Friday, 2 September 2016

REVIEW: DX9 D09 Mightron



INTRODUCTION
Oh, boy, this is going to be an interesting one. This figure has already caused quite a commentary on-line, and so I've been thinking about the best way to approach this review. Usually, I would try to consider the various perspectives that TF fans might have when analysing a particular figure for their collection, but it seems that there's some especially strong opinions this time around. So, my conclusion is to simply present you with my own personal take - likes & dislikes - and let it fall where it may. I already know that not everyone will agree with everything I'm about to write, but it should hopefully help to give you a decent overview of the figure in hand, at least!

So, it's fair to say that the concept of a "Masterpiece" Megatron is one that's caused feverish levels of excitement and frustration amongst much of the on-line TF fandom, probably in equal measure. Whilst rumours have persisted for years that an official version (or rather, a second one if you count MP-5) is definitely on the cards at some point, others have been involved in some quite intense debate and scrutiny over what has up until now been the sole third party challenger for the crown, X-Transbots Apollyon.

Apollyon has been a controversial figure in many ways. For every fan who tells you that it's a figure that represents everything they could hope for in a Masterpiece-styled Megatron, there's another who tells you a horror story about their copy being a QC nightmare, ready to fall apart at a moment's notice. Though there are extreme opinions on both ends, I'm sure plenty have an experience somewhere in between. I own Apollyon myself, and most certainly have my own take on the matter; whilst I do like the design and think there's lot to appreciate about it as a whole, I have suffered my own fair share of issues with the figure. I have resolved to never transform my copy ever again, after two attempts at doing so have left various parts forever unable to peg in properly, the left hip now permanently detaching itself for one example.

It's a shame, as I am actually quite a fan of X-Transbots, and have given positive thoughts on several of their other figures on this blog, but I will admit that I have never been truly satisfied with Apollyon as the "definitive" MP Megatron; he looks great on the shelf, but he's been sorely lacking in the playability & functionality stakes, for me.

Which brings us to Mightron.

Wow, this came out of nowhere, right? Mightron was first unveiled to the internet crowd on the 27th July 2016, and now, not even nearly two months later, stands on the precipice of release. It strikes me that perhaps this new contender might have benefitted from a slightly longer gestation period in the eyes of the online community, as I think many have quickly (and unfairly) dismissed him as an unworthy attempt at the Decepticon leader. I've read all kinds of quibbles & nitpicks about the look of this figure, judging the proportions, the design, the aesthetic... you name it. I'll admit that even my own first impressions were that he looked interesting but probably not quite impressive enough to warrant a guaranteed spot on my shelf, especially with the rather mighty-looking Maketoys Despotron also round the corner.

Yet, I was certainly intrigued enough to want to see more, and so jumped at the opportunity to get my hands on this test shot and do a review. What I will say straight out of the gate is that I am extremely pleased that I did, for it turns out that DX9 have really taken it up a notch this time...

Final note before we begin - this is a test shot, and a particularly worn one at that. This copy has clearly been put through it's paces, but it goes without saying that the final retail version may vary, including things like tolerances etc.

PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES
This being a test shot, it doesn't come with all of the final packaging or instructions. I will go out on a limb and assume that Mightron will come packaged in robot mode in order to avoid some of the obvious controversies of shipping a replica gun (though interestingly that's the mode the test shot arrived in!), and may well feature an orange plug in the barrel depending on which retailer you choose to order from.


As for accessories, this release is certainly on the more lean side that X-Transbots' attempt, or indeed TakaraTomy's Masterpiece MP-5. He comes with the obvious inclusion of a fusion cannon (assuming you rate that as an accessory), the mace weapon from the pilot episode of the G1 cartoon (which has now been included with every Masterpiece-styled iteration of this character thus far), and a purple sword as well as a black staff that can be used to turn the sword into a scythe.


Whilst the cannon and the mace were somehow expected for a Megatron release, the sword/ scythe is rather unprecedented. I'm honestly not sure what the reference is for these accessories, as the design is not something I recognise from G1 at all. Still, they are pretty cool, as we will see in some later photos.

GUN MODE
I have to admit right off the bat that I am not a massive gun nut. I don't know much (if anything) about guns, and in truth this mode holds little interest for me personally. That said, I do still prefer to at least know that any Masterpiece-styled Megatron figure in my collection can actually transform into such a mode (such is the fun of Transformers figures, after all!) even if I choose not to undertake that process very often. Maybe that sounds bizarre, but it's my own internal logic so there you go! Still, I couldn't help but be quite impressed with Mightron in this mode.




