AL-01 Upgrade Kit by DX9

Yeah, there’s a title that just pulls you in, doesn’t it? In case you aren’t familiar and the catchy name doesn’t ring a bell, the AL-01 Upgrade Kit is a third-party set designed to enhance your Combiner Wars Leader Class Megatron. It’s crazy to think about how this whole third party Transformer thing started with unofficial upgrade kits for existing official figures before a few of these intrepid companies just decided to say, “screw it, let’s just make the figures.” I have plenty of 3P figures, but this is actually my first upgrade kit. It’s designed to do a bunch of things for the Megatron figure, some of which work really well and others are debatable.

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For what is essentially just a bunch of parts, DX9 executed the presentation here pretty well. The set comes in an enclosed box with some nice artwork. The front of the box has a sillouette of the figure with the parts attached and some blue and purple geometric patterns. The back shows you the parts on the actual figure and offers some very rudimentary instructions on how to use them. Surprisingly there’s no instruction sheet inside, but most of the stuff here is self explanatory and chances are if you can’t figure out how to put them on a certain way (like on the tank mode), you needn’t bother.

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Inside the box is a plastic tray that contains two hands, two feet, a gun barrel for the shoulder, a muzzle for the fusion cannon, and two leg wraps. The plastic quality for the set is very good and while there is some paint spray on the inside of some of the pieces, which cannot be seen when installed, the paint is otherwise very sharp.

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DX9 actually found ways to incorporate all of these parts into the tank mode, and while I appreciate the effort, most of them feel like an afterthought and that’s not why I bought this kit anyway. The leg wraps are the worst. They’re just supposed to clamp on the front and back of the tank and I won’t even bother with that. The feet actually don’t look too bad on the top of the turret, especially if you want to put a figure up there. The muzzle looks OK on the end of the main gun. As for the gun barrel attached to the side. Meh, I could take it or leave it. This isn’t a figure that I ever really display in alt mode, so none of this matters much to me at all. I’ll also note here that I’m not going to be bothering with the replacement fists. All they do is add hinged fingers and adding that feature is not worth the effort for me to take the arms apart. With all that having been said, let’s get to the good stuff… the enhanced robot mode!

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The muzzle for the fusion cannon fits over the front of the missile launcher and it definitely improves the look of this piece. It does not, however, magically transform it into the G1 fusion cannon. It’s still too long and the front and back are still too narrow, but I certainly prefer the figure with it on.

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The fake gun barrel is kind of a silly idea since it literally adds kibble to the figure, but it does so to help achieve an iconic feature of Megatron’s design. The intention here is that you can clip it to his right arm and if you articulate the arm you can bend the barrel so that it’s always pointing up. Who wants to bother with that? Fortunately, it can also be plugged into the screwhole in the backpack for what I think is a much better effect. I wasn’t sure whether I would bother with this part, but I have to say in the end I think it looks pretty good and I’m keeping it on.

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Finally, you get the real reason I bought this kit and that’s for the feet and leg wraps. The wraps peg onto the outside of the feet and secure quite well to the figure without inhibiting the knee articulation. Besides bulking out those scrawny lower legs, they add a pistol-grip look to the outsides of the legs and that familiar red panel to the interior. I absolutely love the way these look.

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The feet are basically just bigger “shoes” that peg into the bottoms of Megsy’s feet. The silver on these match the silver on Megatron almost perfectly and they add ankle rockers. The rockers don’t have all that much depth to them, but they will keep his feet flat on the floor in the normal stance, which is a beautiful thing. More importantly, they give Megatron that little bit of extra height that makes him capable of going toe to toe with MP-10. That’s the main reason I bought this kit and I’m happy to say that it succeeds while also making the figure’s lower half look fantastic.

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The only real downside of this kit is that it retails at about $40, which is almost as much as I paid for the figure. Granted, everything in the 3P world is more expensive and I can’t argue that the pieces here are well crafted and work well with the figure. And considering, I’m still well under what one of the 3P Not-Megatrons would have set me back, I’m extremely happy with this investment. I thought this figure was pretty spectacular to begin with and now I think he’s even better and I have absolutely no qualms about standing him on my Masterpiece shelf, at least until Takara comes along with something better.

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3 comments on “AL-01 Upgrade Kit by DX9

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