Leader-class Decepticon Megatron (Earth Mode)
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
As Megatron departed his warship to claim the long-lost All Spark for himself, that scheming, back-stabbing, arrogant, and incompetent traitor Starscream secretly planted a bomb on him, which then exploded while he was aboard the Autobots’ defenseless maintenance ship. The blast threw Megatron out of the vessel, and the powerful Decepticon was lost as he fell into the atmosphere of Earth. Starscream finally had his victory, and claimed leadership over the Decepticon army, despite the mournful protestations of Lugnut who had just lost his rightful master, and the doubts of the other loyal soldiers aboard. But what none realized was that Megatron survived his plummet through the air... sort of. His chassis crashed near Detroit, Michigan where a young man named Isaac Sumdac was working in his wooden shack on amateur-built robots. Sumdac found a few scattered parts, including a hand and the head, but none of it was functional. He then spent the next 50 years reverse-engineering the alien robot’s technology, using it to create a strong corporation called Sumdac Systems in the late 21st century. Without the human being aware, Megatron slowly regained consciousness, and learned about the highly-primitive human technology. Then he made Professor Sumdac aware of his existence, but he tricked him by saying he was a friend of the Autobots, and didn’t want his existence revealed until the two of them could make a new body for him. Over the next few months, as more Decepticons arrived on Earth looking for him, Megatron secretly experimented with Sumdac’s robots, trying to make a more powerful body on his own, but all failed. Finally, his fanatically-loyal servant Lugnut was able to steal a poorly-protected key that had been modified by the All Spark from the Autobots, and Megatron used it to rebuild his recently-recovered body into a more powerful form. With the modified key card in his possession, Megatron can finally leave the foolish Sumdac behind, and go on to take the real All Spark once and for all. Oh- and smash Starscream’s traitorous Spark into the next millennium…
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The voice of Decepticon Megatron is performed by veteran voice actor Corey Burton, who also covers Autobot Ratchet, and several other semi-regular & guest characters- including a cameo by his better known G1 character Spike Witwicky- in “Transformers Animated”. But he is currently known for providing numerous official voice recreations of a wide range of Disney characters in both direct-to-DVD videos and in the theme parks, as well as other announcer-like performances. Megatron’s vehicle mode (back) is that of a two-seat futuristic twin-rotor heavy attack helicopter. Vectored thrust nozzles at the back end of the tail boom, combined with the side-by-side paired main rotors, eliminates the need for a small counter-rotation rotor in back; but he still has two jet engines for forward movement along the top between the rotor nacelles. Though it didn’t turn out quite as smoothly as I would have liked, his robot mode’s arms are supposed to be widely-spaced engines and missile-launching pods which fit directly beneath the rotors. (Unlike in the series, they don’t actually launch anything in toy form.) The cockpit has enough room for two human occupants (were this vehicle mode not the inherent form of a Cybertronian, of course), and the forward seat can just be made out below the transparent-red canopy. (Indeed, in the season-one finale, Megatron places a kidnapped Isaac Sumdac inside of the cockpit.) And below the nose is Megatron’s trademark fusion cannon, now as a powerful chin gun turret. For features in vehicle mode, there are plenty to go around; I’m putting off talking about the fusion cannon until later when I review the robot mode. To get it out of the way, he has three-point landing gear, though none of them are retractable in vehicle mode. However, if you remove the fusion cannon [and the attached part of the armor, which reveals Megatron’s head], there is an extra landing gear directly under the nose which can be swung down. Now, here’s the cool thing… The rotors are connected together inside those nacelle wings via an internal mechanism. So, even though there is no motorized feature in this Leader-class toy, when one of the rotors is turned by you, the other one automatically spins in the opposite direction at the same time so that you don’t have to! (Awesome!)
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The other is the light-and-sound function which is limited to just Leader-class figures from the “…Animated” line. This is accessible in both modes, and functions differently for both, but is activated the same way. In vehicle mode, when you press on the transparent-red Decepticon symbol on the bottom, several red LEDS around it and one in the cockpit will flash on-and-off several time. The sound of a jet engine powering-up is heard, followed by rotors turning, and then a power-down sound. Now, here’s the kicker: if you hold down the activation button the whole time, the spinning-rotor sound and flashing LEDs will continue for nearly a full minute! (In other words, if you can position your hands just right, you can get the sound F/X and spin the rotors both at the same time. Neat, huh?)
Automorph Technology is a special feature which was introduced in the “Transformers: Armada” (2005) line, and returned in “Transformers: Cybertron” (2006); though it was not called such until the debut of the toy line based on the first live-action film “Transformers” (2007). What Automorph does is- depending on which toy is involved- use a series of internal levers & gears, triggers, and buttons to move one part of the figure without you having to move it yourself; it automatically transforms for you. Sometimes, an Automorph feature will be electronically-powered, though this is reserved for special larger sets only. For Megatron, there is only one Automorph features, though it’s not identified specifically as such:
- To bring the shoulders up against the upper torso, after the rotors are removed, the support wings are tilted upwards- bringing them to a horizontal position as opposed to them being diagonal in vehicle mode. The joint system for this is shaped like an “X” from the front- moving the right wing shifts the left arm, and vice versa.
Unfortunately, this mechanism does not snap into position in either mode, so when holding or posing him you have to be wary that you don’t shift either one. (Whether this is a quality control issue I cannot say, but I haven’t heard of anyone else’s snapping in place.)