I should also point out that there's a small mistransformation in my photos here - the trigger piece actually slots into the handle much better than is demonstrated. You may notice the small silver pegs just in front of the handle; these are actually supposed to be inside the handle itself, for a much cleaner look. I only discovered this after returning the figure to gun mode myself on second transformation.

A slight mistransformation right out of the box!

So, it definitely looks the part, or mostly so. Megatron is of course supposed to transform into a Walther P38, and a quick bit of research and a comparison shows me that DX9 have at the very least got the basic shape and a lot of the details right, even if it's not an exact match. I suppose arguably the real Walther is a little sleeker, with a slightly longer and more streamlined chamber, and the handle is perhaps slightly more curved. Overall though, I feel that they have achieved the basic proportions required here.

Image borrowed from Redwolf Airsoft


Of course, some of the smaller details are somewhat different. For one thing, there's no "P38" embossed on the one side of Mightron, as you would expect on a real Walther (something that Maketoys have seemingly added to their own attempt with Despotron), and of course Mightron features a lot more moulded detail than a real gun of this kind. I'd maybe also mention that the barrel should sit slightly higher than in fact it does. Past that though, I can't help but feel that this is a really good attempt at a gun mode. Sure, it's oversized, but it's really quite satisfying to hold in hand and, as I say, looks the part overall.



I'll also comment on the fact that everything tabs together supremely well here. I'm actually more of a fan of this mode after repeated transformations, as I've become more acutely aware of how tidy everything is. There's barely a whiff of robot mode kibble going on, and even close inspection leaves Mightron in quite a favourable light. It's never going to pass for a replica, but it is a really good attempt as far as a Transformer goes, especially an unofficial one. Maybe it won't be enough for gun fans, I don't know, but it's good enough for me.




One thing that is perhaps a bit of a shame is that Mightron does not come with either the silencer or stock that are associated with his traditional appearance. Whilst the scope is rather essential as it becomes his robot mode arm cannon, I guess DX9 felt that these other pieces were not necessary. To be fair, this was also the same for TakaraTomy's own MP-5, so it's not entirely unprecedented, and it also does appear that there's a slot for a stock to be attached to at the back of the gun handle, so maybe the company plans to produce these pieces as a later add on.

Megatron in his G1 cartoon appearance, complete with silencer & stock

As far as comparisons go, I'm going to keep it to a few. Sorry to say, but I've opted against a gun mode comparison with Apollyon for the purpose of this review (there'll be plenty of robot mode pics though...), if only for the simple fact that I plan to never transform my copy of that figure again, as I stated above. Instead, let's have a look at how he shapes up next to some other figures, both official and third party. To be fair, I'm not sure that this mode is ever really intended to be displayed alongside other figures, but it's worth a look all the same.

With FansToys Grenadier

With FansToys Spotter and TakaraTomy Masterpiece Soundwave

So, that's gun mode. Pretty nice overall, but I think it's only fair to say that most fans will be more interested in this figure's robot mode... so on we go!

TRANSFORMATION
Probably the first thing to make mention of here is how fiddly Megatron transformations tend to be. TakaraTomy MP-5 was somewhat legendary for being a real fiddle-fest, and I've yet to meet anyone who claims to legitimately enjoy transforming XTB's Apollyon! In fact, I would say that I found my own personal experience of converting that figure to be at the very least mildly rage-inducing, but I believe I have already alluded to that. By comparison, I've heard many early reports of how ingenious the transformation scheme is on Maketoys Despotron. So, how does Mightron fair? Fortunately, I'm pleased to report that the answer is positively!

Don't get me wrong, this is still a complex transformation - that's sort of par for the course when it comes to converting a gun to a convincingly-humanoid robot, it seems. Yet it's by no means as arduous or stressful as previous figures, and certainly doesn't leave one feeling the need to throw the figure out of the nearest window. However, it remains very clever and I might even venture to call it quite good fun! I've actually enjoyed repeated attempts and have found myself eagerly going through the steps whilst watching TV, for example.

