Transformers Animated Toy Reviews: The Battle Begins Optimus Prime vs. Megatron

in 2008, Action Figure Review, Animated, Transformers Animated

Transformers Animated

General Information:
Release Date: June 2008
Price Point: $19.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Fusion Cannon, Axe

Images:

Text from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
Until now, OPTIMUS PRIME never thought he would come face to face with MEGATRON. The legendary villain was thought to be long ago deactivated, but on CYBERTRON his power and his evil are still feared. He knows that to face MEGATRON is to face his own mortality. MEGATRON, on the other hand, does not know who this young AUTOBOT is, and does not care. All he knows is that the AllSpark is under this fool’s protection. If he will not give it up, MEGATRON will tear him apart to get it.

“THE BATTLE BEGINS”
OPTIMUS PRIME and MEGATRON meet for the first time in the exciting new TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED series! Witness the first battles of a new legend as the AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS struggle to control the secrets of the AllSpark. With the help of Sari and their other human friends, OPTIMUS PRIME and his loyal companions fight against the evil plotting of MEGATRON, with the fate of the city in the balance!

Prepare for a fierce faceoff with these two opponents! In robot mode, the mighty OPTIMUS PRIME figure is poised for battle with his double-handed ion axe, while the menacing-looking MEGATRON figure will be ready to fight back, wielding a fusion cannon! Convert the cannon to a sword for added battle excitement! Gear up for land versus air combat too, when you convert the figures to Earth Truck and CYBERTRON Fusion Fighter in vehicle mode! Victory is within reach – but who will claim it? You decide!

Figures come with an exclusive DVD featuring “THE BATTLE BEGINS” episode from the TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED series!

Megatron Review

Images:

In the original Transformers series, we met several key characters on Cybertron before they came to Earth. While they all had Cybertronian vehicle modes, their robot modes all looked like ones built to transform into Earth vehicles, which of course was a cost-saving measure. Still, this is a mistake that subsequent series tried not to make, and "Transformers Animated" is among them. Before he gains a new body on planet Earth, Megatron had a Cybertronian form as well. This figure represents the deluxe version of this figure. It was included with a deluxe sized Optimus Prime figure and a DVD featuring the pilot of "Transformers Animated" titled "The Battle Begins".

Robot Mode:
"Transformers Animated" has a style all its own in terms of animation and character design. However, many of the character models borrow liberally from prior Transformers shows including G1 and Beast Wars. Another source the show borrows from is the live action 2007 movie, and few figures demonstrate that quite as well as the Cybertronian version of Megatron. Taking design elements of the movie Megatron, this animated version has spiked and angled armor all over his body. Almost all his details are angular in some way, evoking the sharp, metallic appearance of the movie Megatron. However, to keep things easier to animate, "Animated" Megatron does not look like he has layer upon layer of panels and sharp armor on his body. Instead, some elements of G1 Megatron were merged into this form, tempering the movie influence and creating a balance between the two.

One of the best places to see this combination of influences is the upper body. His head's helmet section is clearly a riff on the movie Megatron, with a sharp, angular shape that comes to a point above the nose and at the ends on either side of his chin. It even has tooth like protrusions on either side and three raised points on the top of the head, one resembling a small fin on top. This definitely evokes the movie Megatron's helmet. However, the face is a much more human face than movie Megatron had, with smooth cheek and jaw sections and a regular pair of eyes, nose and mouth (set in a slightly annoyed looking scowl). His chest also combines G1 and movie influences. The outer layer of detail is made up of angled and pointed sections, most notable in the center where a four sided diamond shape sits in the center of his chest. However, the sections in between these angles are not choc full of criss-crossing details. Instead they are relatively smooth except for two small raised lines on either side of his chest that are design homages to similar lines on G1 Megatron's chest.

The rest of Megatron's robot form follows suit in design. His arms and legs all have diamond shaped and angled designs from his shoulder armor to his feet. To emulate the "Animated" design look, his shoulders and chest are very wide, but then they shrink down significantly at the waist and upper legs before angling outwards into his lower legs and feet which are wide and sculpted with a slight angle to them. The overall effect is a very formidable looking character.

This figure carries over all the major details from the animation model and adds to them a bit. Everything from the larger details such as his chest design to smaller ones such as the spike like designs on his abdomen are present. On his back there are some line details on either side near the shoulders that were added in for this figure. Also added in are some raised lines on his thighs that are not present in the animation model.

