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Megatron - Generations Combiner Wars - Leader Class Figure

Height: 23cm

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

Author: ExVee



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...


Robot Mode

The thing photos don't prepare you for is the actual size of Megatron. Even having previously been around the Leader Jetfire mold and having a concept of the height and volume of toys at this price point, Megatron is still surprisingly big when you finally get to one in person. It's kind of a mixed result, because all at once you're impressed by the accomplishment in what must be one of the two biggest transforming G1-style Megatrons out there (the only bigger I can think of being the Masterpiece), but it can also cause some dismay. Megatron is simply SO BIG that when posed with the majority of other figures - meaning figures that are Deluxe or smaller - it begins to look just a bit absurd. Taking Megatron in comparison to Voyagers things feel a little bit better. Megatron is head and shoulders and then some over anyone at that size class, but that's a difference that reads more appropriately to me. If you want your Megatron to be the tallest single Decepticon on your Classics-family display space, this ought to satisfy that end.

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.

A slightly dark red plastic makes up some of the structural pieces and helps to set off the silver in the upper body by breaking up sections of silver. The working parts of the shoulders are red and give the chest and arms division, and red at the elbows subdivides the arms. Red paint that doesn't quite match the plastic color takes up the same effort in a couple of places. There's a great reciprocal element to this where the red highlights the silver while the colorlessness of the silver makes the red pop in return. It's a really simple thing but it makes the toy look so fantastic the way it comes together here. You get a little bit of additional paint on the chest for small details to both break up the silver and call out some characteristic design details for G1 Megatron that were recreated in the sculpt here. The only place you don't get any special paint involvement is the legs, and to be honest that lack is kind of apparent. While it didn't necessarily need to be more of the red, going off the lesson of the arms and torso, there needed to be something breaking up the thighs and shins visually. Everything on the lower body is either silver, light grey, or black. Some black could have done the job I'm looking for here, but the light grey of the knee joint itself doesn't have enough of a value difference from the silver to really help delineate the halves of the legs. It's not a very big deal, and I'm not sure I'd realize it was a problem if not for the especially good job that was done on the upper body.

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.

I'm pretty impressed with what they managed here. The outer surfaces of the legs have texturing to resemble a pistol grip, which was something I didn't catch immediately but one I noticed it I kind of latched on to for the attention to detail it represents. The legs also have that distinctive shape that originated with the pistol grip. There's no trigger-crotch, but that's not really surprising, is it? You do get sculpted detail in the shoulders that resemble the hammer of a gun. And of course the arms hold up the general look of the cartoon model, but do try to be a little more than boxes. The shape of the forearms is changed with panels that slide up and bulk the arms out some, and varied surfaces distract from the cubeness effectively. And the chest changes some proportions a little but hits all the notes of Megatron very clearly. Megatron does gain a backpack, as a result of the main feature of the vehicle mode. As it is meant to be arranged, with the halves tabbed together and kept in the lowest position, it's actually very unintrusive. It makes a very small presence from the front, and the unit is so solid and close in to the body that it's easily disregarded otherwise. If you want to make that an issue, first think back to 2006 Megatron and its gun shell wings and then come back and talk to me about problem backpacks.


Click for larger

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.


Click for larger

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 arms can also raise out to the sides, and that's where things start to diverge. The outward joint is actually housed in the arm itself, and takes the form of a soft-ratcheted hinge. It has three positions in all - down, middle, and up, and as you move it, more shoulder joint becomes exposed and the arm largely moves away from the body. In the middle you have what looks like just a very long shoulder post, and at full extension the post runs out, and the arm is sort of hanging from a long post and not looking especially attached to the body at all. Now, based on the shape of the shoulders and the shape of the torso, a process like this is about the only way to make the arms so they aren't restricted to just a swivel movement. They have to pull away from the body to have that room to move. For myself, I appreciate having that here and using unconventional processes to accomplish it. But I know that the end result, the way it looks at the end of the arc is going to put some people off. To that I would only say not to let this alone color you. The middle step keeps a reasonable connection between arm and body and lets the toy not be stuck at just straight-armed posing forever. This is weird, yes, but it works. And I think there would be more justified complaining if this option wasn't here at all.

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.

