As was my singleminded plan from the start, I customized my Masterpiece Megatron to appear more like his color scheme in the original Marvel comics. I mean, that's why I bought this guy, really, so my customized Masterpiece Marvel Ratchet would have a sparring buddy.
First I cracked open his faces to paint his eyes yellow. ... Well, gold. I was leaving most of Megatron's colors unaltered, and he's a very rich and sparkly gray, so I figured gold would mesh with that better than primary yellow. Thankfully, on each of Megatron's swappable faces, Megatron's eyes are on a separate piece from the rest of his face. This piece is a real doozy to remove. It pulls out like a slotted battery cover, if that battery cover were also pegged in and not meant to ever be removed. And so I had to violently crowbar it out with the smallest flathead screwdriver I had. The back of these faces is a hacked-up mess. A mess you'll never see since it's behind the face and inside the head when assembled, but a mess nonetheless. And the gold paint would often scrape off the eyes as I squeezed the eye-piece back in, and so sometimes I'd have to crowbar it back out again and repaint and retry.
Compared to that, the rest of my customizations were a breeze. I got a big flat brush and painted Megatron's helmet gunmetal. The gunmetal acrylic I used is a little shinier than the dark gray on the rest of the toy, but I'd never be able to match that in a million years -- it's speckly and textured paint. It's close enough at a glance, however. This process was relatively easy because you could remove the face to paint most of the helmet, which considerably lowers your chances of accidentally getting paint on the face. You still have to paint each face's forehead, but that's way less surface area to need to be exceedingly careful with.
And finally, I painted his outward ab sections red. Just red. There doesn't seem to be any gloss (non-transparent) acrylic reds from brands I recognize, so I just got a regular red off Amazon. I have a flat red, but I wanted it as shiny as possible. While painting, I transformed Megatron's many torso shards out of the way so I could have as unobscured a view of the parts I wanted to paint as possible.
The comics also painted his gun barrel a medium blue, which was probably supposed to be a medium gray, but 1) this was never colored consistently and 2) I'd DEFINITELY never get the silencer attachment on again with fucking everything up, so no thanks. Another detail I didn't bother with is moving his Decepticon chest symbol over a little to his right. I'd never be able to match the gray, and they'd stopped off-centering his logo eventually anyway, as it was based on a bad perspective error on his model sheet which the artists seem to have eventually figured out.
He still transforms. I checked. And, really, the parts I painted seem to be more safe from scraping than the factory applied paint he came with. There's more clearance around his helmet and his ab slabs than on, say, his barrel and silencer. My modifications just mean there's a strange black area just in front of the trigger guard.
Look, I gotta crank out this Masterpiece Megatron (the second one) review so I can paint the head of mine dark gray like in the comics. I've taken billions of photographs of him in his various modes and all the various stuff he comes with, and I've processed them, and they're all friggin' accessories from the friggin' cartoon, and I've just gotta de-cartoonify this guy. I bought this dude to face off against my Masterpiece Ratchet, dangit, Marvel comic style -- I don't need no Giant Purple Griffin doofus.
(I do like his Prime Problem mind-control helmet because it is hilariously ridiculous.)
The original Megatron toy was awkward. Its robot mode looked awkward, it transformed awkwardly using tiny struts that easily broke, and the little curly-q scribble across his chest probably said "awkward" in some alien script. The comic and cartoon strongly anthropomorphized the robot design further, essentially ending up with a robot mode that didn't really have a lot of recognizeable gun kibble on him. They altered the shape of the chest so it didn't look so much like a gun chamber, his legs were thickened up, his head shape rounded away from looking like part of the grip, and maybe the halves of the hammer were left on top of his shoulders. And, yeah, there was a relatively unaltered scope on his arm, but now it was a cannon!
There was an attempt at a Masterpiece version of Megatron early on in the line. It was number five, if I recall, after some stuff that was easier to retranslate animation models into toys, but eventually you gotta do the Decepticon leader. Even if he transforms awkwardly into a handgun. And, man, this first Masterpiece Megatron was awkward. I think we learned recently that it was designed in a rush, like over a weekend, and I guess that explains a lot? It just didn't look good, it was thin and gangly, stuff popped off it if you looked at it wrong, and it was a chore to transform. Oh, and its metal parts rusted on you overnight.