Megatron is cast in dark silver, translucent red and dark grey plastic. A bulk of the figure is dark silver while the lower legs and parts of the hips are dark grey. Translucent red can be found on joints like his hip ball joints and the upper arms, which look fantastic. Metallic red paint is used for some of the red details from the animation model such as the waist area and the front portions of his feet. Dark grey paint is used on his fists, shoulders and the front of his waist to match up details with the animation model. Metallic pink paint is used for his "battle damage". I'm not exactly sure how pink equates to damage. My guess would be that it represents Energon or some type of energy glowing or leaking from the damage. The damage patterns are found on his head, shoulders, chest and right foot. Rather than using a splotchy pattern or spray patterns, the designers decided to embelish with the "Animated" style and create jagged damage details. With the pink color, they look almost like flames, but it's a rather odd looking way to represent battle damage. I am curious if this means down the line we can expect an individually packaged redeco of this figure with no battle damage.

Megatron has seventeen points of articulation in this form. Several of these are ball joints including his shoulders, hips and head. Unfortunately, his posability is limited if you attach his cannon to either of his arms. Because the ball joint on his hips are not very tight, he winds up leaning over to one side. I've tried posing his legs, bending the knee joints a bit, repositioning his arms and so on with no success, he just flops over no matter what. However, if you take the cannon off, this doesn't happen. This is a bit frustrating since he really is a nicely sculpted figure with plenty of articulation points. While I may normally say "This may just be mine so be cautious." I have heard of this particular flaw across the board from fans, so it is a line-wide problem. The quickie fix is to put some clear nail polish on the ball joint to tighten it up, but this is somthing that shouldn't be necessary to do at all.

Megatron includes his fusion cannon, a nicely designed futuristic take on the traditional round cannon using an octagonal design for the barrel instead. This cannon has two blades on it. Flip the cannon barrel up and you can swing the red blade out for Megatron to use as a weapon. It's an odd looking blade weapon however since the barrel doesn't sit on anything or totally fold back. It just kind of sits there at an angle. This cannon has a peg that can be connected to his lower right arm or into one of his fists. The blade that does not rest on a hinge can be detached, but the pegs do not match the size of the holes on his fists, so I'm not sure what the point of it all was. It feels almost as if there was an abandoned feature early on in design. Megatron's "action" feature is built into the waist. Turn his upper body to the side and it snaps back in a "punching" motion. This is basically the Transformers equivalent of a design feature used on classic 1980's He-Man figures, and it is amusing to see it built into a Transformer in the 2000's.

I really hate being down on any figure, especially when I know the kind of work that goes into creating one. However, Megatron's mode is a disappointment because it is a really great sculpt with a good paint job (odd battle damage not withstanding) but its functional problems just bring it down so many levels it's sad.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the fusion cannon if attached.
  2. Swing each lower arm back so the clip on the arm attaches to the notch on the back of his shoulders.
  3. Swing each arm out to the sides, and then rotate it around and swing it up against the clips on either side of the head.
  4. Swing the heel and foot pieces together so they point down.
  5. Swing open the panels on the inside of each lower leg.
  6. Rotate the lower legs around and connect the two panels you just flipped out together.
  7. Swing out the wings to the sides.
  8. Attach the cannon to the hole in the center. The end of the barrel attaches to the clip towards the back of the vehicle.
  9. Swing out the diamond shaped pieces from the robot knees and connect them together.

Vehicle Mode:
While rare nowadays, every now and then the Transformers universe introduces us to, what I like to call, a "Because we say so" mode. Megatron's vehicle mode is officially billed as a "Fusion Fighter". With its small wings on the side and the pointed end, it does resemble some odd scifi concept of a fighter ship but overall, it really does look like Megatron just curled up into a ball and tossed his cannon onto his back.

There are few new design elements here. The wings are dark grey and the hoverfans in the center are a nice touch. Other than that, almost all the bits here are obvious carry overs from the robot mode. The end of the cannon does resemble an odd type of cockpit, with some V shaped translucent red parts that one could interpret as cockpit windows. I can't even argue that the designers embelished on the animated design, because frankly that one was even less defined than this figure. However, taking into consideration that this form appeared on screen for all of one episode, and for maybe a minute to boot and you can easily see why a whole lot of effort wasn't put into it.

Final Thoughts:
I'm a big fan of the deluxe price point and I think it's great when leader characters are made into this scale. However, between a fairly weak vehicle mode and the loose hip joint, the figure just winds up becoming a big disappointment and a huge strike against picking up this set. Overall the set is nice to give as a gift to a kid who's going to toss it around, and having the DVD in it is a nice way to introduce someone to the line, but there are definitely better versions of Megatron out there.



