Transformers Masterpiece Megatron is here. Not a 3rd party Masterpiece-scale stand-in, or an exceptional MP-scale 3P figure that nearly ticks all of the aesthetic boxes, but an official second version of Masterpiece Megatron that fits into the current line’s ethos perfectly. Or at least, that’s what they tell me. For reasons that I will go into in this article, I have not bought MP-36 Megatron as I neither had a pre-order booked in anywhere nor purchased it since release. As a Masterpiece collector and an advocate of having a complete cast of core Autobots and Decepticons, as someone who buys unofficial products to fill in those gaps left by the official releases, why would I hesitate on a character of such galactic importance to the brand and any collection?
Let’s talk about appearance. TakaraTomy have very much stuck to their current philosophy of producing Masterpiece Transformers that look as much like the animation model in robot mode as possible, and Megatron is no exception. From the pearlescent gunmetal grey paint and lack of toy-accurate chrome to the cartoon-style Decepticon emblem on his chest, this is without question G1 animation Megatron. He comes with an array of accessories like the mind control helmet, the blaster and sword from Transformers: The Movie, alternative head and chest pieces, alternative faces, stock and silencer parts etc.
While I’m currently on board with the extreme cartoon look for Masterpiece and 3rd party equivalents, I do still have some nitpicks about how Megatron looks from all the excellent in-hand photographs we have in addition to stock photos. The insides of the feet look a bit of a mess to me, as if there should be a flap that covers all the gubbins. The chest and torso seem proportionally small to my eye, and the head too large. I need to qualify all of this by saying I have not seen him in hand, and I have not yet found a single collector who has told me they are disappointed by his in-hand appearance. I have no problem with the toon-style symbol and he seems to have a great headsculpt. He’s not got the immediately obvious issues with proportions that MP-5 had, that’s for sure. Those who own him claim he has posability to die for, and that’s usually something that sells me in spite of looks. I wasn’t entirely sold on MP Inferno, Hot Rodimus or Grapple’s looks, but there they are on my collection shelf, so I do not believe this to be a particularly strong factor in my lack of purchase thus far.
What about cost? This is a huge factor that, despite all of the economic and strategic business logic behind it, works against my purchase and circumstances greatly. Megatron is $230 from the US before shipping and customs, he’s £170 from the UK before shipping and customs, and I haven’t even bothered to explore options from Asia as it has proven to be a very costly and time-consuming endeavour to get toys to Iceland from Japan, China and other such locations. With shipping, that UK-based Megatron becomes £184 without tracking and insurance, and with inevitable and expected customs, I can legitimately expect a total cost of £228. That’s $284. For a Masterpiece figure the same size as MP-10, this is completely unacceptable to me. I have not paid over £150 for any Masterpiece toy yet, and that was MP-9 Rodimus Convoy that has an inflated second-hand market value.
Hell, the only toys I have ever paid more than £150 for have been vintage G1 rarities, Diaclone and gigantic city bots like Fort Max and MakeToys Utopia. How can I justify that kind of price in the face of trying to save for a property down-payment (yeah, still on that one, we can thank recent British events for devaluing my savings in GBP versus the Icelandic Krona for that)? It’s probably wiser to have it shipped to the UK and pick it up one day when I am next there, but that is still £170 / $212. That’s nuts, right? We cannot be expected to routinely drop $200+ for Masterpiece figures, can we? And don’t start talking about my Diaclone Dia-Battles multiples, the last ones cost me £45 and £70 each!
Next I want to talk about quality and durability. My recent experience with MP Grapple, Hot Rodimus and Ratchet flaking paint straight out of the package has soured me to the relative cost versus reward on these toys. Grapple is less than a month old in my hands, and he already has 10+ spots of paint wear, and if you look back at my article about this 2 weeks ago he only had 7 spots of wear, it’s increasing with each and every time I handle him. Sure, maybe I got a dud, but a £120 dud is a bitter pill to swallow. MP-36 Megatron figures have been coming out of boxes with paint chips already on the toy, then there is the attachment of the silencer which causes scratching and paint transfer on the figure. This is reminiscent of MP-9 Rodimus Convoy and the trailer scraping up his spoiler. There are already fixes posted on TF forums, but that’s definitely not for me. I am not a customiser, kitbasher or a fixer, the buyer of my DX-9 Chigurh can attest to that! I’d hate to risk further issue with such an expensive figure, I would prefer a working specimen out of the box, not a project. It’s not something I can put on another, either, after a friend broke my MP-13B trying to fix an issue and the look on his face…this is more of a personal demon, though. I’ve never been any good with handyman tasks, and the associated self-esteem issues that come with that are myriad, like the rage I feel when someone says “It’s simple, just sand it!”. These issues are also not the fault of MP Megatron, but here I am. Also, some Megatrons come with two of the same alternate face, so one is missing from the set.
