"Generations" Titans Return Galvatron Toy Review

in 2016, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Generation One, Generations, Titan Master, Titans Return, Voyager

Generations
Titans Return

Galvatron General Information:
Release Date: July 2016
Price Point: $24.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Nucleon Titan Master figure, Cannon

Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
Galvatron will risk anything for conquest, including uniting with Nucleon. Nucleon is fueled by an unstable energy source. He brings increased strength and unpredictable powers, but can damage bots he links with beyond repair. If Galvatron can successfully harness the power of Nucleon, he'll gain an overwhelmingly powerful universal systems upgrade.

This Titans Return Voyager Class Decepticon Galvatron figure comes with a Titan Master Nucleon figure. The Nucleon figure becomes the head of the Galvatron figure. Unite them and power up for battle!

Very early on in the life of the Transformers line the toy line began to move away from the sole gimmick of transformation. Once figures like Combiners were introduced it became clear Transformers could be more than just a robot that changed from one form to another. In 1987 Hasbro and Takara took a bold step into a new play pattern by introducing Headmasters. Headmasters were Transformers whose heads detached and became smaller figures that could then pilot or ride the Transformers in beast and vehicle forms (or in a couple cases, their battle station or city forms!). Now almost thirty years after they were originally introduced the Headmaster gimmick has returned in a new form: Titan Masters!

Titan Masters focuses on the return of small robots to Cybertron that can unlock incredible power, and it is up to the Transformers to merge with them and harness those abilities and strengths. In some ways the story resembles "Armada" which had a similar conceit for the Mini-Cons. In true "Generations" fashion, Titans Return gives us characters from the Headmasters era in new forms.

One of the key characters in the Headmasters narrative was Galvatron, but this is the first time he has been portrayed as a Headmaster style robot. This drives some fans crazy because in most of his portrayals Galvatron is very much against the idea of Headmasters. However given that this figure exists in some alt-universe that is not really G1 or maybe not even the IDW universe I think one can interpret this version of the character as some crazy version of the character that decided the pursuit of power was worth combining with a smaller robot.

Packaging:
The Voyager Class packaging for "Titans Return" is very similar to the "Combiner Wars" packaging. The background of the box is black and the right side of the box (if you are facing the box) has the vertical Transformers logo on it with the "Generations" logo above that. The figure is packaged in robot mode in the center and off to the side you can see the Tech Specs card. The lower left side has a bit of Galvatron's artwork with the "Titans Return" logo under it. Interestingly the names are listed as "Nucleon & Galvatron", giving the Titan Master priority. On the upper left hand corner you'll see a symbol with a robot, jet and car indicating the figure is a triple changer.

The side of the box features a more extensive look at the artwork. The back features all three of Galvatron's modes along with Nucleon in both modes. The right side of the back features the "eco system" for the Titan Master system, illustrating that the Titan Masters can work with various size classes. Galvatron's co-sells are Terri-Bull, Skullsmasher, Sentinel Prime and Blaster.

Titans Return figures come with a collector card, similar to last year's "Combiner Wars" series. However these cards are shaped differently, with corners cut out on two sides. The front features the character's artwork, giving you a better look at the full body. The back features something fans have wanted since last year: tech specs! These are not traditional specs with a full motto and so on, but instead there are four qualities reflected here (via icons). The four icons are: A robot flexing arms (strength), a character running (speed), a brain (intelligence) and a missile (firepower). These are laid out on the X axis of a bar chart with lines going across from a scale of one through twenty. Traditional tech specs only go from one to ten, but these tech specs take into account the Titan Master being combined with the Transformer. This extends the line into the zone past the number ten. I'm really glad these were added in as I think it was a missed opportunity not to do so last year. I also appreciate the bright and colorful icons and lines used on the back of the cards.

Accessories:
Galvatron includes his iconic cannon. I have to say this thing is absolutely beautiful. It takes design cues from the G1 animation model and toy, including a tube shaped piece in the back leading to a section with small fins sticking up. This leads to a cannon base and the cannon barrel itself. The barrel widens towards the middle then narrows towards the front. There are several details sculpted into the interior of the cannon barrel, giving it a cool "scifi" appearance. There are a lot of small details sculpted into this accessory and I am very happy with it.

