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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Legacy Communicator In-hand Review

We love a bit of die-cast here at TMW. The playthings of yesteryear were absolutely loaded with the stuff, lending them a hefty weight and an impress-your-friends factor that is sorely lacking in toys today. So we’re inclined to give the Legacy Communicator a solid 10/10 based on the fact that it’s more than 90% metal. We’re clearly biased, we know. But the metallic heft of the Communicator elevates it from embarrassing kiddies plaything to a Manly Action Device that you’d be proud to wear out and about – or even to your work/school/court hearing depending on your level of badassery*. This looks so real you’d expect a call from Zordon any minute.

*TWM accepts no responsibility for any social ostracizing that may occur.

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“Rangers, did you know you can claim for PPI? It’s simple and there’s no risk.”

SOUNDS LIKE FUN

You’d be hard pressed to miss your summons to action because this thing’s loud. Loud as fuck to be more specific. We guess that’s so you can hear it in a busy street or packed juice bar or whatever – so don’t hold it up to your ear unless you want your eardrums to crumble like a Japanese parking garage at Megazord time.

LOOK WHO’S TALKING

The lights and sounds are activated by a single button and are dished out in a set order for maximum role-play fun. You press the button and get the classic communicator noise. You know the one. Beep-beep-boo-boo-bee-beep. Press it again and you hear Zordon. He’s got a few different soundbites of sage wisdom. Stuff like:

  • “Teleport to the Command Center, immediately.”
  • “Morph [sic] to the Command Center. It’s urgent. We have a desperate situation, Power Rangers.”
  • “Congratulations, Power Rangers, on a job well done.”
  • “Power Rangers, I need you at the Command Center, immediately.”

The third time you get the teleporting sound effect or – very occasionally – a dud noise that means you’ve got a long walk to the Command Center ahead of you…

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We took this to the watch shop to get the strap fitted and the man laughed at us.

CROWNING AROUND

Sometimes you get Alpha 5 doing his classic “Ai ai ai!” bit, except they flubbed it so it sounds like “Ai ai aaaaaaaaah!”, which is disappointing. Also you can hold the button down for a few seconds and get the Power Rangers theme song. We weren’t tired of that two years ago, and we’re not tired of it now either.

They’ve made some changes to the screen-used design but they’re small and barely noticeable. We remember the crown of the watch extending as a sort of antenna but try as we might the Legacy one won’t do that. On the plus side it wins points for having changeable strap things in the box, so you can customise it to your liking. The left and right sides aren’t interchangeable, so make sure you don’t lose one or you’ll have a tough time replacing it. You get five colours and – surprise surprise – the green one is absent from the standard release. Groan…

Communicator

It’ll end in tears if you try this, sunshine.

STRAPPING LAD

We’ve got to mention that Ban Dai know their audience and the Communicator is obviously designed to fit a fully-grown person, which is good for most of you reading. But the younger ones – or those with a smaller build – will definitely have to take the bastard thing to a watch shop to have a few links taken out of the strap. While slightly annoying, it’s infinitely better than finding out that your brand-new gizmo won’t fit. So full marks there.

KNOW THE SCORE

Another place it gets top marks is quality, as it’s a sturdy bit of role-play kit that’s as fun as you’re willing to make it. It’s a shame we had to play into the stereotype of stingy Brits and mark it down on value though. Our Scrooge McDuck money vault is 65 quid lighter because of this (that’s well over 90 dollars for our American friends), and we can’t help but find ourselves yearning for a time when fun didn’t have such a steep entry price.

COMMUNIRATING