WELL GOOD NEWS, at Masterpiece Number 36, there's a new Megatron. Since the first MP Megs came out, there was an adjustment of scale, and not only was the original Masterpiece Megatron an ugly piece of crap, but he was also excessively oversized. But, again, the source material is awkward, and so I feel like TakaraTomy kind of pushed this one off for as long as they could. They redid Optimus Prime at MP 10, but Megatron? Ehhh, 36. After, you know, Cheetor.
Where was I? Oh, right. GOOD NEWS. Because this guy is... way more complicated. Waaaaaaaay more complicated. He's half the size and probably has twice as many parts. But! He's not an ugly piece of crap. He is goddamned fucking beautiful. See, that's the secret -- you can make a handgun transform into Megatron's animation model if you essentially sculpt the thing from one form into the other like clay. That's how many parts this guy is made of. Transforming him feels like you're changing his shape on a molecular level. At that point, anything can be anything else.
Much like Masterpiece Cheetor before him, Megatron's chest is fake. It's a fake gun chamber. Because, as I mentioned above, the animation model's chest wasn't really that gun chamber shape anymore. They angled it up all to hell and ended up with something new. Instead, the gun chamber is the entire rest of his torso, which was split up into shards and crumpled up behind the fake gun chamber chest. To transform him, you unwrap the shards and essentially form the gun chamber around the fake chest as if you're wrapping it up in aluminum foil. It takes a while.
Meanwhile, the legs have to go from being thick cartoony Megatron legs into much thinner, less-stylized gun grip halves. You basically unwrap them, squeeze them skinnier, and then reattach all the ends elsewhere. It is impressive. It's not fun, but it's impressive.
And that, I think, is my take-away from this toy. I think I hate transforming it, but I RESPECT it. There was a goddamn lot of engineering work put into making one thing magically morph into another thing. This toy is amazing. I am in awe of it. But, also, I'm probably never going to transform it again because goddamn.
I am surprised at the amount of charisma this toy has! Like several other recent Masterpieces, Megatron comes with a few extra faces with different expressions. And his laughing face? It is the best. My MP Megatron with his laughing face is the most I have ever liked G1 cartoon Megatron. He's just so happy. So happy and evil. I want to be the friend of this dope.
Also, his articulation is far and away the most extensive of any Masterpiece so far, I think. Which for a Megatron is weird, because I don't think one's had even a rotating waist before. Usually the transformation gets in the way of that. But no, his waist rotates, he's got an ab crunch, both his elbows and knees are doublejointed so his limbs can bend back on themselves, he's got small amounts of finger articulation, and his neck has some good range of movement. You can get this guy to do a shitload of stuff.
Okay, have I talked enough? Can I go try to start paintmatching the gunmetally grayblack he has? Good.
Nautica came with some other toys in her box set! They're all right. I'll talk next about Laser Prime, who's one of two toys in the set that's a mold I haven't owned before. There's a version of Laser Prime at retail, in normal Optimus Prime colors, and I yawned so hard I actually didn't buy a Transformer for once.
You see, like, okay... back in the Nineties, Laser Optimus Prime was a thing. It was one of the first truly articulated Transformers toys, and so it was Everybody's Favorite Transformer for about a decade. It was an Optimus with a glow-up sword who had a trailer that turned into a base that fired disks and missiles. It was also decoed "wrong." It had a gray chest with red windows and a yellow grill, and the legs were black. And for that entire decade of "Laser Prime is the goddamned best toy ever," there were counterpart rumblings of "OKAY BUT MAKE IT IN REAL OPTIMUS PRIME COLORS."
