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Cal's Review: Third Party Mania King

Name: Galvatron
Allegiance: Decepticons
Function: Commander

”My power is everything, defeat is absurd!”

In that war ManiaKing was badly
wounded because some of his guys be
trayed him. Wandering in the Universe
he accidentally got a brand new body
much more power and loyal troops as
well. Using his new weapon he can de
stroy an small asteroid by one strike.
With greater power ManiaKing do not
put stragegies as important
place as he used to and be
comes more
and more
crazy and irascible.
Now he is eager to tear up
the traitors and his ene
mies be himself.



Before reading this review, I want you to take a close look at Mania King's hilarious bio above. All of the typos and parsing are present on the back of the box, and it's another fine example of Engrish from Unique Toys who couldn't care to have this proofread. But you can't judge a book by its cover, and you can't judge Mania King by his box. Since the homage is obvious, I use the names Galvatron and Mania King interchangeably in this review.

I've always wanted a decent Galvatron toy. Since The Transformers: The Movie came out nearly thirty years ago, he has remained my favourite character design in the series. Unfortunately, the toys we've had of him since haven't really been up to scratch. The original G1 Galvatron, which I had the pleasure of playing with at a friend's house, didn't look anything like the cartoon character. He was grey instead of purple and had a 'blackface' thing going on. (This would later be used in Marvel comics.) It wasn't until 2005 that Takara redecoed him to be show-accurate, but this was an expensive import.

When the Universe line debuted in 2008, I was hoping for a modern reincarnation of Galvatron that matched the best of Classics. As you all know, what we got instead was a tank-shaped travesty with an obscene transformation. No wonder Galvatron went insane! I reviewed his Challenge at Cybertron release a few years ago, although in retrospect my overall score of 3.5 was about eight points too high.

I waited and waited for a Takara Masterpiece or Generations update of Galvatron, but so far neither have come to pass, and I despaired that the perfect Galvatron I yearned for was just a dream. Then something strange happened. In August 2010, Jizaitoys attempted to deduce early photos of MP-09's transformation with an animated 3D render. The following week, he also made one of Galvatron! Apparently this impressed the folks at Unique Toys, and a few years later we got our first look at the 3D render brought to life: Mania King! Could this be the figure I've been hoping for?

The original Mania King was released last Spring. While I couldn't afford him then, he has been recently re-released in "Vintage Color Version" for the same price, limited to 1988 pieces. I gotta say, the fan rage that followed the announcement of this 'corrected' version of Mania King was hilarious. People who purchased the original version the day before broke down in tears. Sweet, delicious tears. But for the rest of us Mania King-less, this is the perfect time to seize this bad boy - before Takara announce Masterpiece Galvatron next week. Read on!


PACKAGING

A quick paragraph about the packaging, since this is a non-standard figure. The box is visually quite different from the original Mania King. Gone is the colour illustration of Galvatron raging at the sky, replaced with a black and white print of Galvy looming over Cybertron in a manner that would make Unicron oil himself. The presentation of the box feels more akin to an eHobby exclusive, which seems fitting given the limited edition of this release. One minor complaint is that the foam interior of the original box has been swapped out for a standard plastic insert, which doesn't feel as lavish. It didn't prevent the box being slightly crushed in the mail, but if it helps keep the price down on Mania King, I suppose it's a small concession. Aside from instructions, a collector's card is included that shows this figure's product number. Mine is #701.


ALTERNATE MODE

As usual, I'll start with the alt mode. Dismissing the tanks and aircraft that Galvatron and his predecessor have been updated to in many previous incarnations, this version goes right back to his roots and transforms into his classic laser cannon mode. I've always loved this unique design, because it follows naturally from Megatron's pistol mode, only this time he doesn't need someone to wave him around and pull the trigger.

