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REVIEW:
TRANSFORMERS CLASSICS MEGATRON
By Thomas Wheeler


No one would ever expect the evil leader of the Decepticons to worry about being politically-correct. Unfortunately, he's been the victim of the PC mentality for years now, thanks to his alternate form. When he's not a robot, Megatron is a gun. And indeed, in the Generation One line, Megatron transformed into a fairly realistic looking handgun, a Walther P-38. Maybe he could get away with that in 1984. He can't get away with it in 2007. Heck, even a Masterpiece Megatron, akin to the huge 12" Optimus Prime that was produced a couple of years ago, couldn't be imported into the United States by online dealers without first having an orange "safety tab" attached to it, despite the fact that the gun mode was preposterously large due to the size of the robot.

Frankly, I think Megatron should just go with being a tank like he was in Generation 2 and leave it at that. For one thing, it makes a fairer fight against Optimus Prime. Truck vs. Tank makes more sense than Truck vs. Gun. For another thing, Megatron would be able to get around most of those worriers and fretters and meddlers that don't think any toy should even remotely resemble any gun, anytime, anywhere, not ever.

And, in fairness, one edition of Megatron in the Classics line did take the form of a tank. It was a Megatron that was sold in a two-pack with an Optimus Prime. Both figures were slightly smaller than their standard, individual Classics counterparts, and had some slightly peculiar features, but they were still very decent toys.

However, if you're going to do a reasonably faithful line of Classics Transformers, and present a series of characters that are a decent tribute, if not a precise match, for their Generation One counterparts (although in more than a few cases those "tributes" were actually improvements, especially in robot mode and with regard to articulation), then Megatron has to be a gun.

But as a result of that, an inevitable result, I suppose -- no fault here to the companies, of all of the Classics Transformers, Megatron is easily the biggest "stretch" of the entire lot. I looked around at my gradually acquired collection of Classics Transformers, and realized that I had everybody BUT him, and with the emphasis on the Classics in the 2007 Transformers Convention Set, and with the apparent end of the Classics line to make room for the movie line, I realized that -- yeah, I really should include Megatron.

I've compared Megatron's gun look to being something between a Nerf Blaster and a Super Soaker. At least both of those are Hasbro products. Now, this may have been a little unfair. But there's still no question that Megatron's gun mode is pretty strange. In gun mode, Megatron is about 8 inches in length, making him fairly sizeable compared to the other Classics.

The package descirbes his gun mode as a "Fusion Blaster". It looks -- relatively gun-like, and is of a size that a person could use in some sort of "role-play", which I'm sure was a consideration. The barrel of the gun is a huge, bulky region, mostly light grey, that has what looks like a cylinder through which, if this were a more realistic gun, bullets would be loaded. Of course, there are no bullets, and since Megatron is a "fusion blaster", who knows what purpose this "actually" serves.

There's not much of a barrel to the gun beyond the cylinder, just a round, bright orange cap -- which in its own way is a nice little jab at the people who think this sort of thing is necessary even on a gun as extreme-looking as this one.

The grip of the gun looks -- well, a little more authentic than the rest of the weapon, even if it is purple. It manages to be both futuristic and somewhat plausible at the same time. And the gun has a scope on the top of it. You can look through this, but it doesn't really magnify anything, or even show anything all that clearly. The trigger of the gun moves and clicks if activated.

Honestly, in gun form, Megatron looks -- like a toy gun, and I'm honestly not sure if that should be an insult or not. He looks like something that would be part of a futuristic toy line of kid-sized "role- play" toys, maybe a more serious take on Buzz Lightyear or something, some sort of sci-fi scenario, and this is a kid-like take on the weapons used within such a concept. Megatron in gun form definitely looks strange, but maybe not all that bad if one allows enough for the format. And the fact that it's probably as much as Hasbro could get away with.

Transforming Megatron is not a particularly easy endeavor. I suppose if one gets used to Transformers that take the form of vehicles of one sort or another, one expects a transformation procedure that is relatively symmetrical. This is not the case with Megatron. One of his legs is the grip of the gun. The other is towards the front of the gun. One of his arms has the scope attached to it. And the main barrel of the gun really doesn't have all that much to do with the robot form except to split open and move to Megatron's back to become a pair of very odd wings.

That's right -- wings. Megatron can apparently fly now. It's probably the weirdest aspect to Megatron in his robot form, and I sort of think that it ended up this way because the designers couldn't think of anything else to do with the barrel and cylinder of the gun.

