Sunday, 22 May 2016

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2015 (Timelines): 'The Boss' Megatron

BotCon 2015's boxed set - Cybertron's Most Wanted - was an interesting concept, but only really had a couple of actual figures I was interested in. One in particular was the inspired - in my opinion - repurposing of the TF Prime/Arms Micron Breakdown mold (specifically the zombie/'Silas/CyLAS' version Takara Tomy put out) as a cross-continuity Dark of the Moon Megatron.

Vehicle Mode:
The only significant difference to the mold in this mode is the addition of chromed bullbars on the front, the upgrade applied to the resurrected/zombified Breakdown piloted by what was left of MECH leader Silas. To a vehicle already replete with 5mm sockets, the bullbars add a further three on the front of the vehicle.

The colourscheme is intended to reference Dark of the Moon Megatron's rusty Mack tractor trailer, but the cab skews a little too olive-coloured, rather than faded tan, and the switch to grey plastic on the rear end leaves the vehicle looking a lot like an adaptation of TF Animated Wreck-Gar's garbage truck alternate mode. Aside from the olive paintwork over the translucent purple sections featuring the vehicle's windows, most of the paintwork is patches of 'rust' dotted about pretty much everywhere. To no-one's surprise, the rear end is effectively bare of paint, with only the hubcap on the spare wheel painted olive to match the four rolling wheels, while the rear bumper - faux-chromed with a sticker on the original Arms Micron Breakdown - is bare grey plastic. The small side windows are painted purple, but I feel these could have been left alone if it meant getting some silver paint on the bumper instead.

The extent of the rust seems fairly appropriate to the concept, but the fact that there's no rust mottling texture to the mold means the colouring looks very artificial. Meanwhile, the front bumper is painted with a surprisingly coarse silver paint, which leads me to wonder if something when wrong with the paint specifications, and the textures of the silver and copper/brown paints were somehow switched. A smoother silver still wouldn't have matched the chrome of the bullbars, but it would have been more consistent, while a coarser texture to the 'rust' paint would have solved the problem with the lack of molded corrosion.

Megatron's team of three Arms Microns can be attached to the myriad ports dotted around the vehicle, but only Boombox - being the one that transforms into an approximation of TF Prime Megatron's fusion cannon - really looks the part. A claw-type weapon and a chain mace/flail aren't much use to a vehicle like this, but they certainly add to the Mad Max vibe of this reimagining of DotM Megatron.

Robot Mode:
TF Prime Megatron was already pretty bulky, but the Breakdown mold - while comparatively small among the TF Prime toyrange - is clearly a serious heavyweight. Weirdly, in robot mode, his primarily green look makes me think of a Shattered Glass Breakdown, since this is effectively a faded Bulkhead colourscheme with added rust. It's surprising how well this specific mold suits the idea of Megatron, and particularly the DotM version, though I'd put that down to the exaggerated bulkiness of the movie CGI and the way the front of the toy's cab compressed down to form part of the chest in robot mode - the overall effect is quite similar here, even down to the front wheels being attached to the shoulders.

The distribution of colour - with the exception of the 'rust' - is pretty much the same as AM Breakdown, just as paint rather than stickers, making it that much more durable (one would hope!). The silver on the shoulders and knees is the same coarse paint as the front bumper, but it works quite well on the robot parts - TF Prime's CGI (and, to an extent, some of the toys) frequently used metal textured finishes, rather than consistent, perfectly smooth and reflective plastic surfaces. The Breakdown mold is make up of largely smooth surfaces, so this textured paint not only adds some variety, but brings the figure more in line with the look of the TF Prime TV show.

While I honestly struggle to find a truly effective way to attach Boombox and Scalpel to robot mode, Heavyweight comes into his own thanks to the design of the Breakdown mold, which allows for the hands to be swung back into the wrists to reveal a forward-facing 5mm port on the wrist, making this one of the very few Megatron toys with a G1 cartoon-style chain mace/flail that he can actually use well. While I felt the chain on Masterpiece Megatron's flail was overlong, Heavyweight's is far too short - when I first pulled it out of his cavernous torso, I thought it had got caught up inside somewhere but, following some research, it looks as though the chain is just really, really short. Given the space inside the virtually spherical body, I'm sure a longer chain could have been included, but perhaps that would have made it more prone to breaking.

