Transformers Movie (2007) Megatron Review

in 2007, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Generation One, Movie (2007)

Transformers Live Action Movie

General Information:
Release Year: June 2007
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $39.99
Accessories: None
Difficulty Level: 4


Tech Specs:
Frozen in Antarctic ice for hundreds of years, MEGATRON is finally free, and his might will make the Earth quake, the stars fall from the sky, and the very pillars of heaven shake. As the most dangerous TRANSFORMERS robot ever to stalk the galaxy, he has no known weaknesses and only one purpose - to capture the AllSpark and rule the Universe. Nothing - neither the humans' armies or his ancient enemy OPTIMUS PRIME can stand in his way!

Strength: 10  Intelligence: 10  Speed: 10  Endurance: 10
Rank: 10  Courage: 9  Firepower: 10  Skill: 9

For almost the entire last decade there has been a new Megatron toy introduced to Transformers fans every year. However, year to year it always fascinated me how many people would ask me "They made a new Megatron?!" as if the 1980's version was the only one that ever existed. This year is different as this Megatron appeared in movie screens all over the world as the leader of the Decepticons in the 2007 "Transformers" live action film. This is the first figure from the Movie line representing that character.

Megatron is packaged in packaging similar to Optimus Prime's in shape. He is in robot mode and a small cut away in the plastic allows you to push the lever down on his chest to activate his lights and sounds. The box notes on the front that Megatron is equipped with "Advanced Automorph Technology", referring to the feature where one part moves in concert with others as the figure is transformed. On the back his weapons are shown including his Chain Whip and Fusion Cannon (a nice nod to the G1 Megatron). His cosell is the Leader class Optimus Prime and his vehicle mode is described as his "Cybertron Jet Mode".

Robot Mode:
Megatron's robot mode is a complete reimagining of the character. He has no large cannon mounted on his right arm, no dinosaur hands and no signs of being a tank of any sort. If you wanted to draw a parallel to any previous Megatron, you'd probably have the best luck with Energon Megatron who also transformed into a Cybertronian jet. In the movie, Sam describes Megatron at one point as "...the harbinger of death..." and that is exactly the look the designers went for with this figure. His aesthetic is the only one out of all the characters that goes unaltered for the whole movie, so via Megatron, we get a look at what a purely Cybertronian mode looks like in this Transformers Universe (this is of course not taking into account the Protoforms, which may or may not have been 'combat ready' when we saw them in the movie). These two aesthetics combine to make one creepy looking robot.

There is something intrinsically disturbing to people about the sight of a skeleton (Jack Skellington aside). For most people, it represents something dead, something that we should not be seeing. Even some human myths about Death give it the appearance of a skeletal creature. It seems to be that primal image that acted as the launch point for Megatron's look. His overall form reminds you of a skeleton, but not a hollowed out one but one with deadly machinery built on top of it. Perhaps the most telling details on Megatron (as they relate to this macarbe inspiration) are his head and torso. His head design was changed over the course of developing the movie, but even in this form it looks like some ancient warrior's helmet with jagged edges and sleek lines worn over a partly obscured skull. His eyes are wide, almost slits and he has two rows of teeth showing with no "lip" covering of any sort. The teeth are just bare looking savage and scary all at the same time. Continuing down to the torso, you will see three very distinctive horizontal pieces going across his chest resembling a mechanical nightmare version of a rib cage. While some felt these details were not befitting any character named Megatron, I think it made perfect sense. This is Megatron at his purest form, without the embelishment of an Earth form. Metaphorically speaking, this is his skeletal form, and yet it still looks powerful.

The rest of the figure tries to follow the movie aesthetic as much as possible. However, the movie took the "metal plates over machinery" idea to an extreme and thus he has so many moving parts when you see him on screen, you just know not every single one of those will appear on the figure. As with many other movie figures the designers did their best to sculpt the figure in such a way that he gives off the look of having all those layers. Most of Megatron's form is very jagged in the movie and that is reflected here on the armor points on his shoulders, some of which curve upwards or out to the side. His arms definitely look multi layered. Looking at his shoulders along you'll find line detail, vent detail and tube detail all sculpted into the inside of the shoulder with some of his armor raised at the edges. Like the movie model, Megatron has long, dangerous looking claws. Interestingly, the designers only gave Megatron three fingers when in fact the movie model actually has five. Still, the overall visual effect of having such an unusual hand design that strays from the usual fist or open palm is refreshing and adds to his creepiness factor.

Megatron's leg designs are quite distinctive since they have the jagged, multi-layered look while actually being composed of about six different primary pieces each. I give a lot of credit to the sculptors as each section has to look like it represents several pieces. For instance, if you look at his knee armor it's just one piece, but is sculpted to look like three sections of armor. His tighs also reflect this type of design. His feet hint at a bird-inspired design, which is fitting for an aerial Transformer. The front and back look like they have claws extending out to the sides and they really look like they are meant to grip prey (and indeed, they do in the film).

The Transformers movie used CGI models that literally had thousands of individual parts. You cannot really replicate something like that in a toy without it being prohibitively expensive, so some concessions need to be made in the overall design. First, you'll note that the wings mounted on his back are pretty large whereas in the CGI model they are quite small. This is really a case where the designers needed to balance the needs of both modes, and in order for him to have impressive looking wings in jet mode, they needed to be a bit larger. He also has blade like protrusions coming out his back. These completely enhance his appearance, but never actually appear on Megatron in the movie leading me to think they may have been some type of early design element that was abandoned later. Finally, in the movie Megatron's arms could transform into a fusion cannon but here the arms each have a half of the fusion cannon mounted on them. Overall these are understandable design elements and they do not detract from the look of the figure at all.

