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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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numbat's review: Leader class Megatron

Name: Megatron
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Deputy Leader
Sub-Group: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Leader Class

Rebuilt with parts cannibalized from other Decepticons, Megatron rises once again to lead his army. Though the AllSpark destroyed him once, he can now feel its power coursing through his circuitry. It calls him to seize his rightful place as ruler over the puny planet on which he was imprisoned and destroyed, and from which he will launch his conquest of the universe. Optimus Prime is all that stands between him and victory, and the Autobot leader has done a poor job of hiding himself. At long last, Megatron knows exactly where his enemy is, and he has power enough to destroy him.

Ok… So… Let’s get something straight before we even start. I really wasn’t convinced by the figure. The various photos leaked and the officially released seemed alright but hardly mindblowing. More importantly, the alternate mode in particular did not seem particularly film accurate. Still, at the time the film hadn’t been released, and this was based upon the concept art.

How did I end up with him, then? Well, it was the culmination of a number of disparate events – but, essentially, I made more than I expected on some recent eBay sales (old Transformers…) and was very keen to get a Transfomers: Revenge of the Fallen (ROTF) Megatron. The robot mode was more important to me, and, as the Voyager version only delivers on that (I couldn’t reconcile myself to the ridiculous robot mode kibble, or crazy colour scheme), I checked out the Leader Class version more earnestly. A store display finally swayed me. It has Megatron and Prime posed in robot mode, out of the box. Despite the fact that the staff in that store need to go on a training course to learn how to transform Transformers, Megatron looked very impressive in person. So, I took a risk… Was it worth it?

Well, we’ll get to that.

Let’s backtrack briefly, and have a quick overview of Megatron.

Unlike Optimus Prime / Convoy, Megatron has not benefited from anything resembling a consistent character throughout the various Transformers lines. He’s varied from a relatively complex character in G1 to a typical cartoon super villain in RID and the Unicron Trilogy. His alternate modes have similarly varied – from a handgun (Walther P38) in G1, tank in G2, Tyrannosaurus rex in Beast Wars, right up to crazy ten changer in RID, tank (revisited) in Armada, Cybertronian gunship in Energon, and Batmobile in Cybertron.

Come the live action movie in 2007, the designers settled on an alien looking version of the Cybertronian gunship. That worked for the purposes of the plot, and limited screentime that Megatron saw, but was extremely complex for a toy to deliver. This was evident in the various attempts. The Leader Class version compromised on both robot and alternate mode, the Voyager was a general mess, and the Legends Class did a decent job at both – but only due to the luxuries afforded its scale.

For the sequel, Megatron has been rebuilt by The Doctor (“Scalpel”) from Decepticons that were destroyed in the first film, and a purpose-slaughtered Constructicon. The result seems to be a hulking monster that transforms in to a rather alien Cybertronian tank. This tank is shown to have two modes in the film – terrestrial and flying. I struggle to call him a Triple Changer, as the flying mode basically involves some armour plates unfolding to create a sleek, flat tank with wings. Still, the tank design feels more appropriate for Megatron, and is also ostensibly far simpler.

It is, however, worth mentioning at this point that originally it was intended that Megatron be able to switch between his 2007 Movie gunship mode and the new tank mode. This Megatron design is used in the comic adaptation, and in the DK Transformers the Movie Universe Guide book. Although his jet-mode screentime was even shorter and less clear than his tank mode, it did not appear that this design had found its way in to the final film. Regardless, it would be totally impractical as a toy. Other leaked designs seem to more closely resemble Megatron’s final ROTF design – with a tank mode capable of converting in to a new flying mode. Far simpler and more achievable for the animators, and the toy designers.

On the basis of this, Hasbro have surely done a better job this time round? Haven’t they?

Well, yes and no.

The Legends Class toy provides an excellent terrestrial tank (with no flying mode) with a poor robot mode. The Voyager Class toy provides an excellent flying tank (with no terrestrial mode) and a kibble-tastic robot mode (basically a shell-former). The Leader Class?