So now we come to the big question -- how much does Megatron in his robot form resemble the original Megatron? Well -- okay, here we have to take a step back. Because the Generation One Megatron TOY didn't look all THAT much like the Generation One Megatron CHARACTER as portrayed in the animated series and other media formats. There was a reasonable resemblance between the two, but it's fair to say that more adaptations were put into place on Megatron as an animated character than on a lot of the other Transformers. And I don't really think it's fair to compare the original Megatron toy with the new Classics Megatron. I tend to think that the Generation One Megatron toy was designed as a gun first and a robot second. And since we've already established that the Classics Megatron is a pretty weird gun, rather far removed from its "ancestor", I think the question needs to be -- how much does the Classics Megatron resemble the original Megatron character?

And the answer to that would be -- reasonably so, but not as closely as most of the other Classics. Now, there are others that have been a fair stretch. Bumblebee and Cliffjumper are certainly larger and more ornate than their Mini-Car predecessors. On the other hand, Classics such as Starscream, Skywarp, Optimus Prime, and Grimlock DO evoke a considerable resemblance to their original counterparts. Megatron -- isn't bad. But one has to make allowances for the design.

In fairness, over the various Transformers concepts that we've seen in the past few years, Megatron's design has been more -- adaptable than Optimus Prime's. Whatever "look" Optimus has had in Armada, Energon, Cybertron, whatever -- he's still looked very much like Optimus Prime, and his vehicle mode has always had some resemblance to a truck, if in some instances not a particularly earthly one. Megatron, in contrast, has had some seriously wild vehicle designs that don't look like much of anything earthly, and his robot design has been just as wild, and just as far removed from anything a Generation One adherent might regard as a recognizable Megatron. Again, to some degree, this may be due in part to the current inability to do Megatron as a semi-realistic gun.

That having been said, I think it's fair to say that the Classics Megatron does a capable enough job of evoking an appearance sufficiently similar to the original Megatron character, within the allowances of his drastically different design. Certainly the head looks like Megatron as we've best known him. It's worth noting here that Megatron has bright green eyes, with a reflective panel on the back of his head that make his eyes appear to glow when the light hits it. The overall coloration of the off-white is appropriate, and the purple isn't inappropriate. The legs, especially the lower legs, certainly resemble the original Megatron's, since this is one distinct carryover from the original, in that the grip of the gun forms the legs of the robot, even if in this case only one of the legs forms the grip, But the legs look pretty much identical, anyway. The rest of the body is a little debatable, and sort of has to compensate for itself with its color scheme, and the big Decepticon logo front and center.

Also appropriately, the scope of the gun becomes Megatron's massive "anti-proton pulse cannon" attached to his right arm.

A few specific points to the toy, if I may -- the articulation is excellent. Megatron is poseable at the head, arms, elbows, legs, and knees, with some swivel movement at some of these points. Surprising by its absence is the thermal logo sticker, a "blast from the past" applied to the other Transformers Classics. I've checked Megatron up and down on all sides and I don't see one, which is a shame, because there's several places it could have been put.

Megatron is the largest of the Classics. Even not taking the wings into consideration, which I'd rather not, Megatron stands a little over 7 inches in height. This compared to the next tallest, appropriately Optimus Prime, who is about 6-3/4 inches in height. One almost gets the impression that Hasbro and/or Takara had a heck of a time designing this toy and coming up with something that would work for Megatron. He almost doesn't quite fit with the Classics.

Megatron's character profile on the back of his package reads as follows: "Lesser creatures are the playthings of my will." Megatron is the most feared and powerful leader in the history of Cybertron. His might is legendary, and his name is spoken only in whispers. He will stop at nothing in his drive to conquer the universe. So great is his will to power that even his own followers are little more to him than fuel for his war machine, and his enemies are less than the dust he grinds beneath his feet. He is always at the front of any Decepticon charge, soaring into the sky and vaporizing enemy positions with his anti-proton pulse cannon. The mere sight of his snarling face is enough to break the spirit of many an Autobot.

It's a good Megatron. I wish he weren't quite as tall as he is, and I wish he looked a little more like one might expect Megatron would, but the blame for any discrepancies should be placed squarely at the feet of those who if given the chance would run any toy they considered even remotely "violent" into oblivion, and I have far less tolerance for people like that than I do for a slightly quirky Megatron. As it stands, I can live with this Megatron, and Hasbro and Takara/Tomy should be commended for their effort into making sure that he got into the Classics line as best as he could.

If you've been enjoying the Transformers Classics line, sadly short-lived thought it's been, and have seen Megatron, packaged in his gun mode, and have wondered if maybe, compared to some of the others, he's just a little too far removed to be acceptable -- give him a chance. He's a little odd, I won't lie. But he's also still pretty cool, too. And really, what would a Transformers line based on the classic characters be without Megatron?

The TRANSFORMERS CLASSICS MEGATRON definitely gets my enthusiastic recommendation!