Transformers Classics (Two Pack Review)

in 2006, Action Figure Review, Classics, Generation One

General Information:
Release Year: December 2006
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $19.99 (Average depending on retailer)
Accessories: Optimus Prime rifle, Megatron rifle, "The Ultimate Battle" DVD

Images:

*Image from the official Transformers web site.

While there have been notable exceptions, a bulk of the past few years worth of Transformers tales have involved the Autobots being led by Optimus Prime while the Decepticons were led by Megatron. So how much more classic can you get but to make a versus pack of the two characters? Packaged together with a DVD, this two pack offers a slightly cheaper alternative for those who want an Optimus and a Megatron figure but don't feel like paying $20 for each.

The DVD included with the figures has no original footage, but rather uses clips from Armada, Energon and Cybertron to tell its tale. The narration is new however. Instead of a new episode, fans are treated to a clip show that attempts to summarize the Transformers story. However, it's a tiny bit misleading in that one would think it was a G1 summary, but instead it's a summary of the Armada trilogy, most notably featuring commentary on the Mini-Cons. In a wider sense however, it does make sense since Mini-Cons are now a part of the Classics line. I was very impressed that Garry Chalk was brought in to voice Optimus Prime (the narrator of the piece). The other feature on the DVD are still pictures of the initial assortments of the Classics line including Mirage, Jetfire and Grimlock.

Megatron Review

Alternate forms sometimes come to define a Transformers character. The very nature of their alternate mode causes us to associate certain memories or personality aspects onto any incarnation of the character. This is true for Megatron, who long time fans will remember as being a gun in his original form. It was this form that inspired the Classics Megatron figure, the first US released version of the character to transform into a gun (or blaster if you prefer) in over a decade. However, for years now Megatron has had another alternate form associated with him, a tank. From Generation 2 to Armada, this version of Megatron pays homage to Megatron's "other" well known mode.

Robot Mode:
Megatron's robot mode appears inspired by his Generation 2 forms which both had a portion of the tank's front end becoming his chest, treads on the sides of his legs and an additional smaller gun complementing his larger cannon. This figure uses a similar configuration, but does it in a much different way.

The sculpt of this figure is many levels above its Generation 2 predecessors. The Generation 2 tank Megatron figures each had their fair share of bulk, mostly in the chest and leg areas which were formed from major portions of those respective parts. Here the goal seems to have been to slim down many of the proportions on the figure, giving this tank Megatron a slightly more lithe appearance.

This "slimming down" is perhaps most evident in the legs. While these legs are formed from the rear of the tank, they do not have large armor sections covering up non-existent lower legs. Instead, he has fully sculpted legs here, both upper and lower. The lower legs are curved at the point where they would form the calf muscles on a human being. The legs have many layers of detail including vertical rectangular plates that start at the mid point of the lower leg and extend up over the knees. While the chest is still wide, it does not come out very far over the waist. The arms have a really neat shape, with the shoulders designed with an irregular shape that is roughly a triangle. The left arm is the normal one, with a lower arm and fist that holds his rifle weapon. The other arm is a bit different, coming down into a wider end with a cannon at the end. A claw like piece swings over the cannon. Oddly, there is no right fist, just a small peg that sticks out at the end.

As with most modern-era Transformers figures, the devil is in the details. This Megatron has no lack of sculpted bits that serve as eye candy. On his arms and parts of his chest are small raised lines going horizontally and vertically that serve as nice tech designs. The center of the chest has three layers on each side that look like armor plating and a bit like an oddly placed set of bones at the same time. The cannon on his right arm is very intricate, with several layers of tubes and parts that look like they surround a hollow center where you can imagine energy being channeled. One detail that surprised me can be found on the underside of the upper body/chest piece. This would be hidden and tank mode and can't really be seen in robot mode unless you flip the figure upside down. On the underside of that section are very tiny and intricate details that look like machinery connected by tubes.

The head sculpt for this figure is quintessential Megatron. The outer helmet has the familiar "bucket" shape of the G1 cartoon incarnation and the face is very similar.

Megatron is cast in grey, green and bone white. The arms, chest and the sides of the legs ar emostly green. The center of the chest and the top portion of the body is the bone color. His lower legs are also in that color, with some green painted onto the vertical armor piece that extends over the knees. His cannon, rifle and the helmet section of his head are all grey. Some metallic copper coloring is used on his arms and chest, filling in the tech details, bringing them out very nicely. Red can be found on his left shoulder and waist. His face is painted silver, contrasting nicely with his translucent red eyes. A Decepticon symbol is tampographed right onto the center of his chest.

