Toy Review: Combiner Wars Megatron

All Hail Megatron! Maybe it’s a shocking confession, but we didn’t actually have a Megatron in our collection before (other than the teeny one that “hatched” out of a Kinder Egg). Since we’ve only been buying Transformers (again) for the last couple of years, there hadn’t been a Megatron released during this time who really appealed. We wanted a large Megsy, a figure with some gravitas, the sort who nobody – except probably Wheeljack – would dare to call “Megsy.” But most of the more recent toys of this iconic Decepticon have been smaller sized ones, and we weren’t about to the pay the silly prices for which some of the older, larger figures now sell. So I was pretty excited when I heard a new Leader class Megatron was on the way as part of the Generations Combiner Wars line. We pre-ordered this big guy way back in January, but I only just got my hands on him last week. His ship date just kept getting put back and put back. But finally here he is!

A Leader Class Decepticon Leader

A Leader Class Decepticon Leader

Was he worth the wait? Let’s have a closer look shall we?

Megatron from the G1 cartoon

Megatron from the G1 cartoon

First of all, though, a quick history lesson. In G1, Megatron’s alt-mode was, famously, a gun, a Walther P-38 pistol to be precise. This was problematic for several reasons. First of all, in terms of in-universe flavour, being a weapon made Megatron weirdly dependent on those around him. In the G1 cartoon he would usually transform into a gun then fly to the hand of a nearby Decepticon in order to get fired. Frequently this meant Starscream. And this is a terrible idea, not merely because this untrustworthy lieutenant par excellence would dearly love to fire Megatron and take his place, but also because, as we saw in that sequence from Transformers the Movie where Screamer repeatedly fails to hit Arcee and Springer, who – let’s not forget – are running in a straight line across an open space, Screamer’s marksmanship is appalling. It’s always seemed odd to me for such an allegedly tyrannical leader to have an alt-mode that left him quite so reliant on others. Sure, turning into a gun sends a threatening message, but it’s the wielder that makes a gun truly deadly – or not in Starscream’s case.

Which brings us to the second problem with Megatron’s original pistol form. It was a bit too realistic and has been mistaken for a real gun on more than one occasion.  In order to prevent such potentially dangerous misunderstandings, Hasbro had two options: fit a lame orange cap to make it abundantly clear this gun is just a toy, or give Megatron another alt-mode altogether, one that still allows him to preserve some badass dignity. Fortunately they (by and large) went for option two, and lo! G2 tank-shaped Megatron was born.

This Combiner Wars Megatron figure is significant because he manages to combine the tank alt-mode with many elements of the original G1 gun guy, creating a Megatron who is satisfyingly retro but never feels like a museum piece.

Packaging front and back! Learn to talk about Megatron in multiple languages!

Packaging front and back! Learn to talk about Megatron in multiple languages!

Robot Mode

There haven’t been that many toys based on G1 Megsy, so first all let’s just say that it’s good to have this guy. His look strongly evokes that of the original 80s cartoon, particularly in his facial features and those angular eyebrows. The head is one of my favourite features about this toy: it turns 360 degrees (which is necessary for his transformation sequence) but also – unlike many other TF toys – has a good degree of upward and downward motion, so it’s easy to pose him in a variety of threatening and disapproving ways.

Boom! Head shot!

Boom! Head shot!

The translucent plastic in his eyes gives them a very show accurate red colour but the light piping element is less successful here as this figure has a “backpack” (mostly consisting of his tank-mode treads) which extends above shoulder level and blocks most of the rear light sources to his head. So Megatron’s eyes only glow when the light comes from directly above him, which is a bit of a shame.

I’ve mentioned the tank treads, these are visible on his back and on the backs of legs but it’s still impressive just how much this guy’s robot mode manages still to evoke that of G1 Megatron – who, of course, doesn’t turn into a tank at all. I think this effect is mostly achieved through the (comparative) skinniness of his legs. The G1 toy had quite slim legs because they turned into the handle of the pistol. A tank Megatron could easily have been much more chunky in the leg department so it’s a nice touch that this toy harks back to the shape of the original toy even though their alt-modes are different.

