Friday 19 August 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Legends LG-23 Galvatron

Transformers toys are currently in a pretty good place. The success of the Combiner Wars line has been followed by the revival of another classic Generation One gimmick - the Headmaster. Here, each robots head is in fact itself a smaller robot (or Nebulon partner, depending on your choice of fiction) - acting as a pilot or gunner when the larger body is in its alt mode. Over in the West this line is known as Titan Return, with Hasbro reviving several classic Headmaster characters while reimagining others using the gimmick. Meanwhile in Japan new figures continue to be implemented into their Transformers Legends line, which also encompasses various figures from Hasbro's Generations line. The 23rd release in this line is the new Titan Master version of Galvatron, the reformatted version of Megatron who acted as Unicron's herald in Transformers: The Movie and the new Decepticon leader for the rest of the G1 cartoon. With the last G1 Galvatron figure being a poorly received deluxe in 2008, not only is a new figure long overdue but with 2016 marking the 30th anniversary of Transformers: The Movie it couldn't have come at a better time.

The Transformers Legends packaging definitely falls on the simple side of things, but has a nice classic feel to it that perfectly suits these reimagined figures. A predominantly red box covered in faint gridlines, the front features a huge translucent window which shows the whole figure (packaged in cannon mode) of in all its glory, with the Headmaster up in the top corner in robot mode. At the bottom is some really nice artwork of the figure, which is also featured on the back and spine of the box as well. The back also of course features images of Galvatron in all three of his modes, along with some Japanese Transformers logos and text.

Transformation instructions are printed out neatly on a big fold-out leaflet, demonstrating how to transform Galvatron from cannon mode to both robot and jet modes. The other sides of the leaflet are much more arty, with one featuring a nice big illustration of Galvatron along with some stock toy images, character bio and tech specs. The other side features a short manga story featuring Galvatron and other characters that have been previously released as part of the Transformers Legends line.

One little interesting tidbit is that the booklet refers to Galvatron as a Decepticon, rather than as a 'Destron' like you would expect from Japanese Transformers figures. Unfortunately Decepticon is also misspelt 'Desepticon', but points for trying TakaraTomy!

Before getting into the figure itself it's worth pointing out that, as per the course for TakaraTomy figures, Legends Galvatron's colouration is rather different to that of his Titan Return counterpart. The most notable difference is the shade of purple, with TakaraTomy discarding the deep purple Hasbro uses in favour of a lighter more commonly associated with all of their Galvatron figures. It is by no means cartoon accurate (but then Hasbro's isn't dead on either), but with the way it matches most Japanese Galvatron artwork gives him a slight manga/anime tinge. He also features other colour differences and additional paint apps to make him more G1 accurate, the most notable perhaps being the grey and black tank treads - left entirely purple on the Titan Return version.

Starting with how the figure comes packaged, first up is Galvatron's signature alt mode - a futuristic space cannon mounted on tank treads! For many G1 purists finally getting a modern Galvatron figure which utilises his original alt mode is a big deal, and the designers have really done an excellent job here. Though obviously different in some areas, the general transformation remains the same and the mode itself is the perfect modern update to the original 1986 toy. The additional parts for Galvatron's other mode also add a nice bit of extra bulk to the whole ensemble, without looking too much like unrelated bits just hanging off of the cannon.

Of course the main unique thing about this Galvatron figure is that he is also a Headmaster (or Titan Master if you prefer the Hasbro line terminology)! The Titans Return packaging refers to Galvatron's partner as 'Nucleon', but the Legends line disregards this entirely and portrays the Headmaster as EXACTLY who he's homaging - Megatron himself. That right, Galvatron's partner looks just like his old self - complete with red and black detailing to just get the point across if the shape wasn't enough. The Legends version also adds additional lilac colouring on the Galvatron face, whereas the Titans Return version was entirely unpainted grey plastic. For many the idea of Galvatron as a Headmaster might be a difficult one to accept, but the idea of his Headmaster being Megatron is so bonkers that I feel it suits Galvatron perfectly.