Megatron has twenty one points of articulation. Some of this works very well such as his feet, which are two pieces that spread out fairly wide in the front and back, offering him fantastic balance. His arms and legs all have multiple joints, allowing them to not only bend but also swivel out and inwards.

The odd lack of a right hand on this figure is partly explained by the gimmick built into his lower right arm forward and swing the claw piece out to the side and you have a melee weapon of sorts on the right arm. Press the red button on the arm down and the piece spins. While I like the idea of having an additional action feature on the arm, the lack of a proper right hand is very distracting.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the rifle from his hand and fold the end of it over to the front.
  2. Swing both halves of the robot feet together.
  3. Straighten out both legs and connect them together with the pegs on the lower legs.
  4. Turn the robot head so it's facing back.
  5. Swing both arms up and connect them together via the tabs on the shoulders.
  6. Swing the waist section up along with the legs to form the rear of the tank.
  7. Attach the rifle to the turret section.

Vehicle Mode:
Megatron's vehicle mode really consolidates a lot of the details from the robot mode. On the turret for instance a lot of the copper colored details are closer together. The sides where the armor and tank treads are probably the parts that are more obvious now since they are sort of out of sight in robot mode (at least when looking at the figure from the front). The side plates have quite a bit of layering and detail too including vertical lines, triangles and cylinders. Another nice set of details that are easier to see now are the round "bolt" details sculpted into the plates on the turret itself. No new colors are revealed in this form, but the green stands out a lot more now since a lot of the bone white color is covered up.

The tank rolls on four wheels on the bottom. The treads themselves are of course sculpted with horizontal sections on the underside and wheels on the side. In another vast improvement over his Generation 2 predecessors, Megatron's turret can actually turn side to side like a real life tank. In the past this was prevented by the turret being formed by the arms. The designers got around this by putting the arms and head on a thin platform on top of the main tank body, which is simple but brilliant at the same time. Not only can the turret turn, but the cannon can move up and down as well.

Final Thoughts:
This figure is one of my favorite Megatron figures (G1 based or otherwise). It's a good size (deluxe, not too big, not too small) and perfect in a "versus" pack. The only thing keeping me from giving the figure a perfect score is the lack of a proper hand on the right arm.

Optimus Prime Review

Robot Mode:
Optimus Prime's "Classics two pack" incarnation is heavily based on his Generation One cartoon appearance with a pile of details added on or altered. Before getting into a review of this figure it is important to note that it is not a retool or redeco of the pre-existing Robotmasters Convoy figure. From a disance the two definitely share similar features, but a lot of that is owed to their size and being based on G1 Optimus Prime.

The head sculpt on Optimus is a more streamlined and smooth take on the head seen in the G1 cartoon. Whereas that one had curved portions that met very hard edged parts, this one has more beveled sections on the outer helmet. He still has a central crest and the antennae like parts on the sides, but the parts all seem to blend into each other rather than being several distinct pieces. The eyes are a tiny bit wider than one may be accustomed to on an Optimus figure, making him look almost like he's looking at something with surprise. This effect is minimized however by the mouthplate, which basically gives the eyes a nice angle on the bottom. The mouthplate itself is a lot less angled than other Primes, instead it is very curved, evoking thoughts of early G1 Marvel comic book drawings of the character.

The upper section of Optimus' torso is fairly standard Optimus design. It features four "lights" sculpted on the top with two rectangular windows as his chest plates. Under that is a separator that angles down to his waist section featuring the classic grille that is so identified with being part of the robot design. These are the parts that have the least amount of sculpting embelishment on them. The extra details begin on the arms. While he does have the expected smokestacks on his shoulders, the right arm has pipes leading from the sides (under the smokestacks) to the front of the shoulder section. Interestingly enough, this pipe detail does not extend onto the front of the left shoulder. My guess would be that the original intent (deco wise) was to put a tamp of an Autobot logo on that arm (in the animated series Prime had a symbol on that side). However the designers opted instead to put two Autobot logos on him that wind up on the sides of his lower arms. Personally I think they should have left those out and just put the one. Sometimes less is more.
It is really on the lower section of the body that you start to see a lot of details not seen on previous Primes. The waist section has two details that look almost like fans without blades. The legs each have three large circles on the knee sections. Instead of just leading into a bunch of horizontal lines, the lower legs have what appear to be two cylinders inset into the legs leading to smaller square sections with horizontal lines. The vent like lines one would expect to find on Prime's legs are found on the inner part of the lower legs. Covering the wheels (at least from the front view) in this form is a wheel cover that is actually sculpted with several sections (some raised with a smaller section in the middle) instead of just being a single level plate as other Prime toys have.

