Saturday, 18 April 2015

Combiner Wars Leader Megatron

Ever since Megatron's original alternate mode was lost to toy makers his most frequent alternate mode has been a tank. The first Megatron to turn into a tank was his G2 Version but even before that he was driving a tank in Action Masters. Most of the time the tanks have been green, like the G2 version, with a diversion into purple for his Combat Hero but recently the idea of a silver tank Megatron has started to take hold, usually as a repaint of an existing toy. This is the first mainline Megatron to have his first tank mode in silver.

He comes in robot mode: to transform into tank start by removing his hand gun. Straighten the arms to the sides of the body and fold the outsides of the wrists forward to cover the hands. Fold the head back, and fold the chest plate up in front of it. Fold the front of the waist down. Fold the cannon back against the arm and turn so the missile points up. Fold both arms in over the chest and peg the outside of the cannon into the arm opposite to the one it's attached to. Push the front of the foot up and bring it against the front of the leg. Fold each leg out to the sides and up, pegging into the body. Push the backpack treads up. Separate them and fold out to the sides, locking into the chest plate. Fold the waist plate back locking between the robots knees: it slots in between some tabs on the back of the tank. Extend the tank's gun barrel. Split the hand gun in two and peg each half into holes on the rear of the tank turret.

000_0079 One of the surprises of tank mode for me was that the turret turned! None of the advanced photos had given me any clue that this was the case! A very clever shoulder system, mounted on a turntable, allows this to function. Unfortunately he fails the other half of the tank test by being unable to raise his barrel which is really not good enough on a tank this size. The tank's barrel contains a missile which is fired using a red trigger on the top of it. The barrel can recesses as part of the transformation or to customise the length in tank mode. Fully extended the tank's barrel is a bit too long for my liking but there's a half way position, with the trigger just exposed, which is looks just about right to me.

Megatron has a feature which will please many Transformers fans: he has rubber tank treads that roll as he moves. In order for the transformation to work the tank treads are split in two on each side which looks a little odd when you look at it. Unfortunately this feature worries me. A lot. I have bad experiences with rubber parts, particularly rubber tank treads. My reissue Robotman/Biotron had his tank treads break on him and all they were doing was sitting there on the toy! I just don't think they'll last especially if they do get use.

The tank is absolutely packed with moulded detail: there's two 5mm ports on each side to the rear of the turret, two Minicon hardpoints either side of the front of the tank, one on the rear and one on the front of the turret to one side. The positioning of this hardpoint, and the lack of one on the opposite side of the tank will come back to haunt us later but in this mode it's the only one available that won't cause any attached minicons to be hit by the tank's turret or barrel as it's turned.

Lets turn him back into robot mode: Fold the front of the tank treads under the tank, pull them back and bringthem together. Seperate the waist plate at the rear of the tank. Pull the rear half of the treads out to the sides and back, locking them into place, to form the legs. Slide the ffet down under the legs. Peg the waist plate in. It's at this stage you can see how the turret mechanism works but you can also see the moulded details of a Spark Chamber cover, resembling what Beast Wars Megatron had in the cartoon. Fold the front of the chest plate down over it pegging into place at the waist. Bring the head forward. Slide the rear of the turret up exposing the hands. Retract the tank barrel, and fold out to the side to form Megatron's cannon. Unpeg the guns and combine them together to form a larger weapons. The guns combine together either way round so you can have two handles on one side of the weapon or one on each side.

The robot mode eschews the sloped tank front chest of G2 Megatron for a flat one and is very much going for a 1984 Megatron look, even down to using red as an accent colour on the chest and for the inner side of each arm. The thin legs, shaped with a concave front, brings to mind the original Megatron's formed from his alternate mode's gun handle. In fact the overall look is pretty close to Megatron's animation model even down to making his eyes a clear red lightpipe which, to be absolutely honest, isn't the best one I've ever seen!

