here. But even so, even while some things frustrate and annoy me quite a bit, I can't not like this toy. It's bigger than I'd ideally like a Megatron, but there's no denying that it gains some extra measure of looking really impressive as a result of the extra size. I'm going to give Megatron a Very Good on the Figurereviews Non-Numeric Scale because it's fantastic in representing the character, has a great vehicle mode, and the parts of the robot mode that work without restriction do so just fine. I can find enough good in it to come out positive. And depending how they might additionally redeco and remold it in additional uses, I don't think I'd have a problem buying it again.
|Date||March 19th 2015|
|Score||(8 out of 10)|
|Link||Leader Class Megatron Review Gallery|
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