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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Blackjack's review: Metroplex

Name: Metroplex
Allegiance: Autobot
Size Class: Leader Class
Accessories: ‘Sparkdrinker’ axe, Drill Bit Mini-Con, Giant Planet Key

Transformers Cybertron’s main concept was to have the main group of Autobots and Decepticons go around the galaxy discovering ancient Transformer colonies, all of which have set up their own unique cultures and stuff, to obtain four ‘Cyber Planet Keys’ to protect their planet Cybertron from a yawning black hole. In the interim they somehow have managed to obtain the power to summon Cyber Keys from the sky to unlock hidden powers to do battle. It would’ve been far more interesting to explore the off-world colonies if one of them didn’t end up being Earth (and Earth’s transformers are basically the same with everyone else), and if Giant Planet had more than three people on it, but what can you do.

One of the three denizens of Giant Planet, and probably the most prominent, is Metroplex (Megalo Convoy in Japanese), the leader of the planet and its Scottish-accented large Transformers. The general concept of Giant Planet’s culture is that the planet has obtained some kind of divergent evolution where half of its people have grown really large and gigantic (gee, you’d think, from the name) and the other half has grown really small into Mini-cons (because screw continuity with Armada).

Back then, I bought Metroplex without knowing of his role in the show (or his G1 counterpart) simply because he’s a big, relatively attractive-looking toy that comes with a bonus little dude – his Mini-Con partner Drill Bit. Plus, he was on clearance, which definitely helps.

Robot Mode:
Metroplex is a truly massive toy, and kudos for them taking the mass of a normal leader class toy and stretching it into a massive toy that dwarves everything else in the line except for Primus (who’s at a larger pricepoint in any case). Metroplexis pretty tall, with his abdomen and legs looking kind of stretched, but he still has a pretty powerful-looking silhouette nonetheless, not like an awkwardly gangly skinny kid. Metroplex’s main body are white and gray, but has dark blue as a secondary colour and has red, gold and light blue dotting around his body. He’s a pretty cool-looking robot, what more can I say?

Also, he’s a pretty tall toy, as I must say again. He’s got nothing on G1 Fortress Maximus or Generations Metroplex, that’s for sure, but in my opinion those are too big to be anything but playsets anyway, wheras Metroplex straddles the line between ‘giant robot’ and ‘holy shit this thing is so massive it’s hard to play’ pretty well. He dwarves every single toy in my collection – other leader class toys from lines before and after him barely reach his waist! He could’ve been extremely flimsy, but across his legs are these strong, ratchety joints that really help to support his massive weight. His ankles aren’t quite that good, though the massive construction-scoop feet and the limited ankle articulation do help to make him pull off any pose you want. He’s, of course, got a wide range of articulation. His head turns, his ‘ears’ can swing backwards and forwards, his shoulders, elbows, waist, hips, knees, ankles… all that stuff. He’s articulated enough to tear through a group of combiners and leader class Megatrons without breaking a sweat.

He’s got a pretty nice little build, looking pretty regal and powerful, with lots of details across his body without making him overdetailed. His ‘ears’ do help him look somewhat alike to his G1 counterpart, though that’s a bit of a stretch. He’s a pretty great-looking robot… I just like him. Not sure what I can say – just look at the pictures!

I’m not that big of a fan of his hands. They’re only articulated on the non-thumb fingers, and are a bit on the short side. And while the shoulders and elbows are pretty powerful joints, the fingers themselves are a bit too weakly jointed to hold his massive Sparkdrinker axe accessory. In theory there’s a small little peg to help the hand hang on to the axe, but it’s so flimsy that it’s hard to hold it properly without some cheating.

Also, let’s talk about his axe. Sparkdrinker (‘cause when you have a cool weapon, you damn well give it a name) is a long, long axe as long as Metroplex is tall, and it ends in a circular buzzsaw, which I thought to be a really cool weapon, not to mention a pretty brutal one as well. And it spins! On the end that isn’t a spinning buzzsaw is a shovel clamp thing which, in addition to giving Metroplex an additional weapon, helps the heavy weapon to stand up on display. Metroplex’s Cyber Key plugs into a slot in Sparkdrinker, with a pretty nice little slot that opens instead of just a static slot, and I’ve always thought that Metroplex’s Cyber Key slot is a placed in a way that it blends in with the general aesthetic instead of sticking out like a sore thumb in a lot of other Cybertron-era toys. If aligned properly, Sparkdrinker’s buzzsaw will split into two (non-spinning) halves to form something akin to a battle-axe. Also, there’s an electronic light and I’m sure some kind of sounds as well, though the battery’s dead on mine so I can’t find out what it is. Not particularly creative, but not obstructive either – it can be forgotten without affecting Metroplex too much.

Plus, he’s got a shit-ton of Mini-Con ports. He’s got around fourteen of them, though they’re just moulded on and don’t activate anything. When I got a bunch of Mini-Cons from the Universe toyline, Metroplex gets turned into a parking base for the Mini-Cons. (More on Drill Bit’s specific locations later)

I’m not sure what there is to say about Metroplex – he’s a really, really great big robot with a big weapon and I do like him.

