MP36 Masterpiece Megatron Review

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“I am sick of comments about my giant head. The first such incident occurred on…”

You’ve got to hand it to Japan. When it comes to giant robots, spandex-clad superheroes, and animated porn featuring suspiciously “fresh” young ladies, they’re absolutely at the top of their game. It’s the aforementioned giant robots we’re interested in today, but stick with us for the latter. If ever the TMW readership takes a dip we’ve always got the safety net of My Sexy Robot Little Sister reviews to fall back on.

LISTEN TO UNCLE!

The 80’s version of Megatron originated in Japan as a 1:1 scale toy robot who turned into a gun. Specifically, a Walther P38. Even more specifically, it turned into the customised boomstick used by Napoleon Solo in the Man from U.N.C.L.E television series. Weird huh?

One more thing!

This toy was one of many, many existing Japanese figures shanghaied into the Transformers toyline and animated series by Hasbro in 1984. We’ve covered this in detail before, but the discrepancy between the toy version of Megatron and the animated one – which also appeared in the comics, merchandise, and even in Universal Studios as a kid-size replica the little shits could climb over/vandalise –  has been a bone of contention for Transformers fans since the sunny Saturday morning in 1984 the TV series hit the airwaves.

His crotch doubles as a TV dinner tray.

Just look at it. Christ, look at it. It pales in comparison to the tin tyrant who stomped all over our TV screens in the 80’s. So now – well over thirty years later – it’s up to Takara to leap in, banish the old toy to the land of winds and ghosts, and right past wrongs with the release of the new Masterpiece Megatron. Is it worthy of the name? Let’s find out.

THE REVIEW

Put simply – for we ain’t so good with big words here at TMW, hyuck hyuck – the only way you’re getting a better Megatron than this is to shove off to Cybertron with a special shrinky-dinky machine and steal the real one for yourself. There. We said it. It is best Megatron. End of review.

He scales and displays perfectly with his nemesis Optimus Prime, but veers more towards the animated cartoon aesthetic than Prime. In some ways Megs shoots for almost slavish cartoon accuracy, sporting a frankly massive head – with plenty of goofy expressions – and other odd details like the slightly wrong Decepticon sign all the baddies had in the show.

“Yessss!” Megatron finds out he gets 50% of all the movie’s T-shirt sales

He also features electronic sounds activated by a button on his patented fusion cannon. You can switch between three sounds: the transforming sound (you know the one); a very weedy laser sound affect (ignore this one); and a smattering of Japanese phrases, none of which we understand apart from “Destron gundan, TRANSU-FOOOOOOOOORM!” which we never get tired of hearing.

Articulation is what you’d expect from a toy this price. As well as the standard joints, he has ratcheting shoulders and knees, so can really hold a pose. Curiously he can bend over double at the waist in a way that’ll have Marilyn Manson sobbing into his sacrificial altar with envy. We like.

CH-CH-CH CHANGES

Unfortunately, actually transforming this thing is such a pain in the ass. So much so we usually think twice before getting him off the shelf and do something easier instead, like bringing peace to the Middle East . This is mostly due to the boggling amount of tiny movable parts, but is sometimes made harder by the odd oversight on the part of the designer. For a start, the whole figure is coated in a thin layer of matte paint, which scrapes off leaving ugly marks if you’re not careful. Actually it happens even if you are careful. Good job we don’t keep our toys mint or we’d be absolutely fuming. Also, on our sample the hips were basically fused by the thickness of the paint and the tight joints, and just wouldn’t come apart for transformation. We had to take a screwdriver to it in the end.

The gun barrel is a likely point of breakage too. The plastic is just too soft and is liable to bend or snap completely at the hinge if you don’t know what you’re doing. We shaved it down with a stanley knife. Jesus, is this a toy or a fucking model kit?

It took us a good forty minutes to get into gun mode, and even then the whole thing was sort of straining to pop apart like one of those clown cars where the wheels fall off. By this point we were too enraged to care. Seriously, this thing would have had Mahatma Ghandi going beast mode and throwing hands like M. Bison if it came out in his lifetime. Er, if Ghandi played with toy robots, which is unlikely.

GUNNING PLAN

So. After all that straining, grunting and sweating (ooer) it sort of looks like a gun. Card-carrying NRA members (not sure there’s much crossover between gun nuts and Transformers fans, but we’ve been wrong before) beware: it definitely doesn’t look like a real Walther. Quite apart from the millions of seams and cracks running over the thing, it’s way too blocky and oversized. In any case, we’re glad they traded a bit of real-world accuracy away in favour of the impressive robot mode. No electronic sounds in this mode unfortunately, so pulling the trigger gets you nothing. For shame.

That being said, it really is incredibly satisfying to turn it back into robot mode. The level of engineering skill on show here is something else. We’re very impressed. If a man in Japan asked us to design a functioning robot toy with nothing but an 80’s cartoon and a handgun to go on, we’d quite frankly shit ourselves. It’s worth a fiddle just to see how everything works.

This selfie stick obsession is getting silly now.

THE VERDICT

There’s lots of value to be had here. The stock and silencer are configurable into loads of different modes, and there’s a bundle of quirky accessories to have fun with. Our faves are the battle-damaged face/chest bits, and the doofy looking “control helmet”. All of Megatron’s iconic weapons and gizmos are included. There’s so much to mess about with. If you like to have a guilty play with your high-end collectable toys it’s a must. But maybe leave it in the box if you don’t fancy getting the figure – and yourself – into a right state.

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I Clean My Gun and Dream of Galvatron

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?

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“Who’s a guy got to disintegrate to get a new toy around here?”

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.

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Our faces looked just like this when Starscream carked it.

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.

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The battles of the future will be fought with… these things.

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.

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“If you do just 50 crunches a day, you can have abs like these!”

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.

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Tanks, but no tanks.

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!