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Tetsuro's Review: T-Arts Mega Drive Megatron

"Blast process this!"
"One shall stand, Nintendon't!"

1988. The year of the Powermasters. Outside Transformers, home video game consoles were already in their fourth generation and the 16-bit era, with the introduction of the PC Engine (distributed in the USA as TurboGrafx-16) the previous year; Mega Drive would present it's first challenger in the 16-bit field. Sega's console would be released in North America the following year, relabeled as Genesis, and Europe under it's original name the next.

Unfortunately, I have very little experience with this console. I didn't even get an NES until sometime in the early 90's when the SNES was already hitting the shelves, much to my chagrin when all the gaming magazine began focusing on the new stuff at the expense of the old.

So in the distant future, the year 2014, Sega and Takara announced this rather out of the left field licensed item under yet another Transformers sublabel, the T-Arts - Megatron, rather than Optimus Prime, got to be the first entry, and even more unconventionally, he transforms into that very videogame system. It seemed only a matter of time when they would announce Optimus Prime that transforms into the Super Famicom (or more familiarly, the SNES); sadly, Nintendo is notoriously difficult to deal with when it comes to licensing their properties, so instead we're getting Optimus that transforms into the original Playstation. Kinda kills that whole bitter rivalry angle that the 16-bit consoles had back in the day. And you think the console war now is bad...


Normally I'm rather indifferent when it comes to the packaging; as long as it does it's job protecting the contents, it could be a brown cardboard box for all I care. However, I am digging the reformatting-inspired cover art here ("Behold; Segatron!"), and the front flap, which allows you to actually see the figure inside, is held shut with a magnets rather than a dinky velcro pad. The inside of the flap reveals the classic console box art with some of that lovely late 80's design aesthetic.

Also, I made up those mottos. I've no idea if the packaging for this guy actually provides him with any kind of a profile at all. There's nothing suggesting such.

Alternate mode:

While Megatron comes packaged in robot mode, it feels more natural to speak of his alt mode here first, especially due to the nature of his accessories.

After a surprisingly complex transformation scheme - and a rather irritating one, which is not helped by the instruction sheet using monochrome photographs rather than illustrations, you get the console mode; to be more precise, it is the Japanese Mega Drive I, which is nearly identical to the European version apart from different colour details and the "16-BIT" tag being larger and blockier. It is approximately 10.5cm wide, which makes it about 1/2.75 scale.

All the tampographed writing that was mostly hidden in the rear of the robot mode comes to full prominence here. If it weren't for the seams left behind by the transformation (and, y'know, the size), you could be easily fooled into thinking this is the real thing. Some details are somewhat less impressive, mainly all the connectors; the rear connectors for power, video etc. are merely indents suggesting where they should be, while the controller connectors are slightly better off with having actual molded detail for the pinholes.

And speaking of connectors; the Player 1 port is a tiny little plug which you are sure to lose. Remove this plug and you can connect the controller in. The controller cable is all soft plastic which does not fill me with confidence.

One last accessory included with Megatron is a tiny, non-functioning cartridge of the original Sonic the Hedgehog. All the graphics here, down to the safety/instruction label in the back, are stickers, just like on a real cartridge. The cartridge plugs into the top of the console, which has a spring-loaded dustcover.

Robot Mode:

I'm just gonna get this out of the way first; despite all the initial impressions, the arm cannon is not a USB memory stick. Which is really disappointing since the robot mode is about the same size as a Voyager, yet the pricetag is higher than a similarly sized Masterpiece or even the Device Label Soundwave, which actually did have functioning electronics. And I would've had perfectly appropriate use for it too, even if it were that crappy 2GB one Takara seems to like so much...

Megatron's head sculpt is based on his Generation 1 look. This usually means he has that familiar bucket helmet and a face that looks like a robotic Lee Van Cleef, but this one's cheek bones are too low and he just looks like he has bags under his eyes. He has rather minimal paint apps overall; cast mainly in black and silver, he only has red highlights on his waist and upper arms, and obviously his eyes. I think he I'm not sure if this is necessarily a bad thing though, considering his alt mode, and his minimalistic colour scheme does help that nice gold-chromed "16-BIT" label on his stomach to become particularly pronounced. Small parts of him, especially his knees, are painted in a way that makes them look like die cast, but nope, apart from his rivet pin joints, this guy's all plastic.

The articulation for the head is made rather useless by his collar; the head tilts up and down on the neck, but the collar collides interferes with the helmet, which prevents him from turning his head less than 90 degrees, unless he's looking upwards.

He has a decent range of motion overall, similar to a modern Masterpiece; his transformation gives him double-jointed knees, but his arms fare somewhat worse; he has no wrist articulation, which is hardly a problem since they are sculpted into fists and incapable of holding anything. However, his transformation gives him joints in the middle of his upper arms, and with the console kibble covering them, it makes posing his arms difficult since there's no room to grab a hold of in the upper arm, and the joints are rather stiff.

The worst part easily, at least on my specimen, are the ankles. The feet are connected to the lower leg first with a balljoint, and then with a swivel joint, and it is the balljoint that is very loose, giving him serious balance issues, and getting him to stand up tricky. The console power indicator halves hang off the sides of his ankles to give him some additional support, but these do not reach low enough in more extreme poses to be particularly useful.

In his robot mode, the console accessories are still usable. The side of the console, now playing the role of his massive arm cannon, has a new port revealed where the controller plugs in. The controller itself is split in half and attached to his collar, leaving them hanging off his back like pair of small wings, and the cartridge can be plugged into his chest. However, despite the way it clicks in, there is no launching mechanism to fire it; PSP this ain't.

Transformation Design: 7 - There are some parts, especially the legs, where things could've been simplified. However, while the legs are more complicated, they are much easier to get into proper alignment than the arms are, which in turn are really fidgety and difficult to lock into position in the alt mode.

Durability: 7 - The controller cable being the only offender here. The legs also do not feel like they will be able to take much abuse.

Fun: 8 - I would give this guy a 10 just because he turns into a frikkin' Mega Drive, but the stability issue with the feet mean that every time you pick him up, you're going to have to deal with putting him back down.

Aesthetic: 9 - the colour scheme is very well utilized with the matte black finish and the small amount of details, resulting in minimalist appeal. The only offender really is the unpainted grey parts, especially prominent one being the arm cannon's connector. Even though his arms and legs are similarly built, he looks a lot top-heavier because most of the bulk in robot mode is above the waist, thanks to the arm cannon and the console kibble hanging off his arms, while his legs utilize the console parts a bit better.

Articulation: 7 - The balance issues caused by his feet do largely negate his otherwise decent range of motion. The neck joint is also annoying.

Price: 3 - Let's face it folks, this is far more expensive than a Masterpiece of a similar scale and more expensive than the most expensive Device Label (Soundwave), I really do not think this is worth the $90 retail price. I probably would've been more forgiving if it actually had the USB drive everyone thought he would (even the HLJ listing mentions it).

Overall: 7 - We're on a bit of a shaky ground here. In one hand, upon discovering he has no electronics or die cast, I was really let down - but in the other, he just looks really darned cool in both of his modes. If you were both a Sega kid and a Transformers kid, the pricetag probably won't persuade you out of getting this.
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