Dungeon Reviews: Megatron (1984)

You can’t have an iconic hero without an iconic villain. And there are few more iconic toy villains than Megatron.

“Peace through tyranny.”

Megatron was released in the first wave of Transformers toys in 1984. The toy has its origins in Takara’s Microman line, where it was part of the “Microchange” subline imprint. Microchange featured a variety of household objects that could convert into humanoid robots.

For this review, we’ll be looking at the Takara “Collection” series reissue of Megatron that was released in 2002. Unlike Optimus, Megatron has had comparatively few reissues since his first release, mainly because his alternate mode breaks too many toy safety conventions. But we’ll get to that.

The Collection version is substantially the same as the 1980s release of the toy, but retains a few features that were removed for the Hasbro edition.

Alternate Mode

Alternate mode side view

Megatron converts into a very realistic and accurately sized Walther P38 handgun. Many real-life features have been lovingly sculpted into the toy, including the sights, trigger, safety switch, hammer, and even the actual “Walther P38” designation.

The top part of the gun is chrome silver, and the rest is molded in a silvery gray and glossy black.

Rear view

If it weren’t for the large Decepticon emblems, this could pretty easily pass for a real firearm. That’s one of the reasons it’s never had a reissue in the United States. We ironically have more effective toy gun laws than we do real gun laws. And that’s all I will say about that.

Scale

The gun mode fits into the hand well and has considerable weight from the various die-cast parts. The trigger is on a slide and can be pulled back with a satisfying “click.”

Bottom view

The bottom of the grip – which becomes Megatron’s feet – is die-cast.

Front view

Firing gimmick

Plastic bullets

This version of Megatron comes with two sprues of red plastic “bullets.” These projectiles were left out of the American version of the toy, but evidence of the feature could still be seen.

Bullet chamber

You can load a bullet into the little oval-shaped chamber on top of the weapon. Pulling the trigger back fires the bullet, and it will fire 3-5 feet away. The projectile isn’t powerful enough to put a hole in Brawn’s shoulder, but it could probably knock him off a shelf.

The entire firing mechanism is removed from the American Megatron figure, but the bullet chamber remains.

Extensions Gimmick

Extension parts

For his alternate mode, Megatron comes with a two-piece silencer, a three-piece stock, and a three-piece scope. The Collection version of the scope appears to be glued together.

Assembled extension parts
Extensions added

The silencer slides over the barrel, the scope attaches to a track on the gun’s top, and the stock attaches to a similar track on the back of the grip. When kitted out like this, Megatron is nearly the size of a small rifle. The firing mechanism still works, though sometimes the bullets get caught in the silencer.

Incidentally, this particular weapon is based on one from the 1960s spy television show The Man From U.N.C.L.E. A normal version of the Walter P38 figure, without the extensions, was also available in the Microchange line.

Rear view

You can prop the stock against your shoulder and look down the scope, pretending you’re Starscream or Soundwave gunning down a platoon of Autobot fools.

I’m far from a gun enthusiast, but there is a certain satisfaction to holding this thing in your hand and aiming it. It’s certainly a relic of a different era of toy design.

Transform!

Start
Change
Change

Robot Mode

Finish

Megatron’s transformation is far more complex than Optimus’, featuring telescoping arms, telescoping legs, and an array of rotations to assemble his chest and head. He stands about six inches tall, shoulder-to-shoulder with Optimus and taller than most of the other first-year Autobots.

His robot mode reveals a lot of red details and stickers that emphasize his robotic nature.

Rear view

Megatron has die-cast feet, thighs, and hips (interior). Also, the struts that compose the inside of his chest and torso are die-cast. This makes him a very heavy figure.

His gun barrel, as shown, ends up rather awkwardly on his hip, rather than pointing up over his back as it does in the cartoon. This is because the cartoon character model was based on a prototype of the figure seen in some early Microchange catalogues, rather than the finished figure.

The first time I handled a G1 Megatron, I tried to twist the gun barrel up behind his back. It’s possible to get it back there, but it sticks out at an oblique angle and requires some scary tension of his plastic. I don’t recommend it.

Head close-up

Megatron’s head is formed from the back of his grip, which is where the iconic “buckethead” helmet shape comes from. Notably, this isn’t actually meant to be his helmet! Close inspection reveals that Megatron has a black helmet with a silver crest that was abstracted out in his animation model.

Regardless of how it has been interpreted, the harsh angles and the stark black, silver, and red help sell this figure as a villain, even though as a Microchange character he was meant to work for the good guys.

Articulation and Accessories

Arm articulation
Leg detail

Megatron has articulation at the shoulders. His arms can pivot outward a little bit due to the way the transformation joint works. His hips can rotate, allowing you to position his feet forward or pointing away from each other. Megatron’s official transformation appears to have his hips very far apart, but I usually keep them close together to look less ridiculous.

