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Transformers: Cybertron
by yo go re

Usually the pictures we put in the reviews show the figure at real-life size. Yeah, this one ain't doing that. How's half-size sound to you?

Massive, quiet, and extremely protective of his home and its inhabitants, Metroplex is a kind, intelligent leader of his people. His huge size and quiet ways mask a swift intelligence capable of analyzing the most sophisticated difficulties and arriving at a course of action in seconds, though some have made the mistake of thinking him slow and stupid. He was, at one time, an eager and hideously dangerous warrior who developed his soft-spoken and carefully considered demeanor in an attempt to leave that part of himself behind. Because of this, Metroplex is slow to anger, but when he converts to combat mode he becomes one of the most fearsome opponents any Transformer has ever faced.

Transformers: Cybertron involved the quest for the Cyber Keys, four pointless McGuffins that were scattered across different planets for no real reason. One of those planets was Gigantion, home of the giants. The original plan was to make a Junkion-style trash planet, but that got cleaned up before the series went to air.

Metroplex is the king of Gigantion, so he's naturally the biggest. He stands 13¾" tall, which sounds really daunting. Looks pretty daunting, too! Like most of the Cybertron toys, Metroplex's design is very square and blocky. There's very little surface area that doesn't have some kind of detailing, though: his shoulders have a small honeycomb pattern, then an angular blue panel ramps up to a thicker structure with tiny, tiny pistons sculpted inside. His chest is a large black structure with inset white bits, and two square red panels on the sides; we get more pistons in here, as though they're what allow his torso to bend. The red circles on his waist are sculpted with horizontal lines, and there's a distinct pattern to his "belt." Detail on the legs is simple, but the curved red sections on his shins add a bit of visual flare.

Articulation actually isn't too bad. He moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, fingers, waist, hips, thighs, knees and ankles. All the hinges are built with incredibly sturdy ratchet joints, so they can support the full weight of the figure without getting floppy - and his waist won't snap in half, like G1 Metroplex tended to do. The figure comes with his massive axe/battle staff thing, named "Sparkdrinker." It measures 14½" long, and there's a handle that can be held by either hand. If you want to put a couple batteries in there you'll even get light and sound features.

For times when Metroplex needs to work in smaller environments, he converts to a second "work" mode. The chest collapses down, the waist reverses, the legs shrink... really, the only things that stay the same between the two modes are the head and arms. In this mode he's only 10" tall, so he's still a pretty mighty 'bot - "smaller" environments is kind of a subjective term, after all.

The work mode is stockier than the battle mode, and ends up with a much different colorscheme. The chest now has more gold on the sides, and the waist is golden as well. His upper legs are plain white, while the shins are gray. He retains most of his articulation, losing only the ankles - not a bad tradeoff, really. And the Sparkdrinker staff has enouh joints that it can get smaller with him.

So, that's two good robot modes, which brings us to the vehicle. G1 Metroplex earned his name by turning into a city (or at least a city block, maybe - the toy wasn't that big), but Cybertron Metroplex turns into a... thing. It's part bucket-wheel excavator, part steam shovel, part bulldozer and all a hot mess.

No thought was put into this altmode. It looks like a robot on its hands and knees, which is just incredibly lazy design. It's got to be massively hard to make a robot that changes into something else and have both forms look good, but someone took a half day when Metroplex was on the slate. It never stops looking like something made from robot parts, and when your design statement is "robots in disguise," that's a fundamanetal failure. Sparkdrinker mounts on top, and can pivot in place. The bucket opens and closes, and the wheel can rotate.

All the Gigantion Transformers came with a Mini-Con, and Metroplex's is Drill Bit. We'd show you a picture, but I bought this for $10 at a toy show, so he doesn't have Drill Bit. Or a cover for the battery compartment. But he does have his gold-bordered Cyber Key (not that Hasbro's site is still active, but the key is used to split the bucket wheel into the axehead.

For $10, I'm not too disappointed in this figure - but I am disappointed. And I feel really bad for anyone who paid full price. Some people have tried to create fan modes to give him a better look, but none of them are any good. He still doesn't look like a city, that's for sure. Of course, the original Metroplex didn't look much like one, either, but he did more than this. I think the problem may be his name: "Metroplex" refers to a specific kind of civic plurality, which means the name is always about a city; Hasbro should have called him "Metrotitan," suggesting he was just a large being somehow related to a city; that would have helped defuse the "he needs to turn into Autobot City" mentality, and might have made us like him better. If you're gonna get him, get him cheap, because this is one that's definitely not worth the asking price.

-- 02/07/12

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