"Transformers Universe 2.0" Galvatron Toy Review

General Information:
Release Date: June 2008
Price Point: $10.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Missile x 1

*Images from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
Arrogant, powerful and ruthless, GALVATRON has emerged to seize control of the scattered DECEPTICON forces. He has formed what was once a loose confederation of assassins and warlords into an army capable of threatening the entire universe. Rumors abound, but no one knows where he came from; they know only that he arrived, and swiftly crushed all opposition to his rule. Some DECEPTICONS hope another leader powerful enough to challenge him will emerge, but most are too afraid of him to even hope for someone better.

In robot mode, this fierce-looking DECEPTICON figure features a giant firing particle cannon blast! Convert to tank vehicle mode and the particle*

**The text on Hasbrotoyshop mysteriously ends at the word "particle". This may have been earlier text referring to Galvatron's aborted third mode.

In the 1986 animated Transformers movie, the Decepticon leader Megatron was heavily damaged and reformatted into a new body and persona: Galvatron. This ruthless, powerful Decepticon went on to become a major threat in several storylines in the G1 Marvel comic book as well as the animated series. While Megatron represents a schemer who plans (sometime weird) ways to defeat the Autobots, Galvatron was often marked more by his insanity with the power to back up. This dangerous combination makes him a popular character among fans who don't mind a little wackiness in a leader character. Personally I love the concept of Galvatron being a "Megatron upgrade" who struggles with issues of identity and power. Now thanks to the folks at Hasbro, we have our first "G1ish" Galvatron figure released domestically since "Energon".

Vehicle Mode:
Like most of the "Transformer Universe" figures, Galvatron's vehicle form is based on a real life vehicle with heavy modifications. Specifically he is based on the Merkava Mk. 3B tank, a vehicle used by the Israeli army. Among the features Galvatron uses from the real life tank are:

  • Two hooks located in the front, center section of the tank.
  • The turret has a very distinctive asymmetrical design, with one side wider than the other.
  • Running along the sides over the treads are several armor plates that have a triangular pattern pointing down.

While Galvatron uses the above features of the Merkava, the designers modified several parts and added on a ton of detail.

  • While the turret is based on the one from the real life Merkava, elements of it have been added on including a tower like piece on top in the middle that angles back, a missile pod on the right side towards the rear and the cannon barrel itself has been given a curved shape similar to G1 Galvatron's cannon.
  • On either side of the tank towards the rear are two missiles/rockets mounted on the sides. These are sculpted pieces and not independent accessories.
  • While the plates running along the sides of the tank are based on the Merkava ones, they include several details not on the real life tank such as sculpted vent-like pieces, vertical and horizontal line details as well as up to two additional "layers" of armor plating in some parts (most notable in between the vent lines and the hinge towards the front).
  • The back portion of the tank is a unique design with etched ines indicating panels that look like the outlines of storage compartments as well as tubes and screws.

It is fairly common knowledge (thanks to Hasbro at Botcon 2008) that Galvatron was originally intended to be a Voyager Class figure, but was later downsized. The high level of detail on this figure definitely indicates this. His turret has a ton of detail on it from raised squares and recangles to designs that lookl ike windows, vents and hatch covers. Similar style detailing appears on the top of the tank itself and the barrel of the cannon has line details, circles in addition to some of the lines following the curve of the cannon (a detail borrowed from G1 Galvatron). The overall effect is a very impressive looking tank with detail rivaling its real life counterpart. The extra weaponry gives it an added dangerous slant, appropriate for the leader of the Decepticons!

Galvatron is cast mostly in dark grey plastic in this form with a bit of his purple plastic from the robot mode showing. The cannon barrel is cast in translucent orange (a color nod to G1 Galvatron) and bright orange plastic is used for the trigger that fires the missile from the cannon. The grey color pretty much takes up almost the entire vehicle, hiding most of his other colors and making the tank form look a bit more "realistic". Silver paint is used for deco on the turret/cannon, front and sides of the vehicle. The silver is used rather sparingly, with the largest concentration on the raised centerpiece of the turret. It also fills in details such as the vents on the sides and parts of the cannon barrel. I really wish the silver had been used (or any color really) to paint the rockets on the sides to make them more distinctive looking. On the sides of the turret itself are the letters/numbers "Galv - 25" in black, a reference to his name and the 25th Anniversary of "Transformers". The treads are also painted black on the sides and bottom.

Unlike many of the existing Transformers tank-based vehicle modes, this one can actually turn its turret in a complete circle, which is really refreshing to see. The cannon can fire a translucent orange missile by pressing the neon orange trigger on top. The tank can roll on four wheels on the bottom of the treads.