But everything else is minor issues of preference or aesthetic tastes. That's not even Megatron's real problem. These legs, man. These legs. They are victims of some unfortunate design choices in ways that should have been avoided or otherwise engineered around. The hips are full functioning ratcheted universal joints that work front to back and side to side quite well. Until you put the pelvis armor around them. Particularly the front piece which sits low enough in front of the hip joints to block what otherwise is 90 degrees they can move pretty easily and make it about 45 degrees. That crotch panel cuts the mobility in half and there is no reason it should have been allowed to do that. There's a full pelvis structure under this moving panel that is more than adequate for the needs of the figure and does not obstruct movement. But this was added on top of that with no regard to its functional effect and seemingly done just to achieve a very specific visual effect. The same details present on this panel could have been incorporated in the structural pelvis piece, potentially outright eliminating two extra parts and not having to limit the hip movement. Making it even more irritating, the hips can move out to the sides just fine. Because the side flaps are hinged so they don't get in the way. I'm kind of at a loss with this because my brain can't wrap around the logic. "We better hinge these panels so the legs can still move freely to the side. Oh, but be sure to put the big solid chunk codpiece on the front." These two ideas seem like they're directly at odds with each other and I can't resolve it.

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.

Why would you purposely limit a joint that seems like it should just as easily be able to move freely a lot farther? At least the knees have some bit of reason to them. The knee joint is another ratchet, and all things being equal, it could bend past 90 degrees and have a very respectable range of movement. But things are not equal. Much like the hips, the joint is limited down to 45 degrees, this time because the tank treads on the back of the leg bump the back of the thigh and it can't move any farther. If you dislocate the lower leg you can see the original, unobstructed range of the knee. And probably cry a little inside. Like, ultimately this doesn't matter that much since the hips can't move forward far enough to make use of more knee movement, but that's not right. You can't account for one limited joint by intentionally crippling another one. The ankle has no useful articulation. There's a ratcheted transformation hinge, but it does absolutely nothing for posing. Not that much of anything in the legs is allowed to do much for posing in the end.


Transformation

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.

Vehicle Mode

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.

The big feature here is the working tank treads. They're divided in two sections to facilitate the toy being able to transform, and I'm fine with that. It doesn't have a detrimental effect on the looks of the tank. It does hinder the function some, though. So, there's six working wheels on each side of the tank (plus two dummy wheels on each side that are sculpted but don't turn). Two of those wheels in each section roll the tank along, with the third only being needed to pull the treads in to the right shape. All the working wheels move freely, so there's not a problem there. The problem is one of weight. You need an amount of pressure applied on the treads so they'll grip a surface, letting the wheels roll, and the tank to advance forward using the tracks. Otherwise the tread slips across a surface and the function fails. And it fails a lot. While the feeling of weight in toys is often tossed around as some kind of universal indicator of reduced material quality (something that absolutely does not affect this toy, incidentally), it has a practical necessity in this toy. The tank is too light for the tracks, so you have to really press down on it to make it catch and roll like it's meant to. But then since the treads are split in two sections, and the tank is as big as it is, you can't easily apply that pressure on the whole toy. Ultimately one side or the other will use the treads correctly and the other end will slide along. In this, having one continuous length of tread on each side would have been better. It's actually a little easier to get things working on a soft surface. Carpet or a bedspread or something that has a little give seems to make an easier time of engaging the tank tracks than a solid surface like a table. It still isn't perfect, and one end is still likely to not quite grab. Given the very substantial impact the presence of the treads caused to the robot mode, I can't help thinking avoiding it entirely might have been overall more beneficial. The addition of working tank tracks is neat in concept, but it's not doing much favor in real practice.

The turret can rotate around a dedicated ratcheted swivel. I don't know that it really needed to be ratcheted. It can only rotate in vehicle mode, as the shoulder joints are fit through notches that would hold this all in place in robot mode anyway, and I don't think there's enough mass outside the center of rotation that it would be likely to overpower a smooth swivel. It's a minor issue, honestly. I think a smooth motion on the turret would feel better, but it wouldn't have any meaningful impact on the way the toy works. The turret can rotate 360 degrees, though when it gets to the back corners the cannon is just low enough to lightly scrape across the surface of the tank. The cannon is not able to elevate because of how the toy transforms and how big the cannon is. The cannon at full extension is actually longer than the entire vehicle mode, so there isn't any room to let it angle up. The missile launcher has a nice, big trigger that's smooth enough to blend in with the lines of the cannon, expect for that it's cast in red. Make it black and it would be not very obvious that it's there. The launcher has a decent amount of force behind it, too.

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.

Accessories

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!

The real thing to talk about is the sticker sheet, though. It was kind of a big deal that this toy would allow you to display it as an Autobot, reflecting current happenings in the IDW comics. It wasn't until later that we found out that would be through optional stickers. The thing is, the toy was made with tampographed Decepticon symbols, and that complicated things. Since an existing logo had to be covered, the stickers had to be made opaque. That's not a big deal necessarily, and there's nothing wrong with white-edged symbols. Megatron's sticker sheet even has two Decepticon symbols presumably in case you want him to be a Decepticon with that style of insignia. But they added something else.

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.

Closing Remarks

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.



ReviewerExVee  
DateMarch 19th 2015  
Score 8 stars (8 out of 10)  
Reads9515
LinkLeader Class Megatron Review Gallery  


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