Monday, 12 September 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers x GI Joe Megatron H.I.S.S. Tank & Baroness

Transformers x GI Joe Megatron H.I.S.S. Tank & Baroness 01

Release Date: July 2022
RRP: $89.99/£89.99

Hasbro have been doing a lot of interesting Transformers Collaborative releases over the past few years – from the X-Men franchise to movies like Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park and even Top Gun. However there's one collaborative effort that they had never delved into properly before, which is strange given that it's one that's right at home for them. Given the overwhelming popularity of both franchises as well as the number of crossovers they've had in comics and other expanded media, the combination of GI Joe and Transformers should be obvious. While there have been various event exclusives and odd releases that have crossed over the two, for some reason a fully functioning GI Joe or Cobra Transformers figure has never been a reality – until now. At long last, these two titans of Hasbro toys meet in the Transformers x GI Joe Megatron H.I.S.S. Tank and Baroness set – combining a new spin on the Deception leader with Cobra's first lady of terrorism.

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The Transformers x GI Joe Megatron H.I.S.S. Tank & Baroness set comes in a huge box sporting some gorgeous artwork of Megatron in robot mode and Baroness alongside a H.I.S.S. Tank - split across the middle and both done in the style of classic Transformers and GI Joe packaging. This style is continued across the halves' respective sides, and then on there's some nice big images of how the toy looks in both modes. Opening up the box first requires pulling those two halves apart, which reveals a more basic look brown flap-top box with the Hasbro logo on the lid. The underside has some top secret Cobra document folders, which would have probably looked better on printed on the top but it is what it is. Open it up and Megatron is neatly tied down to a separate cardboard tray, with various loose pieces scattered around him. Just lift up the tray to find the Baroness figure and transformation instructions stored underneath.

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Inside Baroness has her own separate retro-carded packaging, similar to that of the retail-release retro card figure (though that one is a modernised 3.75" figure as opposed to a properly retro-styled one like this) but with that same artwork from the larger box and Transformers x GI Joe logo printed on the back. The figure and accessories are split across two blisters, with the figure, weapon and display stand in the main blister while the backpack is relegated to a smaller one just above. While the packaging might make a nice display piece, ultimately it all just feels like a waste of resources. If the larger box has to be pulled apart to get at it in the first place, what benefit is there to the Baroness being in her own separate packaging? Obviously there's a huge love for retro card packaging in the GI Joe community that I just don't quite understand if Hasbro considered this to be a necessity.

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So after decades of waiting, here it finally is – a H.I.S.S. tank Megatron in all its glory. And to be perfectly honestly, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. First and foremost if there's one thing that can't be faulted about this figure it's its size – this roughly Ultra class-sized figure towers over most other Transformers, which is perfectly suited to the Decepticon leader as well as its need to be compatible with 3.75" GI Joe figures. But in terms of design, Hasbro really didn't bring their A-game to this one. There have been some absolutely INCREDIBLE GI Joe vehicle Transformer designs over the years in comics that really try to blend both elements in an effective way, but this toy is just G1 Megatron with H.I.S.S. tank parts bolted onto him. No effort has been made to blend the colours between robot and vehicle mode parts, making the whole "bolt-on" aspect even more obvious. It's almost as if Hasbro were too scared to make a figure which wasn't visible G1 Megatron, even though something as simple as making all of the grey parts black would have made a huge difference AND it would still be obvious the toy is meant to be Megatron. This lack of willingness to merge the two franchises in a meaningful way is similarly shown by the absence of combined Cobra/Decepticon logos the figure. The design already exists and is well-loved by fans, so why wouldn't you use it?

But it isn't just look of this Megatron that's underwhelming, it's the execution of it as well. Many of the tank parts hanging off him are large and cumbersome, the most egregious being his huge gun turret backpack. Rather than fold up into a smaller size that would still suit its purpose, it just hangs off his back as a giant cube that’s thicker than the robot itself, the vehicle mode windshield just hanging down below it. It's really ugly and honestly incredibly underwhelming for a figure with a price point like this. The construction is equally unimpressive – the hollowed-out body parts that admittedly most Transformers have these days more obvious than usual. Bit even the plastic quality on this release feels different – more akin to the cheaper, more durable plastic seen on Transformers aimed at younger fans rather than a collector-orientated piece. A Transformers x GI Joe Megatron should be one of coolest pieces Hasbro has ever put out, which is why the lacklustre execution on this one stings so much.

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This rendition of Megatron features the following articulation;
- Ball jointed head and thigh pads
- Swivel hinge shoulders and hips
- Hinged elbows, knees and feet
- Bicep and thigh swivel
His accessories include his iconic fusion cannon and a shield, both of which peg onto hopes in the hands. Additional, the guns which peg onto the turret behind Megatron's head can be rotated to whichever position you desire. While not necessarily a terrible array of articulation, for a $90 figure it sure feels like it could have done a whole lot more. A waist joint would be the most obvious candidate, but even something like hand swivels wouldn't go amiss either. Then on top of that you've got all the balancing issues brought about by the backpack (the ankle pieces help but not that much) and the frustrating hip guards. The figure can pull off some reasonably good poses, it just isn't very much to put him in them.