But here's the thing. It is 2017, and we get a new poseable G1 Optimus Prime toy every few months. You could fill shelves and shelves with all the poseable G1 Optimus Prime toys we've gotten since 2004. And so at this point? Laser Prime's eccentric color scheme is one of the few remaining unique things about him. We've got articulation and trailer bases and electronics and swords in so many other Optimus Primes. So when you do a new toy that's specifically a homage to Laser Prime, why the heck should I care at this point if he's got his "proper" red chest and silver grill and blue legs?
Also the new toy didn't look that great, either, which was another reason to skip it. But if I'm gonna own this mold as Optimus Prime, I'm glad the version Nautica's box set pushed on me was the version that's decoed like Actual Laser Optimus Prime.
Like the other Voyager Class-scale toys in the Titans Return toyline, this Optimus Prime is a Triple Changer. He's not-so-unobviously an Octane pretool, as he goes from robot to tanker truck to jet. (We've seen the upcoming Octane from this mold, and it has a new head and chest, IIRC.) The robot's okay, the tanker truck mode is better, and the jet mode is hot garbage.
But let's talk about the robot mode. Unlike the original Laser Prime, Titans Return Laser Prime's robot transforms into the entire truck, trailer and all. The original's robot was just the cab, which hauled around a trailer accessory. But TR Laser Prime contains multitudes. As such, he doesn't, y'know, transform the same way. The robot mode essentially looks the same, but different parts become different other parts in service of this desired end. There's a pair of helmet antenna built into the collarbone of the robot mode, so that when you plug in the Head Robot Guy, there's some added bulk. But this don't look right, and in fact it looks kinda goofy. Oh well. The robot has both a sword and a hand-held cannon, just like the original, but they don't light up with electronics.
Tanker truck mode is my favorite, and it's easy to explain why. The original Laser Prime's trailer had giant stickers covering most of the trailer, and what these stickers portrayed was a mural of Laser Prime's robot burning down a forest, followed by his name in capital letters with a cursive-y splash of "OCTANE" on top of that. Short the "OCTANE," TR Laser Prime replicates this trailer mural perfectly. So perfectly it appears to be just the same art, with a depiction of the original toy and everything. Why is Optimus Prime burning down a forest? I dunno. But if I ever get a tattoo, I want it to be of myself burning down a forest followed by my own name in all caps. I'd have this running down both of my arms. Anyway, this is super awesome. Not SO awesome that these stickers aren't a tiny tiny tiny bit oversized and so they kind of want to peel off a little at the edges whenever you so much as look at the toy sideways, but still super awesome. It absolutely makes the truck mode, which is otherwise not terrible to begin with.
The jet mode turns the truck backwards, shoves a nose and cockpit awkwardly on the ass-end of the trailer, and barely puts tiny wings and tailfins on there. It's awful, and I don't recommend acknowledging this mode further.
Anyway, Laser Prime definitely only has two modes, and they're both okay to great, while the stickers are a constant annoyance. The original Laser Prime does all this stuff better, though.
Well, our prayers have been answered, and there is finally a real Nautica toy. No longer do you gotta, like, order a 3D printed kit from Shapeways to turn Beast Hunters Starscream into the Lost Light's favorite socially awkward quantum mechanic.
There's a few hurdles in the way to getting her, however. Three, in fact. Their names are Laser Prime, Rodimus, and Quickswitch, and she comes in a giant $100 boxset with them. It's the only way to get her, I'm sorry! Sure, some folks are splitting up their sets on eBay, but Nautica's by far the hottest ticket. She can cost as more than half of the set by herself. Everyone else is an also-ran.
But, y'know, if this is what it takes to get a Nautica, I'm down. These days box sets like hers (titled "Chaos on Velocitron," btw, despite nobody in it being a Velocitronian) exist as a "we can't fit these into our normal wave-by-wave production schedule, so let's dump them off in sets" dealio. It's this or nothing, and I will gladly take this. And, y'know, maybe if Hasbro notices that Nautica was the Big Deal here, it might open them up to more Nauticas later.
