Release Date: April 7, 2016
Price Point: $89.00 (Botcon Price)
Retailer: Fun Publications (Botcon and Roll Out Roll Call shared Exclusive)
Accessories: Missiles/sword blades x 2; Missile launchers/Sword handles
The theme for Botcon 2016 was the "Dawn of the Predacus", riffing off the "Beast Wars" Combiner character known as Tripredacus. The story told the tale of the fall of the Decepticons and the rise of the Predacons, featuring many Maximal and Predacon characters in their "pre-Beast Wars" forms. Botcon had played with this theme before in 2006 with the "Dawn of Future's Past" set, featuring vehicular forms for many Beast Wars characters. Interestingly this year's set seems more aligned with Hasbro's mass release figures, being labeled as "Combiner Wars" instead of "Timelines". That places this set of figures under the "Generations" banner instead.
Back in 2000, the "Transformers" toy line repositioned itself from its "Beast" focus during the "Beast Wars" and "Beast Machines" era and focused on a line that featured mostly Transformers who transformed into vehicles. One of the unique pieces to come out of the line was Gigatron, a six-changer who had a mixture of both beast and vehicle modes as his alternate forms. This figure would later be released outside Japan as Megatron in the "Robots in Disguise" toy line. In 2005, Fun Publications used this sculpt as Deathsaurus, featuring a new head and deco. However, lurking in the depths of Botcon history was a concept for a Megatron that went unused for over a decade until Botcon 2016! Using this base sculpt, this figure was given a new head sculpt and identity as a "pre-Beast Wars" Megatron. For the purpose of this review my transformation steps below will all start from the robot mode to keep things simple.
Megatron is packaged somewhat in robot mode but bundled up with parts folded in. He is inside a plastic bag along with his tech specs. The bag identifies this as "Botcon 2016 Souvenir Set #3".
Megatron includes four multi-purpose accessories. Two of them are handles that double as missile launchers. These can hold projectiles that also serve as swords and the ends of a staff weapon. In general, the weapons serve as blasters/missile launchers in the vehicle modes. Pressing a large button on the handles builds up pressure until the missile fires. As a melee weapon the handles can be held in the robot hands or the handles can be connected to form a staff weapon. Each of the handles have been cast in black, with the buttons in translucent purple. Red is painted around the edge of the opening where the button is located. The blades/missiles are cast in translucent purple. I really dig the design of this weapon. The handles/launchers have cool raised designs on them and the blades have a really interesting four sided design with serrated edges. The original version of this had gold trim on the raised details, but this version doesn't have any paint on them which is a bit of a shame but it does make the pattern different from its predecessors, which I appreciate.
When looking at this figure it is important to keep in mind that in many respects the colors were established ages ago. Based on the previous artwork this Megatron's deco is largely based on his Transmetal 2 incarnation, which was essentially a big red dragon in beast mode.
Megatron has five primary plastic colors. Two are different shades of red, one darker than the other. The other colors include black, translucent orange and translucent purple. I was very happy to see two different shades of red used. It helps to create nuance to the figure's appearance. The translucent orange makes up parts of the wings, which gives the figure a very dramatic effect when you spread them out. Translucent purple and black plastic is used for smaller parts including the knee armor, parts of the feet and the head. These are great base colors for the figure but the paint colors add a lot to its appearance.
There's a lot of deco on this figure. Paint colors include red, purple, yellow and black. A lot of the red is used for the wings, painting in details on the translucent orange parts. Bits of red are also found on the head and chest. Purple is also used on the head and chest to fill in smaller details. Yellow is used on the lower legs, offering fantastic contrast with the red color. Black is used for a lot of trim and edge detail. This includes the shoulders, waist and legs. The real crowning touch on the deco are the vacuum metallized gold parts. These are found on the top of the wings, the chest panel and the sides of the forearms. These work beautifully against the red color and they remind me a lot of the Red Envelopes given out during Chinese New Year. On first sight in the Botcon 2016 display case I fell in love with this deco and a month later it still looks amazing to me.
Megatron features a new head sculpt based on the design from the "unused" Botcon concept from years ago. It looks largely like your typical Megatron design but with a lot of additional details added in. There are raised sections on the top and sides that seem to echo the design of the wings. The design has some gorgeous details on it, including a thin Predacon symbol inside his crest and pointed, tooth like details laid on top of the sides of his face. This is easily one of my favorite Botcon head sculpts not just from 2016 but any year. This head design was a challenge for the Fun Publications team to get working with this figure. Part of that challenge was making sure it fit properly into the slot inside the chest. As a consequence of the new design, the snout of the "bat" mode has been removed, effectively turning this sculpt into a figure with five "official" modes. Oddly the bat mode still appears on the instructions. I put it that way because he could theoretically transform into say, the elephant mode that was introduced with Devil Gigatron, but that mode wasn't included in his instructions. The "bat mode" wasn't exactly the strongest mode to begin with so I'm okay with the sacrifice.