Optimus Prime

Images:

Text from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
Until now, OPTIMUS PRIME never thought he would come face to face with MEGATRON. The legendary villain was thought to be long ago deactivated, but on CYBERTRON his power and his evil are still feared. He knows that to face MEGATRON is to face his own mortality. MEGATRON, on the other hand, does not know who this young AUTOBOT is, and does not care. All he knows is that the AllSpark is under this fool’s protection. If he will not give it up, MEGATRON will tear him apart to get it.

“THE BATTLE BEGINS”
OPTIMUS PRIME and MEGATRON meet for the first time in the exciting new TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED series! Witness the first battles of a new legend as the AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS struggle to control the secrets of the AllSpark. With the help of Sari and their other human friends, OPTIMUS PRIME and his loyal companions fight against the evil plotting of MEGATRON, with the fate of the city in the balance!

Prepare for a fierce faceoff with these two opponents! In robot mode, the mighty OPTIMUS PRIME figure is poised for battle with his double-handed ion axe, while the menacing-looking MEGATRON figure will be ready to fight back, wielding a fusion cannon! Convert the cannon to a sword for added battle excitement! Gear up for land versus air combat too, when you convert the figures to Earth Truck and CYBERTRON Fusion Fighter in vehicle mode! Victory is within reach – but who will claim it? You decide!

Figures come with an exclusive DVD featuring “THE BATTLE BEGINS” episode from the TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED series!

Optimus Prime's appearance in "Animated" is largley influenced by previous incarnations of the character. Specifically he draws influences from Cybertron Optimus Prime and by virtue of that, his G1 predecessor Star Convoy. In a bit of an "off screen" homage to the original Optimus Prime, the "Battle Begins" two pack features an Optimus Prime figure that is based largely on the appearance of the original Optimus Prime from Generation One.

Robot Mode:
To create this (thus far) exclusive figure, the designers used a tried and true Transformers method of design - taking a pre-existing figure and retooling it significantly to create a new figure. Specifically, this figure takes the deluxe Cybertron Mode Optimus Prime and replaces several key parts to create a new figure while keeping the same transformation scheme and general appearance. I would recommend reading that review for an overview of this figure's base design.

The replacement/retooling of parts is rather extensive on this figure including:

  • The robot head has been retooled to feature Optimus Prime's mouthplate being "up" instead of the mouth used on Cybertron Mode Optimus Prime.
  • The upper and lower arm pieces are different parts, but utilize the same elbow ball joint as Cybertron Mode Optimus Prime.
  • The pieces behind the chest plate that connect to the arms are different, blockier pieces with a bit more height than those on Cybertron Mode Optimus Prime.
  • The chest plate is different, repesenting how Optimus' chest looks on Earth rather than the clear U shape of his Cybertronian form.
  • The lower legs have been altered to feature a double wheel design at the ankles instead of having a tread like design.
  • The small axe weapon has been replaced with a much larger, and more show accurate axe weapon.

The interesting net effect of all these altered parts is that Optimus looks a lot bulkier than his previous form. The three parts that contribute most to this are his chest (which is wide and rectangular), the parts connecting his chest to the arms (which raise a bit higher than the equivalent parts on Cybertron Mode Optimus Prime) and finally his arms, which are more rectangular, larger parts that give him some added mass. His axe weapon is also much larger than the small double axe from Cybertron Mode Optimus Prime and it also has the large thruster detail opposite the axe blade. Because of the way the chest section with the shoulder ball joints is set behind the chest plate, it gives the illusion that the arms are constantly pulled back slightly, as if Prime is about to prepare for a strike. It's a really nice visual trick and plays out very well.

The resculpted face looks really great. While I've grown accustomed to the look of Animated where Optimus Prime has a regular mouth, I prefer Optimus Prime with a mouthplate. It's so iconic to the character's appearance that he always seems to look more serious with it. Note that even in Beast Wars, Optimus Primal was given a mouth, but pieces of the mouthplate were kept intact to maintain that "Optimus Prime" visual connection.

The new arm pieces definitely give Optimus a much more simple, yet aggressive appearance. The rectangular shape definitely matches the animation model while harking back go G1 Optimus Prime quite a bit. His chest plate uses the animation design, with the angled windows and a slanted row of headlights on each side. His lower legs represent a significant design change, featuring two wheels that can roll in vehicle mode (but not in this form) instead of tread like designs on the outer leg with tiny wheels on the back of the legs. This too is accurate to the animation model and looks very cool.

