REVIEW: GI Joe x Transformers HISS Tank Megatron (part 2)

We’re back for the conclusion of our GI Joe x Transformers Collaborative Megatron, a project which takes on both franchises and smushes them into one entirely unique result.

In many ways, this second half feels very different from the first, if only because the toy’s alternate mode was a clear love letter to vintage GI Joe and the original HISS Tank toy from 1983. To say it could almost be mistaken for a reissue of that original design is perhaps an understatement, as we’ve discussed.

Now though, it’s time for transformation, and this is where the tale has a twist. It sounds obvious to say, but as soon as you begin unclipping the panels of the vehicle form, the toy reveals an entirely different nature, a world away from being a mere GI Joe facsimile. It’s not just that this is a robot in disguise, mind; it goes from feeling like a distinctly retro homage to a much more modern affair almost immediately, though one which still pays its dues to the early days of Transformers.

This conversion is a handing of the baton, in a way, as though one classic toy line is tagging in another to come and show off what they have to offer. Where there was little in the form of Transformers nods present in the vehicle mode, the resulting robot feels mostly quite un-Joe, again showcasing how well these two worlds have been merged whilst still retaining their own time to shine.

There is still some influence, including the presence of Cobra logos and the accompanying Baroness figure standing alongside Megatron. Yet this humanoid form somehow has a distantly 1980s Transformers presence, despite embracing several hallmarks of modern robots in disguise design.

Before we get to some of that, it’s worth acknowledging that the transformation is surprisingly involved at times. By no means is it complex or overly fiddly, but there are a few clever moments in areas such as the shoulders that stop it from being purely a ‘shellformer’ type of solution. There’s also a pleasing, ‘solid’ feel to how the various panels move into place, making this a reasonably satisfying affair.

I’ve heard or read a few complaints about how ‘hollow’ this figure feels, and in truth, some of that is revealed through transformation, particularly in how the upper body doesn’t have a lot of mass. Yet none of it ever seems like a legitimate problem in my mind, and if anything, it’s just another way this comes off like an authentic GI Joe toy that somehow upped and turned into a giant robot. It’s strange to say, but it almost works in the figure’s favour.

As for the result, it’s a strange but undeniably handsome mash-up of the two worlds referenced here, looking every bit like classic 1980s Megatron as much as it does its own unique thing. Again, there have been more than a few grumbles about the robot form looking like the Decepticon leader is cosplaying as a tank, and I can see where that’s coming from, but it also doesn’t bother me one iota. I think Megs here looks amazing.

It would be intriguing to imagine this toy with a uniform black finish, but I feel like the classic style peaking out of the ‘armour’ works very nicely too, and certainly doesn’t look silly when you have the figure in hand. Sure, it would be fun to see some repaints down the line, including a potential green Generation 2 take, but this is perfect for now. If anything, I love the way the grey robot form is ‘revealed’ through transformation.

The toy also boasts an exceptional sense of presence that is hard to capture on camera or communicate in words. At 10.5 inches tall, it doesn’t sound like such an incredible behemoth, yet Megatron still feels significantly bigger than he is. He has that sense of a large unfathomable instrument of destruction and inspires a fair bit of awe.

Despite all the basic articulation points being present and correct, it’s not the most poseable of robot forms. The arms can get a decent range, but the legs let the side down a smidge, and the lack of waist or wrist swivels is also noticeable. Still, what Megatron lacks in dynamism, he makes up for with charm, as I haven’t been able to stop admiring him since he came out of the box.

A lot of that is thanks to the terrific head design on offer, which expertly captures the essence of G1 Megatron to the point where you can just hear Frank Welker’s raspy tone in your ears. It’s able as good as mainline face sculpts get.

Equally, plenty of good detail and attractive paint applications are on offer to make this thing a visual treat, despite the mainly bare plastic finish. The unpainted grey may look a little bare, but it’s still a handsome beast.

The one element of the overall design that I’m less sure about is the legs, which both look and feel exceptionally hollow no matter how you pose them. The thighs are the main offender, as the emptied-out sections are simply too visually obvious and detract from the otherwise cohesive appearance. However, I like how the feet sit at a permanent angle, despite the lack of a proper ankle tilt being a little curious.

Naturally, he wouldn’t be a classic Megatron without the presence of a fusion cannon. In this case, it’s a little undersized and tabs rather curiously onto the outside of his wrist instead. It’s not my favourite solution and never feels entirely stable but still, at least it’s there.

Besides, what works really well is the position of the moveable turret atop the robot backpack, allowing for the main tank cannons to be swivelled and positioned as you please. Even better, the Baroness can be slotted inside just as in vehicle mode, making for a real team-up affair. It’s as awesome to behold as you might expect and carries over a fundamental aspect of the tank form incredibly well.

Even when she’s not in the turret, Baroness and Megatron look great together, the smaller toy really allowing for an epic sense of scale between the two. It’s phenomenal to see a properly-sized human ally for a Transformers toy, which we haven’t seen much of over the years of the franchise.

Once again, though, it’s bringing my beloved Action Masters into the fray that really makes for some fun with this release. Seeing them work together in vehicle mode was probably easier to explain, but I love the idea of Action Master Megatron having invented a giant transforming automaton version of himself to lead into battle. It sounds like something he might do, after all.

And hey, if you want to get really meta, how about Megatron operating Megatron’s turret, eh?

Yes, this is just as silly as it looks, but I cannot wait for more of the same as these Collaborative GI Joe toys start to roll out.

In the meantime, I’m thoroughly enjoying HISS Tank Megs, both for what an inspired idea it is and because it’s allowed me to scratch a long-term GI Joe itch in a way I never thought I would. I stay relatively focused in terms of toy collecting, so the idea of opening the floodgates by acquiring a legit Cobra vehicle is just a no-go. This bridges the gap nicely whilst still falling into acceptable Transformers territory.

Again, it looks and feels like a superb homage to the best bits of both franchises, which is a testament to it being designed from the ground up. Whereas previous crossover efforts were often always an existing figure being repainted to match a character from the other universe, here the toy lines have truly merged in the most satisfying way possible, and it leaves me immensely excited for where it might go next.

All of which is to say that I never imagined a photo like this would be possible even a year ago, and really, that’s not something to HISS at, is it?

WHAT’S HOT? Incredible overall design and a wonderful homage to both toy franchises. I *love* that it feels like an authentic Joe vehicle that transforms, and the robot mode is stunning to behold.

WHAT’S NOT? The hollow legs are disappointing if understandable.

About Sixo

Transformers collector from the UK, collecting vintage G1/G2, CR/RID, UT & Masterpiece/3P. Find me at twitter.com/SixoTF or on YouTube at youtube.com/SixoTF

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