The rear section of the cannon is cast in grey plastic. The barrel is translucent orange. Both these colors take their inspiration from the G1 version of the character. Red paint is found on a series of vertical lines in the back and the base of the cannon has some silver on it.

The cannon attaches to the figure via a 5mm peg that is part of a small platform the cannon rests on. This can be attached on Galvatron's arm in the traditional way or it folds up to attach in cannon and vehicle modes. There is a small purple piece on top that serves as landing gear in the vehicle mode as well. Overall this accesory looks great and the size (relative to the figure) gives it a powerful appearance.

Nucleon

The term "Nucleon" was introduced in Generation One as an alternative fuel source to Energon that caused Transformers to lose the ability to transform, but gain extraordinary power in the process. This term isn't used a lot nowadays, but I'm guessing this was a good trademark reinforcement opportunity so Galvatron's Titan Master is named Nucleon. I speculate this is also a bit of a meta statement on Galvatron using Nucleon's power to make him stronger than before.

Head Mode:
In the Generation One era there were two distinct designs for Galvatron's head. The action figure had a tube shaped head with crown like extensions on top that ended in horizontal lines. When the character was animated, the "crown" design became a lot more like a traditional crown coming almost to a point at the top (but not quite). When designing this figure, the designers decided to create both. Nucleon's head mode looks like a shortened interpretation of the G1 action figure's head with designs that look like a crown around the top of the helmet section, but ending in a horizontal line in the middle. His face has two thin eyes and angular cheeks and a pronounced chin piece. From a sculpting standpoint the figure looks great, with a good amount of detail and homage all worked into the head.

The eyes on the head are painted red and unfortunately that's it. This is disappointing because when the prototype of this was shown off last year (see video embedded further down) the "helmet" section around the face was painted purple, giving this mode a lot more contrast between the helmet and face. He looks a bit too monotone with only the eyes painted.

When you connect this head to Galvatron's body, I recommend having Nucleon's face pointing in the same direction as Galvatron's face. It does not really work the other way, so don't force it.

Transformation to Robot Mode:
Holding the front of the head, unfold the back half to reveal the robot mode.

Robot Mode:
Nucleon's robot mode is both an Easter Egg and meta commentary. The design will look familiar to most G1 fans. In short: it's G1 Megatron as a Headmaster style figure! Among the Megatron-based details are:

  • The head has the same design as the G1 Megatron's head including a helmet that curves and then comes to an angle in the middle and panels that flank the sides of the mouth area.
  • The chest is a flat, rectangular panel.
  • The mid-body area angles inward on the sides and has two vertical rows of horizontal lines.
  • The knee armor has sculpted notches that look like they are based on the G1 Megatron's knees which extended out.

The meta commentary comes into play with the fact that Galvatron is Megatron reborn. By having his head represent Megatron (at least in appearance) it seems like the "spirit" of Megatron is still with him!

Nucleon is cast in silver plastic. Only the eyes are painted (and a tad sloppy on my copy). I do wish there were some more paint applications on this figure as the silver looks very plain by itself.

There are five points of articulation on this figure. The legs are connected together so they move at the same time when you move the hips or knees.

Robot Mode:
It's been a while since the Transformers line has seen a "proper" Galvatron inspired figure. One of the closest was "Energon" Megatron who borrowed a lot of design elements from G1 Galvatron but then went off in its own design direction. Later there was a Galvatron in the "Universe 2.0" line. Unfortunately that was a very unsuccessful figure due to budget cuts that forced it down from a Voyager Class figure to a Deluxe Class figure. Now several years later Galvatron finally gets his due as a Voyager Class figure and a Titan Master to boot!

Galvatron uses both the G1 toy and cartoon designs as its launching point. These design elements include:

