The Reverend's Review: Junkion Blacksmith JB-05 Destruction Lord
JB-05 Destruction Lord (AKA Headmaster Destruction Lord)
TFC Toys/Junkion Blacksmith
"How does THAT work?" That's the response of everyone who has seen my Destruction Lord. TFC Toys apparently decided it would be cute to make Headmaster heads of some well-known G1 characters under the Junkion Blacksmith series, and this one represents G1 Megatron.
(As of this writing, JB is also offering Optimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, Blaster, Soundwave and Soundblaster - under various names. They're currently up for preorder on BBTS.)
Firstly, I need to make clear that these figures are compatible with the larger G1 Headmasters, and should also fit on the second wave of the smaller HM robots. They also come with an interesting add-on - two plastic "bases" that can connect to the head mode, which allow them to fit on each other (for example, you can have two Soundwaves with one acting as a cute oversized head for the other), or mount into the hole for Powermaster Optimus Prime's large "super mode" head. (Optimus can be his own Headmaster!) They are also "Triple Changers" of a sort - aside from the robot and head modes, each can convert into a third mode, usually reminiscient of the original toy's alternate mode.
But why the heck are classic G1 characters suddenly small Headmasters? Well, you can come up with any in-universe explanation you like - power conservation, alternate timeline, whatever...
Anyhow, I ran across Destruction Lord while browsing Chimungmung Toys, and since I had gotten the Chinese KO "Planet Master's Super Warriors" Headmaster set a few months back, I was curious enough to order this midget Megs and check it out.
JB-05 Destruction Lord is a cute representation of that G1 villain. Yes, like all Headmasters he's wearing a backpack mildy reminiscient of the old MMU jetpack, but his upper body's wide enough that he doesn't look like he's staggering under its weight. He also has a flipping plastic panel to hide the large robot face while he's in his robot mode. Destruction Lord features a squarish version of his iconic "buckethead" look, along with his rectangular chest plate and the animation-inspired lower torso with its vents and a bit of red coloring to evoke the cartoon appearance. He has black lower legs like the familiar villain (even with some red markings mimicking the position of G1's textured handgrip) and long, straight arms. He has some movement available at the shoulders, as well as the hips. His lower legs rotate around a ball-and-socket joint and are independent of each other, unlike the 1980s Headmasters, and the upper shoulders are cut so that moving his arms will not tear the arm off as it presses against the backpack. He has small dark grey fists inside the shells of his arms' outer armor, and a fusion cannon that pegs into a hole on either arm. The cannon itself is recognizable in context, although its shaped a little differently than the fusion cannon we know (it has an odd "stopper" section at the front of the barrel, which makes it look sort of like a cane), and bears a few red highlights.
As I said, a cute representation of G1 Megatron, although there are a few notable differences that may bother you. Yes, he had to have the "backpack" and the arm armor to be a Headmaster. But aside from that, Destruction Lord's cannon only attaches on the side of his arm. He cannot hold it above his arm like many of us are used to seeing. This puzzles me slightly - the best I can guess is that to mount the cannon on top of the arm, the cannon would need a smaller peg - and the smaller you go, the more likely it is to snap off. The other radical departure from the G1 look is that he has tank treads visible in his upper arms. These are rather innocuous, but may annoy purists - but if you're a purist, why do you want a tiny Headmaster Megatron anyhow?
I don't blame TFC for not wanting to try to tackle the gun mode here. Yes, it would have been cool if Destruction Lord could also have been a Targetmaster as well as a Headmaster, but let's not push our luck here, hmm? Anyhow. If you happen to look at the soles of Destruction Lord's feet in robot mode, you'll notice that he has some kind of silver gun batteries embedded in them. (Ouch.) Remove the fusion cannon for a moment. Raise Destruction Lord's arms just a little - enough to get his hands away from his waist. Then bring his upper legs back slightly - this will allow you to bend his knees freely into the right angle to make those gunports useful. The backs of Destruction Lord's legs are hollow, and this was intentional - you can now slide them onto the lower part of the backpack to make positioning the gunports evenly much easier. Return Destruction Lord's arms to his sides and push down on his head. The head will slide into his body. Now lay him down on his belly and you have the tank mode.
Tank mode is, well, blocky and a little silly, and there's not much to mention except that, well, he makes a usable anti-aircraft battery to place on Trypticon or Scorponok's city modes. He does look something like a miniature version of Sixshot's tank mode, so if you're a fan of that maybe you'll find a use for it. By the way, the ability of the head to slide into the torso shouldn't scare you - the head is actually on a long, sliding piece inside the body, and when it is pushed all the way, a thin "stick" comes out of Destruction Lord's butt and can be pressed back in to bring the head out of the torso again. Yes, the implications of this are very funny, but at least the designer thought it through!
