REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS TRU IMPORT EXCLUSIVE MEGATRON
There have been times when I've sincerely felt sorry for Megatron. Okay, I know -- feeling sorry for a tyrannical, maniacal robot that would quite readily crush all organic life on Earth in order to pillage it of its Energon resources? Feel sorry for a character who was ranked as the #1 pop culture villain some years ago in a Wizard poll, beating out the likes of Cobra Commander, Skeletor, Doctor Doom, and even Darth Vader? Feel sorry for him!?
Well, yes, because it just seems that the character has had a rough time of it in the toy world. Follow my reasoning here, if you will. When the Transformers first came on the scene, the lead good guy was the heroic Autobot, Optimus Prime. He transformed into a truck. Megatron, leader of the Decepticons, transformed into a gun. Does that sound like a fair match? Sounds to me like all Optimus would have to do is run him over at some point.
Then there was the toy. A rather odd-shaped, skinny-legged thing. The animated series obviously toned down some of the more extreme elements to make him a bit more humanoid, and a bit more formidable-looking. So did the comic book, for that matter.
It took the Action Masters line for us to get a Megatron figure that looked more like he had in the animated series, and while this was a very cool Megatron in my opinion, the Action Masters line, incapable of transforming, were not terribly well-received by Transformers fans. Quite a few years later, a toy line called RevolTech would turn out a number of Transformers, akin to, but far more advanced than, the original Action Masters, and both Optimus Prime and Megatron were part of this. But these are rather obscure, collector-level toys.
Along comes Generation 2, and we get an all-new Megatron. And this time, he transforms into a tank! Okay, it's a purple and bright green tank, but it's still a tank. This impressed me mightily. Here was a Megatron that could readily go head to head with Optimus Prime. Truck vs. Tank made a lot more sense than Truck vs. Gun. But, the degree to which the Generation 2 incarnations caught on is open to some speculation.
I won't get into Beast Wars since, since while the leader of the Predacons was known as Megatron, and was certainly capable of being just as tyrannical and maniacal as his predecessor, it was not the same Megatron. Nor will I get into the various Megatrons that have appeared in other Transformers concepts. I want to stick to Generation 1 as much as possible here.
One of the things that was always a moderate disappointment to be in the original Transformers line was their lack of articulation in their robot modes. Certainly, they could be very effectively transformed from their vehicle or other "alt mode" into a humanoid (usually) robot, but once in robot mode, they couldn't do all that much. Improvements in design capabilities over the years have remedied that, but it still seemed to leave the original, iconic, Generation One Transformers out in the cold.
That was until the Transformers Classics line came along. All-new incarnations of the iconic characters, in entirely recognizable forms, but their robotic versions finally had the articulation that these characters deserved. And, of course, Megatron would be a part of this Generation One-based line.
And here we hit another stumbling block. The original Megatron was not only a gun, he was a very realistic-looking gun. And that was considered something of a no-no in the toy world, especially in a time of heightened security concerns in this country. So Megatron, far more than any other character in the Classics line, had to be reworked. And so he was. And, technically, he still looked like a gun. Unfortunately, he looked like a cross between a Nerf Blaster and a Super Soaker. And his robot mode suffered for it as well.
There was a second Classics Megatron, part of a two-pack that included an Optimus Prime. This Megatron turned into a tank mode, which was cool, except he had his Generation One color scheme, which I thought was even cooler. The only problem was, these two particular robots were rather noticeably smaller than most of the other Classics. While "scale" has always been something that's been up for grabs in the world of Transformers, an Optimus Prime and Megatron that are scarcely larger than that line's Bumblebee is pushing it.
Now, personally, I'd love to see a Classics-style Megatron that's based on an IDW comics rebuild of the character, where they made him into a large black stealth plane. In his robot mode, he was still recognizable, especially that sort of thimble-shaped helmet that's part of his head, but he was mostly black, and he had this very cool, purple-colored, Tron-like series of lines on his body, culminating in a jagged "M" on his forehead. Now -- that was a cool Megatron! But, given the expense of creating an entirely new toy, and the fact that this particular Megatron isn't exactly at the center of Transformers media these days, I'm not holding my breath.
However, it seems we DO have an impressive new Megatron in the Classics line, now known as Generations. And while he's a little quirky in some respects, he certainly looks like Megatron, he's certainly big enough, and he doesn't turn unto something that looks like it should be filled with water in the summertime and aimed at pesky kids.
