Transformers Robots in Disguise Kay-Bee Exclusive Figure
Item No.: No. 26560 Manufacturer:Hasbro Includes:Rocket Action Feature:Fires rocket, transforms into head Retail:$17.99 $12.99 Availability: Juneish 2002 Other: The first Beast Machines "Big Floating Head" Megatron toy of three
The great thing about being in the hobby for a long time, and going through your old toys, is that you realize that you have perspective not because you are smart, but because you paid for and lived through enough to own some. Case in point: Megatron Megabolt, one of a few toys thought to be lost to the ages with the advent of Robots in Disguise, a line of Transformers which followed and replaced Beast Machines. It seemed several nifty toys were bumped, but it turns out the magic of the late, great Kay-Bee Toys granted us another shot at it due to it being an exclusive at the store. As an added bonus, a repaint of the toy was sold there a few years later, making sure you got a shot at this mold. Heck, Japan even had a repaint later on. Opportunity knocked three times for this once-abandoned mold, so there's still hope for all of you holding out on some 2010/2011 quasi-announcements from Hasbro that never quite made it out to stores... or to the "official announcement with pictures" phase of being.
Depending on where you stand, Beast Machines was either an awesome line which planted the seeds of the return of vehicles to Transformers, the (potentially unfortunate) end of the "G1" franchise on television, or just a smattering of weird, ugly toys. I'd say all of the above are true, with this release being one of the odder additions. In the TV show, which this toy doesn't really reference, Megatron eventually gets transformed from a dragon robot to a giant floating "Megahead" monster-- not with the spider legs, just a floating head orbiting Cybertron. This toy's bio places it during Robots in Disguise, and references its ability to combine with Fortress Maximus. Interestingly, a Fort Max repaint called Brave Maximus was solicited to Hasbro customers around this time but never made it to stores, thanks to the original mold failing the now-famous "drop test" which means the toy shatters if dropped from a sufficient height. So yeah, your childhood toys will be considered unsafe hazards to the next generation. Your grandkids will only be able to play with edible Nerf balls, so enjoy this stuff while it lasts.
The robot mode is more similar to his previous form, but it's still vaguely accurate to the TV show. (The Japanese release, naturally, was the one that got it best.) In head form, the thing rolls around and has moving legs. It also looks weird, plus has a hint of overly bright colors which served as a trademark of toys in the 1980s and 1990s, a sign that the thing you're playing with was designed for a young audience. It's essentially a WYSIWYG form, so if you don't like the look of it, well, it sits there and looks cool. There's also an exposed Vehicon Spark Crystal on top, which was a common feature in the later Beast Machines toys frequently used to activate whatever action feature the toy may have. (In Megatron's case, it reveals a rocket launcher in his robot form.)
Transformation from a head to a robot is fairly simple-- It's not so simple that it's something you can do blindfolded, but I don't think it's as complicated as some other toys of this era. Unfold the legs and rotate a couple of panels, and presto-- you have a back-heavy robot with a massive, heavy backpack making it tough for him to stand up. This thing does not want to stand up without assistance, so if you can lean him against something or offer some additional support, he needs it. Once you get him into his roughly 7-inch tall robot form, you can see he's pretty nifty. Sure, he's mostly kibble, but the legs and arms look great plus there's a head sculpt which can alternate between a sculpt inspired by the boxy form used during Beast Wars and a helmeted version inspired by the rounded one seen on Beast Machines. The helmet is part of the toy's action feature: push his spark button in, and a giant cannon flips over, is held in place by a magnet, and becomes a second head for the figure. It's a wonderful design, quite clever, and one of very few uses of magnets in Transformers. If that's not enough, the red, ribbed rocket gets some pretty good distance when you shoot it.
The articulation in robot mode is quite good, and the arms and legs are worth noting for their nifty design incorporating plates and panels without appearing overly kibbly. Little jet engines become heels, and parts of the side of the "giant head" face become armor on his feet. With roughly 15 points of articulation, most of which being in the legs, it's a quality piece. The metallic purple paint, bright red, and pale blue are nicely offset by additional deco details like the gold crest on his head or the Megahead mode's cripplingly bright green eyes. Heck, the robot mode even has sculpted teeth, painted white in a menacing grimace befitting of a crazed robot terrorist which conquered an entire planet and stripped its residents of their bodies. (Beast Machines is, at is core, actually quite grim.)
Can you find Megabolt Megatron? Try and get one. Packaged samples were sealed up in a mode where the robot was folded up slightly, rather than the ubiquitous vehicle or beast mode which was common in that era. I'm on something of a kick on my older toys right now, realizing that many of these toys for kids were as fun if not more so than what is being sold to collectors today. As such, I would say get it if the price is right, and even if it isn't, what's the harm in getting one?
If you don't like this deco, there's a greenish one which was exclusive to Kay-Bee a couple of years later named simply "Megabolt" and was later classified as a herald of Unicron in the fan club's various fictions. In Japan there was a very purple, much darker release which matches the designs from Mainframe's animation models much more closely when it comes to color in the Beast Wars Returns line. I like this original deco, because I already own it and it was cheap. (Well, sort of cheap-- deluxes were $10 or so in 2002, and this was $12.99.)
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