Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting re: Transmetal 2 Megatron 8/05/99 When I hopped on my bike and headed down to WalMart I didn't *expect* to find the new Megatron toys, despite reports of him showing up in New York City. It was basically a convenient excuse to go biking across South Philly. But to my surprise, there he was... The box is so nicely coordinated with the toy that I just had to snap a couple of pictures of him before I cracked it open. The effect of him breathing fire from his dragon mouth, with a picture of flames at the coresponding spot on the box, is a clever idea, and pretty well executed (though it'd help if the dragon head was closer to the edge of the clear panel.) ENTER THE TWISTIE TIES! I believe I cut through a total of eleven twistie ties to free him, one of which was buried beneath a piece of plastic packaging, plus another tie wrapped around his robot head, plus one or two of those strange rubber band-like bits on his dragon legs... and another on his tail. Sheesh. I'd wager this is how the Maximals kept him restrained at the end of "Nemesis". Dragon mode: I'm sure some of our resident biology folks will point out that no dragon that ever lived had Megatron's proportions or styling... but for my money, this mode kicks a LOT of booty. He looks a bit lackluster while in the package -- there's not as much red chrome as I'd hoped, and you can't really see the wings or tail. But when you get him out... whoah. For starters, the wings are nothing short of magnificent. Molded in clear dark orange plastic which fades underneath purple paint at the base, they have holes through them that give them a skeletal, feathery appearance. They're made of a slightly softer plastic, which hopefully won't break too easily, though I can definately see a lot of Megatrons with mangled wings a few years down the road. A lever on his back, when slid backwards, spreads the wings; push it to one side and it catches on a little notch to keep them deployed. This is accomplished *despite* the presence of an additional hinge joint, which also allows the wings to flap. In fact, the slider that transfers the motion of the lever into the wings uses the metal rod of the hinge joint as a stabilizer. It's a simple, brilliant bit of design -- I'm VERY impressed. The toy makes liberal use of the same soft, flexible rubber as Dinobot II's tail; it forms Megatron's tail, a couple of spikes or spines attached to the base of the tail, and part of his neck. In a clever innovation, hard plastic scales are attached by hinges to the back of his dragon neck; the end result is simple the coolest flexible neck/tail we've seen in all of BW. Other nice details: teh three-pronged claw at the end of his tail... the gyroscopic "cockpit", located at the base of his back... antler-like horns at the top of his dragon head... missile launcher in his mouth, fired by pushing down on two more horns which opens his mouth -- it's neat that he can point his head any direction while firing... spark crystal on his chest/belly... The colors: like Rampage, he's done up in sunset colors. Red dominates, specifically a bright red with metalic sparkles, that's almost too bright for my tastes. A little darker would have done him better. The wings, as mentioned, are clear orange with purple paint near the body; the attachment points are red chrome. Red chrome also shows up on his upper dragon head, neck scales, and lower belly (though it's muted a bit with orange-yellow paint, so it doesn't reflect as brightly.) The tail and underside of the neck (the rubber part) are mustard-gold. That orange plastic also shows up on the cockpit and the "hood" that goes over his robot head. And finally he's got black and midnight blue bits of detailing. Overall... he's a huge mess o' colors, but somehow it just barely hangs together, and I rather like it. He's not perfect, of course (no toy ever is!); the main problem is that his robot head doesn't want to stay concealed. Move the tail the least bit, and it pops right out of hiding. Hard to take his dragon head seriously when there's this other head on his butt looking at you as well. And personally, I was expecting him to be a four-legged dragon; instead, his forearms are almost too small to be useful (though they're bigger than in his last two incarnations!) At least, though, they have a good range of movement; in fact, he's one of the most posable beasts we've gotten from the line. I also thought he'd have more red chrome, but he's still okay with what he's got. It's not quite clear exactly how he's supposed to stand on his rear legs; they're a big mess of parts and odd joints, none of which is clearly a knee or a foot. Oh wow! His dragon legs are ratcheted where they join to his torso! Can't recall when we last got a TF with ratcheting joints... nifty. Tranformation: I'm not going to go into any detail on this, 'cause it is truly complicated. I've not been this baffled by a TF since.... oh, probably not since Ramhorn from Tripredicus. You have to pop several panels out to get him started, and it can be rather difficult because they're so well-concealed. His dragon tail, arms, and wings all end up on his