There's some quite clever steps here which do need to be mentioned. Chief amongst them is the frankly awesome way in which the legs and both the upper & lower arms collapse and fold out into a wider form. A small push and watch the whole limb change shape - simple but amazingly effective. I've never seen anything quite like it on a Transformer, and it works wonders here, leaving Mightron with pleasingly-chunky limbs with surprisingly little gun kibble to speak of. I'm also a big fan of how the waist & chest sections unfold and rotate round.

Sadly it's not all plain-sailing, and there are a couple of more troublesome steps. The most notable part is the way in which the curved grey piece at the back of the gun needs to separate, to then fold away inside Mightron's body. I could not get this piece to come apart for love nor money, and clearly someone else had similar annoyance as there's some scratches on the test shot which show that a tool has been used to pry it apart. So far, I've been unable to do this without similar assistance. Hmm.

My other major annoyance here is the hands. I'll make mention of the hands in general later on, but suffice it to say that I experienced some difficulty with prying them from out of the sockets in the arms where they're hiding. Again, this is an area that I've thus far been unable to achieve without a small tool of some kind, so here's hoping that DX9 have this sorted for the retail version.

Overall though, I have to hand it to them - they have pulled off what I now consider to be the most enjoyable Megatron transformation thus far! We'll see what Despotron brings another day...

ROBOT MODE
The main event. Wow, where to start? As I said prior, fans have been so excited about the concept of a Masterpiece-styled Megatron, and that's no doubt because for many the Decepticon leader has been a notable hole in their collection. Whether or not you're already on the Apolly-train, the big question here will be whether Mightron is really good enough to stand as a centrepiece of your Decepticon ranks and take that top spot. Let me say right away that yes, I think he is.




Whether or not photos have done a good enough job at convincing you of Mightron's presence, allow me to reassure you of how impressed I was with this robot mode right from the off. It looks absolutely amazing for the most part, and definitely embodies the maniacal dictator in all his glory.




Yes, Mightron certainly looks the part. The robot mode is well-proportioned, dynamic and suitably cartoony. I think it does a brilliant job at recalling the G1 animation, and I find myself instantly imagining Frank Welker's husky tones as soon as I look at him. I think a lot of that is down to the face - I can only tell you that I think this is one of the very finest third party headsculpts I have seen thus far. It's pretty much perfect, and instantly evokes the intended character!




In fact, I think Mightron does a great job overall at representing a cartoon Megatron. His animation model is quite curvy in places, but equally I think he often looks much blockier than this in the actual animation, and particularly so in the 1986 movie. To me, this is the appearance that Mightron best recalls.

Megatron's original animation model

A slightly "blockier" appearance in the 1986 movie; this feels very similar to Mightron for me

So, pretty accurate, but there's also a lot more to like. Mightron's finish is rather lovely, with a sort-of polished silver paint that catches the light really well. It's shiny, but not too much so. He also features some rather lovely paint apps (even if the test shot is covered in scratches!).




I have to say that I also love Mightron's cannon. No Megatron figure would be complete without a suitably-imposing cannon on his right arm, but this guy has the honour of being the first to have one in proportion with the rest of his body! Previous attempts have always featured a rather oversized cannon due to it needing to be a certain size for becoming the scope in gun mode. However, DX9 have employed a very clever (yet very simple) mechanism where the scope collapses down to a better size, and it looks great! The cannon does also feature an LED activated by a button on top, meaning that it can light up for effect (though it's a shame that it's through a red lens rather than a cartoon-accurate purple).


With the collapsed cannon

With the extended cannon

With LED on

I'm also a big fan of a lot of what else is going on here. Many fans have complained about Mightron having quite 'boxy' arms and legs, but I really don't find this to be the case in hand. In fact, they're satisfyingly-solid in a way that no previous Megatron figure has achieved, such is the brilliance of the transformation mechanism. The limbs in no way feel hollow, and the absence of gun kibble really helps with making them feel strong and sturdy. It helps that all of his joints are also pleasingly-tight; I had a real thrill at posing Mightron with his cannon arm up for the first time and finding that there was no danger of it flopping down again. This is surely something that should be a pre-requisite for a Megatron toy, but I think this guy is the first time it's felt so confidently done.






A lot of that is down to the clever use of soft ratchets that help to ensure Mightron is always sturdy in every potential pose. I have had absolutely no fear of floppiness or unsturdiness whatsoever, which is a really good thing to be able to say! If there's one word I would use to describe this robot mode overall it's this: solid.