Despite all of the above present on virtually every single specimen of MP-36, despite the transformation causing potentially further wear and damage (and at least two reported breakages on initial handling), nearly all owners of Masterpiece Megatron are besotted with him, and this is creating a conflict for me. The definitive Decepticon, the pinnacle of the Masterpiece Transformers concept, all ways that people have described him. There are enough people claiming they’ve transformed him repeatedly without issue, but they’ve also reported back that it represents one of the more intricate and involved, lengthy transformations on a modern Masterpiece figure. Reports of a tricky transformation never put me off a figure, MP-9 and FT Sovereign are proof of that, so it’s not the transformation aspect creating the hesitation. Immediate breakage in a couple of isolated cases out of hundreds or thousands isn’t a reason to deny oneself either, I remember plenty of folks snapped the stand on MP Tracks, got MP-9 Rodimus out of package and had a shoulder disintegrate on them etc. So if the desire is there, I’ve taken the plunge regardless. What’s different now?
Desire. Do I really even want or need a Masterpiece Megatron, especially one which comes with the above baggage? For as long as I can remember, my collection has been without a definitive front-and-centre Decepticon leader Megatron. I had Animated Megatron, Transformers GT Megatron, I still have Titans Return Megatron, but none of these are collection forefront items. My Masterpiece shelf is central to my display, and Megatron would have pride of place as leader. I never liked him in the cartoon, though, as I would root for Starscream as a child. I never owned G1 Megatron as a child, and I’ve always sold the vintage ones I have owned – G1 Hasbro, G1 Takara, G1 Mexican etc – less than a year after getting them, and it’s strange as those were all actually delightful toys that I loved.
So what the heck is my problem? Is it as simple as making up excuses and hanging on reported drawbacks to make myself feel better about being gently priced out of a Masterpiece purchase? Am I just digging my heels in as an act of ridiculous, contemptuous rebellion at all of those people saying I have to own it, that I owe it to myself as a collector and that it’s the best damn thing since sliced energon? Has my enthusiasm been sapped by so many people getting him before I possibly could and photographing him well in every single iconic movie, comic and cartoon scenario already? Or is it a legitimate weighing up of high expense versus a character I’m not crazy for, who just got a toy with cosmetic wear issues that could mean you can’t enjoy the accessories (especially after recent unpleasant experiences with MP Grapple) and might require sanding/modifying in addition to breakage risks?
If someone had asked me a year or more ago “Do you want a Masterpiece Megatron that fits perfectly with your Masterpiece collection in terms of scale and aesthetics?” and told me it’d be official, I’d have said hell yes. I did say hell yes when it was announced. I even asked my friends what they thought my real issue was, as I was beginning to lose sight of what was truly behind my hesitation.
“Because deep down as awesome as MP Megatron would appear, its £180. Silly money for a toy. A toy with issues too.”
“You want something else from the figure. It’s a Megatron I can put on a shelf, do a couple of poses. Transforming it once is enough for me. You want to make it a star. Lots of involved photos, lots of handling it. All without damaging the merchandise, which this fragile starlet isn’t built for.”
“I guess the reason I’ve perhaps been pressing you a bit on this is that if cost is taken out of the equation, honestly I don’t see any good reason not to get him. You’re into Masterpieces (obviously), you’re into figures that ooze character (just look at your photos) and you can handle a reasonably arduous if still very achievable transformation (you nailed FT Sovereign and Badcube Wardog, so…) so I just know how much pleasure you’d get from him. I feel like a broken record but from a purely personal point of view I want you to get him because I’m almost certain you’ll completely adore him.”
I guess the answer lies somewhere in between the above, or maybe in every single word of it. While there is still conflict in the above summaries, writing this article has cemented the fact that I do want this Masterpiece Megatron, but I’m still hesitating.
Enormous thanks to Sixo, U.NEM Studios, TCracker, Ben Parfitt, Toybox Soapbox, Hardreturn, Brr-Icy, Steve Phiakkou and James Wilson for amazing contributions this week. Please click on their names to check out their fantastic work!
All the best