If you've ever transformed any Headmaster you know what to do... almost. Destruction Lord doubles over like any Headmaster, except you need to rotate the lower legs all the way around so that they will lie against the back of the head. JB-05 Destruction Lord, unlike most Headmaster heads, is not simply double-jointed in his knees, nor is he chicken-legged. Anyhow, flip up the panel covering his face and you've done the job.
Head mode, despite being a folded-up robot like any other Headmaster, still tries to resemble you-know-who as much as possible - with the "buckethead" helmet facade, red eyes, pouty face and even a little detailing on the visible part of his forehead. Connecting him to a Headmaster body is no different than any other Headmaster, although the sliding head means that you have to hold the stick-in-his-butt down firmly to make the connection. I plugged him into G1 Skullcruncher for this review and got readings of Speed 9, Strength 9 and Intelligence 9 on the Tech Spec meter. The head mode is somewhat taller (and a little wider) than the "squarish" G1 Headmaster partners - far more obvious detail, but it does look a little funny at the moment with Skullcruncher's skinny arms. (He looked better on wider, brawnier Mindwipe after I wrote that.) Still, its kind of an interesting sidebar for the imagination - Destruction Lord, fed up with the ineptness of his troops, takes control directly! Ha. I also pulled out G1 Scorponok to see if Destruction Lord will fit in head mode - the answer is "sort of". You have to flip Scorponok's helmet back and cram Destruction Lord in there. He will connect, but he's just a little too wide to bring the helmet back in place. But he stands very well in the driver's seat for Scorponok's scorpion mode, and maybe that's where he belongs anyway. He's a little tall to fit in the various compartments that the larger Headmaster toys had, as well, but he may fit in Scorponok's chest compartment if you pose the legs and arms carefully - although I wager you won't be able to close the compartment.
The fusion cannon, however, doesn't really have any purpose in head mode. You can plug it into one of the holes on either side of the head mode, but people will probably ask you why the robot has an ear cannon.
Also, because Destruction Lord's (small) robot head retracts, you can place him on top of other G1s who weren't Headmasters but had heads that could fold or flip into the body. G1s Optimus and Soundwave come immediately to mind. He won't connect, but it might be fun for display if you have sturdy floors and no cats.
Transformation Design: 5
. Headmasters bend over. That's pretty much it. Destruction Lord is no exception, although the rotating knees, removable weapon and sliding head are an improvement. I do wish the fusion cannon had a role in tank mode (it almost seems like it can fit into the notches on the top of the tank, but doing so means there's no room for the legs to take their intended place).
. While I think this one is, with the benefit of hindsight, generally better-designed than the original Headmaster toys, I am not going to start throwing it and banging it into objects to find out just how much it can take. It's relatively compact, tho - no grossly thin parts like HeadRobots Snake - and I imagine that as long as you don't get stupid with it, it should be okay.
. The play value here is a little debatable, but he does have a large (detachable) weapon and a third vehicle mode, despite its limitations. The fact that he can't ride in Headmaster storage compartments easily, that annoys me. Destruction Lord, particularly, always had outlandish plans that went awry either because he was too busy being a drama queen or because his subordinates were idiots - the notion of him taking control of them as their heads is a delicious little bit of imagination, but not being able to ride along and yell orders at them is, well, disappointing. I was OK with it for Snake, but Destruction Lord...
The paint apps in a few spots are iffy, but the design itself would be hard to detail in general so I'm not going to take off a lot of points for that. The important thing is that despite the cannon placement issue and well, being a Headmaster, he's still clearly recognizable as Megatron, and isn't particularly deformed in appearance. Not having a Decepticon symbol on his chest, though... well, if it really bugs you, the Reprolabels available for Minispies and Micromasters should do the job.
. For a Headmaster, Destruction Lord excels here. His arms can move freely, and having independent leg motion puts him well above most of the others. Yes, on a larger toy that would be closer to "so what", but against his size and function...
. As of the time of this writing, BBTS preorders of this series are about $15 US per figure. That's a pretty good bang for the buck if you actually want the thing.
. Megatron was not present during the Headmasters era of the cartoon, and only a fringe element in the Marvel comics of the same period. So yeah, what I want is a Galvatron. Still... although he comes with some drawbacks and is a decidedly "niche" product, I still think it's a cool little accessory.