The Reverend's review of: Metroplex
First Cartoon Appearance:
Five Faces of Darkness
"Vigilance is the foundation on which victories are built."
Startlingly versatile, staggeringly strong, the Autobot's last line of defense... a mighty insturment of titanic destructive force. Extremely modest about his achievements... berates himself for not doing more. In robot mode, he can lift 70,000 tons, has shoulder-mounted twin high-energy maser cannons and omni-directional receiving and transmitting antenna. In city mode, has helipad and fully equipped repair bays that can handle four vehicles at once. Left rear tower transforms into tank, Slammer, who has rocket-propelled mortar cannon. Scamper is sports car with side mounted electro-blasters; transforms into robot, uses high-energy particle beam pistol. Six-gun is small robot, has ion-pulse rifles for arms, twin surface-to-air guided missile launchers on back, acetylene pistol. In battle station mode, uses all these weapons and twin disrupter rays, laser lances, powerful anti-matter projectors.
"They made a WHAT?!" was the exclamation all around the country as kids saw commercials and toy catalogs depicting the new Autobot City, Metroplex. For years we'd been hiding our Autobots and Decepticons under boxes and blanket folds as bases, or at least putting them in separate piles. Gestalts battered gestalts, gargantuan Dinobots squared off against the puny Insecticons, and Optimus Prime and Megatron found a new facet to their relationship - a shared feeling of mounting obsolescence as their soldiers began to overtake and exceed them in height.
Then Metroplex showed up.
Alternate Mode (City):
Metroplex aims to at least attempt to look like a city or part of a city, with his upper level boasting three building-like towers, an oddly shaped red fourth tower, a helipad and a small garage, and his lower level consisting of four "repair bays" in which small Autobot cars can fit. If this city doesn't look populated enough to you, he does come with a small, six wheeled black minicar (Scamper) who can be disassembled and folded to resemble a small Autobot looking vaguely like a black Sideswipe. White is his primary color, with some black trim and lots of stickers detailing the bays. The helipad is clearly marked with a black and yellow sticker (reads HELIPAD), the left rear tower sports molded windows, and two of the bays even have little molded wheel-ramps for cars to drive onto. The toy catalogues showed Metroplex's city mode bearing a few Autobot minicars, and the garage and bays will hold most of them. It also showed Protectobot Blades sitting on the helipad, but the pad is really too small for this - Blades' rotor blades make positioning a bit tricky. This is a recurring problem with Metroplex in both his city and robot modes... his scale seems just a bit small. If he were larger by an inch in all dimensions he'd probably be more useful as a playset. Also, if you're judging the average size of a human by an Autobot minicar, the afforded space to be imagined inside the towers still seems pretty small. Lastly, its a little funny when you get, say, Perceptor too close to him and realise the Autobots' resident nerd is to City Metroplex what Godzilla was to Tokyo in terms of size. But these drawbacks don't and shouldn't take away from the fact that Metroplex is one cool base/city, with an gratifying amount of thought apparent in his design. There is very little in his appearance that suggests "rushed", and TFs were beginning to show more than a few signs of it by this point.
Alternate Mode (Battle Station):
The battle station mode is essentially a very large crawler-type assembly, with most of the towers removed or rotated and the bay pieces closed and pointed ahead so that the base can roll on the wheels underneath. In this mode, Metroplex sports two large red missile launchers/rifles in front (sorry, they don't actually launch), two black rifles on the sides, and a twin cannon pointing straight up from the rear of the unit. He also has two small red cannons pointing forward from his upper chassis, and you can rotate a panel on the top of the upper chassis to reveal a hinging white gun turret. Lastly, there are also two white cannons jutting out on either side of the chassis. This mode is long, squat and blocky, and it's probably akin to broccoli in that you either love it or hate it. By the way, when you transform from city to battle station, you remove the top half of Metroplex's tallest tower. The antenna on top of this piece can be folded down to create Slammer, a small white tank with little turret rotation and treads molded into his underside.
