Transformers (Robot Enhanced Design Series): Megatron by Hasbro

A couple of weeks back I embarked on my first look at Hasbro’s series of non-transforming Transformers with Optimus Prime. Overall, I liked the figure well enough, but ultimately I felt that it didn’t really do anything better than the excellent Earthrise figure that could actually transform. Well, today I’m back to give this series a second look with the mighty Megatron!

Here’s a quick look at the packaging, which I like very much indeed. As a window box, it’s not too far off from the current Transformers Deluxe packages, but the deco is a lot brighter and red, which is an on-the-nose nod to the abbreviation of the series name. Whoever has been doing the artwork for Hasbro has been killing it lately, and that goes double for this series, as you get some lovely character art that wraps from the angled side panel to the front of the box. So, if you missed out last tine, these are roughly six-inch figures with some accessories that claim to emphasize articulation and style over the ability to convert. Well, let’s get Megsy out and see what we’ve got!

Straightaway, I like this figure a lot more than I did Prime. It should be said that Optimus Prime’s robot mode doesn’t lose a lot to his transformation. Hell, the original G1 toy was well-proportioned and looked close enough to his cartoon and comic counterparts. Megatron, on the other hand, isn’t so lucky. His G1 mode was an abomination and while subsequent tank modes have been made to work fairly closely with his G1 robot aesthetic, he stands to benefit a lot from this whole non transforming treatment. And benefit he does indeed! What we’ve got here is asĀ  stylish a G1 Megatron figure as we’re likely to see and we owe that to kicking the need for all that transforming engineering. Megatron is one clean-looking robot, with no unsightly kibble, other than the gun barrel peaking up over his shoulder, which has since become an iconic part of his design even in the cartoons and comics. Everything about this bot is beautifully proportioned, and there are no hollow or unfinished areas to be seen from any angle. The figure mostly makes use of colored plastic for its rather limited eco of white, gray, and black. You do, however, get a little more color in the control box under his chest, some red in his elbow joints, and the Decepticon emblem on his chest.

As with Prime, the plastic here has a very dense and chunky feel to it, which makes for an overall soft sculpt. Given that these are simpler animated style figures, that isn’t a problem when it comes to the detail. On the other hand, this plastic does show a few blemishes, which I’m not used to seeing on official Hasbro product. Either way, the plastic makes for a hefty figure that’s fun to pick up and play with and seems like it would be pretty durable under rough play. Prime’s deco felt a little wanting, missing a few key paint hits, but it’s admittedly more complex than what was required for Megatron’s, which looks fantastic.

If there’s one place that the softer plastic detracts from the figure it’s in the head sculpt. Make no mistake, what we got here isn’t at all bad. The portrait captures the Megatron I know and love from the Sunbow cartoon quite well. You get his iconic “helmet” and his smug, slightly downturned mouth. The red eyes are outlined in black, and those triangular “eyebrows” can be seen peaking out from under that “helmet.” No, my one nitpick here is that I wish the facial details were a little sharper.

The fusion cannon often suffers from transformation engineering, sometimes being too small or too big, or just weirdly shaped. Here, it looks great in terms of size and shape. Alas, some of those weird imperfections in the plastic are evident on the barrel of mine. It mostly looks bad when it catches the studio light and in hand under regular lighting it isn’t nearly as bad. Still, it’s bizarre to see a brand new toy with this kind of blemish.

Moving on to articulation, I have to say that while Megatron here is definitely well articulated and lots of fun to pose and play with, it isn’t that great a leap over what we saw in the Siege figure. Indeed, one vexing thing about this figure is the way the shoulder joints don’t work all that well with the fusion cannon. He can aim it well straight in front of him, but it’s difficult to make him aim it off to the side and have it on top of his arm like he often does in the cartoon. Indeed, the Siege figure can actually strike that aiming pose a little better than this one can.

Megatron comes with a number of extra hands, mostly left ones. You get a fist, a relaxed hand, a pointing finger hand, and even a hand holding an Energon Cube, which is a great little extra.

And finally, Megatron comes with his purple Energon Mace, so you can recreate his battle with Prime on the Hoover Dam. Like Prime’s Energon Axe, this plugs into the wrist, replacing his hand. It’s got a pretty long chain to it and looks great.

Ultimately, I like this figure a lot, even if it is far from perfect. I’ve long been on the look out for a Megatron figure that’s faithful to his stylized G1 look and this one fits the bill. I don’t think this figure offers enough improvements in articulation over the transforming Siege figure, it does deliver a cleaner and more traditional looking version of the character and that fits the bill quite nicely. As a result, I think this one succeeds a bit more than the Prime figure, but in the end I like them both well enough to be happy to have them in my collection. We’ve got one more to look at in this initial assortment, and that’s Soundwave. Hopefully I’ll have a review of him ready in the near future!

