"Machine Wars" Megatron Toy Review


General Information
Release Date: 1997
Price Point: $4.99
Retailer: Kay Bee Toys Exclusive
Accessories: Weapons halves x 2

Way back in 1997 I had reviewed Machine Wars Megatron but that review was only a few sentences and nowhere near the quality I would want nowadays. So, in the spirit of giving visitors to BWTF a quality read, I am writing up a more "modern day" review of a very retro toy! That said, the tech specs text below and the note about it comes directly from my original review (via Archive.org).

Tech Specs:
Name: Megatron
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Commander
Alternate Mode: Fighter plane
"Prepare for oblivion!"
Megatron once again "takes to the skies in disguise" in his latest aerial attack configuration. Body armor composed of stealth deflector shields that allow for invisible attacks on Autobot enemies. Twin turbo thrusters rocket him to speeds of up to 600 mph in less than 17 seconds. In robot or vehicle mode, this evil commander is one of the worst threats in the universe.

*Note: The first "aerial attack configuration mentioned in Megatron's tech specs refer to his "ATB" mode which was never released for the Generation 2 Transformers line. Originally, the Dreadwing ATB and Smokescreen were going to be repainted and re-released and turned into Megatron ATB and Starscream. Plans for that toy were scrapped after only a few were made however. The quote on this Megatron "Prepare for obilivion!" comes directly from the tech specs of the Megatron ATB.

Strength: 10.0  |  Intelligence: 10.0  |  Speed: 9.0  |  Endurance: 10.0
Rank: 10.0  |  Courage: 10.0  |  Firepower: 9.0  |  Skill: 9.0

Machine Wars packaging largely used the Beast Wars packaging as its template. The smaller figures were on bubble cards featuring a round, clear bubble attached to a tall card (that is pretty solid by today's standards). Instead of the scales and giant eye from the Beast Wars packaging, Machine Wars used a background that looked like a sheet of metal being torn open by yellow energy. This energy would then outline the character art. The Machine Wars logo uses the same font as the Beast Wars logo featuring orange and yellow colors with a bold black outline. A box under the logo tells you who is in the package. In this case a red box tells us this is the "Evil Decepticon Megatron". Unlike figures released in the current Generations toy line, Megatron is packaged in vehicle mode inside the bubble. A sticker on top shows his robot mode and calls says "Jet Converts to Robot Commander!". Perhaps the most interesting feature of this packaging is the character art which is a recolor of Predator Falcon's artwork. Oddly, the colors used represent Megaplex better than Megatron, so it is quite possible this blue figure was meant to be Megaplex but most fans tend to go with the way the figures were packaged when naming the figures.

The back of the card features the entire line up of "Basic Class" Machine Wars figures divided by allegiance. Under that are the transformation instructions and tech specs. Thanks to not having to translate the tech specs into multiple languages, it is fairly robust compared to the ones we have gotten in the Generations era. The Kenner logo by the bar code really acts as a time stamp on this packaging since that name has not been used outside of Vintage reissues in quite some time.

Vehicle Mode:
Looking at Megatron's packaging and vehicle mode is almost refreshing because it harkens back to a time when toy companies would just blatantly use a real life vehicle's design without having to jump through a thousand hoops to get a license. In this case, Megatron's alt-mode is a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Unlike some "almost but not quite" representations of vehicles made nowadays to get away from licensing issues, this is no doubt based on that real life vehicle. Everything from the silhouette of the vehicle to the angles the vertical stabilizers are set at look like the real life vehicle. It even has the distinct "zig zag" pattern of lines along the rear section. If I were to call out a difference from the real life vehicle it would be on the top of the jet where the tube shapes leading to the rear thrusters are absent.

Megatron is mostly made up of light blue, silver and white plastic. The blue and silver are mostly used for this mode, but he has a lot of undercarriage bits so you can see his white robot mode parts. There is a beautiful white spray op on the back edges of the wings and the rear horizontal stabilizers. This is not done much on toys nowadays so I really appreciate it whenever I see it. Finally, there are two stickers on this figure. The left wing has a red, black and white triangle on it while the right wing has a red and white checkerboard pattern with black outlines. If you can get past how these colors are not traditional Megatron colors, I really like the look of this jet.

Under the cockpit is landing gear that swings down and the robot legs on the underside of the vehicle also have landing gear that can swing out.

Transformation to Robot Mode:
Hold the figure by the vertical stabilizer fins with one hand, then push down the cockpit section and the figure will "auto transform" most of the way into the robot mode. Now remove the halves of his weapon from the back of each lower leg. Connect the two together and place the rifle in either fist.

Note: Machine Wars Megatron is technically a sculpt held over from the Generation 2 era so it shows that the spring loaded "auto transform" feature used for many earlier Beast Wars figure was a mechanism developed for G2.

Robot Mode:
If you think back to 1997, G1/G2 Megatron had only had a handful of forms that were released to the mass market. Of course kids in the 80's knew him as a gun in his alt mode. G2 would later turn him into a tank (twice) and then a race car. I'm not counting the Megatron ATB since it was not mass released. Machine Wars Megatron adds another form for the Decepticon leader into his catalog and would go on to help fans adapt to the idea of Megatron taking all sorts of forms in the years that would follow.

This form is very "modern-Seeker" like with the jet cockpit forming most of the torso and very streamlined arms and legs. Indeed, I wouldn't be shocked if Kenner thought about making this into Starscream and the Seekers at one point (that honor would go to other sculpts, of course). The head sculpt however is very much Megatron. The shape of his "helmet" is similar to some past portrayals of Megatron and the face looks like the Decepticon Leader as well.

This mode is very blue. The head, torso, forearms and lower legs are all blue with some other parts cast in a really nice white color. His eyes are silver (the same plastic as the cockpit cover). That said, there are no paint applications on the robot mode limbs or head, which is unfortunate. I would have loved some of that white paint on the arms or legs.

Megatron has nine points of articulation. By today's standards that does not sound like a lot, but in this era Kenner was using a lot of ball joints on figures so his range of movement is pretty good for a figure of this era. Also remember this was a $5 USD figure at the time, so you could only expect so much articulation.

Final Thoughts:
At the time Megatron was released fans were hip deep in Beast Wars toys on pegs and shelves so it was refreshing to go to Kay Bee and see familiar names and vehicles again. Indeed, this sculpt was good enough that it would go on to be given new decos and identities for years to come. Nowadays this is more of a curiosity from another time but it is also relatively cheap on the aftermarket so if you want to add another Megatron to your collection this would not be a bad choice. Recommended if you're looking for a retro figure from another time or a fun deskbot to quickly flip back and forth between forms.

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