In the United States, the main focus of Transformers toys at the moment is the Transformers Prime animated series. There is a secondary focus of new Generations figures, but they are based on the "Fall of Cybertron" video game. There's still some cool toys to be had here, especially the Combaticons, but in fairness, the line doesn't quite capture the same spirit of the original Classics/Generations.
However, the Generations line has continued elsewhere, in Asia, with some very interesting character selections, and Toys "R" Us, apparently aware of the fact that there's no shortage of Transformers fans clamoring for modern versions of their favorite classic characters, has arranged for these particular Transformers, Asian packaging and all, to be brought into their stores in America as a special exclusive.
This has given us Classics-style versions of characters that are certainly welcome in the line, but who we might not have otherwise seen, such as Wheelie, Springer, Swerve, Hot Spot -- and a new MEGATRON.
Let's consider some of the history of Megatron, and then have a look at his new action figure incarnation.
Megatron is, of course, the primary antagonist and leader of the evil Decepticons in most of the various Transformers storylines. Bob Budiansky, the writer for the Marvel Comics series, stated that originally Hasbro took issue with the name, saying it sounded too frightening. Budiansky responded that as the lead villain, that was the point. Hasbro saw his reasoning, and approved the name.
Megatron is very powerful and utterly ruthless. There have been several interpretations of his character; some see Megatron as a strategic leader who calls the shots from afar, whilst others see him as a tactical battlefield commander who leads by brutal example. Unlike many other villains in popular fiction, Megatron was not generally depicted as overly chaotic or insane. He was highly aggressive and a megalomaniac, but there was usually a consistent rationale behind his actions, although Megatron was often the only one who could perceive this.
(You want insane, go find Galvatron...)
There have been some sparing occasions where Megatron displays a personal sense of fair play and even honor, a complexity that is most evident in his complicated relationship with Optimus Prime. There is an unspoken mutual respect between the two leaders, born of each knowing the other better than anyone else. Megatron at times seems to derive enjoyment from the perpetual conflict that exists between them — the pleasure of ending the life of Optimus Prime will be Megatron's and Megatron's alone, and to ensure this, he has aided Prime in the face of greater threats, such as Jhiaxus's second generation Cybertronians. In instances such as these, the two have come to face the fact that were it not for their diametrically opposed ideology and views, in another life, the two could be comrades — a fact that Optimus Prime views as a tragedy, but which provides Megatron with amusement.
Originally, Megatron was able to transform into a Walther P38, delivering more focused energy blasts. He can shrink and reduce his mass as he transforms, assuming sizes that comfortably allow either another Transformer or even a human being to wield him. In one instance (the animated episode Dinobot S.O.S.), he retained his full size and connected to jet-mode Starscream's underside.
His imposing robot form is dominated by his primary weapon - his arm-mounted fusion cannon, capable of leveling a city block in one blast. He can also sub-dimensionally link the weapon to a black hole, generating even more powerful antimatter blasts. However, this ability is almost never used, as it leaves him extremely weak and vulnerable.
He has a secondary weapon barrel mounted on his back, and can retract and replace his right hand with an energy flail. He can fire electrical blasts from his hands, laser blasts from his eyes on at least one occasion (The Autobot Run) and can reprogram computers with a port in his head. He has proven to be impervious to mind control in some instances.
According to his original tech spec, Megatron has no known weaknesses. This does not, however, spare him from defeat at the hands of his enemies. For all his famed battle prowess and tactical ability, Megatron's complacent overconfidence often causes him to overlook some vital strategic detail. Also, he has a bad habit of ordering a retreat at the first sign that the tables have turned against his side in battle (even when the Decepticons still maintain the overall strategic advantage). Another factor that could contribute to his losses is his rough relationship with some of his own troops (most especially Starscream). Despite his lust for galactic domination, one of Megatron's key priorities remains the safety and health of Cybertron; and from his viewpoint, the best way to accomplish that is for him to conquer it.
In the Generation 2 comic book series, Megatron returned in the comics with an M1A1 Abrams tank mode, which he actually gained during an appearance of the Generation 2 Transformers in the G.I. Joe comic book.