The transformation into cannon mode is a clever one at that, courtesy of Jizaitoys' long experience in designing transforming figures of all sorts, from penguins to potted plants. Creative liberties are taken so that parts of the robot mode are redistributed on the cannon that differ from the animation model. Despite that, the overall shape of the cannon remains relatively faithful to the source material. I've always believed that the most difficult robot part to reconcile into the cannon would be Galvatron's round, grey legs. Rather than try to conceal the legs the way Takara did with MP-09's dark boots, here they split open and peg together to form the front half of the cannon. It expands upon the grey ring that the barrel plugged into on the animation model (which was Galvatron's collar) to form a consistent whole, an evolution in design not unlike most Classics figures. In fact, the cylindrical shape of the cannon is more reminiscent of the G1 toy, only this time without the obscene excess of plastic at the back where the legs originally were.

The only downside to this part is that the feet stick out in the most prominent way. If you watch Jizaitoys' concept animation, you'd notice that the feet were supposed to fold down with the sole flat against the legs. I suppose they're intended to mimic the shoulder kibble on the G1 toy (which now transforms into the treads), but they may also represent the grey protrusions at the back of Galvatron's cannon on the animation model - although this is somewhat a stretch of imagination. Whatever the case, the heel struts prevent the feet from folding down flush to streamline the design.

As you'd expect, Galvatron rests upon two treads and a stand at the back. No wheels are present, so I'm afraid this baby doesn't roll. A black targeting sight sits atop the carriage, and behind that is... a bit of a mish-mash of robot parts. While an effort was made to transform the arms and cannon connector into the back of the carriage, the result is not as seamless as the front half. In fairness, the rear of the cannon on the animation model didn't resemble much either, so I can't really penalize the figure for want of a decent reference. The biggest criticism, however, is lobbied at the head poking out underneath the carriage. Little attempt was made to conceal it in this mode, and it's a shame the horns are so conspicuous between the treads.

Of course, the most the significant aspect of the cannon is the shiny orange and silver barrel. Unique Toys have swapped the colours for this release so that orange is predominant, and the figure looks so much better for it. The silver panels break up the monotony of the colour and gives it a more reflective surface. But here's the clincher; underneath the barrel is a switch that activates - get this - a laser pointer! ("Hey, a laser! How come you don't have a laser, Woody?") Now this is the absolute business! It's a great feature that I'm enjoying more than spring-loaded missiles, because you can shoot your target without fear of losing any accessories. This sucker is really strong, and I was able to observe the red dot five houses down without any diffusion. Obviously a laser pointer is something you'd never see in a HasTak product, but you can trust adult collectors to be a bit more responsible with one. And if you happen to go blind after lasering your eyeballs off, you can't read this review anyway.

Now buyers should take heed that not all versions of Mania King feature the laser pointer. In fact, this figure was delayed with many retailers because the laser pointer needed to be replaced with a red LED for safety reasons. I bought mine on eBay from 'netclow', but chimungmung also sells Mania King unneutered. You also get a free Decepticon sticker sheet to compensate for Mania King's lack of Decepticon insignias if you order from chimungmung, so I recommend them as my retailer of choice. Concerning battery replacement, I expected a single AAA battery fitted into the barrel. However upon dismantling it, I discovered what looked like three watch batteries held together with a plastic sheet. They look rather tricky to replace if the need arises, so that's something to bear in mind before you exhaust this figure's electronics. God knows I'm as absorbed with the laser pointer as a hyperactive cat.


ROBOT MODE

Transforming Galvatron is an involving process without being as needlessly overwrought and frustrating as his Universe counterpart. As mentioned earlier, the front section of the cannon becomes his legs, while the rest transforms into Galvatron's upper body. The uprights, treads and stand fold together to form the torso with minimal kibble, notwithstanding the targeting sight on his back pertaining to the animation model. Like the G1 toy, the particle cannon is composed of two pieces, with the purple connector only vaguely resembling the silver one present in the cartoon. Although the cannon typically pegs into Galvatron's right arm, an identical hole in his left arm should please lefties out there.

Fully transformed, Galvatron is a sight to behold. This figure is gorgeous! Standing 18cm tall at the head, Galvatron is the correct height for a Voyager toy and roughly the same size as Classics Megatron. Major props goes to Unique Toys for their work, because Galvatron remains cartoon-accurate, proportionately robust, and so clean a design that it makes Universe Galvatron look like a failed reject from the planet Junk.