Megatron’s robot mode (back)- like much of “Transformers Animated” in general- takes a lot of his inspiration from the original G1 TV series “The Transformers” (1984-86). Several things come to mind. First, his coloring- dark gray, black, and red, with a pale face, red eyes, and a purple Decepticon logo on his chest. (Unfortunately here, that logo is transparent-red. Grr…) His head features the same blocky helmet-like design and mouth, but adds some new things like vents and small circular details on either side of his jaw. His upper torso is broad, and has a similar shape in the chest to that of the original G1 character; though with some additional transparent-red details for effect on the toy. The speaker for his sound effects is cleverly hidden in his mid-torso in such a way that does not add anything that isn’t on the character in the series. The arms are entirely new, and are more oriented towards the “...Animated” design-style. While traditionally Megatron’s huge fusion cannon was always on his right arm- as can be recreated here- he is shipped out from the manufacturer with it on the left, which means that it can be removed and is interchangeable between them. While no longer the separated grip & trigger of a German-built Walther P38 [U.N.C.L.E. Special], his legs, nonetheless, maintain a very similar shape. On his back hang the nose section, wings, and jet engines from the vehicle mode which do appear in the series in this fashion (hence I do not consider them kibble). Megatron has some unusual posturing which will later affect his range of motion. The most obvious would be how he leans forward when standing straight. The problem, though, is that while his ankles tilt inwards very generously, they don’t pitch forward or backward, so you can’t do any fancy posing using his lower legs; just twisting at the knees. However, you can see that by leaning forward like this, he off-sets all that stuff on his back so that he doesn’t become back heavy. (I’m undecided if this is a good thing or not.) Though his elbows are turned inwards, from a side view the entire lower arm permanently pitches forward; turning the elbows forward 90° only increases the effect. Because of how high his upper arms raise, they come to within a hair’s width from those wings; and since there is no locking mechanism, sometimes they will bump into them when things accidentally shift around. So in some ways, his range of motion is a bit limited compared to smaller-sized figures. But, most of his joints ratchet, and there are no ball-and-socket joints to wear out quickly. His head, waist, upper elbows, wrists, and knees all free-turn, as do the little black hip guards.
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For special features, this Leader-class figure has several. The easiest one to use is the light-&-sound. Simply press in on the red Decepticon logo on his chest, and Megatron-
- says, "Where is the All Spark?"
- says, "Crush the Autobots!"
- laughs manically
-in that order while the red LEDs in the cockpit, chest, and his head flash on-and-off. (I’m still trying to decide if that’s really Mr. Burton saying those lines, or a generic sound-alike.) Each time you depress the Decepticon logo/button, there is an internal mechanism which moves Megatron's face- his mouth opens and his brow drops! His face only moves when you press on the button, otherwise it remains neutral. (Unfortunately, if you try to make him 'talk' by pressing and releasing rapidly, you always get the SFX to activate. What I've found is that lifting up on the back of his head moves his face around without activating the effects.) Another feature that activates only when you press the button is that his mouth opens, and his brow drops to one side a little! The second feature is his fusion cannon. Now this one actually fires a single transparent-red projectile, but to load it, you insert it, and then pull on the back of the cannon to cock it. Then when you press the tiny black trigger, the back of the cannon springs forward, and the missile shoots out! Also, as mentioned earlier, the cannon can snap onto either arm, but the preference is for the right. And the last feature is that both main rotors can transform into two separate hollow-center swords that can be held in both hands!
Many people and longtime Trans-fans were once more greatly disturbed by the newest incarnation of those famous shape-shifting alien robots in disguise; for example, turning the famous Optimus Prime into a measly wannabe with no ambitions and trust issues, or the overall design style of merging & graceful lines/curves matching that of other recent cartoons such as Disney’s hugely-popular “Kim Possible” (2002-2007). And yet after a rocky start in trying to win back the minds of the fans, the show has become a hit on its own as much as it is a tribute to the original G1 series from 1984. Plus, “Transformers Animated” is an original American series like “Beast Wars: Transformers” (1996-99) and “Beast Machines: Transformers” (1999-2001) before it, rather than being a dubbed anime production from Japan. The same can be said of the toys thus far in their initial releases. But as word has spread across the Internet, the toys have come to shine on their own- not just for their functionality, but for their absolute and striking similarities to their on-screen counterparts, which has never been as fully successful before- where proportions were usually off, colors were wrong, and functions were off or not mentioned. In other words, after 23 years, we are finally getting in our hands what we see on the screen in a way never seen before in Transformers history. This is unquestionably an homage to a legendary and beloved character, with so many of his physical traits carrying over from the original TV series and being used in a respectable way. That he was so popular, and has such staying power in the minds of fans says a lot as well. But then this version of the Decepticon leader has his own qualities- a twin-rotor helicopter mode, paired swords, and an “I’m not playing around anymore” aura. Perhaps my complaints might lie in his transformation and vehicle mode. I thought the tail boom was kinda weak looking, and could’ve used some beefing-up for such a powerful character. The transformation seems to be built around his torso- obviously it needed to in order to avoid messing around with the electronics therein, but it seems like a cheap attempt to get around providing us a more complex transformation. I mean, you need the fusion cannon part in order to cover the head! That’s too old school for me as a likable come-back. Same with the arms becoming weapon pods- if they could have extended further away from the body somehow, the transformation would have been more convincing; not to mention having a [better] locking mechanism for that feature as well! I will say, though, that I really like how well the rotors turn compared to each other- they don’t grind or protest like some previous figures from other lines did (*cough*movie Scorponok*cough*). The feet are a little irritating that they don’t bend back & forth, but I can live with that. What I can’t figure out is why they turn inwards so easily! As to the electronic feature, I think they could have used a plain white LED, and then been able to use a purple Decepticon logo like he has in the series. While it’s nice to have his face move around a bit, you can’t really play with it without always triggering the SFX, which is kinda annoying. Closing this out, he’s got a few quirks, but this Leader-class Megatron still rocks hard. So go get ‘im!
|Posted 12 August, 2008 - 02:12 by EVA_Unit_4A