Friday, 11 December 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Generations Select Super Megatron

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Release Date: September 2020
RRP: 6600 yen/$59.99

Although the Transformers Generation One continuity ended in animated form in Japan with the Zone OVA in 1990, the story continued through the manga – eventually becoming Transformers: The Battlestars the following year. Promoting the Return of Convoy element of the franchise, Battlestars saw Optimus Prime resurrected once more as Star Convoy to battle the new Decepticon Emperor Dark Nova. However Dark Nova has his own resurrected champion in the form of Super Megatron, a reformatted Galvatron resurrected following his defeat and burial in ice during Transformers: Headmasters. Whilst Star Convoy did receive an original G1 figure during the run, sadly Super Megatron (as well his upgraded Ultra Megatron form) did not…until now that is. Hasbro and TakaraTomy's Generations Select range is a sub-line of exclusive Transformers toys dedicated to repurposing mainline figures into more obscure homages. Among the line’s 2020 releases is Super Megatron himself, the perfect partner to the new Star Convoy figure released in 2019. Generations Select Super Megatron is an extensive retool of Titans Return (Transformers Legends in Japan) Galvatron, which works as a very neat double homage given the origins of the character within the Battlestars manga.

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Super Megatron comes in a basic fold-out lid brown cardboard box with a big Decepticon logo on the lid, with the “Transformers Generations Select” name tag just below it. This is repeated along all four sides of the box, along with some bordering to give it a bit more pizazz. The whole box is then encased in a black sleeve featuring a dynamic line-art illustration of Super Megatron, with further Generation Selects name tags as well an actual “Super Megatron” name tag. It’s pretty basic packaging compared to what you’d see with mainline Transformers figures, but it’s that simplicity that tells you that this is a particularly special release. Inside you’ll find the toy stored in spaceship mode on a moulded plastic tray, with a few plastic bands wrapped around to hold it into place. Underneath the tray is also the very easy to follow instruction leaflet, taking you through the various forms in the following order - Spaceship mode > Super Megatron robot mode > Ultra Megatron robot mode > Tank mode > Ultra Megatron Omega face swap gimmick.

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Super Megatron’s alt mode is a sleek space gunship, using Megatron’s cannon as the front portion of the ship with a small cockpit sitting on top of it. The toy is impressively similar to the original Battlestars artwork for the character, with the key exception being that the legs are tucked at the back of the toy rather than sitting awkwardly underneath like they do on the original. While this means the toy lacks the giant boosters that the original design has, it means for a far neater and aesthetically pleasing spaceship mode overall. The design has a fantastic 80s sci-fi quality to it that fits in perfectly with the latter stage Generation One robots, and that impressive wingspan gives it a nice size despite only being a voyager class figure. The shape also has some similarities to Energon Megatron, which despite probably not homaging Super Megatron at all just goes to show how the character has retained similar shapes over the years. It’s completely different to the kind of alt mode you usually see G1 Megatron with yet is instantly recognisable as him, which might just be down to that classic colour scheme. The dashes of red are a great touch though, and immediately give the impression of a souped-up Megatron rather than just being another variation on the classic look.

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Super Megatron’s spaceship mode shares some similarity to Galvatron’s own spaceship mode (a new addition made for this particular figure), however the slightly different placement of a few different parts does lead to a very different silhouette. Naturally Galvatron does have the impressive wingspan of Megatron and the cockpit/cannon parts are completely different, but the key difference between the identical parts is how the legs are assembled. Whereas Galvatron has them spread apart to turn him into some sort of flying space triangle, Megatron’s stay neatly tucked away at the back to give him a more box-like shape. Both have their charm, but while Galvatron’s feels like a little more like an afterthought (as it should, the cannon mode is definitely the priority, Super Megatron’s feels far more defined and focused.

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The transformation from vehicle to robot mode is simple yet extremely satisfying, beginning with removing the front section of the jet to become Megatron’s iconic arm cannon. From there it’s simply a case of twisting the waist around and adjusting the limbs, with the chest opening to reveal the head (the chest itself also needs rotating as the one displayed initially out of the box is that of Ultra Megatron’s. The wings rotate and fold up nicely to become a relatively flat backpack, and then the cannon sits atop Megatron’s arm in traditional style. One look at Super Megatron and you can immediately see that it’s supposed to be an enhanced version of the iconic villain, with the Generations Select toy staying relatively faithful to the original design. Elements like the legs and wing-pack differ, but you can immediately tell what the toy is based on. Again you can see how Super Megatron influenced future versions of the character, with his helmet very similar to the one Animated Megatron would go on to have in his Earth mode.

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It’s when you put the pair side by side in robot mode that you can really see how Super Megatron was born from the Galvatron mould, as well as all the extensive reworking that’s been done on it. Super Megatron sports an all new torso and head, complete with a brand new fusion canon and missile launcher shoulder pads. Though the arms are the same Megatron’s lack the tank treads on the back, and the cannon now clips onto the side of the arm rather than the front. This is something that Galvatron really would have benefitted from, as the cannon placement almost completely neutered the arm articulation. Finally the legs are also identical, but the back panels are now the thicker tank treads instead of the basic panels. Despite its obvious flaws I was still a fan of the Titans Return/Legends Galvatron mould, but it undoubtedly works far better on Super Megatron. Not only have the major flaws like the head and cannon placement all been fixed, but the more varied colour scheme and placement just brings out the detailing in the mould a whole lot better.