There is one odd feature of this figure: the "Spark Crystal" in the center of Megatron's chest. You would expect like the original figure this would be the Predacon symbol, but oddly enough it's the Dinobot symbol resembling the head of a Triceratops! I'm not sure why that is since the original figure had a Predacon symbol. I speculate that the tooling for the Dinobot symbol is the only one left out of the various "Spark Crystals" so that's the one the factory used. Either that or it was just some bizarre error. In my personal "head canon" I just justify it as a representation of Megatron's "beast nature" that will eventually manifest itself as his T-Rex mode in "Beast Wars". To mitigate this, the "Magnaboss label sheet" sold at Botcon 2016 included a Predacon symbol sticker that fits over the Spark Crystal.
From a functional standpoint all of the joints on this figure are nice and tight. Many of the joints are ratchet joints, and those still "click" nicely into place. The ball and swivel joints are also still nice and tight as well. Honestly given the age of the sculpt I was relieved to see this. All that said, there is one issue which you need to look out for. The chest panel swings out as part of the transformation, but in some copies of this figure the panel does not swing back up properly after you slide the head down into the chest compartment. The key to this seems to be manipulating the panels that connect to the robot arms and adjusting the head inside. On my copy of the figure it has been fairly easy to adjust these parts so the chest panel can snap into place but I heard about other fans who had to return the figure in exchange for a more functional one. Your mileage will vary.
Transformation to Dragon Mode:
- Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
- Swing the shoulder armor down.
- Swing the chest panel open.
- Push the robot head into the chest compartment, then push the chest compartment back into place.
- Swing the cockpit piece on the back of the robot up, and clip it into place where the robot head was located.
- Swing the end of the cockpit piece up and rotate it around, forming the end of the dragon tail.
- Pull the forearms forward so they slide over the robot fists.
- On each forearm, swing down the dragon feet.
- Swing the arms up.
- Rotate the arms around, then bend them at the elbows, forming the dragon's legs.
- Swing the wings back on the lower hinge, then swing them forward and attach the peg from the back of the robot's waist/hip area to the corresponding port on the piece in the middle of the wings.
- Push the wings back gently.
- Pull the dragon's forearms out from the sides of the robot body, then rotate the upper arms around and straighten them out.
- Rotate the lower robot legs around and bend them at the knees.
- Push the halves of the robot feet together, then swing the black panels back to reveal the dragon heads.
- Attach the weapons to the two pegs on the back of the dragon.
Looking at this mode years after my first impressions I have to say this mode reminds me a lot of King Ghidorah from the "Godzilla" movies. What's interesting about this mode is that not all that much is revealed as "new". The legs are now the neck and head of the beast, the wings are the same, we're just looking at them from a different perspective and the robot arms are the dragon legs. What's great is how well this inversion of the figure's parts works as an alternate mode.
The key "new" features of this mode include the dragon heads, the arms and feet. The dragon heads look fantastic. I like the way the covers of the robot feet become a "frill" in the back. The dragon heads look monstrous and they really make you think this is not just a dragon, but it's a really mean one! The articulation of the robot legs helps give life to the heads by allowing you to pose the neck and head in various ways. It gives the figure the ability to be expressive and functional at the same time. Less important are his dragon arms, which are just little things that really don't look like they could do a whole lot since they barely extend beyond his torso. His feet are kind of cool looking, with triangular points that resemble claws.
From a color perspective this is the one mode where there was a bit of a misstep in the deco. The dragon heads are cast in red plastic but the eyes are unpainted. To their credit the folks at Fun Publication realized this in time to create a sticker (on a sheet sold at the convention) that fills in the details on the eyes. I deliberately did not apply them when reviewing this figure so you would see it in its most "pure" form. That said all the deco on the robot legs gets to shine here and you get a different perspective on just how much work was put into the yellow and black details. There is also black on the claws on the arms and a bit of black on the feet. For me the colors that really bring it all together are the translucent orange, red and vacuum metallized gold on the wings. When you have this guy set up with the wings fully spread out he looks amazing!
In terms of functionality the only weakness you need to watch out for is the same as Gigatron and "Robots in Disguise" Megatron: the beast mode arms. Since they're on small ball joints and need to twist around they pop off pretty easily so be careful. They snap back on easily enough so it's not a huge deal.
Transformation to Claw Mode
- Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
- Push the two halves of the robot feet together.
- Pull the forearms on each arm forward and swing the beast mode claws forward.
- Swing the lower portion of the robot legs back.
- Swing the chest panel down.
- Swing the panels connected to the arms down, bringing them near the robot hips.
- Swing the chest panel back up.
- On the back push the cockpit piece to the side, then rotate the middle swivel joint and move the tip so it looks like the end of a thumb.
- Swing the forearms in the same direction as the lower legs.
