Saturday, 27 November 2010

War for Cybertron Megatron

Ever since the halcyon days of Generation 1, when it was perfectly acceptable for Megatron to transform into a slightly off-scale replica of a Walther P-38 handgun, he's had to make to with some bizarre alternate modes. From tanks to Tyranosaurus Rex to weird jets to sports cars... and so the revelation that, back on Cybertron, Megatron transformed into a tank is about as surprising as finding that Optimus Prime was a truck.

Which is to say not at all.


Vehicle Mode:
Yes, it's yet another gosh-darned tank. But! Gasp! Due to certain aspects of its transformation, the treads can fold up underneath the body of the tank to make it... wait for it... a Hovertank! Wow.

The first thing that strikes one about Cybertronian Megatron is how sharp and angular his alternate mode is... Well, actually, probably the first thing is the honking great cannon, but this really is just a tank made out of sharp, pointy angles - if the cannon or the treads didn't get you, then something would surely impale you as he passed.

The major flaw in this alternate mode is the cannon... not that it's basically kind of sat there looking big, just that... it's completely fixed. Not so much a problem for a Hovertank, but a tank running on treads would be incredibly vulnerable as it slowly turned its entire body to find its target. I presume the game shows the cannon having some vertical movement, or firing on a target above him would be impossible.

Like Optimus Prime, the paintjob is sparse but serviceable. Megatron is basically just pale grey, black and red, with the occasional metallic purple highlight. These, I assume, are meant to be WfC Decepticon purple glowy bits, even though that is represented elsewhere by transparent purple plastic.

One thing I really don't understand is the pincer/claw thing on the front... Sure, maybe it's a reference to Armada, where H-Tank Megatron had a whopping great Mini-Con capture claw for a head, but it seems wholly out of place. Considering, too, where it ends up on his robot mode, it seems like a poorly thought out addition that serves no readily discernable purpose.
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Robot Mode:
OK, wow.

When I first saw photos of this guy, I wasn't very impressed... He looked so bland and blocky and flat. Not so. Like his alternate mode, Megatron in robot mode is made up of sharp, stabby bits. Nothing to rival the Shrike-inspired Movie character, but certainly quite dangerous-looking. No matter how many photos you see, you really have to have this thing in front of you before you get any real sense of the raw power the model manages to convey. Again, I lament Hasbro's decision to make Generations a Deluxe-only line - as boring as it might seem - having this figure, no more complex that it already is, in a larger format would be awesome.

Something that really tickled me was the molding on Megatron's back - look at the fifth picture, and you tell me that's not a reference to The Fallen from the second movie in that rendering of the Decepticon insignia. Megatron looks like one of those excessively muscled body builders or wrestlers with an enormous, demonic tattoo over the whole of his back. Shame there's no paint detailing on this panel, as it would have made it phenomenal.

His arm cannon, another element rarely seen since Generation 1, is actually longer than Megatron is tall and that pretty much compensates for the lack of any movement (other than the spring-loaded missile launcher) in the weapon. In the game, it visibly transforms between various modes, and panels swing back when it fires, but this thing is perpetually static. It almost looks as though it should be possible to mount it the other way round, but it points at a strange angle due to the angle on the socket.

In the main, WfC Megatron looks brilliant, but certain elements are a bit of a let-down. The aforementioned pincer/claw from the front of his vehicle mode just sits idle, like a very strange parrot, on Megatron's left shoulder. Upon his right, meanwhile, is a black detail that is clearly a duplication of one element from his arm cannon. I suspect this is one of the more obvious examples of how the toy and the videogame model differ in the complexity of their transformations.

The paintwork is sparse, but Megatron doesn't need much by way of decoration. The pale grey, deep red, black and transparent purple suits the character perfectly. The head mold is a little odd - referencing the iconic G1 cartoon's buckethead, but making it look even more like a warrior's helmet, rather than part of a robot's head. Even the tiny Decepticon insignia on his forehead is represented by a molded, painted purple triangular blob. However, while the head features transparent purple plastic for light-piping, the eyes are painted red.
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Transformation is thankfully quite simple, though the only reason this becomes disappointing is the afterthought that is Hovertank mode. I mean, seriously, is anyone actually fooled by these 'additional modes'? Still, there are a couple of interesting points in his transformation, not least the fact that the head doesn't actually need to stow in the chest (and actually hangs down rather close to the ground if it does).

The arm joints are quite strange - largely as a symptom of transformation - and the leg joints are fairly limited... but, unlike Optimus Prime with his natural-looking, fairly small feet, Megatron has enormous great plates for feet, making him incredibly stable in just about any pose.

I'm really not sure what to make of this model... On the one hand, his vehicle mode is utterly disappointing and lacking imagination... it also, bizarrely, made me think of the Marvel Comics representation of Straxus - yet another flying tank-thing. I wonder if any of the Kitbashers have considered a headswap and repaint...

On the other hand, while kind of basic, his robot mode looks and feels every bit as powerful as it should... He's even able to pull off his G1 box art pose (pic 7), something even the Masterpiece has some trouble accomplishing.

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