Astro Toy Mega Drive Megatron
by David Cabrera,
Well, let's get the big thing out of the way: this is my final Astro Toy column. The column is undergoing some major changes in format for 2015 and I've decided to retire, so there'll be someone else handling whatever shape this column takes next year. Putting together these last two columns while knowing that it was finally ending (and just in time for Christmas, which holds a certain special irony) was “a feeling so complicated”, but here we are.
That being said, I'm pretty happy to go out on a note like this; a combination of vintage robots and vintage Sega. This is the first (last) Transformer I've ever done on this column; I was never a huge fan of the designs outside of the very first ones, and the “good” Transformer figures, in my estimation, are those from the extremely expensive Masterpiece line.
So how the hell did vintage robots and vintage Sega even get mixed up like this? Well, Mega Drive (the Japanese and European name of the console the US called the Genesis) sounds like Megatron. That's seriously it; toy designer Yoda Tomoo, bless him, said “hey, how about Mega Drive Megatron??”, made a phone call, and Sega said “hell yeah, Mega Drive Megatron!” Read more about it in this interview with Tomoo, who thought deeply about this idea and regrets only that his miniature Mega Drive can't connect to a miniature Mega CD. (Soundwave?)
“Fully Transformable Antagonistic Videogame Console”. Just wanted you to see that.
It's a very pretty window-box: the inside uses the toy to re-create the very first version of the packaging of the original MD. They really meant “multi-purpose” back then: you could do online banking on it!
Typically robot toys in this price range have some diecast metal in their bodies, but not so here: it's plastic all the way through, and very light. The only metal in here is in the screws holding it together. The exacting Tomoo has put together a beautiful minature likeness of the Mega Drive, and the details of every panel are apparent even when it isn't transformed. It starts to become clear why this figure was so expensive: the level of fine detail is not something you find on average robot figures, or even in Super Robot Chogokin figures on the next rung up. Pardon the dust, this thing was a magnet.
However, this is one of those toys that does one thing, and it's clearly the transformation into the Mega Drive. Actually mess around with it in the robot mode, and you'll quickly see that it only functions in the most basic sense. Every moving part was intended for the transformation, so actual posability is extremely limited. Poor ol' Megatron can barely stand on his tiny, retractable robo-chicken feet. If you intend to display the figure in robot mode, it's really going to need a stand (not included.), because even when you get it standing, so much as a breeze will definitely knock it off its feet. But that's how transforming figures are!
There was a misunderstanding with the gun, whose barrel resembles a USB device. A lot of game sites covered the announcement of this figure, and they simply assumed that the gun was in fact a functioning USB drive. This was so widely reported-- despite nobody involved with the figure itself having ever said so-- that I believed it when I got the figure!
The first glimpse of the toy in person dispels any expectations that the gun might also be a flash drive with just enough space on it to fit a complete, illegally-obtained MD game library, for example. That would be wrong, and nobody respectable would think to do it.
The included controller splits up into halves, which attach to Megatron's back as body armor. Again, keep in mind that this part is really small, and consider again the level of detail to the real-life object with which it is reproduced. This is impressive in and of itself.
Anyway, from here on in it's the transformation. Stage one is complete! There are two distinct halves to the transformation: the instructions have you start from the bottom. The legs fold in on themselves with some double-joint trickery, and the arms will soon follow suit.
And it's done! As you can see my Mega Drive is a little... uneven. I'm really bad at Transformers, okay? This took hours. I don't know how the hell I managed Galvion. The completed Mega Drive is extremely small, taking up only a little more space than a Nendoroid would on your shelf.
And what of the controller? It plugs right on in, of course.
And finally, because it wouldn't be complete otherwise, the Megadrive Megatron comes with a miniature copy of Sonic the Hedgehog. Japanese version, of course: the Japanese Sonic covers all keep the same audaciously tacky theme and I love them. Even the tiny label on this looks amazing: they went so far as to replicate the safety label on the back, too!
So what a bizarre novelty, huh? A feat of minaturization. Like many things we covered on this column, I don't think something like this falls into simple classifications like “buy it or don't buy it.” If you want the finest in weird nerd jokes, delivered flawlessly, then yes, your shelf is not complete without Megadrive Megatron, at any price.
We preordered this for $100 from Hobby Link Japan, but only BBTS has it anymore, for $120 before shipping. The combined, proven madness of both Transformers and retro videogame collectors is sure to drive up the price considerably as time goes on, so if you want one I really think you should take care of it ASAP. Also consider the upcoming Sega Genesis variant if you like slightly uglier consoles (yeah, I said it), which NCS has up for preorder at $140. And on top of that there is a golden version, which Takara is giving away and which you will likely never see in your life. The game inside that one is Bare Knuckle (Streets of Rage), which I suppose is an okay videogame.
Anyway, that's it, Astro Toy, in this format, is done. Whew. I didn't miss a column for almost five years, so it's going to feel really weird for me every other week. I already feel weird habitually checking Amiami every couple hours when I haven't had reason to do so for about a month already.
Thanks to all the readers for sticking with it this long. I tried to bring a wide view and not just wind up boring everyone (and burning myself out) with the same couple lines and types of toys. It worked out on my end, at least, because I never got tired of doing this column!
I hope people enjoyed it, and ideally found out about cool new stuff they liked. I was happiest when someone came into the comments and said “Wow! This looks cool!” Even more ideally, maybe I helped get some people interested in toy collecting in the first place. Thanks to ANN for somehow allowing this weird little column to exist for as long as it did. I had a great time.
My favorite toy was probably Galvion, or Aiolos, or the Princess. I regret not managing to get a doll, though an RAH was close enough. The outstanding preorders that die with Astro Toy are SH Figuarts and Figma Card Captor Sakura (a versus-mode review), the figma of the kid from Yowapeda, and a Bryger that, well... I'll be paying for myself. For the fifth anniversary column I was going to go in big and get Soul of Chogokin Gaogaigar. I was going to play the Lupin the Third board game with friends for one column, but we never got that game going.
If you want to see what I'll be up to after this, how about my webcomic? I'm really on high gear on it, especially after the fans threw their support behind the Patreon. Also, and don't tell anyone about this, I'm pretty sure Colony Drop is on its way back. Lastly, check upon my anime, gaming, and drinking habits in real time over at @sasuraiger on Twitter. It's been a blast. Like Janperson says, see you again!
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