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This is Galvatron. I mean, obviously. But Galvatron isn't what I need to be talking about right now. No, we're breaking format and having a talk about Nucleon. Not only is Nucleon a dangerous fuel additive and performance enhancer that can have disastrous long term consequences, but as a Titan Master it's also the worst thing that could have happened to this Galvatron.
This isn't a commentary on the practice of adapting non-Headmaster characters to the Titan Master gimmick, though we may go on a bit to the general effects of the gimmick's deployment here later. But no, specifically Nucleon is a problem. Or its plastic is, I guess? Look, Nucleon cracks and breaks. See how there's no body screw in this Nucleon? I removed it as soon as I unpacked the toy.
But even by then the damage was done, and you can see the terrible shape some of the stress bearing points inside. Nucleon has been reported enough times of splitting down the torso to make me very uneasy handling it. And to cap it off, it was very incredibly firmly stuck inside Galvatron when packaged. Like, half an hour with tools to remove it from the neck socket stuck. Just for upfrontness, the effort of disconnecting it was not responsible for the cracks and stress you saw inside. I disassembled Nucleon before beginning the prolonged extraction effort.
So what's going on here? It has to be the plastic, on one level or another. Here are my theories. The plastic may have cured slightly smaller than planned for, explaining why the screw shaft looks like it's trying to shred apart already: the screw is technically the right size, but it's forced in a hole that's the tiniest bit too small for it now. Or, the plastic doesn't have much give, so it can't resist stress well. And with the low wall thickness of parts of the Titan Master, it's become incredibly fragile.
So, what can you do? Besides lament Galvatron's eternally poor toy fortunes, apparently, here's what I can suggest: Remove the body screw first thing. All it's going to do is keep the plastic inside under strain. To a point the Titan Master will hold together without it. But careful application of glue inside will of course make it stable. If damage has already occurred, the glue may also be able to hold some of the stressed parts together more and maybe even prevent further damage happening. I strongly recommend only installing Nucleon on Galvatron with the Titan Master head backwards so it can't engage the neck clips. I may have a particularly bad case as far as the neck gripping and refusing to let go, but reducing the stress on the Titan Master during installation and removal won't be a bad idea in any case. For whatever it's worth right now, the TakaraTomy Galvatron looks like it has an entirely different kind of grey plastic that may well be free of any of these problems.
I guess we'll keep on this track for now. So even if everything goes right, the Titan Master is still a problem. Of course there's the mask that flips out of the chest to give the Galvatron look. At one point that was demonstrated to be able to turn a little bit. But somewhere along the way the design changed.
Looking closely, you can see there's a flat edge on one side here, leaving the neck connector and mask hinge fixed in position. So while the Titan Master can turn on its own neck joint, the mask isn't coming with. Galvatron is locked to looking straight ahead. There's an aesthetic issue too, with the face looking at best very far sunk back in.
At worst you have visible gaps around the edges.
And of course the Titan Master being all grey like that causes enough color mismatch that the mask and the rest of the head don't visually integrate together. That particular issue could be addressed with a different Titan Master, or some paint. But it's clearly just part of a bigger failure of execution of the gimmick.
It's especially sad seeing as how otherwise, Galvatron turned out pretty nice. I'll grant you, it's not hard to step up from 2008 Galvatron, but it's not just that.
Stylistically Galvatron is fairly in sync with Scourge. There's an amount of sculpt work on the various surfaces, but it keeps a generally smooth appearance. No distinct mechanical elements just within the detail level. It's a nice thing to see, that two characters that should share an overall look and feel have been made to do just that.
I have an odd view on the deco. The color layout of the upper body is technically correct to the cartoon, even including the grey elbow joints. The whole upper body should basically be purple. But I look at it and feel like it's a little overloaded. Maybe if the bicep chunks themselves could have been grey, that would have been better. But I look at the upper body overall and just feel like there's not enough color variation. It's accurate to what they were going for, but it's not all that visually interesting, I guess.
