I don’t know about y’all, but I’m pretty damned psyched to get my hands on the new Metroplex that Hasbro showed off at Toy Fair this year. It’s a brand new size called a Titan Class and it will supposedly stand about two feet tall and feature both city and battle station modes, and yes it’ll be just a smidge taller than that certain huge combining robot that Mattel offered up last year. But talk about bad timing. Hey Hasbro, why do you want to go and take the piss out of Takara’s Encore Fort Max by upstaging what was the largest official Transformer of all time by a couple of inches? Anyway, I’m not here to debate the politics of the decision, nor am I suggesting that G1 Fort Max is any less amazing for it. Instead we’re here to take a look at the last big Metroplex figure that Hasbro delivered back in 2006 as part of their Cybertron line. While he’s got some issues, I like this figure a lot. He’s one of those select favorites that rarely ever gets rotated out of my active display. I don’t have an in-package shot, so let’s just go ahead and start with his alt mode.
Metroplex is a… ahh… hmm. Well, he’s supposed to be a giant alien excavator, which sort of flies in the face of the fact that Metroplex, by his very name, should at least have some kind of city mode. Sure, it’s big and powerful looking, but it also feels like the alt mode is a second thought and if you look at it long enough, it’s easy to see that it’s more or less just a robot on all fours. Obviously, this was the biggest sticking point for fans accepting this version of Metroplex into their hearts. I don’t have a problem with a Transformer excavator, but I’m not sure it needed to be named Metroplex. I try to remind myself that the Cybertron toys were heavily tied into the cartoon series, but no matter how much alcohol is involved, my attempts to consume that particular fiction have all failed. Apparently, this Metroplex comes from the Giant Planet where Transformers grow to be really big and everyone seems overly obsessed with the unending task of building massive cities on top of old ones. Hey, at least there’s a city tie-in somewhere, right?
With all that having been said, Metroplex’s alt mode is still kind of fun and fairly impressive looking, even if some of it doesn’t make sense. Based on the position of the digging wheel, the cockpit seems to be facing the wrong way. Of course, it works to slightly modify it into a crawling death machine with a giant chomping claw. Eat your heart out Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors… this is f’cking armed force on steroids! Yeah, well… it’s Metroplex’s robot modes that make me keep him on the shelf and out of the storage totes. Wait, did you say robot modes, plural? I did indeed. Metroplex has two robot modes, which I believe were referred to as work mode and combat mode. They’re fairly similar, but one is significantly taller than the other. Let’s start with the smaller of the two.
Metroplex’s work mode is one big and chunky bot, supported by a marvelous system of heavy ratcheting joints. The joints are so ridiculously strong and noisy, that he practically makes that iconic G1 transforming noise just from the ratcheting joints alone. I’ve long forgotten what the official modes for Metroplex look like, but I do like using his cockpit head for his work mode. It’s a little nod to Omega Supreme and it also makes him look like one of the old Starriors figures from Tomy (Note to self: Do some Vintage Vault features with Starriors!). Sure, he’s got huge feet, but apart from that I really dig this guy’s proportions and overall aesthetic. There isn’t much of a G1 Metroplex homage at work here, but that’s ok with me, because not everything needs to be a nod back to something else for me to like it. The coloring is great, and the quality and finish of the white plastic used here is really nice. His deco is rounded out by a pair of sharp little Autobot insignia on his shoulders.
Changing Metroplex into his battle mode involves some nifty engineering that unfolds the legs and the torso. In fact, it’s far more clever than what’s involved changing him from his alt mode. You do indeed get a much taller robot, and while the arms are more or less the same, there are enough changes here to make him stand out from his previous mode. Here’s where I like to roll out the true head, and therein lies the biggest G1 homage on the figure. I just love this dude’s head sculpt. He’s got the antenna on each side, similar to G1 Plexy and some cool light piping in the eyes. He also looks like he just stepped on a Decepticon and now needs to scrape it off the bottom of his foot.
You may have noticed that a big part of Metroplex’s alt mode is conspicuously missing from from both his robot modes. Yes, the excavating arm detaches and actually turns into his weapon: A weapon that is gloriously named, Sparkdrinker. I think Sparkdrinker is supposed to be an axe, but it looks more like a mace to me. Inserting the Cyber Key causes the digger wheel to expand a bit. It’s not a terribly dramatic conversion, but I don’t care because as a weapon Sparkdrinker is both ridiculous and beautiful. It’s not terribly graceful or easy for him to wield, but if he hits you with it, you will most certainly die.
The last thing worth mentioning here is Metroplex’s minicon, Drillbit. I love minicons, and I really do miss them. Drillbit is one of my all-time favorite minicons, probably right behind Leader-1. He has a great looking robot mode, and a pretty cool little drill tank mode. He can also clip on to Metroplex’s arms and make a convincing looking gun, or a drill weapon that basically drills into your face as he punches you. Awesome!
And that, my friends, is 2006 Metroplex. I’m not terribly in tune with the ebb and flow of the Transformers community, but I get the sense that this guy isn’t terribly well revered and I think that’s ridiculous. He’s a huge, fun toy with great poseability and I never get tired of playing around with him or having my Classics Decepticons try to attack him en masse and fail miserably. I love his sculpt and deco and he just looks so majestic sitting there on my shelf. Granted, if you’re looking for a G1 homage, this isn’t it, but he’s a fantastic toy all on his own.