  • The crown design on the head comes up to three points, one in the center and two on the sides. I go into more detail above on how Nucleon's head mode resembles G1 Galvatron's.
  • There is a collar around the area where the head connects. Its design is reminiscent of a similar collar on G1 Galvatron's toy and animation model.
  • On the back of each arm are the treads from the cannon mode, a feature of the G1 toy that also carried into the animation model.
  • There are two shoulder armor panels that sit on top of the shoulders. These are horizontal angled panels with small fins pointing outward. These are similar to flat panels on the shoulders of G1 Galvatron.
  • The torso comes out a bit on the front and then slopes downward. Around the middle of the body are four hexagons in what looks like an abdominal area.
  • Around the waist/hip area there is a six sided shape in the center that looks like a belt buckle. This is a callback to G1 Galvatron where he had a similar detail in the same area that was actually a button to activate sound effects.
  • There are two distinctive hip panels on the sides of the figure. These call back to hip panels from G1 Galvatron's toy which did make it to the animation model as well.
  • The thighs have a series of indented lines that remind me of the way G1 Galvatron's thighs were drawn in the cartoon, featuring a series of thin horizontal lines.
  • The legs have an interesting design featuring knee armor that leads to an arrow like design at the middle parts of the lower legs. This distinct design originated on the G1 toy and carried over into the animation model.
  • Galvatron's feet are curved, coming to a point in the middle like the G1 animation model.

In what may just be coincidence, this Galvatron figure also has a piece that becomes a vertical stabilizer in vehicle mode on his back. If you flip this piece up, it looks a bit like a pylon that stuck out from G1 Galvatron's back. The thing is, you normally keep this piece flipped down in this mode so I count this more as a happy accident than deliberate homage.

Galvatron's body is cast in purple, silver and translucent orange plastic. Purple makes up most of the upper body with silver breaking up a lot of the purple via parts like his shoulder armor and hip armor. His legs are silver plastic. The shade of purple used is a fairly dark one, inspired by his animated appearance (though depending on lighting his purple could go from solid purple to lavender). Gunmetal grey is used on the shoulder armor, legs and feet. Red is found on his mid-body and knee armor. A bit of purple paint is used on the top of his knee armor. A bit of silver is used on the torso with the finishing touch being a tampographed Decepticon symbol on the center of his chest. This doesn't sound like a lot of paint applications, and to be fair it's not. However it is fairly accurate to the G1 Galvatron animation model. The only deco point I can see that's "missing" would be some red on the shulder armor and that's it. My only deco complaint is that the arms look a bit plain and could have used some silver on them to help break up the purple. Aside from that I'm very happy with how this figure looks color-wise.

This figure has twenty two points of articulation in this form. This includes five in each arm and leg and even waist articulation. His cannon has a 5mm peg, so it can fit in his fists or on 5mm ports in his upper arms for a more "G1" appearance. If you want to have him hold his cannon up at an angle, you'll have to fiddle a bit with the cannon and the shoulder armor pieces, but it is doable. The joints on his upper body are very tight thanks to some ratchet joints. The hinges on the legs that swing outward are a bit less tight, but he can stand just fine. One cool bit of movement involves the feet, which are on hinges that allow you to position the feet out and in for balance.

Galvatron's main "action feature" in this mode involves his crown. When you attach Nucleon in head mode, he does not have the crown pieces sticking up over the helmet section. Pull open his chest and the crown piece flips out on top of the head, effectively asking as an open mask that allows you to see his face. You can see this action below:

This is one of those features that is great in concept, but the execution is not 100% successful. First off the crown/mask does not really look like part of the head since it is relatively thick and does not tough the face 100% (there's a tiny gap). Also, the crown restricts head movement a bit. It does not prevent it however. The head can turn to look side to side a few degrees, but it is not the total freedom of movement that some fans may want. Personally I give the designers an E for Effort on this gimmick, but I recognize it's hardly perfect.

Transformation to Cannon Mode:

  1. Detach Nucleon and convert him into robot mode.
  2. Detach the cannon and fold up the back of the cannon, then swing up the section with the peg on it. Set this aside for now.
  3. Swing the panels on the back of the lower legs out and over against the lower legs.
  4. Swing each foot up against the lower legs.
  5. Rotate the lower legs so the knee armor faces outward on each side.
  6. Swing each lower leg up over the thighs.
  7. Swing the cockpit piece on the back up.
  8. Swing the purple panel with a vertical fin on it up.
  9. Rotate the lower body around.
  10. Swing the cockpit back in place.
  11. Push the purple panel with the vertical fin over the "abdominal" area.
  12. The arms are connected to panels that form the sides of the torso. Swing these panels down.
  13. Swing the fists into the forearms.
  14. Swing the forearms up over the upper arms.
  15. Swing the treads on the arms down.
  16. Attach the cannon the the section where the Titan Master would be connected (there is a 5mm peg there).
  17. Swing the shoulder panels up against the base of the cannon barrel.

