Monday, 15 July 2013

Superlink Galvatron General

Once upon a time, when a TransFormers character got an upgrade, it meant a whole new mold. Think Powermaster Optimus Prime or, indeed, G1 Galvatron. In the Unicron Trilogy, however, upgrades came either in the form of one character combining with another, or a simple repaint. While this trilogy didn't start this trend (Robots In Disguise is to blame!), it certainly raised it to an artform, taking each of three different Megatron molds, and giving them a new paint job to create that line's Galvatron.

Strangely, though, Superlink started out with Galvatron rather than Megatron, and his repaint/upgrade gained a suffix to his name along with a very G1-inspired colourscheme.

Note that this is the smaller Japanese version of the model, rather that the upscaled US/European version.

Vehicle Mode:
Let's be honest here, this is not one of the high-points in TransFormers design. It's a large, chunky, and it has Galvatron's head sticking out of the underside. The only 'disguise' that gets is that it's rotated to face backwards, and two of his crests fold down... Still, even that is better than Megatron in either of the first two live action movies. An, in many ways, this interpretation of Megatron/Galvatron is strangely reminiscent of the first movie Megatron toy: huge wingspan that just winds up on his back, the bulk of the legs fold up under (and plug into) the wings, and the nose folds down his back... it's almost as if this toy was a direct inspiration for the other. Almost.

There are a couple of interesting design elements, such as the intake-things right at the back of the somewhat gracefully curved nose, and the 'hypermode' transformation of the wings, which gains them about a centimetre in length as well as flipping out additional weapons and raising the tops of the wings to be almost vertical.

The colourscheme is very much G1 Galvatron... at least, as he appeared in the animated movie. Lots of silver (mostly metallic-looking plastic, but a fair bit of paint), lots of purple, with red highlights for the engine intakes and afterburners, as well as on the guns mounted on the nose. In the photos, the purple plastic seems rather washed out - it's far stronger and more vibrant, though perhaps a little too bright, even for an homage to the cartoon colours. The weapons are molded in transparent yellow/orange plastic. On the whole, it's rather garish compared to the original colourscheme, even though that minty look could hardly be described as 'subtle'.

Galvatron's weaponry is fairly interesting, too - as well as the (almost) automorphing wings, the two cannons mounted either side of the nose are directable up or down... though I'd imagine this would be of limited use in flight. The main event is the tank which can plug in on top, and has all the electronic lights and sounds this model has to offer. That isn't much, however: all you get for this mode is a firing sound when the spring-loaded missile is launched.

Alternatively, without the tank, Galvatron has a total of six Mini-Con ports - one on each wingtip and four on the body of the plane. There are also 5mm weapon ports on either side of the nose, molded into the red-painted guns.

Proper retractable landing gear are available on this model - two on the bottom of his enormous engines, one on the nose. All of them seem unfeasibly long, and this is largely because of the robot's head hanging off the bottom of the jet. They could be shorter, since there's plenty of clearance between the central crest and the ground - probably more clearance than any other TransFormers aircraft - but they're effective and free-rolling.

Robot Mode:
Here's where the homage to Galvatron from TransFormers: The Movie becomes very clear. He's a great, big, bulky robot, with plenty of molded details based on the animation model, but surprisingly quite a few taken from the toy as well. The landing gear is molded to resemble the designs on the cartoon character's shins, the afterburners become knee decoration, and the details on his thighs are similar to the 'boot tops'. In fact, I'd go so far as to say this is probably the best version of G1 Galvatron yet produced... if it weren't for the fact that he's lacking his trademark arm cannon.

Only he's not lacking it... A closer inspection of his twin shoulder cannons reveals that they are very closely modelled after the G1 model's arm-mounted 'laser that emits chemically-produced, direct-current electricity'. They are still directable in robot mode, but they're not quite able to point straight forward unless he swings his arms back, since their range of motion seems to have been set with his vehicle mode in mind. It's a shame they're not able to swing laterally, but I guess that could have made them more liable to break off.

'Hypermode' is still accessible in this mode, though it becomes rather redundant, as the additional weapons are all pointing up or down, and cannot be directed because they're stuck on his wings, hanging off his back. He's not without armament, though, as a couple of clips can fold out from the bottom of the tank weapon allowing it to attach to either arm, though its size does limit mobility somewhat.