’Work’ Mode:
The instructions supplied Metroplex with a ‘work mode’, which is basically him half-transformed. His shoulders end up around where the end of his ribcage should be, and his lower legs are compacted together. It looks, uh… hilariously awkward. Apparently it’s supposed to be a smaller robot mode he can access to work on smaller things, but it’s still hilariously wonky-looking. Let’s ignore this and move on.

Alternate Mode:
Metroplex transforms into, well, a folded up robot with construction treads and his weapon stuck on top of him. While at a glance it seems that Takara or Hasbro had just spent too much time designing his robot mode and scribbled down a random alternate mode, he’s actually based on a real thing: a bucket-wheel excavator, which is basically a bunch of shapes with a spinning bucket wheel (which is Metroplex’s buzzsaw axe) on top, not too far off from Metroplex. They could’ve made it more attractive, though I’m sure their main focus was to make a massive robot that didn’t topple over with a breeze.

It’s… it’s a thing, I guess? I very rarely transform him, though he looks like a pretty awesome battering ram with that massive excavator shovel and that spinning buzzsaw. He’s got a bunch of nice, moulded treads alongside what’s obviously his legs and arms, and his head turns around to look like a little cockpit. He’s got these bulldozer-scoop things in front as well, and I do appreciate all these little details.

It’s a pretty nice, if pointless attempt, and I do like how it ended up despite being a pretty weak attempt at an alternate mode – it certainly looks like it can bulldoze a way through an army of Decepticons!

Drill Bit: Robot Mode:
Metroplex comes with a little Mini-Con dude, Drill Bit (Horribull in Japanese), who seems to be a bit of a remould of Armada’s Leader-One. They transform differently and have different heads and alternate mode kibble, but are otherwise extremely similar in design and look. Drill Bit is a tiny little dude with a mainly black body, blue thighs and gray limbs, and with silver and gold picking out details – he’s pretty colourful for a little guy, and complements his larger partner well. He complements his larger partner nicely. In robot mode he can swing his shoulders around and his legs are jointed in the hips and knees, though the knee articulation is a bit halted thanks to the, uh, drill bits sticking up from the back of his legs.

For whatever reason, my Drill Bit and Metroplex seems to be damaged upon opening the box – Drill Bit is supposed to have a normal Mini-Con port, you know, a hole with a stick, but somehow my particular copy has Drill Bit have just a hole, with the central peg somehow being embedded inside the hardpoints on one of Metroplex’s wrists.

Drill Bit: Alternate Mode:
Drill Bit transforms into a twin-nosed drill tank, and thanks to his colour scheme ends up looking a fair bit like G1 Twin Twist. Where Leader-One flips his legs over the main body, Drill Bit has them sticking forwards, and has a little gold-painted cockpit on the main body. Like Metroplex it’s pretty obviously a folded robot, but all things considered it’s pretty neat. He rolls around well on his four wheels.

Drill Bit can plug into Metroplex’s wrists or any of his other hardpoints on the Mini-Con port on top of his vehicle mode, but that would expose his robot mode’s face and body which looks kind of ugly – though thankfully that’s a simple matter of flipping the drill-feet around. Metroplex gets to use him as a wrist-mounted twin-drill weapon, which looks pretty cool.

On the shovel part of the Sparkdrinker axe is a slot perfectly tailored to plug Drill Bit’s alternate mode into. It’s awkward to do it in robot mode, but in vehicle mode it looks so much better – Metroplex can tear up rocks with his shovel, and Drill Bit can drill through the finer stuff.

Overall a nice little pair that seems to have at least a fair bit of thought put into them.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 4/10 Not the best transformation for the both of them, I must say, since Metroplex’s alternate mode in particular is still a folded up robot, whereas Drill Bit’s alternate mode ends up showing his face if powerlinked, but it’s not really horrible since both are pretty solid alternate modes, just not particularly conventional ones.

Durability: 9/10 Metroplex is pretty durable! He’s got ratchet joints that make sure the moving parts don’t get loose. There are a couple of little drill-shaped points on the back of his shoulder that like to pop off, and the electronic lamp might shatter if you’re a bit barbaric, but those are relatively minor complaints.

Aesthetics: 8/10 I do like the look of Metroplex in robot mode – he does look pretty majestic! And while his alternate mode is a bit iffy, I do find myself liking it quite a bit as well.
Articulation: 9/10 He’s got articulation, and while it’s not perfect he can pull off a rather wide range of poses nonetheless. Drill Bit is pretty well-articulated for a Mini-Con, and puts a lot of the moulds released in the Classics line to shame.

Fun: 9/10 Metroplex gets a fair bit of playtime from child me, either as a really large Autobot who is the end-all-and-be-all that crushes the Decepticons, or a Mini-Con base, or a siege engine… he’s pretty fun to fiddle with now that I’m a bit older as well, being a pretty solid toy overall.

Price/Value: 8/10 Cybertron Metroplex isn’t really in huge demand thanks to his franchise of origin, so I’m pretty sure you can get him for a pretty cheap price if you look hard enough.

Overall: 8/10 Metroplex isn’t a necessary toy by any means, but he’s a pretty good one. I doubt anyone really wants to collect all the cast of the Cybertron cartoon, but if you are, Metroplex would be pretty central to that collection. He’s a pretty great toy in any case, and certainly won’t disappoint you with its many features and generally solid-looking look. I really like this guy – though I can’t really tell you why beyond him being big and having a massive weapon.

 
 
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