Cannon Mode:
In Generation One Galvatron transformed into a cannon. While he was never really shown as a mobile weapon emplacement, the treads on his design always suggested that to me that he could roll around the battlefield in this mode if he chose to. After years of being a jet or a tank Galvatron has taken on this mode once again! Like the robot mode this design is largely based on the G1 toy and animation model. Like those designs the robot legs wind up forming the back, there is a vertical fin on the back and his arms have treads attached to them on the sides. The front has the cannon barrel on it and the bottom has an angled piece for support. The general shape and design is instantly identifiable as G1 Galvatron's alt mode.

While the general design of this mode is G1-based, there are lots of details that are unique to this version of the character. First the middle has a lot more sculpted detail on it including lots of small lines and some hexagon like shapes. The arms have vertical fins on them and the base of the cannon has some extra bits around it thanks in part to the shoulder armor folding against the base. Overall the sculpt on this mode looks fantastic.

The same colors from the robot mode carry over here, with purple focused in the middle and silver on the front, bottom and back. The cannon barrel's translucent orange color really pops nicely against the daker purple and even toned silver colors. Paint-wise the only "new" colors showing here are gunmetal grey details on the shoulder armor panels (now at the base of the cannon). This mode does reveal one deco point that the figure really needs: the treads. They are unpainted even though tread details are sculpted in. This winds up looking rather monotone and unfinished. I would have much preferred the treads be colored silver or gunmetal grey.

There's not much articulation to speak of here, but you can move the cannon up and down since it rests on the robot arms. This actually mirrors something the character did in "Transformers: The Movie". The first time we see him transform to cannon mode, he moves up a bit, as if to angle his shot perfectly. I think it's great the figure can do the same thing. Now, if you're wondering "Hey, where do I put my Nucleon figure as Galvatron blasts away at enemies?" fear not, there are a couple of places you can stash the little guy. First you can stash him in the cockpit of the vehicle mode which is on the bottom of this mode. Also, towards the back of the cannon there are small pegs that allow you to attach a Titan Master figure! I love the scale this gives the cannon, making it look like a giant battle emplacement.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode (from Cannon Mode)

  1. Be sure Nucleon is detached.
  2. Detach the cannon and set it aside for now.
  3. Swing the cockpit section up and swing the vertical stabilizer piece back.
  4. Swing the panels connected to the arms back up (like they would be in robot mode).
  5. Swing the tread pieces up.
  6. Rotate the arms around so the forearms are on top.
  7. Swing the legs out and move them up. Behind the knee armor are small slots that connect to tabs sticking out of the shoulders.
  8. Swing the base of the cannon out and straighten out the back, then connect it to the port under the cockpit.
  9. Nucleon can be placed inside the cockpit.

Vehicle Mode:
In many ways, this mode is a "because we say so" form. It is an aerial vehicle of some sort and sure it has a very distinct nosecone and cockpit section. However, the "wings" are really just the robot legs, which look a bit chunky for a ship or jet fighter. I also find the cannon sticking out in front awkward looking (I prefer the look of the jet without it attached).

All that said, there is something familiar about this mode. In fact, I believe this mode is based in part on the classic Cybertronian form for the G1 Seekers. This "triangle jet" mode is a rather iconic one in Transformers history and the way the cockpit section is shaped and the pylon sticking up at the top definitely evoke that form. The sections sticking out on the sides help add to this "pyramid" look. In a way this also pays homage to his "Energon" counterpart who also had a "space ship" mode (though that one had wings and everything).

In this form you can store a Titan Master in the cockpit and have one stand on each side using the Titan Master pegs. Again I dig the sense of scale this gives the vehicle. I like the mental image of this ship rising up with Titan Masters standing on the back then leaping off and forming heads of Decepticons!

Final Thoughts:
Galvatron is one of my favorite figures in the "Titans Return" line so far. I think he looks fantastic in his cannon and robot modes and I'll take the vehicle mode as a bonus. I'm not really attached to the idea that Galvatron would "never" become a Titan or Headmaster (to me he's crazy enough to try anything for power). I also love the Easter Egg of using Megatron's design for Nucleon. Sure he could use some more paint, and the "crown" gimmick could be better, but overall this is an imposing figure to have in your collection and a fun toy to play with!