The head sculpt is excellent, showing a menacing grimace complete with a soul patch painted on the chin. The horns are quite different and pointier than the original design, bearing more a resemblance to Shredder's helmet. Be careful you don't poke yourself! The head is framed between two black and silver pieces that become the cannon treads, which means that the treads on the back of Galvatron's upper arms are absent here. In place of a Decepticon insignia, Galvatron features a grey panel on his chest (probably due to trademark reasons), a four-pack six-pack abdomen, and a distinct belt at the waist.

The legs look superb on this figure, matching the animation model quite closely in design and colour layout. The pegs on the shins form a black trim down the centre, and some additional vents are molded in with grey paint for extra detailing. One point of criticism in the design is the panels on the sides of Galvatron's hips. I think Unique Toys could have modelled them more closely after his belt pouches, rather than the tiny cuisses these things resemble. I wouldn't be surprised if Unique Toys release a third version that amends this issue. Another problem is that the pelvis transformation is very fragile. The pelvis is fixed to the waist by a thin armature, and this is assembled with a small pin covered by so little plastic that stress marks have started to appear after less than a week of play. Be very gentle when transforming this part, because it's only a matter of time before it breaks off.

The articulation on this figure is superb. After selling iGear's disappointingly brickish Mini-Warriors, this comes as a refreshingly flexible third-party design. The shoulders, waist and feet are ratcheted and unimpeded by kibble. The head is ball-jointed and the hands can open (but no wrist swivel). I've heard complaints of 'gorilla arms', but I think that's an exaggeration. While the forearms have a slight inward curve, the arms still point straight. The articulation's strongest asset lies in its superb heel joints. Because the feet are deeply inset into the legs with a large amount of clearance, you can easily angle them laterally for Galvatron to adopt a wide stance. If only all figures followed this example.

As stated at the beginning, this figure has been recoloured more faithfully to Galvatron's cartoon appearance, and boy is he a beaut! Barring the cannon, the colour layout is almost identical to the original release, but the purple has a more desaturated bluish tint, identical to that used on Battle in Space Cyclonus. (It's a shame Generations Scourge wasn't painted alike, that way all three could have matching colours.) Grey legs replace the off-white colour here, and the belt has been painted to match. Flashes of red cover select areas of the body, particularly the abdomen, and curiously the inside of the forearms. What's missing unfortunately is the red on top of the shoulder kibble, and the cuisses have a distracting violet tint.

The laser pointer remains functional in this mode, and is a perfect weapon for Galvatron to gun down any worthless Autobot filth or Decepticon insurgents. It's a radiant touch to a figure that is dazzling in its own right, and I imagine this treat will satisfy the hunger of any Galvatron fan longing to wash away the bad taste of the Universe toy. To owners of the original release, I say grind your grit and join us in the feast!



Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 7 - Credit is due for getting the legs to blend into the alt mode, and the robot mode stays true to form. The cannon design could use a bit more refinement, mind.
Durability: 6 - Feels as solid as the real McCoy and nothing is likely to pop off, but I'm worried about the thin pelvis armature. The glossy cannon is highly susceptible to scratches.
Fun: 9 - I really love the laser pointer on this guy and so will any pets you have. The engineering is reliable enough that transforming him won't drive you as nuts as he is.
Aesthetics: 9 - Minor quibbles aside, Mania King is as beautiful as Universe Galvatron is ugly. If there ever was justification for third-party enthusiasm, this is it.
Articulation: 9 - A great range of articulation, lack of cumbersome kibble, and excellent balance means Mania King can strike all sorts of intimidating poses. He ain't looming over Cybertron on the box for nuthin'!
Value: 7 - $108 shipped from China. Third-party figures are invariably more expensive than official products, but Mania King remains affordable for a toy his size. Did I mention the free laser pointer?
Overall: 8.5 - Mania King is a perfect marriage of Jizaitoys' creativity and Unique Toys' engineering, and he fulfills my wish of the Galvatron toy I've been hoping for. He's a remarkably faithful representation of his cartoon appearance, fitting in perfectly with the Classics line. If you don't have Universe Galvatron, buy this guy. And if you do have Universe Galvatron, buy this guy. Sorted.
 
 
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