Zob's Thoughts on Legacy Leader-Class Transmetal II Megatron (Dragon)

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Nov 19, 2022, 3:23:53 PM11/19/22
When Hasbro made the change from regular-looking organic Beast Wars toys to the Transmetals, metallic-looking animals who turned into organic-styled robots, they referred to it as "Beast Wars inside-out." Then they took it a step further, with the next evolution being an asymmetrical fusion of organic and robotic parts in both mode, describing it as "Beast Wars in a blender." The 1999 product assortment included the rather unimaginatively-named Transmetal II series, which was later changed to Transmetal 2 on the packaging.

The 1999 version of TM2 Megatron was the third on-screen version of the character (though technically the fourth toy, as he'd also gotten a Basic-class alligator that went unused on televison). He had a Transmetal-style vehicle mode (a dragon dragster) that went unused in the media, and the toy also included a cockpit and pilot's chair for a "spark avatar" that was planned but ultimately not included. It was a fragile toy, but is often cited as one of the best Beast Wars designs. In-universe, Megatron received this new form after interfacing with the spark of the unconscious Decepticon leader Megatron, much in the same way that Optimus Primal mingled his spark with that of Autobot leader Optimus Prime to evolve into Optimal Optimus.

The new version of dragon Megatron is about 8.25" in height. In the show, the characters and forms introduced later were uniformly huge, with dragon Megatron being second only to Optimal Optimus in terms of size (both being the size of a mid-range Autobot, as opposed to most of the Maximals and Predacons who were pretty much human-sized). The T. rex version of Megatron has a toy that's 7.5" tall, so realistically the dragon version should be much larger. But, I'm not sure I would have wanted to pay Commander-class pricing for dragon Megatron, Rampage, Depth Charge, Tigerhawk, etc. so I'm okay if they do these characters at Leader-class scale.

The toy is a deep, blood-red color, with orange translucent wings, some gold horns for the dragon's head, and some purple airbrushed paint on the robot chest and arms and knees. The original toy had a vaccum-metalized plastron and dragon neck armor, but they didn't go that route this time. This version is much more aesthetically proportionate. Where the 1999 toy had an oversized left arm (which formed the dragon's head) and was a bit short and squat, this edition has long legs and more closely matches his in-universe appearance.

He comes with a large, orange blast effect, a cone of fire, that the instructions show him carrying like a club. Obviously, it can fit into the dragon's mouth as well. The original toy had a missile launcher above the robot helmet and inside the dragon's mouth, but we don't have those features this time.

Most of the time, the head sculpts for updated characters are pretty much perfect. I feel like they have missed the mark a bit on dragon Megatron. In the show, they recycled some of the CGI assets from his Transmetal form to build his Transmetal 2 form, most notably the robot head and helmet design (they just slapped the dragon cowl over top of it). For some reason, they gave this toy sharp, pointed teeth in robot mode, a look which is dramatically at odds with his TV show look. It's like they were trying to capture the Ninja Turtles scowl on the vintage toy instead of using the CGI model from the show for reference. Moreover, it doesn't seem to be the sculpt for the mouth at all, but just the paint deco. I don't love this aspect of the toy.

The transformation borrows a lot of ideas from the 1999 toy, but it's a bit more tricky. The dragon foreclaws are stowed inside the robot chest, and are indeed the visible claws on his chest that appear to be "hugging" his armor. The left robot arm forms the dragon's head and neck, while the right arm stows away inside the dragon's body. The robot legs serve double-duty as the dragon hind legs. I struggled with the transformation because it was not obvious to me that the robot head could slide back to get out of the way, which is required to finish the transformation. The hips split apart, just like the vintage version, but I had trouble figuring out how to peg the pelvis halves into the final assembly.

The final dragon mode is at least 8" tall depending on how you pose him—he's about 15" long from head to tail, and boasts a 14" wingspan. The instructions and the package photos don't seem to quite agree on the proper configuration of the dragon legs—the robot knees are supposed to become the dragon's hips, I think, but you can extend the legs a bit more if you want more height (as they did on the package photos). Each wing is made of five segments that fan out or collapse. The wings can flap back and forth, the talon claws can pivot, and the foreclaws have articulation at the shoulder, bicep swivel, elbow, and wrist. There are four joints in the dragon tail plus a side-to-side movement at the base. There are seven joints in the neck-and-head assembly, including a rotating base, plus the jaw opens.

He's not quite as impressive as some of the third-party versions of dragon Megatron (the Winged Dragon Metalbeast made by Jiang Xing is quite amazing, but it's also $349.99) but he's quite serviceable for $50-ish. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they resell this as Cryotek. I think they might even be able to get away with doing a Beast Machines version, if they redesigned the wings so that they could wrap around him like a shower curtain.

Zob (it's an evolution revolution!)
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