Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the animated Transformers movie, and the masterminds at Takara have promised to celebrate the event the only way they know how: by making more awesome toys. So far revealed for 2016 are new figures of movie posterboy Hot Rod – which makes sense – and menacing Decepticon Shockwave, which makes far less sense when you consider he has exactly two lines in the movie and is quietly squashed out of existence in the final act.
Both are part of the reinvigorated Masterpiece line, which aims to correct the mistakes of the past and produce new figures of existing characters improved with today’s toy technology. So why the hell have we not got a Galvatron yet?
In the movie, Galvatron was created by Unicron from the remains of Decepticon boss Megatron. His job was to cover Unicron’s considerable ass by hunting down any pesky Autobots who would seek to destroy him. Unbelievably, Unicron was voiced by Orson Welles – whether or not the animators modeled the foul-tempered planet-eater on Welles himself is not certain at this time. Galvatron sets out to capture the Autobot Matrix for his master, but not before getting his own house in order by challenging Starscream for leadership of the Decepticons. And by “challenging” we mean straight-up terminating his ass in one of the movie’s most brutal scenes.
The character of Galvatron came about, in real-life terms, because of a number of factors. Changing gun laws in the United States meant that the continued production of Megatron – who turned into a perfect replica of a P-38 Walther handgun – just wasn’t viable. The toys had been on the shelves for two years by this point, so it was decided to shake up the ranks of the Autobots and Decepticons with two new leader characters. The new, improved version of Megatron would now turn into a futuristic-looking laser gun, and if need be further transform into a static laser cannon.
Galvatron’s original animation model was designed by artist Floro Dery with little consideration for how it would work as an actual toy – leaving the people at Hasbro to do their best to make a transforming action figure from his sketches in short time. The resulting finished toy has a good amount of weight to it, and even fits nicely in an adult’s hand in laser gun mode. It’s also one of the first – if not the first – Transformer to have electronic lights and sounds. Alas, this figure of Galvatron is probably best described as the phrase “you tried” manifested in physical form. If you squint a bit it kind of looks like him. Or at the very least it looks like a random Transformer in a home-made Galvatron Halloween costume.
It would take Hasbro 22 years to muster up the willpower to crank out another toy, and you can guess how that went. This time Galvatron was a tank – a mandate by Hasbro deems that all new TF lines must contain at least five tanks because “kids love that war shit” – but the figure has vestiges of some kind of third mode, a symptom of being drastically scaled-back in both size and complexity at some point in production. The result is a figure that not even a God of Chaos could love.
And that’s how Galvatron’s story ends. These days, the name has variously been applied to new characters in the live-action movies and comics, and by all accounts Hasbro is more than happy to leave Megatron’s alter ego well enough alone for another 20 years. In the words of gravelly-voiced old timer Kup, it’s not the end we’d wish for, lad. Someone at Takara needs to put this right!