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The Baroness is a retro-styled 3.75" figure, depicting the character in her classic black catsuit. It's curious that (despite its flaws) the Megatron is fairly modern-feeling in terms of execution yet the Baroness is a retro-style figure, but presumably that's what Hasbro assumed GI Joe fans wanted out of this release and in fairness it does fit in fairly well with the G1 style. Really it's only the head sculpt that gives away that it's a retro-styled figure and not a "modern" 3.75" figure, as it lacks the more realistic sculpting of the current releases. As far as her costume goes it isn't really something that's ever needed that much changing, as the jet-black bodysuit (with some raised detailing) and Cobra insignia remains just as effective as ever. Perhaps not the best Baroness figure that Hasbro could have given us for a landmark release like this, but definitely passable enough.

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But despite her retro look the Baroness displays a fairly good array of articulation, which just goes to show how good these 3.75" Joes were when they first burst onto the scene. Altogether she features; 
- Head swivel 
- Swivel hinge shoulders and hips 
- Ball jointed torso 
- Hinged elbows and knees 
Despite listing the fact the head can technically swivel there the hair sculpting on the figure makes that pretty much impossible, which is a shame because little things like turning the head slightly can add quite a lot to a pose. Another note of interest is that while the torso is ball jointed at the bottom and thus moveable, it's fixed with a piece of rubber to give it more of a swinging motion rather than to put it into a fixed position. Her accessories include a large machine gun which can very awkwardly fit into either of her hands, a backpack piece moulded like a snake head and a blank black display stand piece.

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There's a good reason for that massive backpack on Megatron though, as one of the key selling points of this crossover release is a degree of interactivity between the two figures. The Baroness (or any other 3.75" figure for that matter) can comfortably stand in that chunky gun turret section - giving Megatron a little bit of extra firepower as well as effectively turning him into a walking Cobra battle station. Megatron himself probably isn't too keen on the idea, but in all honesty it's an allegiance that was never going to end well in the first place. While there's no way to fix Baroness down inside the turret she fits in there without rattling around too much, particularly if her arms are on the guns for additional balance. The turret can also rotate a full 360 degrees, giving Baroness the ability to cover Megatron's back in a tight spot. While the interactivity doesn't really make up for the lack of imagination or poor execution in Megatron's design, it is nice that the Baroness figure has a use when Megatron is in robot mode as well as alt mode.

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Megatron has a 28-step transformation to H.I.S.S. tank mode, which is relatively straightforward but can be a little fiddly at first. The instructions lay out the transformation process well enough, but the act of folding the legs over to form the treads, tucking the arms into the front, bringing the cockpit pieces around and then clipping it all together does rely on everything being lined up properly in order to hold together. Once you've managed it though, you've successful reached what is easily the best part about this whole release – a fantastic, chunky H.I.S.S. tank vehicle that has barely any indication that it's also a Transformer. Much like with the robot mode it's a shame that there isn't any indication that the release is a Cobra/Decepticon collaboration, but nevertheless it looks very good. Structurally it feels like the complete opposite of robot mode -whereas the hollow parts and overall plastic quality made that feel like a 'cheap' release the shell-like transformation turns this into a really sold-feeling vehicle.

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With Megatron in H.I.S.S. tank mode the Baroness can once again man the rotating gun turret at the back of the tank (which now has added Fusion Cannon power), but there are also a few other points of interactivity to note. The most significant being that Baroness can of course sit in the cockpit area of the tank – accessed simply by lifting up the window hatch and sitting the figure inside. There she's surrounded by a moulded cockpit area and completely visible through the windshield. Additionally, there are pegs moulded onto the back piece of the tank that can be used for standing the figure on. While not terribly exciting compared to the cockpit or turret, this does mean that the tank can house multiple Cobra figures in different areas which is pretty cool. For example you could have one trooper driving, Baroness manning the guns and then another two troopers holding on at the back.

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Whereas the Megatron was ultimately disappointing, the H.I.S.S. tank more is INCREDIBLY fun. With free rolling wheels, a rotating gun turret with moveable cannons and a useable cockpit area, there's so much interactivity for play here that it's easy to see how GI Joe figures became as popular as they did. While admittedly it's nothing that wouldn't get on a standard GI Joe vehicle, it's the perfect incorporation of GI Joe play features into a Transformers figure. It's almost as though the alt mode was the main priority, and the robot mode was an afterthought. The difference between the two is like night and day.

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Fans have been waiting DECADES for a proper Transformers and GI Joe crossover, and even if choose to entertain the idea that we might have built the idea up in our heads over the years the Transformers x GI Joe Megatron H.I.S.S. Tank and Baroness set just struggles to deliver. Rather that give us a Megatron that believably combines the two franchises into an incredible looking robot, instead Hasbro have given us one that's not only completely lacking in imagination but looks and feels overly cheap to boot. While the H.I.S.S. tank alt mode is incredible, you could get everything you get from that in a non-transforming H.I.S.S. that probably costs a fraction of the price. After playing around with this release I immediately cancelled my preorder for the upcoming Bumblebee A.W.E. Striker set, because if Hasbro want to get my attention with any more Transformers x GI Joe crossovers they're going to have to do a lot better than this.

2 comments:

John Hood said...

I was looking forward to this but have now cancelled my pre-order!

Alex said...

I wish I could have been kinder to it :( I was really looking forward to it as well!