In robot mode, the tank serves a dual purpose as there is a sword stashed in the nose of the plane. Now, I'm a little puzzled by this sword as it seems to have been fairly prominent in what little I've seen of the TV series, and it's always held in his hand. For the toy, it's stored in the plane nose/scabbard in such a way that it can only be retrieved by plugging the back of the tank into the top of the scabbard, then pressing the pale blue button just above the landing gear. The sword has to remain in the back of the tank, thus causing even more limitation on the mobility of that arm - the sword or tank gun barrel clash either with Galvatron's wings or his shoulder cannons. To clarify, the sword can be removed... but it has no 5mm post to slot into his hand. On the upside, it does have access to its own sound effect thanks to the electronics in the tank - tapping the sword to one side activates a sword-clash sound and a flickering LED. What impressed me is that the light appears to be sound-activated - that is, it seems to flicker in response to the volume of the sound effect, rather than just being the on-off-on-off kind of thing that has become standard.

The head sculpt is very basic - literally a bucket-head, with a couple of additional crests stuck in the side to better resemble G1 Galvatron's crown. The face is bland and very human, with wide, narrow eyes and a very prominent chin/goatee. It's painted to match the pale blue of his crown, which also appears in odd places all over the model.

This being a suffixed repaint from the Superlink line, Galvatron comes packaged with an Energon star and an additional weapon - in this case all stolen from Superlink Dinobot/Energon Cruellock, and cast in transparent purple plastic. Most of these additional weapons seemed like bizarre choices to me (Nightscream Rebirth came with Chromehorn/Insecticon's energon drill, for example), but this one almost makes sense, since it gives Galvatron a sword he can actually hold. The weapon also splits down to a tiny hand-held pistol and a slightly shorter sword and, amusingly, the weedy pistol can plug into that otherwise-mysterious 5mm socket on the tank's turret. I quite like these additional weapons, but part of me would have been more amused had they included Jaguar/Ravage's weapons, since they included a G1 Megatron homage sight/fusion cannon.

The tank weapon should look familiar to anyone who followed the Unicron Trilogy, as it's molded after Megatron/Galvatron's alternate mode in Armada/Micron Legend. When I first heard about that, I thought it was incredibly cool that Superlink Galvatron/Energon Megatron used his previous form as a weapon. Haven't seen it in action in the TV series - he seems to prefer using a sword - but it's an excellent idea.

It's something of a 'Super Deformed' version of Armada Megatron/Galvatron, as the turret is proportionally larger. The barrel is fatter, too, even though the length comparatively similar. It could have done with some with some paint to bring out the details - it even lacks the battle damage highlights of the original and Western versions - since detail is so abundant, considering its size.

Going by the look of the tank, one might expect a light to flash behind the Decepticon insignia on the transparent yellow window on the turret when the missile is fired, but sadly the sound effect is all there is. What's quite interesting about this weapon is that it comes with a Mini-Con port (inactive) in the same place as the port on Armada/Micron Legend Megatron and Galvatron which activates the machine gun sound effect. In roughly the same position as another, this weapon has a port for just about any standard (5mm peg) energon weapon. In place of the Mini-Con launch ramp, there's a flip-up targeting system... though it's rather a strange addition to the model as it would be rather difficult for the operator to see.

The thing that bugs me the most about this model is that the Superlink/Energon line had some unique and interesting molds with excellent transformations... and yet this thing - one of the larger models in the line - is utterly simplistic, even more basic than Armada Megatron/Galvatron. The way the entire nose of the craft just hangs off his back in robot mode is lazy and unsightly to the point of reminding me of the worst of Generation 1. Granted, TransFormers toys have been doing that as recently as 2009, and even in the movie line, so it's nothing out of the ordinary. This thing seems to have been designed as a robot mode homage to Galvatron from the animated movie, and then just had jet parts slapped on for a transformation that would make a contemporary Scout Class figure look like the height of complexity. There are unfortunately plenty of TransFormers planes that are little more than a folded up robot stuck in the underside of a plane, but this model is the equal and opposite: bits of plane stuck on the back of a robot.

On the upside, his articulation is a significant improvement on the Armada/Micron Legend version, with fully articulated hips and properly bending knees, though the ratchet joints are such that even one notch makes too big a difference to their position. Additionally, the feet are tricky to line up in any pose other than 'standing straight' because they aren't at all poseable so, in most poses, he ends up 'standing' in a very precarious balancing act. The arms are pretty good, but the cannons on his shoulders look rather daft and, when using his sword in particular, they get in the way of posing because the tank's barrel clashes with the weapon.

As far as the alternate mode goes, I rather wish I'd picked up the original version, which I always think looks like someone tried to turn a swan into an attack jet. Purple, silver and black doesn't look quite so interesting and the paintwork has been cut back substantially (unusual for Takara at the time). For robot mode, however, this version wins out through sheer authenticity to the animated movie appearance of Galvatron... that said, the US version, just for a change - was even better, having been given rather more intricate paintwork and its tank mode is coloured after Armada Galvatron (thus referring quite well to the weapon used by Galvatron in the G1 cartoon), whereas this version's tank is plain purple for no obvious reason (except perhaps to refer to the weapon wielded by the G1 Galvatron toy).

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