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Transformers AOE
by yo go re

Remember how I avoid spoilers for movies I want to see? I didn't know Galvatron was in Age of Extinction until Hasbro sent that big box of freebies and he was inside it.

When Optimus Prime dealt a crushing blow to Megatron in the Battle of Chicago, the triumph was short-lived. The victorious Autobots were rewarded with exile and new enemies determined to bring about their total destruction. If there was ever any doubt, the Autobots now know for certain: as long as there is a Decepticon with a spark in his circuits, their centuries-old war will continue.

Traditionally, the character Galvatron has been an upgraded form of Megatron - but recently, the IDW comics have recast him as a separate entity. So here we have a bio for the character that doesn't imply he's related to Megatron at all. Does that mean he isn't? Not necessarily. The G1 bio didn't mention Megatron either, specifically to help hide the reveal, so maybe that's what they're doing here, as well.

Whoever he is, Galvatron has a body type that's very similar to Megatron: long legs, sturdy arms, a large torso, etc. If someone put this design in front of you and told you it was Megatron, you'd believe it. Of course, if someone told you this was Starscream, Barricade, or Mixmaster, you'd still believe them; movie Transformers all have kind of a generic design aesthetic, is the point we're making.

The body is designed with a lot of hoses running over the chest and onto the arms. The legs are more typically "Bayformer"-ish, with armored plates covering internal mechanisms. For some reason, he's got a hole all the way through his chest - a cannon? A turbine? A battle wound? No idea. The only thing that keeps daylight from being visible through it is the giant back-flap of kibble that's plastered onto him. It really looks a lot like Rollbar (the Red Bull TF from the second movie). That's not a good feature for a Voyager Class toy.

MegaGalv moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. The hips are the kind that enter the body at a 45° angle, which we know some fans dislike. There are flaps over his shoulders that are hinged to move up out of the way when you move the arms, and the ankles have two hinges, so they can both tilt and rock. Compared to the stock photo on the back of the box, the paint on the figure looks rather flat; most of the apps are the same, they just look less impressive in person. Sadly, one of the apps that was cut is the one that would have helped differentiate his face from the rest of his head.

He's armed with a large blaster cannon that fits down over his hand in such a way as to look like it's been morphed out of his arm. It's also been short-changed when it comes to paint apps, losing the black apps on the end of the barrel. The body of the gun is molded with bent pipes and hoses, to match the robot's arm, and it fires a dark blue missile.

Converting Galvatron to his altmode is not difficult. The box says he changes in 17 steps, but doesn't mention how much of a shellformer he is. That giant kibble back-flap unfolds into a big hollow piece - it's a neat piece of engineering, to be sure, but the fact they had to do it at all is disappointing. Additionally, there are notches on the robot's heels that are supposed to tessellate and lock the feet together, but they don't quite fit the way they should.

The packaging doesn't say what Galvatron's altmode is - I mean, it's obviously a tractor trailer cab, just like Optimus Prime was back in G1, but what kind of tractor trailer? The fine print on the packaging credits Daimler, so working from there, a bit of research reveals that he's a (customized) 2013 Freightliner Argosy. G1 Prime was a Freightliner, too, so this is a really strong connection between the two characters!

The truck looks very slick. The roof and windshield curve into one another smoothly, and there's a very large grill on the front. An angled visor with three vertical blue lights in the center sits at the top of the windshield, the ridged headlights wrap around the sides slightly, and there are sculpted door handles and side view mirrors on the doors. The truck's colors are darker than the robot's, and it's to the toy's benefit: the dark grey works a lot better than the light grey, and doesn't look as badly in need of a paint wash to bring out the details.

It's hard to form an opinion about Galvatron. The truck mode is nice, but the conversion process is chintzy and the robot mode is in desperate need of some paint to bring out the otherwise-imperceptible sculptural details. And yet despite all that, it's hard to dislike him. Maybe it's just the dark colors and the connections to Optimus that are hitting my Nemesis Prime fanboy buttons, but Galvatron is less disappointing than it seems like he should be.

-- 06/24/14

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