It obviously helps that Mightron is nicely poseable. He has a head that can look up & down, and rotate 360 degrees; shoulders are on ratchets but also feature a hinge so they can achieve pretty much any pose; double-jointed shoulders with a bicep swivel; wrist swivel with articulated hands (more on that in a minute); hips are double-jointed and again also on hinged ratchets; knees feature ratchets and are capable of an almost-90 degree bend; ankles can move back & forwards and feature a great tilt. So all-in-all quite a bit going on, and enough to crank out some decent poses!




With Masterpiece Starscream



As I mentioned, he also comes with some fun accessories, my favourite of which is no doubt the mace. This is a definite homage to the weapon Megatron sported in the classic scene at Sherman Dam in the G1 cartoon's pilot episode, More Than Meets the Eye, and it looks great. Simply fold away his hand and clip in the mace. It's certainly fun recreating that scene versus Optimus Prime!


With Masterpiece Starscream

With Masterpiece Optimus Prime



As far as the other accessories go, they're also fun though I have to admit that I'm less fussed. As I say, I don't recognise the inspiration for the sword, and so even though it looks pretty cool it's not really something I can imagine using a lot. Interestingly though, it does unfold slightly and connect with the pole accessory to form the scythe - also a bit odd, but still pretty neat!




So, let's address a couple of points then. First up, you may have noticed that I didn't make mention of a waist swivel in the list of articulation above. Boo! Well, he does actually have a waist swivel of sorts, but it involves lifting up his (ahem) flaps, as it sits underneath the skirts around his hips. Due to the way his back is pegged in, it's impossible to twist the figure above the skirt. Now, this is a little annoying, but it's not as bad as maybe it sounds, and it is still useful for posing. That said, the skirt itself is a little cumbersome, and can look a little ugly if not considered for certain stances. It's essentially three pieces, including a front flap which lifts up as one piece (think of TakaraTomy MP-9) and a hip piece on either side which sits on a ball joint, so can be rotated to fit any pose quite easily. Overall I have to say that I'm used to it now, and it's perfectly possible to make the skirt look good from most angles with a bit of thought. This has been one of the biggest criticisms of this figure, so if it really bothers you enough to stop you from picking Mightron up then fair enough, but I would say it's not enough to kill your enjoyment overall, to be honest.




Next up, let's talk about the hands. Now, this bit I don't like, and in fact the hands are my personal single biggest turn-off about this guy. They're just awkward in every sense! They kind of look ok in a fist position, but I cannot make them work in any kind of open-palmed poses. It's most to do with the thumb, I think. The fingers themselves are articulated at two points, and you have the index finger as a separate piece to the other three. However, the thumb does not hinge upwards to sit flat to the rest of the palm as you might expect, but rather rotates round for the purposes of transformation. It means that the thumb is never really where you want it to be, and always looks a little odd. Now, it's hands, so it's no deal-breaker for me, but I hope DX9 can consider this for future figures.




I suppose now's as good a time as any to address the other elephant in the room... one thing that many fans have commented on about this figure since the first pictures were unveiled - the back. Yes, due to the way this guy transforms, a fair bit of gun kibble does end up on show on the reverse of this guy, and it's certainly something that's caused a lot of people to turn off from making a purchase. Now, I won't lie, it is visible, though I have to be honest and say it's really not as bad as many seem to think. In fact, it's actually quite discreet, I promise! Let's look at some different angles...





In my mind, it's one of those things that looks far worse when focussed on in photos. In hand, I can honestly say that I rarely think of the backpack at all, and it certainly does not detract too much from a fun toy. It's probably most visible from the right-hand side actually, especially if you lift up the cannon arm for posing. It's also worth noting that I have seen lots of pics with the trigger card slung over to the left side (as you look at the back), but actually it does seem to peg in quite neatly towards the right (as shown in my pics), and it looks much more subtle like this I think. Ultimately, it's up to you if this bothers you or not, but as I say it's really not a big deal for me.


The other point I will address is the legs. Again, many fans have cited the legs as being a problem, whether it's the relatively straight shins or the noticeable pegs, or just the somewhat blocky proportions. Now again, it's completely up to you, but as before I can honestly say that this has not presented a problem for me. The legs are so wonderfully clean that it's difficult to dislike them that much, in my book. I agree maybe the shins could be a little bit cleaner, but it's not a deal breaker.