back; the cockpit on his chest. I had a dickens of a time getting his dragon neck to turn at the shoulder, so his arm could relax by his side... I thought I was going to break it. The hinged panels that his robot arms (one real arm and the dragon neck) are mounted on are the weakest points in the toy -- be very careful with them. The two struts holding his head and dragon tail are equally frail-looking, but they're not supporting as much rigid mass. Bump the tail, it'll go "boing" and be fine. Bump the arm wrong, it's likely to snap off at the base (though mind you, I'm talking about a VERY hard bump here. :] One nice little touch: his semi-chromed underbelly ends up attached to one arm... but instead of blocking it, it rotates to become a nifty little shield. Very cool. THE TRICKS: his dragon legs are on panels that swing together to form his waist, a technique we've seen on numerous BWs by now. They must be listening to our complaints, because Megatron's waist panels are very secure, and won't come apart at the drop of a hat (unlike, say, Silverbolt or Inferno.) However, this also means they have to be pushed VERY hard to snap together. There's no gimmick to it, just use a little of the ol' excessive force. The other trick was what kept me from finishing him up for a while: the two panels of his dragon chest are mounted on a rotator joint that I missed for a long moment. Spin this around or you'll never get his head assembly mounted on his shoulders properly. Robot mode: When you're done, you get a robot who's surprisingly short and stumpy... I don't think he's much taller than TM Megatron. Three of his four limbs are massive and powerful looking; the fourth is a normal-looking robot arm. Stare at him head-on long enough, and you'll realize he's asymetrical (beyond having the huge dragon head as one arm). His knees, for example, have three spikes on the right one, but a single crest-like molding on the left. Similar differences are seen in the sides of his chest and his dragon claws/robot feet. He's got a full range of posability; the dragon wings only get in the way a tiny bit. His robot arm is a bit limited at the elbow, since they put a hinge joint and then attached a ball joint to that -- he can only raise it in front of him in a sort of "I'll get you yet!!" gesture. But I can't complain at all; everything is pegged or slotted perfectly into place -- no loose bits anywhere. The engineering on this toy really reflects the work of the last few years... it's darn near perfect. He sports another missile launcher in this mode, mounted on his head. One other gimmick I neglected from before: a lever at the base of the dragon neck causes it to move side to side when turned; the neck pulls back and up when the lever is slid back. A small hinged panel is attached to this lever; I'm not sure if it's meant to lock the head in a certain position somehow, or if it's supposed to help protect rather the fragile- looking lever piece. Okay, on to the third "mode"... I may have to cheat here and look at the box, since I have no idea what the third mode is supposed to look like. Guess I'll start by going back to dragon mode... be back in half an hour... :] Okay, looks like you fold the dragon legs up against his side, rotate the feet all the way against his shins to swing out a little pair of wheels, then lay him flat. Near as I can tell, a pair of hinged covers for the larger rear wheels (mounted inside his thighs) serve no purpose at all. His dragon neck MUST lock into a straight position somehow... I bet that's what that little tab is for... anything else? Anything? [checks box picture] Nope, looks like that's it. If I could only figure out how that locking mechanism works! Well, checking the directions sure didn't help. That hinged tab is a total mystery.... they don't even mention it. Nor is there any way to lock the neck straight out; he's supposed to ride high enough that it doesn't drag the ground. There's no real way to even get the wheels to all lie flat on the ground without any parts dragging, and no way to lock anything into position, even using the dragon arms. The best I can do, he looks more like he's sitting down for story time by the camp fire than rocketing off into battle. Sheesh. What a total afterthought -- it seems like a last-minute response to a last- minute order to make him a triple changer. This is only slightly more of a "mode" than most of the original Transmetals had. Speaking of which... the catalogue inside includes 2 1/2 pages of BW, with last year's Transmetals (including a nice spread of Optimal Optimus) and... the second-wave Fuzors. *Sigh*. Why do they even bother? I miss the days when stuff appeared in the catalogues BEFORE it was on the shelves... rather than after it was OFF the shelves. Their take on Terrorsaur's vehicle mode is no more enlightening than that on the back of the packages, the directions, or the thousand interpretations put forth on ATT... :] Overall: Despite the crappy third mode, this is one completely sweet toy, and just about makes up for the total absense of new BWs since December. If you can get him at all... do so. ASAP.
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