I've noticed one bit of weirdness which affects the deco. Look at the tank treads on the arms, and they're obviously two different purples. The majority of them are the toy's dark grey plastic painted over. Fair enough, sometimes mold layouts just work that way and you have to make do.
But then I noticed there was another distinct purple floating around. It's on the fists, and the pelvis. These parts are the unpaintable plastic tree, but that by itself isn't weird. No, it's weird because it's only the back half of the pelvis in that plastic. The front half is the painted purple color, presumably being on the dark grey tree. It just strikes me very odd to have the materials split in this particular way.
In any case, I'm not very happy with the light grey plastic largely making up the legs.
Apart from these small chunks cast in nylon, it's got a swirly, vague translucent quality that just isn't looking good to me.
Articulation is one of the strengths. Ignoring the neck which we talked about already. The shoulders are nice universal joints with a lot of room to move. You can raise the shoulder armor if you need more clearance, too. It doesn't have to move very far to free the rest of the range.
The bicep swivel is mostly good for turning inward; the tank tread bumps the torso pretty fast if you go to the outside. That's less an issue when you've raised the arm though.
There's a good double joint elbow. The hinge is on the long side, and if you bend it wrong, you'll get that connected by a twig look.
But if you only start with the upper joint, you avoid that. And that hinge can bend even past the right angle. If you need more bend past that, then you can use the second hinge, and overall maintain the arm looking solid. Sadly the wrists do not swivel. The transformation hinges are ratcheted, though.
The waist joint is kind of locked up. It's really just here as part of the transformation. If you want to use it anyway, just lift the jet nose and you can open up its movement.
The hips are universal joints. Watch out though, if you lift them too far to the side you risk blowing the little armor flaps off with no small amount of force.
The thigh swivels, and the knee is just a single hinge.
But the way the transformation joint is designed, you can curl the knee a little bit if you keep pulling. If you want more than that, you have to open the back of the shins.
Finally, Galvatron features ankle tilts, keeping it in a flat stance out to a respectable A-stance.
Any transformation naturally requires the head to be removed, and the mask piece put back in the body.
Likewise, either alternate mode calls for folding the fists in, and bending the arms and tabbing to the front of the shoulders.
Lift the spaceship nose, and fold down this flap.
Then you can rotate the waist around, and cover the abs with the flap. Then pull the spaceship nose back down.
flip the treads down. Pulling the shoulder pads up now would be good too.
Rotate the shoulders back on these side panels.
Rotate the tread arms down.
Open the shin panels and fold them out of the way.
Turn the feet in.
Collapse the legs at the knees. The knee joint hinges down and pulls in.
Rotate the legs out to the sides, then press and tab together.
Fold the stock and attachment point of the cannon.
And plug it in just behind the neck socket.
There is a certain unreasonable joy I feel at having a modern Galvatron that becomes the giant goofy space cannon. This might not be exactly perfect, but it's hitting the buttons.
The spacejet nose underneath detracts from the look a little bit. Though without the bright orange canopy I don't think it would even really stick out.
It also facilitates the extra support strut. I like leaving it here since it sits flush with the ground. But it can also be arranged forward to look like it's more directly supporting the weight of the gun.
The cover piece on the back doesn't actually latch, nor does it stay closed entirely. And this is more of an OCD thing, but the way the ratchets line up, there's no way to have the treads actually rest level. They're always at an angle from each other. The back end can also be a little bit finicky about hanging together, though I've found an extra little click occurs when you press the halves firmly together during transformation that does a lot to hold the sides closed. With the exception of the back end being potentially unstable, these are just cosmetic flaws. The structure and substance of what this mode is ends up being quite good.
And it's not a 100% static thing, either. Besides the variable position support strut, the angle of the cannon can be raised. Thanks to the robot's shoulders providing a pivot point, you get a nice arc of movement upward. Down doesn't really work though. The jet cockpit hinge quickly falls lower than the tread feet, spoiling the whole thing.
