The Last Knight hits theatres this week and whether you've booked your tickets and are eagerly awaiting it or not, one thing seems to ring true among fans this time around: Megatron's new design is pretty damn slick. Honestly, I didn't echo this sentiment at first. He looks like a LOTR baddie or a Dark Souls boss more than a Transformer but the figure looked to be something well worth getting my hands on and certainly worth getting behind a lens.
A Leader version also exists which furnishes the inexplicably reborn Decepticon leader with his new tusky faceplate and some flame effect parts along with a generally sleeker alt mode but I much prefer my leaders to not be Leaders. Voyager is enough size for me - and enough expense; because the very first thing to mention about any TLK toys is sadly the price. Every size class now costs roughly what the one above it used to. I.e. Deluxes are now Voyager money. But thankfully Voyagers don't feel as ludicrously overpriced. I've been paying roughly £30 for them for years through online dealerships so it's not much skin off my nose but I can well see how it might be for most. Good thing then, that Megatron delivers and for the first figure of a new movie design, that's no small feat.
Starting in robot mode as everything does these days, Megatron is a very decent action figure before any conversion comes into it. Every joint is afforded a wide range of motion while actually for the most part being exceptionally tight. The current standard suite of articulation for Generations style figures is present, so sadly no wrists or waist swivel but this is more than made up for with a double ball jointed neck and ankle tilts that go as deep as you could ever possibly want them to. For once this point of articulation is a transformation joint - clever. All of this allows you to make the most of Megatron's imposing feudalistic form and imbues a great deal of character.
Gimmickry is clearly minimal in a line focused only on accurately portraying on-screen designs but (depending on what you count as gimmicks) Megatron isn't totally devoid of fun touches. Firstly he wields his big new axe-sword / sharp pendulum thing. I have no idea how the describe this top-heavy weapon but it looks weighty and destructive in his grip and feels like a perfectly brutal blade for him to counter Optimus' robo-Excalibur with. This can also be stored on his back but lies just out of reach for him to pose as if he's grabbing for it.
For the first time movie Megatron also wields his cannon mounted on his right arm. I hesitate to habitually drop the words "fusion cannon" because judging by trailers and the inferences of the Leader version it appears much more incendiary in nature. It sits on his arm in the right place and looks suitably alien - a little Gigeresque actually - and can fold up and retract to the underside of his arm. This motion is really for transformation but it can allow you to create the sense of him extending it for battle - a dynamic from the movies I've always enjoyed.
Perhaps the best touch of Megatron's robot mode however is his light piping. It feels like ages since this was a regular thing and while it's relatively difficult to get to glow, it works so well for Megatron's beady rage rubies. This also provides a very effective hint of colour against his mostly monochrome metallic bod. I can understand the feel they're trying to evoke with the layers of black armour but it does leave Megatron feeling particularly visually uninteresting without good lighting. At least the dull gold accents prevent the deco from being completely dim but there are also some not-so-easily seen silver washed sections to create a touch of depth.
Transformation is quite entertaining, especially considering the fact Megatron essentially goes from an entirely rounded robot to a purely flat-edged jet. Very little of either mode can be seen in the other and honestly it just leaves me feeling like each was made by a different concept team. Megatron appears to use magic to transform because while you can spot jet sections on the figure, the CG model just has nothing that goes any way to resembling vehicle kibble. This is a personal gripe of mine over the newer movie designs; at least before you could see roughly how they transformed and what into but now, pfft, no chance mate. All this aside, Megatron's new jet mode is certainly distinctive. Echoing some shapes of his 2007 alien form but appearing to be made out of earthen jet sections arranged in a sci-fi way, it almost feels like Megatron. Honestly I keep seeing Beast Machines Jetstorm in its suggestion of a face in the translucent cockpit... But good detail abounds to (for once) give you a sense of a Cybertronian mode that isn't just visual BS. I really hope we get a mildly good look at this mode in the film because if nothing else, it feels kinetic and I'd really like to know why those blue thrusters appear to be facing the wrong way...
All in all, Megatron delivers a really interesting new design that at least has some kind of character driven aesthetic. The layers of armour give a real sense of kineticism which is really the only objective of any movie design. To be able to imagine how the plates overlap and segment as the robot moves - possibly as they would on-screen - is a testament to this design. Of course whether this figure carries over the presence of Megatron as seen in the movie remains to be seen, especially when this is the first attempt at the design (remember how awkward that first AOE Optimus was) but something about it makes me feel confident that they've done a good job here. Even with the deeply weird jet mode.
The Last Knight aside, this is a very competent and very unique new rendition of the Emperor of Destruction and I'd heartily recommend it. I struggle to think of anything else in my collection that evokes quite the same sense of restrained malice - certainly not another Megatron figure. Time will tell how strongly this design is received compared to each of Megatron's previous incarnations as he does seem landed with the disadvantage of a new look in every appearance. Will he finally get a break and be allowed to seem as constantly iconic as Optimus? I'd like to be hopeful, but somehow I doubt it. Maybe he needs to be just a touch more #Refined...
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