This mold definitely goes on a short list of Transformers with unusual alternate modes. There are Transformers who become limbs, heads, guns even tools but just a giant hand is a bit silly and fun at the same time. Indeed, when this toy was Gigatron/Megatron it was actually shown in the cartoon using this mode several times. In this context it's a bit odd for "Beast Wars" Megatron to become a giant hand but it is a legitimate mode. Most fans seem to dig using this mode to hold other Transformers such as G1 Megatron in gun form or in the case of my photos, fellow Botcon 2016 exclusive Reflector in camera mode!
This is one mode where nothing new is revealed at all. Indeed, if you didn't look carefully you'd think it was mistransformed and the figure just fell over or something. Once you have the context in mind however it is pretty fun how the arms and legs do look like fingers and the cockpit section somehow turns into a thumb.
There aren't any real "new" details revealed in this mode. It's more like you're looking at the robot mode from a different angle (and with the limbs contorted).
Transformation to Jet Mode:
- Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
- Swing the shoulder armor down.
- Pull the forearms down over the hands and swing out the dragon feet.
- Swing the chest panel open and push the head down.
- Swing the arms out to the sides, then swing down the panels that the arms are connected to.
- Swing the chest panel back into place.
- Swing the cockpit section on the back up, clipping it into the opening where the robot head was.
- Swing the wings back and connect the peg on the back of the waist/hip section to the hold in between the two wings.
- Swing the two halves of the feet together and rotate them around.
- Swing the lower legs up and forward. You will have to angle the hip joints up a bit to get the legs to go over properly.
- Attach the weapons to the sides of the cockpit's base section.
Megatron's jet mode is one of my favorites from this sculpt. While the character is meant to be fully technological, I can't help but feel this looks almost like a techno-organic jet, more akin to the vehicle mode of a Transmetal. The wings have a lot to do with this. The translucent parts make the wings look like membranes and the fins and ridges along the back and front of the vehicle look reptilian even in this mode. Add to that the teeth on the top of the jet that are clearly visible and this mode looks like a mechanical jet with organic enhancements. The scifi look of this vehicle really sets it apart from other Transformers.
This mode focuses a lot on the wings, legs and cockpit section. The cockpit section is very expressive in its own way. The cockpit windows are shaped like eyes, making the front of the vehicle look almost like a head of a bird. There are nice, curved and angled details along the "neck" that really make this sculpt look intricate.
This mode shows off the orange colors (both translucent and painted) on the wings brilliantly. You also get to see the legs in a different context. Since they are on top of this mode it draws your eye to the blend of yellow paint and translucent purple plastic. I also kind of dig how the white on the teeth shows so much in this form. It gives the mode a sinister appearance.
Functionally the wings spread out and swing in without a problem. The missiles also fire without a problem. There is one unfortunate change: the "landing gear" that is inside the chest on other versions of this sculpt was removed to accommodate the new head design. Truth be told the figure doesn't need this that badly but it was cool to have and gave validity to this mode being a jet.
Transformation to Transport Mode:
- Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
- Push the halves of the robot feet together.
- Rotate the robot legs out so the knee armor is facing out to the sides.
- Swing each lower leg up.
- Push the shoulder armor down.
- Swing the robot arms out to the sides.
- Swing the chest panel forward.
- Swing the panels connected to the shoulders out to the sides, then down.
- Push the robot head down.
- Swing the chest panel back in place.
- Swing the cockpit piece up.
- At this point the gold chest piece should be facing up. Rotate the robot arms so the shoulder armor also faces up.
- Swing the arms down one notch at the shoulders, then bend them at the elbows. Push the forearm back so the fist is revealed. The discs on the forearms should face outward.
- Connect the peg on the forearms to the corresponding ports on the lower legs.
- Push the wings in, then swing them up on their middle hinges.
- Attach the missile launchers to the pegs on top of the vehicle's rear section.
The "Transport Mode" is basically a ground vehicle mode that looks like a fanciful version of the Batmobile. On top of all the fins, ridges the pointed "cockpit" section the wings on the sides really help give the impression of a vehicle based on a wing creature (which, to be fair, it is). Te designers did their best to come up with design elements that are "car-like", the strongest of which are the wheels on the sides on the wings and arms. There is also a cabin/cockpit section at the base of the "neck" piece with two large windows and a "moon roof" on top. I actually find this mode really cool but it really is very much a "because we say so" mode that I know some fans may not be very fond of.
The only "new" detail revealed here is the cockpit and its translucent red plastic windows. Much like the robot mode this mode shows off a lot of the various color details on the figure including the vacuum metallized gold parts and the purple, yellow, orange, black and yellow paint applications. This level of detail also helps make this mode look highly detailed and amazing.
This Megatron was the most highly sought after figure from Botcon 2016, selling for hundreds of dollars after the convention. There's good reason for this. The deco is near perfect and the base sculpt is a very impressive looking one. The red and gold combination is naturally appealing and this is based on a version of the sculpt fans have wanted for years. That said, the figure is not perfect. The three main issues I have with it are: the missing landing gear, the "incorrect" Spark Crystal and the unpainted dragon eyes. Other than that Fun Publications really knocked this one out of the park. This is easily my favorite Botcon 2016 exclusive.