Sunday 3 October 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers War for Cybertron: Kingdom Galvatron

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Release Date: June 2021
RRP: $49.99/£49.99

The fact that the Transformers War for Cybertron: Kingdom and Studio Series 86 lines have been so interchangeable for the most part has led to the cast of Transformers: The Movie getting filled out at a record speed - the perfect way to celebrate its 35th anniversary. However as fantastic as most of these new releases have been it's fair to say that many of these characters have already had great classic-inspired figures in the past, which makes the ones that haven't stand out all the more. Transformers War for Cybertron: Kingdom Leader Class Galvatron is one such example, with the new Decepticon leader and herald of Unicron finally making it to a price point worthy of his status. As well of course being a prominent character in Transformers: The Movie, Galvatron is also one of the select characters in the Kingdom line to be a key player in the Netflix Kingdom series - travelling back in time in attempt to defy Unicron and change Megatron's fate.

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Though the size of box may change depending on the figure's class all the War for Cybertron: Kingdom packaging is otherwise identical, other than obviously the character artwork that adorns the front and spine. You can see the top half of the figure through the window on the front but this box is definitely more about the artwork, with that front section showing off Galvatron's cannon mode whilst his robot mode appears along that diagonal spine. The flat spine just features the same Kingdom artwork that appears on all the boxes. On the back you'll find images of the reformatted Decepticon leader along with a graphic explaining the transformation takes 33 steps in total.. Open the box up and you'll find the toy securely fixed to a cardboard tray by in an inordinate amount of elastic ties.

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A new wave of Kingdom figures means a new selection of holographic Golden Disk cards, spelling out new fates for a selection of characters that appear in the assortment. These cards are randomly assigned, so once again I've received the Autobot Ark. The top layer of the card is identical to the Ark cards from previous waves, simply showing an image of the Autobot ship travelling through space. Peel back the top layer though to reveal a different fate. Whereas the previous wave saw the Ark become the "Dark Ark", this time it "Reveals a Robot" mode - proudly displaying an image of the Titan Class Ark figure that has also recently been released in the Kingdom range.

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We've had a couple of classics-styled Galvatrons over the years, but it's fair to say that none of them have quite hit the mark. First we had the 2008 Universe/Classics 2.0 version, which as well as swapping out the cannon for a more conventional tank alt mode was a pathetically small deluxe-sized figure ill-fitting of a Decepticon leader. Then in 2016 came the Titans Return version, reimagining Galvatron as a triple changer (with both traditional cannon and jet alt modes) Headmaster. However the figure was a pretty stylised take, and poorly implemented gimmicks resulted in a figure that many found underwhelming. Five years later and Galvatron has FINALLY made it to the Leader class, with a figure that strips away all of the gimmicks and goes back to basics. No messing, just a modernised version of the original G1 Galvatron design. Everything from the big black shoulder parts to the bright orange particle cannon is there, updated with more defined moulded detailing. The figure is a mix of purple, black, and unpainted grey parts with additional red and silver detailing, however Hasbro have also added blue battle damage marks across the chest and forearms. I've read that these can be removed, but honestly eventually you get used to them to the point that you barely register that they're even there. The head sculpt is magnificent - a solid, G1 Galvatron noggin with fully formed crown. The particle cannon is a separate piece, and can be connected to ports either above or below the elbow depending on how you want to display/pose it. Although there are some exposed parts (particularly the lower legs) if you turn the figure around, for the most part it's a pretty solid looking piece with minimal open cavities - and those that are there are barely visible.

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It's worth noting that a factory error has led to many Galvatrons coming with their shoulders mis-assembled in package, with the centre joint having been installed upside down - leading the shoulders should sit a little higher against the torso as illustrated above. This can be fixed in two ways - either disassembling the shoulders and putting them back together the way they should be, or simply flipping them around and then twisting the bicep so that the back of the shoulder now sits at the front.  Doing this does result in the pin holes being visible from the front and the treads not being able to firmly peg into the back of the arms, but otherwise it doesn't affect the look or functionality of the figure whatsoever. I don't mind the holes so was more than happy to flip them over, and there are 3D printed covers you can always buy if it really does bother you. This error has been addressed and corrected Galvatrons have started hitting shelves, so if you're able to buy your Transformers physically in-store just be sure to check the height of the shoulders before buying. 