Optimus' gun appears to be where the designers decided to have a bit of fun. Instead of recreating the classic Optimus Prime rifle that has the raised end with a long barrel this weapon actually resembles a tommy gun from old gangster movies with a targeting scope on top. At the center of the rifle is a circular piece that looks like an artillery clip seen on those infamous weapons. An interesting feature of the weapon is its handle. It is actually designed to be a Mini-Con peg! This seems to be part of a trend of some of the Classics toys having "hidden" Mini-Con ports such as on Bumblebee.

Optimus Prime's colors should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the character. He is sculpted in blue, red and grey plastic. The head, legs and fists are cast in blue. The arms and torso are mostly red, with grey plastic used on the line separating the top of the torso from the waist and of course, on the grille. Paint details are filled in using yellow, silver and white. The yellow appears on each part of his body. They of course appear as the fronts of the lights on his chest as well as horizontal lines on his lower arms. White is used for the three circles on his knees. The rifle is cast in black with grey handles on it.

With eighteen points of articulation, Optimus certainly is no slouch. However, he does not have waist articulation due to his transformation. What he does have is chest articulation! What does that mean? Well, Optimus Prime's action feature involves his chest section spinning around. The idea is that you can position his arms so it looks like he's punching in a whirlwind motion (or if he's holding his gun, firing). This is activated by pushing the tab on his back. If you wish to lock this piece in place, just pull the tab out until it locks. While an interesting feature it sort of looks wacky for an Optimus Prime to be spinning around and around, though I certainly wouldn't want to get in the way of that onslaught!

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the rifle from Prime's fist and swing the middle section up, and the front section down so it becomes a turret.
  2. Turn the robot head around and push it into the slot behind it.
  3. Point the robot feet down.
  4. Straighten out the legs and connect them together.
  5. Slide the upper body back, then rotate the upper section around.
  6. Move the upper arms back while swinging the lower arms forward.
  7. Tuck the fists into the main body of the cab to reveal the headlights.
  8. Attach the turret into the hole on the rear of the vehicle.

Vehicle Mode:
While this figure has a very strong robot mode, the vehicle mode is where things just kind of fall apart. I'm not sure if it was a cost saving measure of some sort or just a design oversight, but without the lower legs collapsing in as part of the transformation, the rear of the vehicle is simply too long. This leaves his waist and upper legs sticking out in the middle of the cab form without any type of support, causing them to droop down slightly. If you pick up the figure, the legs are so heavy the waist section droops down at an angle a bit. Functionality aside, this just looks ugly. The saving grace of the vehicle's rear section is the gun turret which is a nice touch. It even turns in a circle so there's some functionality there.

Unfortunately the front of the vehicle isn't exactly pretty either. Because of the proportions of the figure the grille and headlights section is inset fairly deep making it look like someone crashed into the truck and smooshed the front end in.

It's not that the vehicle doesn't have some redeeming factors. The headlight details and the front bumper are nicely sculpted and the smokestacks even have the small circles sculpted on them representing holes found on the original G1 Prime figure. It's just that after so many Optimus Prime figures of varying sizes and complexity being created over the years, one would think the designers could have done better for a Classics Prime even if it wasn't the main Voyager Class figure.

Final Thoughts:
This Optimus definitely has an awesome robot mode and a really cool weapon. However the vehicle mode is really poorly done making this the weak point of this two pack.

Final Thoughts on the set:
There have been many reports of fairly shoddy quality control on this set. While mine is functionally fine, many people have reported the Optimus gimmick not working well and Megatron's feet being assembled backwards. Megatron is a neat figure (with the sticking point being his lack of the hand) and Optimus is actually sculpted fairly well in robot mode, but the buyer needs to beware that there are some serious potential problems with this set. With better quality control, I would be able to recommend this set more highly.