Megatron is cast primarily in two shades of silver plastic, a light one and then a darker color for smaller parts such as his fingers. His eyes and the back mounted blades are cast in translucent pink plastic. I can appreciate that it must have been quite a challenge to deco a figure primarily cast in one color, but I think the silver allowed for the designers to work on a fairly open canvas. Metallic blue spray ops are liberally applied to parts such as his arms and legs (something unusual for most Transformers, that usually only have one or two such applications if any). Black is used for breaking up a lot of the lighter colors so you'll find it on the inside "machinery" parts of his legs and chest as well as on the middle of his arms. Adding a bit more detail is metallic gold paint, used for tinier details such as the small circles on his shoulders and small details on his elbows. After seeing the movie a few times, I think the designers did a good job with what they had at the time. However, in retrospect I think the Best Buy exclusive Megatron (due for release to coincide with the movie on DVD) has a more accurate overall color. This silver comes close, but should be a shade darker and there need to be more gold paint applications.

Megatron has twenty two points of articulation in this form. This includes seven on each arm. Unfortunately due to his transformation scheme both head and waist articulation were lost. I really think his head could have been put on a small platform with a ball joint to allow it posability, but I cannot say how much that would have affected cost. Each arm has its own weapon. On the right arm if you swing the panel open you'll find a chain that connects to his hand. Pressing the button on his forearm will help you pull out his claw hand which you can fold up to form his Chain Whip weapon. It's a shame that the weapon doesn't more closely resemble the actual weapon from the movie. I think a potential alternative design would have been to have his hand fold into the forearm (which it can do) and then have the Chain whip just come out of the section on the side with its barbed end attached to it. Still, it is good to see his weapon acknowledge since it plays a part in two key scenes in the movie.

On the left arm, you can swing the hand in and swing the side section forward. Pushing the tab on the underside causes parts to swing out the side and top of the cannon. The only thing that bugs me is that there is no way to lock this in place. The tab automatically moves back into its original position if you let go. If you swing both hands back and swing both side arm sections forward, you can connect them to form Megatron's fusion cannon, much like he does in the film. However if you're expecting to form that long extended thing Megatron does in the movie, that doesn't happen and frankly from a cost perspective I can understand why. Still it's cool to have him form the cannon like this instead of just cheating it by having his left arm serve as the cannon. Finally, if you press down the lever on his chest, his chest, eyes and back blades all light up with an orange glow and he makes a noise that sounds like machinery moving into place and a scream at the same time. It's a pretty creepy sound effect.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Swing each hand back into the forearm.
  2. Swing each side section on the arms forward.
  3. Push the lever on his chest down until it locks into place with the rectangular piece under it.
  4. Lift the head up and swing it back. Extending the rear "nosecone" piece causes the wings to Automorph outwards.
  5. Turn the head around and swing the cover piece over it to hide his face.
  6. Swing the arms out to the sides and then swing the front half of the body forward.
  7. Swing each arm piece underneath the middle of the body (they connect by hole in pegs) and position the arms so each end faces forward.
  8. Swing the chest section down and then swing the waist/legs section forward.
  9. Swing each leg out to the side slightly. This automorphs the feet in such a way that you can then clip the legs onto the undersides of the wings.
  10. Position the arm sections pointing forward, then plug the pegs on the elbow pieces to the holes underneath the central nosecone base.

Vehicle Mode:
The cool thing about "Cybertronian" modes is that you really don't have to be accurate to anything but perhaps an on screen representation. That's the case with Megatron. The thing of it is, Megatron moved so bloody fast for most of his onscreen time it is difficult to say "Well, he is accurate because of A but not because of B". What you can say is that the designers did a good job of representing what we could see. Megatron's basic form in the movie is simple. An engine/thruster section on back, his head appearing partially in the center with wide wings that have vertical ends. The front consists of a central nosecone with two smaller protrusions on the front. The general shape is definitely there and looks very much like my recollections from the film.

The actual vehicle form itself is detailed, but not on the same level as the robot mode. That's because so many parts are streamlined and made up of flat sections like his wings. There are definitely nicely crafted nuances such as his wings having three layers (most evident when you look at the wings from an angle view). The front nosecone is fairly simple in design, with two small air intakes sculpted on each side. Perhaps the most detailed portion is the rear engine piece whcih has tubes, vents and vertical line detailing. Perhaps the only major inaccuracy to the CGI model are the legs mounted under his wings. The problem is, there really isn't anywhere else to put the things. If you swung them back his entire back end would look like a mess. It really was the best place to put them, though I confess the look from the forward view does lose some elegance as a result.

Pressing the button in the center of the vehicle activates the same lights and sounds as pushing the lever down in robot mode. Here it sounds like the jet makes some type of frightening scream as it soars past you. I like how the sound effect is effective in both of Megatron's forms.

Final Thoughts:
Megatron is not a figure without its problems. However, many of those stem from the rather complex design of the movie model translating into a cost effective figure. However, he is still an awesome looking figure and he has good play value. If he had a bit more posability and a different (read: darker) color scheme, I probably would put him in the highly recommended category. As is however his is recommended.