This mode isn't quite as cool or as menacing looking as Trypticon's, but it holds its own. The long, flat platforms in front allow Metroplex to carry around fallen Autobots, Autobot cars, your balled-up sock, etc across the kitchen floor. And unlike the city mode, the battle station is sturdy and brickish, making a good mode for storage purposes.
I'm not going to drive you crazy describing the transformation in every detail here. Essentially, robot mode is the battle station mode with some parts rotated downward and his head revealed by pushing the black button in the back of the station. His fists are separate, so root around in your parts bag or pile and put those in the ends of the arms. Metroplex has a shiny, foil-like face here. Although the cartoon depicted him with a sunglasses-like visor, the toy sports two red eyes. His upper body flares wide from the waist, his arms are large and rectangular, and his legs are mammoth (yet still in proportion). He's not much bigger than any of the gestalts, but he looks a lot stronger than they do simply because of his wide chest and lack of exposed joints. A black hatch on his right front torso opens to reveal missile launchers, he packs the aforementioned white turret on his shoulder, and the aforementioned white cannons (or are they antennae?) jut from his upper arms. The cartoon often featured him firing a pulverizing beam from the middle of his chest, this emitter is also represented on the toy. Oh yes, you can put the black rifles mentioned in battle station mode in his upper arms (a la God Ginrai) if you like. Or, if you prefer, the sockets in his upper arms will also accomodate the heads of Aerialbots or Protectobots. This little-used idea is apparently tied to the "Scramble Power" notion of the aborted "Scramble City" cartoon. If you want to make Metroplex even more hulking than he is, you could remove his fists, attach gestalt limbs, and leave the gestalt fists in those limbs to extend his shoulder width. As for articulation, Metroplex is what you'd expect from G1 - he rotates at the shoulders and hips and can do the splits as well.
All the weaponry is impressive, but there's one last trick in the package. If you remove the missiles from Metroplex's huge red rifles, they form the legs to another robot composed of the red tower piece, the twin red cannons, and using the black rifles as arms. His name is given as "Six-Gun". Six-Gun is tall, lanky and a little silly looking, but having him run around still leaves Metroplex with his white shoulder turret, missile launchers, and the aforementioned chest-mounted emitter. Not to mention his big blocky arms and massive fists for punching Bruticus and Menasor around. Scamper and Slammer are also not part of Metroplex's robot mode and can be separately utilized as well.
One of the best aspects of the robot mode is its display factor. With its pleasing colors, bulky construction, and big chunky legs, Metroplex is not going to fall over without a good shove. This makes him an excellent exhibition piece. His near-overkill of weaponry marks him among the Autobots and adds to his air of supremacy.
5 - This is not at all difficult. Its really rather self-explanatory. If anything, you're more likely to simply forget about his smaller details, like hidden weaponry, instead of actually get stumped in transformation.
8 - Robot and battle station mode are stout and durable, even a good drop isn't going to knock parts off that weren't removable in the first place. Even Slammer and Scamper are near indestructible. Only city mode is relatively delicate... since the "repair bays" are actually hinged pieces of Metroplex's legs, their joints are weaker than the rest and they are fastened by molded clips that could wear out.
9 - Fortress/Brave Maximus get more raves, but I really enjoy Metroplex. He's not so large and clunky as to be near-useless, his transformation doesn't require a jeweler's dexterity or an elephant's memory, and his attempt at aping a city is interesting enough to avoid the "Big" factor ("Whats so much fun about playing with a building?").
I bought this one on Ebay for $36 because it was missing three loose parts. The piece itself was in excellent condition and I didn't have a problem tracking down replacement parts. I've seen Metroplex priced in the triple digits before, and likely you will too - but keep looking. I've seen many more for $50 and under. With the increasing number of internet-based traders selling loose accessories, you shouldn't be in much of a bind.
Great play value, great display potential. Get it.