In the original animated series, which is perhaps a little closer to being regarded as "canon" by many fans, Megatron is a Decepticon, one of the lineal descendants of the military hardware robots created by the Quintessons on their factory world of Cybertron. Following a war between the Decepticons and the other robot race, the Autobots, the Decepticons were defeated by the Autobots' invention of transformation. The Autobot victory began the Golden Age of Cybertron, but the Decepticons too eventually developed transformation, leading to the creation of Megatron. Gathering a small number of troops together, Megatron killed the Autobot leader. However, the ancient Autobot Alpha Trion reconstructed young robot Orion Pax into Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots as the war erupted again ("War Dawn").
The war drained Cybertron of most of its energy, necessitating that both factions seek out new worlds and new sources of power. Megatron and his forces attacked and boarded the Autobots' craft "The Ark", causing it to crash on prehistoric Earth, entombing all on the ship in emergency stasis as it crashed into a dormant volcano. Over the following years, Megatron's schemes to obtain Earth's energies continued. Megatron even made a number of temporary alliances with the Autobots, although most of these alliances ended in double crosses.
Megatron conquered Cybertron by the Earth year 2005 in Transformers: The Movie. Megatron proceeded with an attack on Autobot City on Earth. Optimus Prime arrived there and confronted Megatron. Megatron mortally wounded Prime — but not before Prime delivered his own final blow to Megatron, severely damaging him and forcing the Decepticons to flee. On the return trip to Cybertron, it became necessary to jettison excess mass. Wounded Decepticons were set adrift in space - including Megatron. The world-devourer Unicron offered him a new body and new troops in exchange for cooperation in destroying the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. Thus, Megatron is reformatted as Galvatron, while the rest of the wounded Deceptions were also recycled into Galvatron's new warriors. Megatron would later appear in flashbacks, during the season three episodes "Five Faces of Darkness" Part 4, and "The Return of Optimus Prime" Part 1.
In the 21st Century reimagining of the Generation One Universe by Dreamwave Productions, Megatron was envisioned as an ancient gladiatorial combatant in the depths of Cybertron's underworld. As victory upon victory mounted, he began to realize that the games were nothing more than an elaborate attempt by the Cybertronian elders to hide the truth of Cybertron's history from the masses. When Megatron attempted to gain access to that knowledge through exploration and research, the Cybertronian elders attempted to have him assassinated — a plan that only resulted in stirring up even more discontent among Cybertronians which allowed Megatron to begin recruiting for the Decepticon movement. The story eventually catches up to some of the animated continuity, when Autobots aboard the Ark saved Cybertron from an asteroid, Decepticons subsequently invaded. The craft flew through one of the Spacebridge portals, and was transported to prehistoric Earth, where it crashed, entombing the occupants in stasis for four million years. The Autobots and Decepticons were reactivated much as before.
After Dreamwave's closure, the Transformers comics were taken over by IDW Publishing. IDW would take the opportunity to reboot the Transformers universe, including a revised origin for Megatron detailing how he came to power. Here, Megatron was originally a lowly energon miner. He also formed an uneasy truce with Starscream.
In this continuity, Megatron retains his role as supreme commander of the Decepticon army, although they are no longer based on Cybertron which was rendered uninhabitable by Thunderwing and are fighting to conquer multiple worlds simultaneously.
Most recently, the original Megatron reappeared in IDW's "Transformers: Regeneration One", which picked up where the original Marvel series left off. Twenty years have passed, and Megatron has literally laid waste to the Earth to drain it of Energon. In so doing, he has virtually exterminated the human race, and he has also turned many of his minions into near-mindless, zombie-like automatons. Small wonder this guy took first place in that Wizard list of villains.
So, how's the toy? Extremely cool and very impressive. The set of molds used to make Megatron have, with the exception of the head, of course, been used on two previous occasions.
The first was to create Bludgeon, who in the comics was, ironically enough, a usurper who took control of the Decepticons after a prolonged absence by Megatron. Bludgeon was one of the Pretenders, Transformers who wore an outer shell that differed from their internal appearance, and often looked more organic. Bludgeon's outer shell was that of a skull-faced samurai warrior. Not inappropriate, since Bludgeon was an expert in certain Cybertronian martial arts.
The second use of these particular molds was to create a figure of Banzai-Tron. Another Decepticon, Banzai-Tron was easily one of the most distinctive new characters introduced in the Action Masters line. Like Bludgeon, Banzai-Tron was a master of Cybertronian martial arts, and his non-transforming robot mode on the original toy definitely had a sort of samurai look to it. This was obviously carried over to the toy, since it used Bludgeon's molds with a new head, and the result was the first-ever transforming version of Banzai-Tron.