Transformers (Robot Enhanced Design Series): Optimus Prime by Hasbro

I’m checking in today with a look at the Walmart Exclusive Robot Enhanced Design Series of Transformers. These roughly 6-inch figures have garnered a bit of shade from collectors as being Transformers that don’t actually transform. I understand where the critics are coming from, but personally I happen to like the idea. A lot of these characters mean a lot to me, and as a result have evolved beyond the mere gimmick of their toy line. It also allows for some stylistic and articulation designs that are not always possible in true Transformers. Although, I’ll grant that Hasbro has been getting better and better at that solving those problems lately. The initial (and possibly only?) wave of these figures included Optimus Prime, Megatron, and Soundwave, and while I was a little tempted to start with Megatron, let’s just go ahead and kick off with Prime!

Wow, this is some kick ass packaging! The figures come in window boxes with a slanted side and some gorgeous wraparound character art. You get a good look at the figure inside, and if you look really carefully down at the bottom of the box, it states that the figure does not convert. Maybe, they should have made that a little bit clearer. Anyway, let’s rip this bot open and check him out.

So, RED Prime stands a little more than a head shorter than the recent Earthrise and Siege Primes, but stands at the same height as Hasbro’s 6-inch Star Wars, Marvel, or GI JOE figures. My initial reaction is that he looks really good. He has a stylized appearance that takes a little advantage of the non-transforming design. Most notably, he has no wheels visible, which some people may love. Personally, I don’t mind the wheels on the robot mode, as long as they’re well placed. The figure does take full advantage of being able to make him look just as good from behind as he does from the front. No need for hollow legs or kibble makes for a solid looking figure all 360-degrees around. The plastic used for this figure is very dense and comes across as softer than the regular Transformers. As a result, RED Prime looks a lot less hyper-detailed than Earthrise or Siege Prime. Part of this could be going for that simpler, animated look, but I think some of it has to do with this plastic not holding the details as sharply. I think the whether or not that’s a good thing will come down to personal preference. I will say that the plastic is nice and chunky and makes this a fun figure to handle.

Prime’s deco makes use of colored plastic as much as possible. The upper legs and lower waist are off-white, there’s a dull silver on the abdominal grill, as well as some dark gray. The red and blue are both darker and duller than I would have liked, but it’s not a big issue for me. You do get some yellow paint on the lower waist, but sadly none on the roof lights. It’s hard to tell whether that was an effort to cut costs, or make the truck parts blend in more in robot form. It’s also worth pointing out that the upper pins in the knees are not painted to match the upper legs. I can’t really excuse this, since it doesn’t match on either side and the pin just needed to be cast in the same color as the legs.

The head sculpt is good, but I think it’s here where the plastic quality mars the figure the most. It looks really soft, especially when compared to his transforming brothers. Again, not bad on its own, but really apparent when comparing the figures. And while we’re talking about this region, I might as well mention how unfortunately bendy those smokestacks on his shoulders are.

The chest windows are tinted clear plastic and chow off the Matrix of Leadership, which resides inside. The chest panels do open and you can remove the Matrix. It looks kind of plain inside the cavity, but again that may be intended for the cleaner, animated look. The Matrix itself looks great.

I believe articulation is intended to be the real selling point of this figure, and I’m happy to say that it does deliver in some areas. The arms are pretty standard with rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, hinges in the elbows, and hinged pegs in the wrists. The legs have have rotating hinges in the hips, swivels in the thighs, double-hinges in the knees, and rotating hinges in the ankles that allow for lateral movement in the feet. There’s a swivel in the waist, and the neck is ball jointed. All this articulation means that the figure is tons of fun to play around with, but is it a huge improvement over the transforming Earthrise figure? Not really. In fact, I found that the Earthrise Prime could do most of what this one could do as well.

You do get some nice accessories, including a total of two pairs of hands, and some extra right hands. These include fists, relaxed hands, a gun holding hand, and The Pointing FInger of Leadership. These just pop out of the arms and are pretty easy to swap out.

Next up, you get Prime’s iconic Buster Rifle, which is a bit soft, but still a very nice sculpt. It was a bit of a chore getting it into his hand for the first time, but now that it’s in there, I can leave it in there and just swap out the hand when I want him to wield it.

And finally, he comes with his Energon Axe, which can be swapped out with either hand. I’m not usually a big fan of this piece, but it does look great on the figure, and I may wind up using it to display Prime’s fight on top of Hoover Dam once I open Megatron.

I like this figure a lot, but I can tell right now it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s safe to say that it’s among the best figures of Sunbow Optimus Prime that I have handled. He’s lots of fun to play with, and I think Hasbro did a decent job taking advantage of the non-converting nature of the figure to deliver a clean and stylized figure. On the other hand, the transforming versions of Prime are getting so damn good, that as a figure, I still prefer the Siege Prime over this one. It looks better, it has nearly the same level of articulation, and he does it all without having to give up his transforming ability. Now if this type of figure had been released 10 years ago? Well, that would have been something. I’m still very eager to check out Megatron, as I think he will benefit a lot from this Robot Enhanced Design series.