Well… As I am of the habit of starting with the alternate mode, let me say – stick with it. The robot mode is superb, and amazingly close to the movie design. However…


Alternate Mode:

It has been said elsewhere, and it’s true: Megatron’s tank mode looks far better in person, than in pictures.

This blocky alien tank is almost square – huge, heavy and solid, measuring 7” (18cm) wide and 9” (23.5cm) long. At 5” to the top of his turret, he’s actually not nearly so disproportionately tall as photos suggest. The trouble is, you lose the sense of perspective on side-on photos, and this is further exacerbated by the fairly blocky and open nature of the sides of the tank. It is really a rather skeletal affair, with many gaps, that would have benefited no end from some fold out armour panels to streamline the machine, as with the movie design.

That aside, the tank is imposing, and looks great from the front, with Megatron’s head staring forwards, protected by a cage that gives the impression of a spider's chelicerae – highly predatory. The rear of the vehicle has the boosters from Megatron’s back, which, diametrically opposite to the front, looks tacky and tagged on.

(At this point I should mention that, for some reason, the tank mode unerringly reminds me of the Exosuits in the animated Transformers: The Movie…)

There is a lot of moulded alien detail and machinery, including gears and pistons, throughout this mode, and much of this stands out very well, with lighter silver and gold often used to pick out details on the silver-grey plastic. Black has been applied to the ends of some side-boosters (presumably stabilizers) to imply burning or soot – and to unusually great effect. There is also a small red square on the cannon – for what reason, I do not know.

Megatron’s tank possess four sets of treads, and these are a real highlight – they have been meticulously sculpted, with many sharp plates. The result gives the impression of a meat-grinder, and looks fantastic!

Due to the transformation (and complexity of the front tread system, as well), the treads are moulded plastic, painted black. However, the tank rolls well on six small wheels.

Unfortunately, when properly transformed, the turret is fixed, without any articulation. However, it can be unclipped at the front, allowing for limited vertical and horizontal movement. It does fire a small black missile with a fair degree of force, though!

Alas, the tank does not offer an aerial configuration. This is a real shame, and could have easily been achieved at this scale, by adding those missing armour plates. This could have streamlined the tank mode, and allowed for a flying configuration similar to the film designs.

Although the tank mode is more fun than it appears, and satisfyingly chunky, make no mistake – it is a disappointed alternate mode and an abysmal attempt for a Leader Class figure.

The front of the tank and the treads are really the only redeeming features of this mode.


Robot Mode:

The transformation is relatively simple, but more interesting and complex than it would appear. The cannon does like to fall off though, and I find that the pegs that attach the legs to the body in tank mode take a lot of force when transforming from robot to tank. This may just be my figure, and the force required is reducing with each transformation, but the first and second times actually needed more force than can be reasonably expected from an adult – let alone a child! Still, as I say, it’s getting easier – I think the square pegs are just too large for the holes, but now it’s not enough of a problem for me to bother modifying it deliberately. It’s also worth mentioning that the cannon arm noise will go off at the slightest touch, repeatedly, to great annoyance during the transformation. And if that weren’t enough, he will also yell ‘I AM MEGATRON!’ at you again and again, with great gusto. Seriously, this guy is even more irritating than ROTF Leader Prime! However, it’s not all doom-and-gloom – you can remove the batteries easily at an early stage in the process, rendering him blissfully mute.

The robot mode is the only reason anyone would by the figure – but it’s one Hell of a reason!

Firstly, Megatron is big. Not only is he tall (standing 10” [26.5cm] tall, head to tread), but he is extremely bulky, and suitably imposing. One may say, he is built like a tank!

The figure is an excellent likeness of the film design, with superb moulded detail throughout. It’s certainly a huge improvement over the 2007 film design – both in terms of actual movie design and toy execution.

