Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings


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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