Now, you could have Nucleon in that cockpit right now, upside down and backwards. Or you can use the pegs. Paired as they are, the obvious meaning is having Nucleon and/or other Titan Masters standing pointed sideways. Which makes no sense. But using just one peg is completely adequate. Assuming you even want anyone randomly standing back there to start with.
Just like Skullsmasher, Galvatron makes good use of accessory placement and looks and feels very large in this mode.
As the one of two alt modes that had to do its job right, I definitely call the cannon a success.
The switch from cannon to spaceship mode is very simple. Put the nose where the cannon was.
Rotate the shoulder panels back up, fold in the treads, and rotate the whole arm back.
Untab the legs.
Unfold them and pull forward just until the kneecaps can tab on the arms.
Flatten the cannon back out, and flip down the landing strut.
Plug it under the nose, and you're all set.
I have conflicted feelings. This mode isn't a dumpster fire by any means, but it's clearly not the primarily designed mode. Truthfully if not for having the nose and cockpit like this, I'd assume this was tacked on after they decided all Voyagers must be triplechangers. But this is also the mode that I conceptually prefer.
It has fairly decent lines as a space fighter. It's a little bit of a mess of pieces, but the angles sit right, and the proportions read well.
For the most part, I guess. The legs flaring out to the back really doesn't look good to me. Luckily, the joint tolerances on this copy are pretty good in the legs, which gives another option.
Untab the legs, pull them forward a little more, and square stuff up.
Make no mistake, the legs are not in any way locked here, but the joints are solid enough to hold it all in place.
This works better for me, making the legs read more like engine pods, like a functioning part of the craft.
I know not everyone is gonna look favorably on this in any case. But I like as an idea for Galvatron to have a transportation mode equivalent with Scourge and Cyclonus. It makes sense to me, so I'm probably a little extra forgiving of it.
The cockpit space is kind of a nothing.
Nucleon fits inside snugly, though. The canopy is a little too thick to see any pilot inside clearly, though.
Galvatron's accessory is simple, a giant orange cannon. It's visually very impressive, and the quality of the clear orange for the barrel is exactly how I would want it.
And it kind of dominates the silhouette of the toy in any mode.
It does have a seat for a Titan Master, though it's a very tight fit.
Turreting this weapon doesn't really work. Or at least not convincingly.
And it looks dumb being carried around with someone in the seat.
But I'm dancing around the real problem. It attaches in a bad place. The 5mm port for the cannon is on the front side of Galvatron's arm, immediately above the elbow joint.
Short version being that when the cannon is attached, the elbow is rendered immobile. With the cannon hanging over the forearm, there wouldn't be much room for the arm to move anyway, but that's not really the point.
The attachment should have been on the side, keeping the arm free to move and even hold another thing. And make for more impressive looking shooting poses. There's a Shapeways add on to help with this, but just on the basis of Galvatron's design, this was a bad screw up. On the plus side, the shoulder armor does not interfere at all with arm movement while the cannon is attached. The butt of the cannon moves very smoothly around the armor. Of course, with the head unable to turn, really dynamic posing is kind of out of the question anyway. But if you compromise, there's a surprising freedom of movement while armed.
It's been 8 years since Universe Galvatron let down ...well, everyone. Titans Return Galvatron had a lot to live up to, and honestly it makes it most of the way there. The aesthetics are hurt by the execution of the mask gimmick around the Titan Master, and having the neck joint locked up with it too is not great. Pile on the material issues with Nucleon itself, and you're not painting the brightest picture. But you have to keep in mind that everything else turned out really well. It's a solidly built, sturdy, and poseable Galvatron in the image of the original G1 design, and there's no inherent fatal flaw such as was the entire existence of Universe Galvatron. This is 90% of the way to being the Galvatron so many of us have been waiting for. It's up to you to decide if that last 10% is a deal breaker, or whether it's worth waiting for the right aftermarket add ons to close that gap. Either way, I think the only thing we can expect to top this in the near future is an official Masterpiece.
|Date||July 27th 2016|
|Score||(8 out of 10)|
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