Transformers Prime has been a monster hit for both Hasbro and Takara Tomy. Figures are flying off the shelves, the cartoon has been renewed for more seasons, and there's no shortage on related merchandise. It's hard to have a Transformers series without an Optimus Prime and a Megatron. That's just common sense, but it's also hard to have a line without a bunch of repaints. Repaints have been a Transformers staple since day one, but it's a trick to keep theme interesting.
Takara Tomy has recently released their new Transformers Prime Darkness Megatron, a repaint of the the regular Voyager-scale Megatron which never saw release in Japan. It features both silver chrome and translucent purple parts, and if there's one thing I hate in a figure, it's poorly used chrome and translucent parts! So can Darkenss Megatron find the right balance of each and win me over? Maybe!
Follow me after the jump and we'll see just how well the Darkness shines!
Figure Name: Transformers Prime - Arms Microns Darkness Megatron
Figure Maker: Takara Tomy
Retail Price: US$62.75/¥5,000
Available At: HobbyLink Japan
Let's start by taking a look at the box. While the size and shape is the same as other Transformers Prime Arms Micron Voyager-scale figures from the line this one features a unique dark deco with lots of extra pictures and a lightning background. Having it stand out this much just goes to show how much Takara Tomy wants to let people know this is something special.
The box contents are a bit surprising to say the least. You aren't just getting Megatron and two Arms Microns; you're getting Megatron and two mini-model kits plus a sticker sheet. It's pretty rare these days to buy a new Transformer that requires stickers, let alone one that requires some assembly! We'll get into the assembly a little later.
Right, so let's look at Megatron as he appears right out of the box. Eh, kinda bland. The only paint is in the purple on his lower legs and a bit on his abdomen, that's it. There isn't even a single faction symbol to be found! I mentioned before that I don't like vac-metalized chrome when done wrong. This is on the verge of being done wrong. While there's a lot of it, he's very top-heavy in it. Chest armor, shoulder armor, and head are all totally chromed with nothing below the waist. Out of the box, he's looking more like a bootleg than an official release.
But wait, there's that sticker sheet!
Now this is how chrome looks when it's done right! The sticker sheet is metal foil so it has the same shiny metallic look as the vac-metalized chrome and help spread the same aesthetic throughout the rest of his body. Both the front and back of his lower arms and the front, inside, and outside of his lower legs now have a nice reflective accent to them with little purple designs inside them, making for a much more visually interesting figure. He finally gets his Decepticon faction symbols, too.
At this point I want to also point out that the plastic throughout the figure is textured like brushed steel so even the dull parts have a metal look to them. Great touch!
Articulation is pretty good, too, but not without problems. He could really use a bicep swivel to give him an outward range of motions in the arm. He does have a swivel in the forearm just below the elbow, but it's extremely tight and feels like it could break easily. The actual shoulder joints are offset at an odd angle keeping them from swinging out to the side. The shoulder armor also gets in the way a lot. Don't get me wrong, they can still be posed, but it takes a lot of fines to do it right.
The legs, on the other hand, are very nicely articulated with a ball and swivel joint in the hips, a single joint in the knees that can fold into the lower legs a bit, and ankle joints in the feet. All the articulation in the world doesn't help the fact that his hips are very loose. Can't exactly pose him easily when he keeps wanting to do splits. That's a result of a mold being used too much. Even though the molds used to make these are made of metal they're still prone to some wear and over time they lose their shape slightly causing joints to warp and loosen. There are methods that can be used to fix the legs, but I'll save that for another time. It's actually amazing he's holding the pose above.
So let's talk about what Transformers do: transform!
Darkness Megatron's transformation is complex, but not incredibly difficult. There's an added challenge in having an alt mode that isn't based on anything from our world. Thankfully, his transformation is surprisingly straightforward with lots of places to lock pieces together. His body is mostly made of three major pieces that fold on two hinges. His torso splits down the side separating his back from the front, opening completely like a book. The arms are connected to the back half and fold underneath. The chromed chest armor is on little jointed arms that allows each side to swing down to the pelvis making the front end of Megatron's alt mode. The legs swing underneath the entire alt mode and split forming both the sides and underside of the alt mode and the wings. There's a few other small steps along the way, but that's basically the gist of it.
