Thursday, 18 June 2009

Galaxy Force Master Galvatron

At some point in the history of all things TransFormers, but well after the 1986 animated move that first introduced the Megatron/Galvatron upgrade dynamic, it seems to have been decided that the difference between Megatron and Galvatron can be nothing more than their paintjob. This has been true with Car Robots/Robots in Disguise, Micron Legend/Armada, Superlink/Energon and Galaxy Force/Cybertron, and it's generally a huge disappointment. Considering that G1 Galvatron was an entirely new mold (and, according to his Tech Specs, at least, an entirely different character), and one of the earliest models with lights and sounds (primitive though they may be) to have an official UK release, using the same mold in a different colour scheme seems like a cop out.

The upside with Galaxy Force, then, is that the original colourscheme for Master Megatron is vile - purple, grey, orange... not a great selection - while the Galvatron upgrade is almost entirely silver and black. In fact, this is one of the few occasions where the US/UK Cybertron figure looks slightly better than the Japanese version, as the yellow panel in front of the head on this one is gold on the US/UK release. There may be other superficial differences but, in the main, they're pretty much identical.

Vehicle Modes:
Yes, Galaxy Force Mega/Galvatron are triple-changers... kinda. The main alternate mode is of a very spiky, intimidating racing car - and, like one of CR/RiD Mega/Galvatron's many alternate modes, there are strong hints of Batmobile to this, as if it's meant to not only outrun everything else on the road, but potentially ram anything else off the road. I'm not sure why anyone thought this would be an appropriate alternate mode for the leader of the Decepticons but, if Mega/Galvatron has to be a car, he'd have to be a car that looks like this.

In some respects, it looks like a heavy-duty drag racer - huge rear wheels, smaller wheels in front - and in some respects it looks like one of those experimental cars designed to break the land speed record (along with the neck of the driver). It has a comparatively small 'cockpit', and everything behind that is molded to look like a hulking great engine is in there somewhere. There's even a pair of turbines on the back which are just one of Master Mega/Galvatron's Planet Key-operated gimmicks - plug the key in, and the turbines spring out diagonally and spin briefly. This is accompanied by one of the two sound effects offered by this model - a strange, tinny ignition sound. The other is activated by pressing either trigger on the rocket launchers at the rear of the car - a missile firing sound effect is played, along with a flashing red LED in the middle of the launcher. It seems strange that all the sound and light effects are specific to the car mode, but since both the turbines and the missile launchers are effectively on Mega/Galvatron's backside in robot mode, they cannot really be intended for use in that state.

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The alternate vehicle form is supposedly a jet... but nothing that bulky could ever fly, no matter how much thrust it had. While car mode looks like it might be fairly aerodynamic, jet mode is anything but, since the front of the car mode is folded backward, and the 'cowcatcher' part forms tiny, ineffectual wings. It certainly looks malevolent, but it also looks like an afterthought - as if, during the development of the toy, the designers found that it looked loosely jet-like, and so added the pegs and sockets required to keep the parts in place.

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Robot Mode:
Oddly enough, the look of Galaxy Force Master Mega/Galvatron put me in mind of the Japanese names given to Car Robots/RiD Megatron and Galvatron - Gigatron and Devil Gigatron. The horns, the spikes... the faintly 'Goff' look of the model... the way the front of car mode hangs off his back like a very bulky cape... so many elements of this design suggest something demonic. If they ever did Transformers Crossovers: Universal Monsters, this model could easily be repurposed as Dracula.

Silver is still the dominant colour, though more red (possibly more of a dark orange than a true red) is visible at the joints of his arms. The sculpted detail is meant to suggest a strong connection to Unicron (the designs on the shoulders in particular), as he's described as having 'Unicron Armour'. However you look at it, the details are pretty cool, and look far better in this colourscheme than the vile original. That said, Master Megatron looked reasonable in robot mode as the colourscheme was designed to hark back to Unicron also... it just left him looking faintly ridiculous in his vehicle modes.

This is potentially quite a poseable model, hindered only by limited waist movement, but the joints of the feet are particularly weak on mine, so it's very difficult to do anything other than stand him up straight. One very cool feature of this mold is that his weapons are stowed in the car parts that hang off his back. Plug the planet key into each one (rather stupidly, the ports are on the inside of each one, making them fiddly to access) to release a deeply unconvincing and weedy-looking handgun (whatever happened to Mega/Galvatron having a huge blaster?) or a strange, forearm-mounted claw (which reminded me of Batman's gloves, though they could also be taken to be extrusions of demonic power). It makes some sense that Mega/Galvatron would have a ranged weapon and a melee weapon, and the claw certainly suits him. A feature of the handgun that almost redeems it's weediness is that it has a crank on the top which can be used to rotate the wheel and simulate the gun in action - something like the 'Chaingun of Doom' used by Beast Wars Rhinox.

There's also a third weapon, not detailed in the instructions but which supposedly featured in the Galaxy Force/Cybertron TV series - bring both of the car front halves round to the front, under his arms, and connect them for what I can only suppose is the Devastating Super Weapon. To be honest, it just looks like two chunks of his car mode sticking out of his chest... I guess you have to have seen the show to understand it.

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Transformation is a pretty simple process - Master Mega/Galvatron may be large, but he's hardly one of the complicated TransFormers. There's nothing remotely tricky about changing him from robot mode into either of the vehicle modes, and switching between those is insultingly simple.

One interesting feature of this model is the sheer number of rubber parts: the horns, shoulder spikes, knee spikes, shin guards, car/plane nose/forearm guards, the spines of the wrist-mounted claw and the two mostly redundant folding fins behind the front wheels are all rubber. I guess they didn't want any kiddies injuring themselves in sharp, solid plastic spikes.

Again, it's disappointing that what few sound-and-light effects this mold has are specific to the car mode - no hidden buttons for extra effects are revealed during transformation, and the eyes are light-piped rather than being lit by LED. If nothing else, it's a shame that the Planet Key doesn't activate a different sound effect when plugged into his back in robot mode.
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