Thursday, 12 December 2013

Review: Transformers Metroplex

It's amazing really. How do you take a 25 year old toy, update with modern design and manufacturing techniques but generally keep everything  the same and yet have the final product somehow turn out worse than the original?

Because that's what Hasbro's done with their new Metroplex.

Not that I'm saying the old Metroplex was perfect. I mean, look at all the 'fortress' Transformers from the 80s.

  • Scorponok: cool scorpion mode, pretty good robot mode, terrible, terrible base mode.
  • Trypticon: cool dinosaur mode, terrible, terrible base mode.
  • Fortress Maximus: decent (if blocky) robot mode, iffy ship mode, surprisingly not too bad base mode.
  • Metroplex: decent robot mode, ok vehicle mode and hmm... could do better base mode.

Notice a trend?

Super-dooper-giant Metroplex takes the crown from Fort Max as being the Biggest Transformer Ever (in height, if not bulk), but that's about it prize-wise.

Robot mode isn't too bad. Plenty of articulation and reasonably sturdy on its feet, despite this. Joints aren't tight but they hold up reasonably well under the weight of the robot. It definitely looks a lot like it's 80s counterpart.

Old 'Plex was a bit chubby around his middle. This meant that when he turned into vehicle or base modes his chest and legs came together nicely. The new one has a much taller, thinner body, which means that there're giant gaps in these modes and it looks a bit of a mess.

In the old one, Scamper (the little black 'bot) could drive up Plex's ramp and park inside the city. He can't do this on the new one. The ramp isn't long enough to reach the ground and even if it did, there's a right-angle bend in the ramp at the 'city' end which blocks entry inside. This is pretty terrible.

Old 'Plex had a nice heliport area. New 'Plex has one too, except in this one there's a big hole for some reason for helicopters to not land on. I have no idea at all what the red posts are for and there's nothing in the instructions to explain.

Gun-wise, New 'Plex comes with two black ones reminiscent of his vintage ones. This can be stick to his shoulders, held in his hands or...that's it. There are a few 'holes' scattered round Metroplex but the guns can't really stick in any of them.

Old 'Plex came with 2 red guns. New 'Plex - the regular 'Western release, anyway - comes with one red gun that attaches on his right shoulder...except for mine because the bed snapped off within 5 minutes of me playing with it. The new gun does fire, which is nice, but the missile is tiny compared to the size of the gun. A more substantial projectile would have been a vast improvement.

The old release came with a number of 'extra' robots. Scamper, the little black car, is still here and is a definite upgrade over the old version. He's a 'scout' class vehicle and thus more or less the same size as the old Scamper. Sixgun (named due to being comprised of Metroplex's six guns) isn't, sadly, and neither is the little tank, Slammer. It's like Hasbro are inviting 3rd companies to finish off their products!

For a final kick in the teeth for British fans, our Toys R Us is stocking a 'European' version of Metroplex which comes devoid of the voice clips found on the US (and, oddly enough, the Japanese) release. Instead the noises are a few different 'clunking' noises, all of which sound rubbish and. Metroplex's eyes light up too, but this is nothing to get excited about. You'll probably stick the batteries in for curiosity, but will soon be taking them out again.

And yet I still like this toy. I know, I know I've just listed a bunch of reasons why it's a bit rubbish but it has one thing in its favour: it's big, REALLY BIG. You want something impressive-looking to stand amongst your other robots? THIS IS IT. In robot mode it does look very nice indeed and you can get some decent poses out of him stomping on Decepticons or holding them in the air in his hands.

With a few 3rd Party accessories and some Reprolabels (the 100 Hasbro give you to stick on just aren't enough!), this'll be a really nice robot (if not 'transforming toy'). It's not worth the £125 it's on sale for at Toys R Us, but if you find it discounted or in some kind of offer to bring it well under the £100 mark then he's worth the purchase.

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