The parts all snap together well and makes for a surprisingly sturdy alt mode. It's not a completely show accurate, it's a bit thick, but it does a decent enough job, considering how accurate the bot mode is, Darkness deco not withstanding. Just hate the fact that his bot mode head is right there uncovered. That's something that started with the first live action Transformers movie line, and I hate it!
I mentioned before that I don't really like translucent plastic and it stands out a little more here. One reason is that it's often brittle and very prone to breaking. Plus, I think it looks kinda stupid for robots to be 'clear' without any wires or mechanisms visible on the inside. However, it actually works fairly well on this figure. For starters, some of it is a fairly cloudy translucent thanks to the textured plastic mentioned earlier, it isn't easy to see through so it isn't like he has glass parts. Some of the other parts actually do have some sculpting on the opposite side so that helps a lot. The other reason it works is because the Transformers Prime characters, particularly Megatron, have a tendency to "glow" at times and the translucent plastic achieves that well. Plus he has a lot of non-translucent purple parts that complement the translucent plastic and allows it to blend well.
That covers Megatron, so let's move on to his Arms Microns. In Japan, Microns are the equivalent to Mini-Cons for the rest of us: little robots that turn into vehicles, animals, and weapons. They're normally quite small, but Takara decided to let their sizes vary among Arms Microns. Megatron comes with two, and one is the biggest yet! These are entirely unique to Takara Tomy's version of the Transformers Prime toys and don't appear in the show, while Hasbro chose to use special weapons, some of which have mechanical actions or even electronics.
The first, Gora II, a purple gorilla that turns into a canon that can be attached to Megatron's arm or any other 5mm peg hole or post. The original Gora was released with the Deluxe Megatron from the line and also featured swing-out blades on the front of the canon. While the blades have been removed for Gora II they made up for it by enlarging him for the larger version of Megatron. Assembly isn't all that hard, I think he only has 13 pieces and eight stickers so he goes together pretty quickly.
The Gorilla mode takes a little imagination, but the cannon mode makes for a fitting weapon for Megatron.
The second Arms Micron is Hades, a big translucent purple bat bat! And I do mean big; it's hard to believe this guy qualifies as a Micron! He's bigger than a Cyberverse Commander and has a wing span of over 10 inches! That's pretty incredible for any Transformer (it's wider than the Megatron he comes with), let alone something that's supposed to be a Micron. Assembly is a lot more involved as well, as he's made up of over 20 pieces and 10 stickers. Pretty good for what's supposed to be a little figure.
He has two alt modes. His primary is a large scythe made by folding out a handle, folding down his head and folding his wings together. It's an impressive weapon indeed.
The second form is a pair of wings that can be snapped to Megatron's back. This is the real reason why Hades was made so large, so his wings could become Megatron's. The end results truly makes this Megatron worthy of the moniker "Darkness".
The wings can also be used in Megatron's alt mode, but to me they look a little awkward elevated as high as they are. Part of the fun of Hades is that you can also rearrange him into a number of unofficial formations. Check out the gallery to see my claw, gun, sword, and battle ax transformations.
You might have already guessed, but I really like this figure a lot! The vac-metalized chrome and translucent plastic are incorporated very well into the figure, never looking out of place. His bot mode looks great and is well articulated even though he could really use a bicep swivel for extra range. The floopy hip joints are a real shame, especially with the added weight of having Hades on his back, but they might be fixable. Alt mode looks good and does an even better job of diversifying his colors pallet. Both Arms Microns are useful, especially Hades, which is a pretty impressive figure in its own right. Even with the bum legs and awkward shoulders, I can't help but recommend Transformers Prime Arms Micron Darkness Megatron!
[Special thanks to HobbyLink Japan for providing the review sample!]
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