Friday, 29 May 2015

Review: Transformers Combiner Wars Armada Megatron

There's a remarkably Generation 1-looking Megatron in the shops at the moment. If doesn't turn into a gun, of course, as such a Transformation will never happen again, but robot-Megs looks like he stepped out of the 80s and turning into a tank is a reasonable compromise on his alt-mode. I mean, G2 Megatron was a tank and so was...

Generation 1's case-mate in this wave is Armada Megatron. As people who run small businesses in the toy area are more than well aware, Armada Megatron is sitting, refusing to budge from shop shelves like a Bumblebee.

Guess which one I bought?

Yes, for reasons which may become apparent in a later review (should I get around to one) I plucked for Armada Megatron. The crazy person that I am.

Sometime around my 4th year at university, approximately when I was living in the Tiny Room Of Extreme Temperatures, there was a new series of Transformers out: Armada. After giving up after the first few episodes of Robots In Disguise (the old series, not the new one - no wibbly wobbly timey wimey in this review), I was extremely hesitant about starting to watch this new one. Turns out, I was right to be wary and I soon gave up watching Armada too (though I am assured it got much better near the end).

The toys were also... Well, they were definitely aimed at kids. Young kids. They were big and chunky and, in vehicle form at least, looked like something a 2 year old would play with.

Starting to get an idea why Armada Megs is shelf-warming?  Kids these days won't have a clue who he is (and their parents are unlikely to splash out 50 quid on a whim), collectors are unlikely to be big fans and as for those who grew up with Armada... I guess they might be interested, but they're apparently not large enough in number to make much of a dent in the pile.

While I have got a few Armada toys, I never had Megatron. I did, however, have Galvatron who is remarkably similar to Megatron, especially if you're colour blind. Armada Megs (and Galvatron) turned into H-tanks, and were covered in places to plug your Mini-Con (aka 'tiny robot') into and Make Stuff Happen. Never very interesting stuff, it has to be said.

New Armada Megs is more of a traditional tank shape. The gun turret rotates and it has a firing missile. I'm more impressed than I probably should be with the missile as the button to fire it is quite well protected, meaning that it shouldn't accidentally be pressed and shoot off when you don't intend it. I'm also impressed that there are working treads. I've had a problem getting treads to rotate round properly on every single tank/digger toy I've ever owned and these...well, they almost actually work. There are spiked wheels that hook into cuts on the treads to ensure they don't slip. It's not perfect, but it's very close to actually working properly. In a nice nod to the original, the tank is covered in Mini-Con ports, though, while Mini-Cons will stick on here, they don't actually activate anything.

As is turning out to be the case with all the Combiner Wars toys, transformation is simple and quick and enjoyable. Sure to please both children and adults.

As a robot, the toy isn't 100% accurate to the original Armada Megatron, this resulting from being a repaint of G1 Megatron. For example, originally Armada Megs had the cannon on his hip, whereas now it's on his arm like the G1 version. Not a bad thing, however as I was never that fond of hip-gun and won't miss it's absence. What I've failed to show in any of the photos are that the tank treads sections don't have to fold up on his back and can be left sticking out over his shoulders, just like the original. Leaving them up in the air doesn't look quite as good, in my opinion, but it doesn't help distinguish the robot's silhouette from the G1 version.

The only real difference from the G1 Megatron version, besides the paint, is the head, which is now a nice update of Armada Megs. I think Hasbro have now realised that fans are much happier to accept straight-up repaints of toys if the head is switched to make it seem more like a new character.

There are two niggles I have with the toy. The first is the neck colour. This stands out a mile and I think something which matched either the head or rest of the body would have been better (it's also horrible looking on the G1 version and is one of the reasons why I passed on that and will be waiting for the Japanese one which has a far better neck). The other complaint are the stick shoulders. Big body. Beefy arms. Teeny tiny stick connecting the two together. It's not going to snap or anything like that, it just looks a bit silly if you don't have the arms posed to hide it.

Overall, I like this toy very much. I (generally) like the Combiner Wars very much too. If you're only going to be one Megatron - and to be honest, at the price, most people aren't going to splash out on two - it's highly likely you'll plump for the G1 version. And you'll be very happy indeed with it. However, if that one's sold out, I'd definitely recommend considering getting this guy instead. He's a lot of fun, for children of all ages. Actually, that's not a bad idea. Why not help a toy retailer out and get this one for your kids and then you won't feel so bad keeping the G1 version to yourself!

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