So now we have Megatron using these molds. And -- okay, yeah, it's a little odd to see Megatron trying to pull off the same sort of samurai look. I mean, technically, the samurai is part of Earth culture, and I can't imagine Megatron having any interest in that. But clearly, there has to be some sort of Cybertronian equivalent, since I doubt either Bludgeon or Banzai-Tron would have been particularly interested, either. And if nothing else, this figure is still a vast improvement over the "Nerf Soaker" version.
Megatron comes packaged in robot form, and to the top of his head stands 6-1/2" in height. This is a very generous height for a Classics/Generations type Transformer, and certainly befitting the leader of the Decepticons, much more so than the otherwise very cool, but let's be fair, "mini-tank" version from some years ago. Megatron gains a bit of extra height, up to around 8 inches, if you count the gun turret barrel on his back, but personally, I think that's cheating.
Megatron's headsculpt is absolutely perfect. If you take a look at the most iconic depictions of Megatron, this is that headsculpt. The trapezoid shaped head, in pale gray, the silver face, the angled brow, the sinister red eyes, and the face sculpt is absolutely perfect. He has this grin, more like a smirk on his face, as if saying, "Finally, I have a decent form in this line. I am well armed and I can perform martial arts. Autobots and the universe beware -- Megatron is back!"
The only thing lacking on the headsculpt, and I can hardly complain, is that he doesn't have the transparent panel on the back of his head that would let his eyes glow. One can clearly see that it was intended, but at the last moment that panel was molded in the same color plastic as the rest of the head, and the eyes painted red. I can live with it, though. The eyes have been painted such an intense bright red that he doesn't really need that glowing effect.
Megatron's body may not all that closely resemble any previous incarnation, but it still looks very dangerous. It's mostly green and purple in color. I'll get to the reasons for that shortly. There's also no small amount of black trim on him. Megatron's torso is mostly purple, with black domes. Frankly, the entire chest looks like a highly stylized skull, a carryover from Bludgeon, I suspect.
His shoulders are green, and his upper arms are pale gray, with black lower arms and hands. Megatron has these huge green panels protecting the sides of his upper legs, and a sort of ridged purple "apron" in the front, arguably the most samurai-looking part of him, with a silver Decepticon emblem on it. This cannot have been an easy imprinting for the toy company.
Megatron's upper legs are light gray, and his lower legs are black and heavily ridges, with green protective panels on the back. He has these odd, claw-like feet, rather atypical for the average Transformer, but he doesn't seem terribly bothered by them.
One other samurai-like detail are these narrow ridged panels that descend from the outer edges of his shoulders, and a second set can be seen underneath the armor panels that are secured to the sides of his waist. You see, this Megatron transforms into a tank!
Yes, Megatron's tank mode has been brought back, and I suspect this was the primary reason this particular set of molds was used for Megatron. Okay, except for the headsculpt, this figure doesn't all that closely resemble Megatron. Nevertheless, put that headsculpt on almost any Transformer and there's no question as to who you've got, and really, the design works. The figure also comes with two fairly fancy swords, so somewhere along the way, Megatron must have taken some fencing lessons.
I've always preferred Megatron's tank mode to his gun mode. To me, it just made more sense, especially in his conflicts with Optimus Prime. So I'm sincerely pleased to see it restored, and the green and purple color scheme is certainly a good match for the original Generation 2 toy, while Megatron's headsculpt is pure classic Generation 1, and there's enough pale gray elsewhere on the figure to make it all work together quite nicely.
In robot mode, Megatron has superb articulation, as expected. He is poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles.
Let's consider Megatron's transformation into a tank. Megatron is ranked as a "3" on a scale of 0 to 5, which means "Intermediate". I'm not entirely sure what "5" might be. I don't think I've ever seen a "5" Transformer. Probably means "Pack a lunch and some aspirin."
First, close up the turret on the back. Frankly, I think he looks better that way anyhow. I just cleave it closed even in robot mode, although the internal mechanism is fairly interesting, and opening it does reveal a hidden scabbard for one of his swords.
Next, raise the upper body, except for the head. I found that the easiest way to do this is to push down on the head. Then fold up the flap with the Decepticon emblem on it.