Nautica is a retool of Titans Return Blurr. Specifically, she's got a new face and two new propeller wings which plug into the pre-existing 5mm pegholes on her shoulders. She transforms into Blurr's futuristic racecar mode with some propeller wings. It works well enough for Nautica's altmode of "futuristic submersible" if you ignore that Blurr is, um, a convertible. He's got an open top, and now so does this submarine. Whoops.
Blurr as Nautica works strongly for me. It helps that Blurr is, y'know, a fantastic toy (which I was happy to also get retooled as Brainstorm), so Nautica's already starting out with a solid foundation. I also think that, out of all the other current Titans Return figures, Blurr's is the one that best works as both her robot and her vehicle form. Yeah, there's a TR Windblade coming up, but, like, I dunno, TR Windblade is very super obviously a jet, and also TR Windblade's robot mode is more svelt than Nautica is. Sure, Nautica has an hourglass figure, but she's got big boxy kibble on her arms and over her shoulders and big boxy boots. Windblade's just a lady with wings, with tapering legs and skinny arms. A Windblade retool would give us that hourglass figure but leave everything else short, including turning into Super Obviously A Jet And Not A Sea Vessel. Meanwhile, Blurr's altmode is vague enough that it works as anything. It's a wedge. And now it's a wedge with propellers. Bam, it's a water vehicle. Blurr also gives Nautica her big boots, and the wedge-shaped vehicle kibble on her forearms, and the placement of propeller wings on her arms maintains Nautica's silhouette.
Some folks have also suggested Nautica from Scourge, but, like, no. Yeah, Scourge is a Space Boat, but his transformation prevents anything resembling Nautica's silhouette from occurring. If you retool the Boat Shell on his back to be Nautica's propeller wings, you end up with an altmode that's a robot folded up with wings attached to it, and not in the fun way. And if you just retool propeller wings onto the ends of the Boat Shell halves, you end up with a robot that has wings on the ends of wings. It just can't work, I'm sorry. And that's before we get to Scourge's He-Man proportions in robot mode. He is girthy.
Nautica's new head-robot guy partner is unnamed on the packaging. This is dumb.
I also kinda wish they'd given Nautica her magical Doctor Who wrench, but they didn't, and so I just gave her one of Generations Wheeljack's. I also unplug her propeller wings and swap them so they face backwards. This gives her more shoulder kibble bulk, which I think is more evocative of her.
Sadly, she arrived to my shelves too late to hang out witih Skids.
A few months ago, I spent some time marveling at how much Masterpiece Optimus Primal dedicated itself to looking like the CGI model. Well, motherfuckin' Masterpiece Cheetor is here, and he's all like, ha ha ha, that's cute, but get a load of fuckin' me.
Beyond the observations about Generation One Masterpieces I made in regards to MP Primal, here's another: I feel like the G1 Masterpieces.... homogenize the style a little bit. They sand down the edges, scootch things to and fro to make a toy look more what a character looks like in your mind's eye. Heads are shrunk, hands are less big and mitteny, proportions are massaged, etc. But Cheetor, moreso than Primal, makes apparent to me how much of a bigger commitment there seems to be to making the Beast Wars Masterpieces especially media accurate. Yes, sure, it has been remarked upon frequently that the spots on Cheetor's surfaces are purposefully made to look stretched like the 90s CGI surface texturing the cartoon model had. But.... Cheetor's THUMBS, man. Cheetor's CGI model had long-ass freakish thumbs. And yet here they are on this toy. Long-ass freakish thumbs. No sanding down the edges, no massaging the visuals to look more like Every Other Masterpiece Fist. He closes his fingers into a fist and his thumb still stretches far beyond like the head on a coiled snake. It's just Cheetor's actual freakishly awkward CGI hands, replicated in plastic.