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But as well as looking the part, this version of Galvatron has articulation worth shouting about as well. On paper the Titans Return figure didn't seem all that bad, but when you then factored in the cannon placement and godawful crown gimmick (which completely neutered any head articulation it could have had), you ended up with a rather flawed figure. Kingdom Galvatron on the other hand has everything fans have come to expect from modern Transformers figures, including;
- Ball jointed head
- Swivel hinge shoulders and hips
- Double hinge elbows
- Single hinge knees and ankles
- Bicep, waist, wrist and thigh swivels
On top of that, the hip guards can also raise and swivel should you want to position them more accordingly with the legs. As mentioned earlier since the particle cannon can be attached either above or below the elbow it doesn't really get in the way of the arm articulation despite its size. Some bits of articulation, such as those hinged ankles, are only subtle but make a big difference when it comes to posing the figure - especially since Galvatron doesn't have much in the way of feet. I'm sure there some out there that think Hasbro could have done better, but it's hard to think how they could have. By modern Transformers standards, Kingdom Galvatron ticks all the boxes.

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Galvatron comes packaged with the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, and two additional blasters. The Matrix of Leadership is fixed to a thick plastic chain, and can be worn around Galvatron's neck just as it was in Transformers: The Movie. It's a great little accessory and just further adds to how a lot of the figures in both Kingdom and Studio Series 86 are pretty interchangeable. Rather than copy the original G1 toy's fairly basic firearms Kingdom Galvatron instead comes with two blasters shaped like the Revenge - the warship that Unicron presents to him following his reformatting. Though the blasters are unpainted grey plastic, all the detail is there to make them unmistakably the Revenge. Each blaster can be held in Galvatron's hands, or the pair can be combined together to an even more powerful weapon. When not in use, the blasters can be clipped on to Galvatron's back. Whilst I and probably many other Transformers fans would have been happy with the Matrix alone (after all, he already has a pretty sizeable weapon attached to him), the extra accessories - particularly ones modelled so closely on something from the movie, are definitely worth praising.

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After a somewhat fiddly but relatively straightforward (I only needed to consult the instructions to go from robot to alt mode the first time around) transformation, Galvatron transforms into a futuristic space cannon that serves as an excellent update to his original G1 alt mode. There's no messing around with triple changing here like there was with the Titans Return Galvatron - the Kingdom version is 100% space cannon. It is fair to say that this version serves as an "update" to the original G1 design rather than replicating it in the same way some Kingdom/Studio Series 86 figures have, because whilst it keeps the same general design and colour layout it's also a bit more blocky and detailed by comparison. Whereas G1 Galvatron (be it the toy or animation model) had a much smoother look, Kingdom Galvatron has a lot of moulded detailing that gives him a somewhat more "realistic" look. He certainly looks the part though, undoubtedly the best cannon Galvatron figure we've gotten since the original toy. It also helps that he's still pretty huge in this mode as well - Starscream or any other Autobot or Decepticon certainly wouldn't want to go messing with this chunky weapon of anger.

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Cannon mode also has storage for all of Galvatron's accessories, with the Matrix dangling around the bottom of the barrel (plugged into a port on the underside so it isn't literally dangling) and the twin blasters plugging in on either side to turn Galavatron into a triple-threat of weaponry. While personally I find the addition of the blasters makes the cannon a little too cluttered it's still far better accessory incorporation than most Transformers figures seem to have, and at they at the very least look like they contribute toward the overall look at the alt mode.

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Though Kingdom Galvatron sadly doesn't have a hilariously obnoxious lights and sounds gimmick like the original G1 toy, there are wheels fixed into the front treads and back section to at least turn him into a mobile cannon. It's a fairly basic play feature, but it's there nonetheless. With just how vibrant that translucent cannon piece is its almost a shame there isn't some sort of lights gimmick here to really show it off, but as Transformers figures seem to have strayed away from such gimmickry these days that isn't a knock against the figure at all. Electronics can be unwieldy, and implementing them would have surely come at the cost of either the sculpt, the articulation or the transformation. Since Kingdom Galvatron manages to pull off all three so well, there was absolutely no point in rocking the boat just for some lights.

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It took over a decade to get there, but Kingdom Galvatron is finally a modern Galvatron we can all be proud of. Hasbro have shown that third time really is the charm, and this time around we have a classic-style Galvatron that's appropriately sized, looks the part in both modes and is free from any obtrusive gimmicks. Admittedly I liked the Titans Return offering more than most, but it absolutely pales in comparison to the Kingdom figure (and the Classics/Universe one is barely worth uttering in the same sentence). Even with the mis-assembly issue present in the initial runs of the figure, this is an utterly fantastic figure that looks fantastic alongside the current run of War for Cybertron and Studio Series 86 offerings. Do I still want a Masterpiece Galvatron figure one day? Yes, but with this one in hand I won't be as sad if it never comes.

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