I'm very glad the head sculpt on this went more for the traditional 'metallic skin' look for Megatron's face - the full-on, overcomplicated detailing movie look would not have worked on this figure - but it doesn't quite fit in with the standard TF Prime aesthetic now, simply because he has a nose. The helmet is halfway between the movie look at an approximation of G1, but it works well. It has some of the sweeping, sharp-edged panels but a coherent, solid 'helmet' look befitting of a Megatron, as well as some of the finer movie-style details subtly added to the forehead. The angle of the band of helmet directly above the red-painted eyes isn't quite the 'battle eyebrows' of TF Prime Megatron, but gives him a focused and determined look that's ideal for the character. The same coarse silver paint is applied to the face, making it look a little weird, almost as though his face is made up of a metallic fur, but it stands out nicely against the olive plastic of the head.

Micron Partners Boombox, Heavyweight & Scalpel:
I can understand the thinking behind Boombox and Heavyweight: the former represents G1 Megatron's fusion cannon - black with silver detailing - but in the style of TF Prime, while the latter represents the energy flail Megatron used in the pilot to the G1 TV show, in the battle atop Sherman Dam/Boulder Dam. Scalpel, meanwhile, is a fairly simple and direct movie reference to the diminutive 'doctor' who repaired Megatron and wanted to extract Sam's brain in Revenge of the Fallen. He's an odd one out, perhaps, but then rarely does a character's armoury represent his multiversal alternates quite so well, so it strikes me that the Club did an excellent job planning both Megatron and his team of Microns.

All three Arms Microns are new to me, and all three are exceedingly weird in varied and unique ways. Boombox arrived slightly misassembled, in that the head/handle part had been attached the wrong way up (noticeable in the photos above, but fixed for those below) but worked fine other than that. The barrel of his fusion cannon mode doesn't peg together at all, and features two flip-out blades (intended to represent the sword-thing that sprouts from the cannon in the TF Prime TV show) that also don't peg together in any way, so the whole assembly normally ends up flopping around. His gorilla-ish robot mode has exceedingly strange 'feet' and halves of the cannon barrel for 'arms', but looks OK from most angles. Heavyweight barely transforms between this three modes - Bulkhead-style wrecking ball flail, 5-barrelled cannon and stumpy robot who looks like a wrecking ball with arms, and it probably would have been more appropriate to have molded him in a translucent plastic if he truly is supposed to represent G1 Megatron's mêlée weapon. Scalpel, meanwhile, becomes Predator-like claws when he's not a mantis-like robot thing and is sadly very floppy in the arm joints.

Only Boombox features any significant paint applications - fairly extensive patches of silver, as well as red for his eyes - leaving the other two looking like afterthoughts because they're so plain - Heavyweight's eyes are silver, but he's otherwise unpainted, while Scalpel doesn't have a single application.

There's only one real difference between this mold and the original Arms Micron Breakdown, and that's that the bullbars prevent the central portion of the front bumper from folding into the torso, so that whole section remains in its vehicle mode configuration for robot mode, adding to the already fierce look of the mold. Other than that, I've found that the vehicle fenders/shoulder sections on mine aren't glued together the way they are on my AM Breakdown, so they have an alarming habit of gaping open and coming out of alignment during transformation - I may break out the superglue to fix this.

The bio reads like something designed to accompany an existing story - alluding vaguely to past events (starting from Dark of the Moon, leading into an unfamiliar story where Megatron finds himself pitted against Rodimus Prime before winding up at the Cybertronian hub of the Timelines universe, Axiom Nexus) - without really saying anything about Megatron himself (other than the epiphany that his life's story is destined to follow a repeating pattern). One can only hope that the Cybertron's Most Wanted comic that accompanied the boxed set fleshed him out a bit but, based on my experience of BotCon comics thusfar, that's pretty unlikely. His Arms Microns don't even rate a mention, which is ridiculous considering they don't get a collective bio card of their own, let alone individual cards. It seems equally unlikely that they would have received much by way of characterisation in a BotCon comic.

Aside from the one construction issue with the shoulder, mentioned above, and the curious colouring - both the choices of plastic colours and the oddly contrary nature of the silver and 'rust' paints - this is a pretty decent reimagining of Megatron. He's powerful-looking and has a decent, cross-continuity vehicle mode. In a sense, I got him more because of Scalpel that because I wanted this incarnation of Megatron (largely because a weapon used by Megaplex in the comic which accompanied the Machine Wars: Termination set looked remarkably like that particular Arms Micron), but I do like the Breakdown mold and the other Arms Microns are a cute homage to the Decepticon leader's pan-dimensional arsenal.

Of course, now I have two BotCon Megatrons... so my OCD may yet require that I pay silly money for the only one I'm now missing: BotCon 2006's excellent Darksyde Megatron.

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