CW Meg2

Standing at 22cm to the shoulder, this is a satisfyingly big bot. He also scales well against the Combiner Wars Voyager Optimus Prime (who I review here), as I always feel Megatron should be the taller of the two iconic leaders. Despite his height and the relative skinniness of his lower half, Megatron is also a nicely stable figure. He’s not quite stable enough to stand on one leg but his weighty feet do anchor him pretty well. But however sturdy, the poses you can do with him are limited: Megatron’s waist swivels but his backpack and, uh, crotch-piece, both protrude in a way that impedes movement and prevents some of the most dynamic limb arrangements. So he can’t do the YMCA but he can be put into a number of ”I’m totally going to shoot you” positions which is really what you want from your Megatron. And, thanks to some very substantial ratchet joints in his shoulders and knees, the poses he can do he holds very well. I’ve found quite a few of our Transformer figures have rather loose ball-jointed shoulders which makes their arms wobble and gradually droop over time unless the joints are thickened up with clear nail varnish, but fortunately this was not an issue here.

Height comparison with Combiner Wars Voyager class Optimus

Height comparison with Combiner Wars Voyager class Optimus

To be honest, he needs firmly jointed arms because that arm-cannon is big. The cannon is non-detachable but can swivel round to be posed with either end pointing forward, and the whole weapon can be positioned either to the side of his arm or – for a more classic style – directly above it (though only when Megatron’s arm is fully extended).  On the box, Megatron is shown with the the thinner end of the gun pointing forward. This end can be pulled out to further extend the barrel: almost doubling its length. This looks good in tank mode but when Megatron is a robot the fully-extended gun looks kind of ridiculous and makes you suspect that he is compensating for something. When fully extended you can can also press a red button to fire a red projectile. It’s a decent enough gimmick but I’m sure I’m not alone in preferring to pose my Megatron with his cannon flipped the other way round, wider end forward, for a much more satisfyingly classic look.

No sir I don't like it

No sir, I don’t like it!

That's more like it!

That’s more like it!

Megatron looks striking in a shiny silver with red and black accents. There are some nice sculpted details on his chest, again strongly recalling his design in the G1 cartoon. He also comes with a sheet of stickers to add additional or modifying details. As the owner of a few Takara Transformers I’m used to Bots coming with a sticker pack. I’m quite a fan of this as the act of applying the extra details can make each figure feel more personal to you. Stickers are slightly less common on Hasbro products, but the real talking point with Megatron’s sticker pack is that his comes with an Autobrand as well as the classic Decepticon sigil, so that – if you want to – you make this figure more like the Megatron in IDW’s MTMTE. I think it’s great that this fantastic comic series has come to have such an influence on the figures being produced but I have to say in this case I’ve chosen to keep my Megsy unstickered. Not just because I want to display him on a Decepticon shelf, but also because his sculpted details are already decent and to be honest while the stickers are a nice inclusion they could’ve been better quality. The stickers are let down by the fact that they are printed on a white backing, rather than silver or see-through, so they’d have a visible border when applied to the figure.

Transformation

I really enjoy Transforming Megatron. His sequence is very straightforward and intuitive with only 16 steps – which is very little for a robot of this size. There are no real surprises here but it’s a satisfying sequence, and sometimes the simple ones are the best. I especially like the way his knees both bend up sideways and his backpack unpegs to unite the caterpillar tracks of his tank. It all pegs together in quite a solid way too.