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Super Megatron also boasts some pretty fantastic articulation to go along with that fantastic sculpt, with the only key change to that four year old body being the completely removal of the (poorly-implemented in Galvatron’s case) Headmaster gimmick. He features a fully rotating head, waist, biceps and thighs along with two-way shoulders and hips as well as double pin joint elbows and single pin knees and feet. On top of all that, the hips guards and shoulder cannons/spikes can raise/lower to suit the pose. As previously mentioned this retool fixes the cannon placement so that it fits on the side of the arm rather than the top, making it far easier to use the shoulder articulation to its full potential. Those shoulder cannon/spike things will get in the way a bit, but those can also be pushed back if you need to life the arm right up for a proper cannon-firing pose. 

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When Super Megatron was swiftly defeated by Star Convoy, Dark Nova resurrected him once more as the even more powerful Ultra Megatron - decking him out with a new fusion cannon, robot-mode wings and even more over the top armaments. The Generations Select figure is also capable of switching to this mode, with only a few extra steps added to the transformation. The cannon splits open to become the shorter version seen on Ultra Megatron, with a triple turret stored hidden inside being removed and pegged onto Megatron’s right shoulder. The wings fold out behind the figure, the chest piece flips around to it’s alternate layout and then finally the forehead emblem switches around to go from the Dark Nova crest to a basic red square. This little gimmick involves opening the head and turning the face part, however it’s pretty fiddly and a lot easier if you just remove the side parts of the bucket head to do it and then reattach later. While Ultra Megatron has a far more fearsome silhouette than Super Megatron thanks to the wingspan and additional arsenal, the articulation remains unchanged between the two modes. At a squeeze you can get a little more out of the arm since the cannon is a lot shorter than Super Megatron’s, the the look isn’t anywhere near as impressive - especially folding it back reveals a lot of hollow areas.

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The figure has one final trick up its sleeve in the form of a newly designed third robot mode (strangely not outlined properly in the instructions but present in a lot of the initial preview pictures for the figure), appropriately dubbed Ultra Megatron Omega. The key difference here is a swappable face intended for use in Ultra Megatron mode, which serves as a double homage to both Dark Nova from the Battlestars manga and Megatron’s movie counterpart’s face from Transformers: The Last Knight. Additionally the arm cannon becomes a backpack whilst the shoulder-mounted missile launcher becomes a handheld weapon. Changing the face is done via exactly the same method as changing the forehead piece between Super and Ultra modes, however being a much larger  It’s a neat little extra and certainly gives the figure more unique charm, but personally I don’t find that the movie-esque face gels quite as well with the sculpt as the classic G1-inspired face. Still, variety is never a bad thing and getting a third robot mode without any compromise to any other part of the robot is a very impressive feat. It just goes to show that even when a toy has been made in homage of something, there’s still plenty of room for some modern ingenuity.

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Ultra Megatron’s alt mode is a triple-barrelled tank, which in modern Megatron fashion is nice and spikey as well as loaded with all sorts of weaponry. Interestingly while the designs for the Battlestars manga gave the tank mode a front cockpit piece with spread out tank treads at the back, the Generations Select toy flips this design around and puts these treads at the front. Given that the toy is a remould some discrepancies was always going to happen, but the curious thing about this is that it makes the toy’s alt mode similar in design to that of Revenge of the Fallen Megatron’s. The empty space at the front also brings greater attention to the tank turret as well, which can freely spin 360 degrees on the peg it’s attached to. The transformation from robot to tank mode is again relatively straightforward, basically lying Megatron down flat on his stomach and then putting all his limbs into the correct position. The fun part is folding the wings to make the top of the tank, and then attaching the cannon (which re-attaches that triple barrel launcher as its centrepiece) on top of that. Sometimes with triple changers you find that one vehicle mode is usually a lot stronger than the other, but this figure came out well with two very strong ones. The spaceship mode may be sleeker and have a more defined shape, but this alien tank mode is Megatron through and through as well. Both have their strengths, and the lack of a clear winner between gives much more incentive to continue transforming the figure rather than just choosing a favourite mode and sticking with that.

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Compared to Galvatron’s cannon mode you’d be hard-pressed to know these were the same mould at all without looking closely at the parts, because they aren’t even remotely assembled similarly. While Galvatron’s mode basically sees him standing up on his arm parts, Super Megatron has been flipped upside down and it’s the legs that make up the front portion of the vehicle. Add in all the new parts that sit up on top to make the turret and you have a very different looking alt-mode. Given just how many of the parts are completely identical between the two figures, it’s pretty incredible how you can get two wildly different vehicles just by positioning the parts a little differently. 

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Generations Select Super Megatron is an absolutely triumph, and exactly the kind of left-field figure the Generations Select line should be aiming for. Who would have thought that 30 years later we would finally get a Super Megatron figure, and not only that for it to turn out as well as it did despite being a retool of a fairly divisive figure. Generations Select Super Megatron is all the strengths of Titans Return Galvatron without any of the weaknesses, and the new parts and alt-modes have been so well implemented that the body feels more natural to Megatron than it does Galvatron. Due to the exclusivity of the Generations Select label the figure’s asking price is a little bit high, but between the fantastic sculpt, multiple modes and fluid transformations this is a near perfect figure for the original Decepticon Emperor of Destruction.

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