He has some minimal forward movement on his legs as well, though this copy seems to be more or less fused in a standing position.

Accessories

For robot mode armament, Megatron has his black scope as well as a chrome rifle and chrome sword.

High-density infrared laser cannon

The “high-density infrared laser cannon” fits into Megatron’s hand via a peg on the side. This thing was never depicted in fiction and always looked a tad bit like a TV remote to me, albeit with side-mounted missile launchers.

I think it’s neat, but it’s hardly Megatron’s most iconic accessory.

Sword

Another piece missing from the American version of this toy is the chrome silver sword. It fits into either of Megatron’s hands and, thanks to how the peg-hole is actually on the side of Megatron’s fist, can be pointed forward to make it look more like he’s slashing through platoons of Autobots.

The sword was recently paid homage to in the 2019 War for Cybertron Siege toyline with the Voyager-class Megatron figure, but it’s generally obscure as far as things Megatron uses to pulverize his foes.

Fusion cannon

What every remembers Megatron for is the big black cannon on his arm. Nearly every iteration of Megatron features some sort of giant cannon, and it all started here.

The cannon is so large that older copies of Megatron often have difficulty holding it up.

Cannon close-up

Looking at how fierce Megatron appears with this thing attached to his arm, it’s easy to see why Hasbro picked him to be the big bad.

Energy mace

The Collection version of Megatron also came with a bonus accessory: the pink energy mace that Megatron used during a battle with Optimus Prime in an early episode of The Transformers cartoon.

The mace fits over Megatron’s hand and features a real plastic chain.

Since the chain is loose, you can’t do much dynamic posing with this accessory, but it’s definitely useful if you need to knock Brawn off a shelf and you’ve run out of bullets.

Extension Gimmicks

Telescopic Laser Cannon

Like Optimus, Megatron can use his extraneous alternate mode parts to add play value in robot mode, and he can do it in a few ways.

The extensions combine and attach to his gun barrel to create this “telescopic laser cannon” mode. This seldom-seen configuration gives Megatron the appearance of carrying a giant over-the-shoulder launcher, and even lets him target an Autobot (such as, for a totally random example, Brawn) through his own sights.

Front view

It is a fairly awkward accessory, though, and I typically use these parts for the other possible configuration.

Particle Beam Cannon

The extensions can also be reconfigured into a particle beam cannon that can be manned by Megatron or whatever other Decepticon is tall enough to reach its controls.

Handles

A pair of handles flip out of the back of the turret.

Manning the turret

The handles fit into Megatron’s hands. I always assumed this weapon was what Megatron was able to “link interdimensionally to a black hole” as described on his file card.

Also, I failed to snap a photo, but the bullet-firing gimmick is usable in this mode as well! There’s a small slot on top of the stock to fit a bullet in, and there’s a sliding trigger on the side of the stock to fire one. This whole contraption was removed from the American version.

Small handles

But wait, there’s more!

As mentioned, Megatron was originally designed to interact with the Microman toyline. Observant owners of this toy may have noticed the small handles that flip out of the sides of the rear of his scope.

Microman Pilot

These handles were to allow for a Microman pilot to man the cannon.

Though the Diaclone pilots were only barely released in the U.S., Mego’s adaptation of Microman was very popular in the late 1970s, meaning there may have been some American kids who figured out this configuration.

Final Thoughts

Bickering Decepti-family

Unlike Optimus, Megatron’s design has been through a vast amount of reimagining through the decades as toy designers try to get around the challenge of keeping his design iconic while giving him a toy industry-compatible alternate mode.

“Such heroic nonsense.”

As a kid, I was obsessed with figuring out how Megatron transformed, with only scenes from the cartoon and Marvel comic to clue me in. The first time I ever touched this toy was a floppy and corroded copy I found at a local fleamarket, without any of its parts.

It’s a toy that is less lovable than Optimus Prime. It’s skinny and lanky in places, the metal parts tend to wear out very easily, and some figures have difficulty standing or holding. The trigger crotch is awkward and he doesn’t look much like the cartoon unless you squint.

But I loved it immediately.

With WFC Siege Megatron (2019) and Masterpiece MP-36 Megatron (2017)

I do not need Megatron to transform into a realistic handgun. I love all of the various generational redesigns, whether it be tank, dragon, F-1 racer, space-plane, or shoe.

But the strange chromed-out charm of the original Megatron keeps me coming back to him, enough for me to drop a considerable amount of cash on this reissue just a few years ago so I could own one in perfect condition.

With an original 1984 Megatron (right)

He is far from perfect, and he is a toy that belongs firmly in the decade he came from. But for me, there’s just no substitute. There’s no better toy in my collection to lead my Decepticons.

Or to knock Brawn off a shelf.

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