Vehicle Mode

In the Fall of Cybertron game Brawl announces “real Decepticons roll on treads” and I’m pleased to announce that, in tank mode, Combiner Wars Megatron does indeed roll out in this way. Not on tiny wheels disguised behind non-functioning tracks à la Generations Blitzwing, but on actual caterpillar tracks that roll forward properly. This is a really impressive feature that looks cool; although it could prove a mixed blessing for collectors thinking of the the longer term, as the treads are rubber, a material that is likely to decay much more quickly than the plastic surrounding them. Me? I guess I’m not all that serious about these things, so personally the immediate joy of rolling Megsy forward outweighs most concerns over the future longevity of the figure. But the use of rubber in this toy is something some of you might want to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to buy.

Overhead view

Overhead view

In tank mode, Megatron is even more shiny and chrome than he is as a robot. WITNESS HIM!

One mighty fine tank

One mighty fine tank

The fact he is painted rather than just coloured plastic really shines through. He looks great. While there’s plenty of detail in the sculpt, the solid blockiness of the overall shape again strongly evokes the G1 aesthetic. If 80s cartoon Megatron had turned into a tank rather than a pistol, this is how he’d have looked. Of course, tanks are usually shaded for camouflage so you can question the logic of a blazingly silver one. Maybe on Cybertron it would blend in better. But then Megatron has never been about blending in: shock, awe and tyranny are more his bag, so from that perspective his colour scheme is pretty much bang on.

Compare the tanks. With Generations Voyager Blitzwing

Compare the tanks.
With Generations Voyager Blitzwing

Another really nice feature of this vehicle mode is the fact that the turret swivels so the gun can be pointed at a variety of angles and the more tapered side of the cannon looks much more fitting when extended here than it does in robot mode.

Fully extended gun

Fully extended gun

Accessories 

Megatron’s cannon doesn’t count as an accessory, it’s an integral – and iconic – part of him. But he is packaged with an additional black gun that can be split into two smaller weapons if so desired. Megatron has tubular fists with a standard 5mm port so he can wield the additional gun in his hand or attached to one of a number of other ports that pepper his arms and body. I prefer the second gun when combined as the two smaller components look rather ineffectual when wielded separately. When you have a whole cannon on your arm it seems unlikely you’d bother with a piddly little gun in the other hand; go big or don’t bother.

Nice detailing on the guns, but when separated they look a bit ineffectual

Nice detailing on the guns, but when separated they look a bit ineffectual

It’s worth mentioning also that although Megatron is part of the Combiner Wars line, he is a standalone toy who doesn’t play well with others combine with any other figures.  Although he does have a good number of plugs and posts so if you’re desperate for some robot conglomerate action you can, I guess, cover him in mini-cons. I’m assuming this Megsy features as many plugs and posts as his does because a variant of this mold that was released around the same time represents him as the Megatron from Transformers Armada. This show featured some particularly irritating human kids (even by the standards of this franchise) and also a vast array of mini-cons who, when powerlinxed to the larger bots, serve to release energy and power them up. It’s super effective. The mini-cons would probably look more appropriate on the Armada Megatron figure but the plugs and posts here allow you to attach mini-cons to this more G1 incarnation of him, if so desired.

Today Megatron is wearing Arms Micron Gra

Today, Megatron is wearing Arms Micron Gra.

So that’s Megatron, then. Not perfect by any means…

“NOT PERFECT? HOW DARE YOU, SUCH INSOLENCE WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!

*AddAltModeR quickly shuts Megatron back in the display case*

Where was I? Yes, Combiner Wars Megatron isn’t perfect by any means but with a great overall look and some wonderful detailing there’s certainly lots to enjoy about him. Worth the wait? I think so.

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5 thoughts on “Toy Review: Combiner Wars Megatron

    • Yeah, I didn’t even get in to the size changing issue of him turning into a gun (size changing is generally an issue in G1). A tank is an improvement as far as I’m concerned.

      Starscream is definitely a graduate of the Stormtrooper marksmanship academy. He’s not quite as bad as the Vehicons in Prime but that really isn’t much of an endorsement.

      Liked by 2 people

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