The toy itself, much like Primal, transforms similarly to the original. The cheetah forelegs still end up on the back, the robot forearms still hide under the spine just behind the cheetah head, the robot legs still become sort of cheetah hind legs. There's a t-bone steak-shaped piece on the small of the cheetah's back that flips down to be Cheetor's crotchpiece. The differences between old and new are all in the details. The cheetah forelegs are now articulated (versus not at all) so that they can fold across each other on Cheetor's back. Pulling the robot arms out of the cheetah's back is a little more complicated now; there's way more moving pieces involved to get things just so. The hind-leg-to-robot-leg transformation is... I mean, you still see robot parts easily in cheetah mode. You're going to. It'd be impossible to engineer otherwise. But it minimizes the robot parts as best as one could hope while also making a more natural cheetah hind-leg shape.
And, yeah, the cheetah head on the robot mode chest is fake. The real cheetah head is buried inside the robot torso JUST BEHIND the fake robot mode cheetah head. There's little wire cheetah whiskers rooted into the real cheetah head, which bend a little when shoved inside the torso cavity, and you kind of have to groom them back into shape whenever you transform him back. Whether I think this whole charade is a good creative decision changes depending on what time of day it is.
There is a crazy amount of paint on this guy. I spent a good while trying to identify places on it that were unpaintable nylon plastic, because 99% of his parts have paint on them somewhere. But there are a few small hinges here and there that appear to be unpaintable nylon, like the yellow inside the cheetah forepaw's wrists. (Unpaintable nylon is generally used for structural reasons, which is why HasTak bothers to use it at all, and it's why you can find it buried within MP Cheetor's joints only.) All of Cheetor's gold is paint, so you don't hafta worry about GPS. Altogether, MP Cheetor is just ... visually dense.
Like MP Primal, he has a set of swappable heads with different expressions for both robot and beast modes. For robot mode, he's got Stoic and Grrrr Angry and OH SHIT, and for beast mode, he's got Half-Lidded Stoned, Grrrr Angry, and OH SHIT. The beast mode head's jaw is openable in each iteration, and also there's three sets of eyes you can swap into whichever beast mode head you're using. One set looks left, another center, another right. It's not QUITE as elegant an eye articulation solution as with the Figma Elsa (let it gooooooo) I have where the eyeballs are literally articulated (but you have to use a little pick to move them), but I appreciate that this is an option at all.
MP Cheetor comes with two guns. The original toy had two guns, as well, but only one of them
made it onto the cartoon showed up much at all. The original toy had a water squirter gun fashioned from Cheetor's intestines. You heard me. Anyway, that's the one that was frequently represented on the cartoon. The Masterpiece version doesn't watersquirt, sadly, but it does finally paint those intestines pink. The second weapon, was Cheetor's cheetah ass. You ripped off his ass and folded back the tail and there was a barrel under there and Cheetor grasped his own ass and shot his ass at you. The Masterpiece version is very similar, only differing in how the tail folds underneath instead of over the top. My favorite part is how the Masterpiece version of the gun borrows some of Cheetor's midsection and sculpts them into the buttocks-shapes of the original toy's ass gun. Cheetor's ass gun is no longer made out of ass, but transforms from non-ass into a more ass-like shape. For nostalgia.
THIS TOY IS AMAZING. It is not perfect, though. One, he's really bad at holding his ass gun. It doesn't peg into his palm like the gut gun, and you kind of just have to wedge it loosely into his grasp and hope gravity and friction work. Secondly, and this is the biggest, he doesn't seem to, like, peg together in his cheetah midsection in beast mode. Mind, when you set him down in cheetah mode, this self-resolves, because he is jointed so that he closes himself up if he's standing on something. However, once you pick him up, he kind of flops open like a real cat hanging over you lazily but if a real cat also showed you the robot parts inside him while he did so. Cheetah mode is FOR DISPLAY ONLY, it seems. You pick him up to play with him and he kind of goes ploop. It's weird, because the rest of him is so satisfyingly stiff.
That's it, that's what's wrong with him, setting aside the "is the fake cheetah head on his chest a bad thing" situation. There is so much love in him, though, those bits are overshadowed pretty strongly. I don't even fucking like Cheetor that much, and I have fallen hard for this action figure.
NOW WHERE IS MY DINOBOT, GIVE ME DINOBOT, HE WAS ANNOUNCED, SHOW ME PICTURES