So, waist swivel, hands, back kibble and legs... anything else? That might sound like quite a list of black marks, and at this stage you may start to wonder if this chap is actually worth it... Well, I can truthfully say that despite these flaws, Mightron has an absolutely cracking robot mode overall. Yes, it's not perfect, but the plus points really do outweigh the negatives as far as I'm concerned, and the overall result is one that I am really excited to have at the front & centre of my Decepticon ranks. With that in mind, how does he compare to some other Masterpiece-styled figures? Judge for yourself.

With Masterpiece Soundwave

With Masterpiece Starscream

With Masterpiece Starscream, Skywarp & Thundercracker

With Masterpiece Shockwave

With FansToys Quakewave

With DX9's previous figure, Gewalt

With FansToys Grenadier, Mercenary & Forager

With Maketoys Visualizers

With Unite Warriors Devastator

Of course the real test is how he lines up next to Masterpiece Optimus Prime, and as we've already seen this is definitely an area in which Mightron triumphs! They look great together.




Oh, and before I forget - let's address a small but important point! It's been widely debated whether Mightron features a tab on his arm that can be used to perch Masterpiece Laserbeak. Well, I can report that he does indeed! Nice touch.


So, the final question then... Mightron or Apollyon? Let's take a look.





As I said at the start, this is going to be a controversial one, I've no doubt. I can imagine that there are many hardened Apollyon fans who will fairly quickly dismiss this guy as a pretender to the throne, just as I know there are lots of people who're keen to cast off that figure in favour of a new attempt at the Decepticon leader. Perhaps I've already made my feelings clear throughout the review, but as much as I do like Apollyon I have to say that for me, Mightron is definitely the better figure.



There are definitely some bits of Apollyon that maybe look a bit better, such as the shins, but overall it's no contest as far as I'm concerned. There's the obvious points about how much sturdier Mightron is, or how much more achievable the transformation is, but for me it's more than that. I prefer Mightron's overall aesthetic, and find that he more instantly recalls the G1 animation for me. It's funny because I always liked Apollyon's face a lot, but now I find it pales in comparison to Mightron's.


So, as I said at the beginning, I'm purely giving you my honest opinion here. I'm sure many readers will vehemently disagree with me, and that's absolutely fine. For me though, there's a new leader in my Decepticon ranks, and his name is Mightron.

CONCLUSION
So, turns out that Mightron is a rather cracking figure! DX9 have definitely brought their A game with this one. Is it a perfect "Masterpiece" Megatron? Well, maybe not, but it's certainly not a bad attempt whatsoever. Time will tell if someone else does it better, and we'll see very soon if Maketoys manage that with Despotron, but for now Mightron will be taking his place at the centre of my Decepticon ranks.

What's HOT?
Good gun mode, great 'bot mode. Best transformation I've seen on a Megatron figure thus far, and a really sturdy and solid figure overall. There's also lots of lovely clever touches, and I have to mention that face sculpt - perfect!

What's NOT?
He's not perfect, and I need to mention the odd skirt and the hands, which are my two biggest bugbears. Whilst not as bad as they seem, the back kibble and the shins will bother some.


12 comments:

  1. Great review Sixo, if he can evoke that kind of passion he can't be all that bad.
    Personally I'm in on MT'S now but I agree there is a lot to like here.

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    1. Thanks very much! MT's looks awesome too, and I'm equally excited about that version.

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  2. Love the overall look of this figure. As you said, he simply evokes G1 Megatron when you look at him. He will be on my self.

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    1. Nice! Yeah, he looks great for sure.

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  3. That back, I can't whatch it .-)..., as I said too you in other social I chose Despotron.

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    1. Haha! Fair enough, of course. I can see why some would be bothered by the back. Nice to have other options!

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  4. You didn't mention scale. Mightron's scale is too big, a common issue with DX9. You can see this when he's compared to MP-10. This, along with the other niggles you mentioned, mean I'm sticking with Apollyon as the best Megatron available.

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    1. Hello again! ;) I replied to the same comment on FB, but I didn't mention it because he's practically an identical height to Apollyon. Equally he and MP Optimus stand basically eye-to-eye, so I'm not sure why you think he's too big?

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  5. Great review! I also have Apollyon and have vowed never to transform it again! I just got despotron and fell in love with it. The transformation is brilliant and it looks outstanding in robot mode, so in my opinion he is the best megatron toy ever! What do you think about him? Couldn't find if you have already reviewed him. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Thanks so much! Sorry for the late reply. Yes I do like Despotron a lot too. :)

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