Now, rotate the arms outward, fold the hands up into the lower arms, flip up the panels on the fronts of the shoulders, and rotate the folded arms up against these panels. Then rotate the entire arms at the shoulders so that the folded arms are facing front, and finally raise them up and together so that the folded arms connect. You've essentially just made the front of the tank.
Next, swing the panels on the backs of the legs back, tuck the feet underneath the panels, fold the panels back down, and then rotate the lower legs so that the red panels face forward. After this, swing the legs outwards at the hips.
Then, swing the legs upwards ninety degrees, swing the entire leg assemble including the waist piece downwards, rotate the legs, lower the upper leg green panels and treads, and snap the legs up into the tank. This is one of those times where the graphic instructions are more valuable than these written ones. I know I didn't explain that very well, but it actually makes sense if you see it illustrated.
Be advised that you are supposed to snap the legs into tabs on the front of the tank. This is not a thing easily accomplished, as you almost have to do both legs simultaneously for it to work, and that's not all that easily done.
Finally, swing down the rear tank panels, and secure the treads to the pegs on the treads underneath. The treads do not actually function as real treads, but the way they've done this is still pretty cool. And lastly, insert Megatron's long sword into the cannon barrel to extend the barrel.
And Megatron is now a tank! I'd say "Intermediate" is a fair description of the transformation. The trickiest part, honestly, is that in the final steps in getting Megatron into a tank mode, some of the various pieces have to come together and snap together very precisely, and some of these parts weren't quite as cooperative as one might like. But it's not impossible.
So, how is Megatron as a tank? Very impressive. In tank mode, Megatron measures about 6-1/4" long -- 8" if you count the extended barrel on the turret. The turret does rotate, as does a smaller gun on the top of the turret.
In tank mode, Megatron is mostly green. The purple jagged camouflage of his original Generation 2 incarnation is missing. However, the green appears to be a good match for that version of Megatron, and he does still have purple on him even in tank mode, mostly near the front of the tank, and on the weaponry. There is a large black Decepticon emblem on his left upper side, since his silver emblem is now underneath.
There's some interesting color choices in the details. There's a bit of silver on his turret, but there's also some bright red on his sides, and some tan on the front.
Megatron does roll! Although the treads are not actually functional, there are small wheels, barely noticeable at the tips of the flexible tread strips when Megatron is in robot mode, that allow him to roll along fairly well in tank mode. He's not going to win a race with a Hot Wheels car, or even with a typical car Transformer, but he can roll along.
Overall paint detailing on Megatron in both modes is superb. One thing about Tomy, the company that originally comes up with these Transformers, they're very good with precision paint jobs on very complicated toys, which certainly these Transformers are. I can take an average action figure and tell you how many parts are in it. The number of parts in a typical Transformer? Sorry, not even going to try.
Megatron's character bio on the package reads as follows: Power is all that matters to Megatron. It is his means, his motive, and his goal. It is the core of his being. His every thought is only of how the might of his armies and bring even more power into his hands.
Well, yes, but I hear he's a very lively conversationalist when he wants to be, although he doesn't have much of a singing voice...
His power rankings are as follows: He gets a full "10" in Strength, Intelligence, Rank, and Fireblast. In short, not someone you want to mess with. He gets a "9" in Skill and Courage, an "8" in Endurance, and a "4" in Speed. Hey, he's a tank. They're not out to win the Indy 500.
So, what's my final word? Although this is a somewhat atypical-looking Megatron in robot form, he's still a very cool-looking Megatron, with easily the best Megatron headsculpt I've ever seen, and overall is certainly superior in appearance to the first Classics Megatron, and superior in size to the two-pack version. His tank mode is nicely reminiscent of his Generation 2 incarnation, which I admit I personally prefer from an alt mode standpoint, and the colors are also accurately reflective of this.
It's almost a shame that it took a special import from Toys "R" Us to get us this Megatron, but at least we do have him now. I'd like to think that the Classics/Generations line would get more of an emphasis. Certainly there's plenty more Generation 1 characters that could be done. I mean, could we get Sunstorm at some point? We know molds for him exist.
In any case, if you've been looking for a seriously impressive Megatron to bring in to your Transformers Generations/Classics collection, here he is. I believe that any Transformers fan will be extremely pleased with him. I know I am.
The TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS TOYS "R" US IMPORT EXCLUSIVE figure of MEGATRON definitely has my highest recommendation!