Optimus Prime & Megatron
Review by Optimal III
I've mentioned before that Takara is prone to experimenting with Transformers, but Hasbro has its moments too. One of them came in 2006 when it launched the Titanium line, with the main gimmick being the use of diecast metal. The line wasn't exclusively Transformers-related (having been used for Star Wars before), but out of it came a series of 6" figures; some good, some not, and some average. Between that and other factors, the line was cancelled a year later, and only a handful of toys were produced afterward as exclusives. Though short-lived, I think they all merit a look. So I started with this TRU-exclusive two-pack of Optimus Prime and Megatron.
Starting on a positive note, I have to say that regardless of who's inside, the packaging for all Titanium figures is pretty cool to look at. Each box is modeled after the body of the character inside, so you always get something different. Since this is a two-pack, they just fused the box art for Optimus and Megatron, who were both already available separately. And on the back, we get some solid bios on these characters in the context of their look. This was a pretty big deal at the time. We're looking at Optimus and Megatron from Transformers: the War Within, a 6-issue mini-series published by Dreamwave Comics in 2002 from their early run with the license.
The War Within comic was very well received and is fondly remembered by fans. Its influence still felt even in the current IDW Transformers comics. It was written by Simon Furman, the most prolific TF comic writer from back in the Marvel Days, and penciled by Don Figueroa, a now professional but then famous fan artist. They even paired up again for Transformers: Stormbringer, which is IDW's first look at Cybertron. More to the point, this is Hasbro's first attempt at making toys specifically based on a comic rather than the cartoon of the time or a movie. This is pretty common now, but not back in 2006.
Additional contents include a diorama, shared instruction manual that shows the stands you only get by buying the individual figures, catalogs for Titanium and the first live-action film, and a copy of War Within #5 with an exclusive cover that was also used for the Greatest Battles of Optimus Prime & Megatron TPB. In it, Prime and Megatron have visions of the future, courtesy of the Matrix, that show them just how big and far reaching the Autobot/Decepticon war will become. It's a cool read, but I wish they'd have made the box bigger or just found a better way to package it. As is, it was folded in half vertically and shoved into the bottom, which really irks me.
So, let's start with Optimus. He transforms into a Cybertronian truck, because the story here being set before anything on Earth happens. The truck's body is red, the lights are yellow, and the rear hitch area is blue. There's some silver and gray here and there, and while it's cool to see the bars over the headlights, what really stands out are the exhaust pipes in the middle. Anyone familiar with Transformers G1 will look at those and be reminded of Hot Rod or Rodimus Prime. That might be very intentional homage (reverse homage?) because this is Optimus Prime at the very beginning of his tenure as Autobot leader, and he's not quite the hero we all know and love yet. In addition, the fight between him and Megatron throughout the last 3 issues is very reminiscent of the one between Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime and Galvatron in the original animated movie.
The laser rifle also mounts to the rear. I'm not sure if it looks good there or not, but at least it has a home in this mode. All of the wheels roll fine on their own, but he slides on a flat surface. The rear and front halves of the vehicle aren't quite level, so not all wheels can touch the ground at the same time. Getting his arms locked in can take a bit, but once that's done, he's pretty solid. He certainly feels heavy too, like he could brick someone's window. The sculpting is there, but paint details are light. I don't know if that's something to nitpick because my comics are in storage and I can't find a great picture of his alt mode, but he could use a little more polish. Overall, he's good so far, but not amazing.
Megatron, on the other hand, transforms into a Cybertronian tank. I can't put my figure on it, but something got lost in translation, because the toy just looks flat and inadequate compared to the comic. There, he exuded power, but here I'm wondering where the rest of him is. His treads are static, but the wheels beneath them roll perfectly, Decepticon symbols on the sides of the front set. The red/black cannon can be tilted up or down and rotates on a ratchet 360-degrees. Black, red, and silver seem to be in the usual places, though I wonder if what looks like a third cannon wasn't supposed to get some additional colors. There are also two flaps in the center that look full of what could be micro missiles or some type of anti-personnel shrapnel. He's got a little heft, but not as much as Optimus. Chock it up partially to his mass not being so condensed. Despite the disparity between toy and art though, this is still a nifty little Megatron who benefits from being simple enough to be fun.