While the red/blue/silver palette Optimus is known for is used on this figure, different shades are used. He has dark blue, dark red, translucent blue and silver plastic parts. The blue parts are much darker than those on Cybertron Mode Optimus Prime and the red is a shade darker as well. The translucent blue is used to make pieces like the chest plate and axe while silver plastic is used for the elbow joints and upper legs. Black plastic is used for the wheels. Paint applications are done in red, black, silver, light blue and yellow paint. The chest is painted red leaving only the windows exposed. The axe weapon's handle and the rocket piece are painted red as well along with the side panels on Optimus' lower arms. Silver is used to accompany the red on the chest and axe blade while filling in the mouthplate color. Yellow is used for small details such as the lights on his chest plate and the rectangular details on his hip section. Interestingly, the designers chose not to paint the lines on his feet as they did with Cybertron Mode Optimus Prime (which would have made it more show accurate). Black paint is used on the back and sides of his waist as well as the edges of his feet. Black is also used for Optimus' "battle damage" details which are a series of very stylized jagged designs on his face, right arm, chest, hips and waist pieces. While I can appreciate the idea of battle damage on the figure, I really wish it had been done with more traditional spray lines or some equivalent. The way the damage is drawn here, it looks more like some black gooey substance was tossed at Prime or that Venom's symbiote is trying to take him over. It's an interesting look, but not quite what the designers were going for.

Optimus has thirteen points of articulation in this form. Several of these including his shoulder and elbow joints are on ball joints, so his range of motion is excellent. All his joints are very tight, allowing him to strike poses without flopping around. The waist piece on the figure has been made to twist and then spring back forward, allowing him to swing his axe or "punch". Since Megatron has this feature as well it makes perfect sense that Optimus would have it as well, allowing fans to have the figures "battle" each other.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Remove the axe from his hand if attached.
  2. Swing each fist into the lower arm.
  3. Swing each lower arm up against the upper arm.
  4. Swing the robot feet down.
  5. Rotate each lower leg around and then push it up into the upper leg.
  6. Pull the body up on its central hinge.
  7. Swing the chest piece forward and the panels on his back up.
  8. Swing the robot head forward and then swing the chest plate over it.
  9. Swing the chest sections that connect to the robot arms up.
  10. Move the center piece with the lightbar into the center and connect it with the chest piece to form the front of the vehicle.
  11. Rotate the arms around and then swing them up so the smokestacks face up and then connect them to the holes on the section with the lightbar.
  12. Slide the robot legs into the dark blue panels on the sides.
  13. Attach the axe to the space in between the robot lower legs in the back of the vehicle.

Vehicle Mode:
Looking at Optimus Prime's vehicle mode is an interesting exercise when reviewing the figure. While it uses the same basic engineering and transformation scheme as the Cybertron Mode Optimus Prime, the vehicle mode looks almost completely different. Sure the two share basic features such as Prime's chest becoming the windshield and his legs becoming the rear section, but overall these are clearly two very different vehicles. This figure represents Optimus' Earth form, and thus it has a much more boxy and squared off look than his Cybertron Mode. The official name for this mode is a "Fire truck cab" so it works in that respect with its lightbar on top and room left in the back for a cab to attach (if his axe weapon was removed that is). The wheels have been changed from Cybertron Mode Optimus as well. Whereas those wheels had wheel covers that extruded quite a bit, these wheels look more normal with a regular cover and tiny circular details representing the screws that keep the tires/wheel sections together. Another interesting addition are smokestacks in the back of the vehicle, a feature not found on Animated Prime's other incarnations (including the animated one). This is a direct homage to G1 Optimus Prime, who had smokestacks in the same place in his vehicle mode.

Optimus' colors reflect the intent to pay homage to G1 Optimus Prime. Whereas the animation model normally has black coloring underneath the silver stripe running from the front to the sides of the vehicle, the section under the stripe here is red. The lightbar also differs from other versions of Animated Prime in that both sides are translucent blue as opposed to one side being red and the other blue.

I'm not a big fan of the "battle damage" designs on this figure, and in vehicle mode it just looks off. I sort of hope down the line this figure is done with a "clean" G1 inspired deco and released individually.

Final Thoughts:
While I have serious reservations about this set overall, most of them are due to Megatron's floppiness. If Optimus did not have the battle damage, I'd be super happy with him. As it stands I would place this set as a recommended way to introduce people to "Animated" since it also has the DVD, but if you want a good version of Animated Optimus Prime you are probably better off with the Voyager or Activator versions.