When this figure was initially conceived as a Voyager Class figure, the idea was to create a third form that would be reminiscent of G1 Galvatron's cannon form, which was basically a cannon emplacement with two treads in the front. To reflect this, Galvatron was originally designed to transform into a walking artillery emplacement. If you look on the underside of the tank, you'll find two extraneous "feet" in the back (on the other side of the rockets). You can achieve this mode by swinging out the front portion of the treads out to the sides and swinging down the purple feet, and then swinging down the grey feet in the back and finally raising the cannon up and pushing the halves of the turret together. The result is a form that is reminscent of "spider mech" type vehicles seen in other scifi properties. Clearly there was more development intended for this form, but it is neat to be able to see a bit of what "could have" been. You can see a sketch of this on Raving Toy Maniac where they discussed the fabled third mode with Hasbro.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing out the panels on the sides of the tank on the hinge towards the front.
  2. Swing the front halves of the treads forward.
  3. Rotate the front portions of the tank halves so the purple foot pieces face outwards.
  4. Rotate each purple foot piece around, then swing the foot pieces down.
  5. Flip the tank over and rotate the waist around so the purple piece faces front, adjust the legs accordingly.
  6. Swing the cannon barrel to the side and forward.
  7. On the cannon section, swing the missile pod to the side, then swing it into the arm to reveal the robot hand.
  8. Pull the halves of the turret out to the sides, then lift the cannon up and rotate it around, then squeeze the turret halves back together.
  9. Swing the left arm down and straighten it out and swing the fist out from the wrist.
  10. Pull the chest piece up to slide the head up, then swing it down to form the chest.
  11. Rotate the rear tank tread halves in the back and push them together to form the back.

Robot Mode:
One of the most appealing aspects to the current "Universe" line is its ability to take key physical features of a character's G1 form and translate it into a modern day robot form. Galvatron has this in spades, despite having a transformation and alternate mode that differs from his original form. G1 elements on this figure include:

  • The head design is directly based on the G1 Galvatron's head design, which took the G1 toy design and exaggerated features such as the "crown horns" on the top of his head to curve them more.
  • The tank cannon design reveals itself to have many G1 influences. From the rear section with its trapezoid top and "fin" sticking up at the top and the boxy section in the back with alternating raised and inset lines are stylized versions of the same section on G1 Galvatron's cannon. The barrel itself has a curved shape with lines tracing the curve starting at the center of the cannon, another feature of G1 Galvatron's cannon.
  • Galvatron's chest piece has a distinctive rasied design leading to an abdominal section with four squares. This design is a direct copy of designs from the G1 Galvatron's animation model (and bits of the G1 figure).
  • In the G1 television show, Galvatron's legs were designed to look curved as if it were a human wearing long boots. While his legs are more squared off in this design, several elements of that leg design are intact. Above his knees are circular designs inside six sided borders. This detail is a direct carry over from G1 Galvatron's toy and animation model. If you look closely, you'll also notice a raised design with a square in the center on the lower legs. There are similar details on G1 Galvatron's legs, and finally a layer of detail leads from the middle of the leg down to the section above the purple foot pieces at a sharp angle, which are analagous to the tops of G1 Galvatron's "boot" designs. Even Galvatron's feet are inspired by his G1 animation model, being curved with a slight raised piece in the center as opposed to the more squarish feet used in the G1 figure.

Of course, this isn't a pure recreation of G1 Galvatron. Several elements are unique to this figure. His arms are asymmetrical, with two completely different designs, thanks to the tank turret becoming his right arm. His right hand is open palmed (revealing evil looking claw like fingers) whereas his left arm is a bit more conventional, with blocky rectangular sections leading to a clenched fist at the end.

Galvatron reveals plenty of purple and orange plastic in this form, two of his signature colors. The purple makes up many of the newly revealed robot parts such as his head, chest, waist, fists, parts of his arms and feet. The purple has a metallic shine to it, which is always nice to see. The neon orange plastic is used for several joints including the hinges on his feet and arms. Grey plastic makes up the other parts such as a majorit of the legs and chucnks of the arms. Silver paint is used for smaller details such as the face, an outline on the chest piece and the circles on the legs. A Decepticon symbol is painted silver on his left arm. Translucent orange plastic is used for light piping on his head, which makes sense considering how much of it is on this figure, but I would have personally preferred red.

Galvatron sports twenty four points of articulation in this form, which is quite a large number for a deluxe figure. This includes four points on the left arm and seven on each leg. His cannon can also be turned around in a circle, which gives it independent posability from the arm itself which is fortunate since the arm is a bit limited by its design in terms of its range of movement. Unfortunately, this is where the figure shows some weakness. I believe since this was originally intended as a larger figure, the way the figure would have been assembled was to be more sturdy at a larger price point, Here, three parts pop off very easily. Two of them are the lower leg pieces. Twist them around a bit and they'll pop off. Granted, they're easily replaced, but under the rough play of kids I can imagine parts flying everywhere. His left arm attaches to the main body on a ball joint, but it's not a very sturdy one and that arm can pop off easily as well. These are (unfortunately) weak points on an otherwise strong figure.

Final Thoughts:
Galvatron is definitely a mixed bag. He's a figure that had much greater potential as a Voyager Class figure and it's a darn shame such a key character was downgraded to a deluxe figure. From it's unrealized third mode to the parts popping off in robot mode, it would be irresponsible of me to heartily recommend this figure. What I will say is that it pays good homage to its source character and it is a fun toy for transforming and displaying, which is what most older fans will want it for. It also has wonderful sculpting and fantastic detail work. For younger kids, it's not a good figure since it pops apart so easily. Mildly recommended.

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