This transformation is straightforward. The rear half rotates around and separates, with the feet folding out. The front half of the cab flips down and locks at 90-degrees, allowing the cockpit to slide onto the back and the head to pull up and lock in. The arms flip forward and sort of lock against the wheels, the forearms spin around, the fists slide out, and the shoulder armor is turned to the side. In robot mode, Prime looks...prime, but it's here I also notice how his forelegs are too blue for their own good. Points for going all in on his abdomen though. Metal content consists of his shins, forearms, shoulder armor, abdomen, and chest.
He wobbles a little with that weight, but is pretty stable. His knees hinge, and his hips are ball-jointed with a lot of range that's only hindered by how heavy his legs are. His shoulders rotate vertically, his biceps swivel, and his head rotates from side to side, albeit stiffly. It's nothing too crazy, but he can hit some fine poses.
Up close, we see a little paint slop on his face and helmet, but it's acceptable. The crest and head spikes are present, but are angled and sleek, giving off a retro-futuristic vibe. The one Autobot symbol he has adorns the left side of his chest.
From the side and behind, he maintains an impressive profile, and the wheels add to his presence.
Weapons have to include the exhausts on his arms. They're actually one of the elements Figueroa carried over into Prime's Cybertronian design for Stormbringer.
Of course the ever trusty laser rifle is present. It's grey silver instead of the usual black, but still recognizable. Figueroa even worked his signature into it without being tacky.
And though there's no removable accessory, the seam for an opening chest panel can be seen, hinting at the Autobot Matrix of Leadership contained within.
Megatron's transformation is short, but kind of interesting. The rear half of the tank rotates, the legs separate, and the feet fold up. With the front half, the tank treads pull out to the side, to allow the inner part to rotate, and then snap back in. The arms fold out of those same treads, and the main gun is removed. Overall, he looks pretty good. His forelegs are barren of detail the same as Prime's, but being black helps subdue it. And his metal is those forelegs along with his body.
Joints wise, he has hinged knees and elbows, forearm swivels just below the elbow hinges, thigh swivels, ball-jointed hips, vertical ratchet shoulders, rotating hands. His head rotates too, just as stiffly as Prime's. What's weird here is how big his shoulders are, or shoulder armor I should maybe say. It almost looks like his arms are attached to his body at the elbows, but they're not. Megatron generally keeps a good posture because the treads on his shins are hollow plastic, so he gets at least one victory over Prime this time.
From the side, he looks fine, but from behind, the hollow space in his shoulder armor is obvious. Some type of panel to cover it up would be welcome or maybe if the wheels could be flipped in, anything to either hide it or make use of it. There's also a clasp on the back of his waist. This was supposed to be a storage place for his sword, but the accessory was not made.
Even so, Megatron is pretty well armed in robot mode, using all the weapons he has in tank mode. The back-mounted cannon can be tilted down just over his shoulder and rotate from side to side. Those flaps that may be weapons are now his hip skirts.
The main cannon can be hand-held, so it's pretty easy to emulate his fusion cannon look. This weapon isn't as big as his typical fusion cannon, but being set within in a shield makes up for it and gives him a change of pace. It's kind of a cross-up between his G1 and G2 designs, though definitely in G1 colors.
But if you'd prefer both of Megatron's hands to be full, you can separate the cannon from the shield to make two items. The cannon solo looks sort of gimpy, but the shield is fine and now looks good for bashing things in, like Autobots.
It's a safe bet that none of the Titanium toys are perfect, but some of them came out pretty good, and that includes these two. You could buy either one separately and get their stands, but those aren't anything special, and surprisingly this set tends to be cheaper. I got this for $40 just a few weeks before this review, which is equal to or less than what I could find Prime or Megatron for alone, so the choice was easy. These guys are also unique as two of only three toys based on Dreamwave books (the Fallen being the other). So I say they're worth your time if you're even a little interested or a fan of the War Within.
|Posted 1 June, 2015 - 06:49 by Optimal III|