Nucleon/Megatron features moveable arms, (connected) legs and head. When transformed into head mode and attached to the body, the head also acts as the larger robot's neck joint.

Another new feature to this incarnation of the Decepticon leader is that he is now a fully-fledged triple changer, sporting a jet mode in addition to his classic cannon mode. When in this mode the Headmaster partner can sit comfortably in the opening cockpit, while the giant orange cannot piece sits just under it to give the mode some heavy front armament. The jet mode itself might not seem like a lot to look at (and certainly won't be giving Super Link/Energon Megatron/Galvatron a run for its money any time soon) but as a secondary alt mode it ticks all the right boxes. It doesn't hinder the look of the (arguably more important) cannon or robot modes, gives Galvatron an alt mode with a bit more mobility behind and serves to make the figure just generally more fun to play with. The jet mode isn't by any means bad either - just rather basic.

The transformation into robot mode is relatively straightforward (you might need one look at the instructions the first time, but after that it quickly becomes second nature), and then the final step is to of course connect the Headmaster. However once plugged in there is still one last thing to do. Each voyager class Titans Return figure features the additional head gimmick of spring-loaded parts to complete the look. Galvatron's is his iconic crown, which flips up once upon opening the central chest compartment. Now while the idea behind the pop-up crown is nice, its execution sadly leaves much to be desired - creating the most notable flaw with this figure. Not only does the crown not sit flush with the face (leaving the face with a rather awkward "sunken" look), but the crown instantly negates any movement the head had without it. This means Galvatron is left looking directly forwards no matter what pose you put him in. And the fact that this could have all been avoided had Hasbro/TakaraTomy produced the figure with one less unnecessary gimmick makes this all the more annoying.

With the head attached and the crown flipped up, Galvatron is reborn! Robot mode is the form where you can really appreciate all the modernised G1 details that have been moulded into this figure, as well as the high quality paint job TakaraTomy have done. Make no mistake the Titans Return version looks great in its own way too (and for many people will be the more affordable option), but Takara's decos really help scream the "collectible" aspect of these toys. As a Voyager class sized figure Galvatron has a good bit of bulk to him, which is definitely befitting of a Decepticon leader (or 'Emperor of Destruction' to use the wonderfully over the top Japanese terminology). However the build isn't a completely solid one, with the figure sporting both hollow forearms and lower legs. While the lower legs are sufficiently covered up by hinged sections, the hollow arms are completely on show and can be a bit of an eyesore when viewed from certain angles. The translucent orange cannon is also of course ridiculously huge, just as it should be.

Although the head/neck suffers from a rather severe problem, the rest of the figure's articulation is pretty well done. Galvatron sports universal ratchet shoulders, bicep swivels, double-jointed elbows, a waist swivel, universal hips, thigh swivels, single-jointed knees and even ankle tilts. Admittedly I've been out of the Transformers game for quite a while, but even with that in mind this seems like a pretty good spread for a Voyager class figure. However what is rather problematic is the arm cannon, which attaches to the front of the bicep rather than the side. Because of this the cannon gets completely in the way of the elbow articulation, as well as the hinged shoulder sections to the point where to have the arm out straight you need to remove the cannon, straighten the arm outwards and then reinsert the cannon. In terms of looks you absolutely cannot fault the cannon, but the way it attaches to the body just feels like another feature that could have very easily been avoided on this figure.

Transformers Legends Galvatron is a figure let down by a couple of obvious flaws, but still a long overdue and worthy update of the classic Generation One character. This is a modern update that gives the character credible size without breaking the bank as well as faithfully retaining his classic cannon while also providing a new mode in line with previous shows' Galvatrons. If it wasn't for the awful implementation of the crown, I'd also argue that the Headmaster gimmick is an excellent (if not entirely necessary) addition too. Whether you're happy to stick with the deeper purple of the Titans Return version or prefer Legends lighter tones, Galvatron will look fantastic leading your Decepticons regardless of his easily avoided design flaws.

1 comment:

Iodaspark said...

A very well-thought-out review. Nicely done! Love this iteration of the character. In the light of the current Kingdom version, this one could very well be the Marvel Comics incarnation of the character.