Megatron, having been destroyed at the end of the previous film, was left to rust at the bottom of the Laurentian Abyss. Upon his recovery, it was necessary to conduct certain ad hoc repairs, and the resulting robot is even less attractive that his more uniform preceding form. This figure is based on earlier concept art, where his arms are even more disproportionate than in the final version, under the premise that Megatron had been rebuilt from the other dead Decepticons dropped into the abyss. (It would appear this idea was dropped from the film, as there is no indication of the other corpses even being present in the same area as Megatron.) Megatron is now a hulking monster, possessing one diminutive arm with an excessively long and gangly hand (reminiscent of Brawl / Devastator’s hand from the 2007 film) and one massive arm and claw, incorporating a cannon, in a superb G1 homage. Furthering the impression of a hefty dose of replacement Brawl components, Megatron now sports two chunky tread-based feet (and the more traditional ‘feet’ are optional, unlike with his Voyager Class counterpart, providing superb film accuracy). Harking back to his stellar gunship origins, he sports two huge boosters on his back, which seamlessly emerge at his shoulders. The head mould, while smaller than his 2007 Leader incarnation, is a better film likeness, nestled amongst the huge mass of his torso.

Paint applications do well to enhance the figure, whilst keeping him film accurate. Moulded in ‘metallic’ plastic, various details are picked out in black (including the inner chest components – adding a sense of depth), silver and gold. A small Decepticon insignia is painted on a small gold square on his chest. Unfortunately, his left hand and right shoulder are solid black, jarring with the otherwise uniform design. Still, these are minor flaws in what is a huge improvement on the quality of the 2007 Leader figure paint applications.

By pressing down on the gold square on Megatron’s chest, you activate random sound bytes, rearranging of chest armour, spinning gears, red lights (including eyes) and a shaking head. This is all fine and well, but has resulted in limited head articulation and so is a prime example of a gimmick that gets in the way of an otherwise decent robot mode.

The major drawback of Megatron in robot mode (other than the gimmick) is the poor articulation in his canon arm. Basically, it has a full range of motion at the shoulder. And that’s it. An elbow joint would not have got in the way of the transformation or weakened the alternate mode (thanks to the support pillar below where an elbow would be placed), nor would it have interfered with the spring-loaded missile launcher housing. There really is no reason for this omission, and it is rather annoying.

That aside, Megatron has otherwise fantastic articulation. He has full range of motion at both shoulders, left elbow and hips, and has hinges at knees and left finger. Coupled with amazing balance, he is capable of some great poses! Plus he fires a missile from his canon arm – again, unlike his Voyager Class counterpart!

Overall, I really cannot stress enough how amazingly film accurate and fun Megatron’s robot mode is. He has zero kibble, and (other than the major exception of his massive right canon arm) has excellent poseability.

Alas, the tank mode leaves much to be desired, although is remarkably fun.

Leader Class Megatron is the robot mode action figure incarnation for his ROTF character. However, he is ultimately a glorified G1 Action Master – certainly little better than an Action Master Elite.

On this basis, although the Leader Class robot mode is rather cool and displays excellently in action poses with ROTF Leader Prime, it would appear that the Voyager Class Megatron is the better all-round alternative for your ROTF collection (plus he’s half the price…).

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 6 – Hardly mind-blowing, although takes far more force than you would reasonably expect (at least with my figure). However, it’s quite fun…
Durability: 9 – He seems very solid. I just worry about the force required. Plus, the spring-loaded nature of his canon arm’s transformation seems to be built on a hair-trigger.
Fun: 6 – Fantastic fun in robot mode, but could have been easily improved by improved canon arm articulation. Alas, the tank mode, while surprisingly fun leaves much to be desired.
Price: 5 – Leader Class figures have not been subject to as high a price-hike, proportionally, as other size classes. However, they were easily overpriced to begin with, and now, with a price tag of 44.99 or $44.99, they can hardly be called ‘value for money’. However, they do deliver on size.
Overall: 6 – Leader Megatron offers one thing – a superb robot mode that’s great for play or display. However, ultimately he is just a glorified Action Master, and could have easily been much better.
 
 
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