000_0084 Articulation: Ball jointed head, shoulders swing forward and back at body, turn and fold out to the sides at the arm. The folding out to the side exposes an awful lot of the shoulder joint thanks to it being anchored in the arm quite high up. There's a bicep swivel just above the elbow, which bend and he has rotating wrists which beats the previous Leader class toy Jetfire. His waist turn, but is obstructed by the backpack, the hips move fore and aft and to the sides, with plates at the side of his waist being hinged to allow the sideways movement. There's a thigh swivel, the knees bend and the foot folds forward at the ankle, forcing the leg fronts to rise, as part of the transformation. This allows Megatron to achieve some very stable walking poses, probably better than any other Transformer that I can remember!

So where have the hardpoints ended up in this mode? Well the one from the rear of the tank is inside the waist. The two from the front are on the rear of the backpack. The one on the front of the turret is on his left (our right) shoulder, but set slightly too low for my liking, and it's got no opposing hardpoint on the other side, from the opposite side of the turret. Now I'm quite keen on shoulder mounting Minicons as cannons so this annoys me somewhat! I can see why they've done it, so the cannon doesn't hit it, but even so...... There's no Minicon hardpoints on the wrists, but he does have a 5mm peg hole on each of them which were previously found on the rear of the tank. There's also a newly revealed 5mm peg hole on the outer side of each leg which enables you to holster his gun when not in use.... which given that this is Megatron, who rarely uses a handgun, is quite often!

His main weapon in this mode is his Fusion Cannon, formed from the tank's barrel. Left as was, with the business end of the tank's barrel pointing up/back, the front of the cannon looks like a passable fusion cannon, albeit too close to the arms. However the cannon can be spun round so the missile launcher points forward which, while functional, just looks odd!

Megatron is a bit of an odd beast, and not just because he comes with a set of Autobot stickers to enable you to mimic his More Than Meets The Eye appearance. They're going for a Tank with a very G1 robot and I think what we've ended up with is about as good as it should be. The tank treads worry me for longevity and the non elevating tank barrel is annoying. But the major thing about the tank mode is it's colour! When have you ever seen a silver tank? They're probably going to be either green or brown with camouflage detailing. The robot mode is a pretty good attempt at a G1 Megatron BUT, and it's a big but, the Cannon just isn't quite right, both it's shape and it's positioning on the outside of the arm instead of being raised above it. As I said the lightpipe is poor and the lack of symetry on the shoulder hardpoints annoys me. Then there's the really big question: why is Combiner Wars Megatron a leader class toy? Yes you can get a nice effect by having him dwarfing Combiner Wars Optimus Prime and then having Prime's combined form tower over him. But surely if the Autobot leader can combine then the Decepticon leader should be able to too? An odd decision. You feel this toy might have sat better in the Thrilling 30 line than in Combiner Wars.

But the toy has a certain something. It's far better than most modern Megatrons and will make a decent leader for my Generations Decepticons.

Megatron was released c February 2015 packed with his Armada repaint, see bellow. Initial supply to US stores wasn't good due to the 2014/15 dock workers dispute and it took until April 2015 for most US online stores to receive their stock two months after the first in store sightings.

His Japanese version, which removes much of the red detailing, is due in May 2015. The red inside wrists, a callback to the original Megatron, were the detail that steered me towards the US version as the silver of the Japanese version didn't look right.

Generations Combiner Wars Armada Megatron

Released at the same time as the silver Megatron is one painted like his Armada version. Now they're trying here with a new head, complete with "antlers" that looks like the original, and a pretty decent colour scheme but Armada Megatron is a completely different shape in both modes as an H tank in vehicle mode and with his treads towering above his shoulders in robot mode. Original Armada has no mounted cannon either.

It's an OK repaint but it's not Armada Megatron and given the choice I hunted down a complete original Armada Megatron for half the price of the new leader toy.

Future Repaints

Some would argue that the Japanese repaint didn't go far enough. The original Japanese version, which is now known as Megaplex, has flat grey for it's gun body with the arm panels in blue, instead of red.

The other option I thought/hoped the Japanese would go for is a purple one, like Combat Hero Megatron/Archforce. Takara didn't release the larger tank in Generation 2, although it did eventually emerge as Megastorm in Beast Wars 2. Instead the Combat Hero Megatron was their G2 Megatron and as such many of heir subsequent tank Megatrons, such as EZ Collection Megatron and United Megatron have been purple too.

A third option from Japan is taken from the Transformers GO EZ Collection Megatron, whih was released in a nice grey and black urban camouflage.

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