The evolution of Megatron’s character design is one of those things that fascinates me. He was originally sold in Japan by Takara as part of the Microchange line of toys, a line of life-sized objects that turned into little robots. When Hasbro licensed the Microchange and Diaclone lines of toys and merged them to create The Transformers, “Gun Robo,” as he was known, was a logical choice to turn into the lead villain.
After all, what’s more evil than someone who turns into a gun?
But when it came time to create an animation model for the Gun Robo-that-would-become-Megatron, there were a few major issues with the toy’s robot mode. Firstly, it didn’t look as human as many of the other transforming robots. Splitting the gun’s handle in half to create the legs is a clever design choice, but it gives him these skinny chicken legs that don’t look very intimidating.
Secondly, a trigger for the crotch is just unacceptable as a character design if you want to take this guy seriously. It’s fine for a silly children’s toy, but for a guy calling himself the “Emperor of Destruction,” you don’t want that thing dangling down between his legs like that.
Finally, that design is just too difficult to animate consistently. And in the 1980s, cartoons for kids were more about quantity than quality. If Sunbow was going to produce a ton of shows with this guy quickly, he’d need to be simplified.
Enter artist Floro Dery, who simplified all the 1984 Transformers toys into animation models:
Now THIS guy looks like a warrior! His silver body, his dark grey “trunks” and boots, and all the armor plating — He resembles a robotic Conan the Barbarian, but with a giant fucking laser cannon on his arm.
That leads us to today’s toy, the Target-exclusive Super7 ReAction figure, “Chrome Commander” Megatron.
This was released to Target stores at the same time as Fallen Leader Optimus Prime. Target basically won’t carry a toy line unless they get a store-exclusive item as a way to entice people to come to their stores. Super7 gave them a dead Optimus, and a Megatron that’s 90% the same as the original version, but with some bits coated in metallic silver paint. Which bits?
The same ones that were chrome on Megatron’s original toy.
This figure also deviates from Megatron’s animation model and leaning into the original toy by making his “abdominal” section more red, and painting his hands and the outside of his “boots” black instead of dark grey, and some additional black detailing on his face, torso, and heels. And while the red on the insides of his “boots” is common amongst Megatron toys, it definitely wasn’t in the cartoon.
I just noticed that this guy has red on the inside of his forearms and shoulders, and his elbows are silver.
Oh, and he’s got that amazing curly design on his chest, which is perhaps the biggest travesty of things we lost going from Megatron’s original toy to his animation model. I can’t explain why, but I’ve just always loved that design, and I wish Megs had it more frequently. Also, I NEVER want to draw it.
The final result is a figure that is black, red, silver, and two different shades of grey. He’s sort of a weird mishmash of design, and I’m honestly not sure it really holds together. But I do like that Super7 paid tribute to Megatron’s original toy in their own unique way.
Also, if they knew that this design wasn’t going to work, how funny is it that the two exclusives Super7 gave Target were a dead Optimus and an ugly Megatron that only completists are going to want?
Fortunately, this is not the only Megatron that Super7 has released. In fact, it’s not the only Target-exclusive Megatron ReAction figure.
But that’s a post and a toy for another day.