Disclaimer: I am terrible at ranking anything, and enjoyed and appreciated so many of this year’s releases that this post need not be taken as ruling out any of the others. It doesn’t help that due to the world and/or me falling apart at various times, I still haven’t gotten around to actually fiddling with some of my anticipated favorites this year — not enough to do them justice in such a post. This includes Studio Series Hot Rod — technically a 2020 boi — and Kingdom Rodimus, both versions of a personal favorite character that got killer updates. Then again, they’d be a mite too obvious a choice for me anyway, no?
None of that makes Galvatron any less awesome, of course.
Galvatron has always been a sentimental favorite, and one I’d always longed for a good update of. As it was for many of you, the 1986 animated movie was a serious formative influence on me growing up, and the characters and designs were top of the list of wants every time G1 updating time rolled around. Sadly, due to a number of factors the first actual revisiting of the character (in Universe 2.0) was a straight-up dud. Eventually, though, the more heavily G1-driven collector lines of the Prime Wars Trilogy gave us Titans Return Galvatron, which I haad to get the day it was released. This figure came so close to the mark for me that I’m still considering getting Shapeways upgrades for mine, even now. But it could get better: with the War for Cybertron trilogy came a new aesthetic and design sensibility, and I couldn’t deny that there was some appeal to the thought of a G1 Galvatron in that vein. And in early 2021, that was revealed to be coming sooner than I thought.
Remember the confusion and debate over the leaked Kingdom Galvatron earlier in the year? Some of us couldn’t quite wrap our heads or eyes around how he was coming across on camera. Barrel chest seemed wider in some shots than others. Shoulders seemed oddly placed. Head and/or arms seemed too big. There was talk of fisheye lenses, perspectives, and so on, and admittedly even I had no idea what to really pin my hopes on each time I’d write up an article about the latest batch of leaked-toy photos. And then, once the damn thing saw release, it also came with a side bonus of misassembly that said “hey, now you know why the shoulder heights were inconsistent in some photos”, forcing some of us to learn how to modify our copies. (The one pictured is one I successfully modded after a… steep learning curve.)
Of course, once I’d done all that and gotten him in hand, I had to admit there really was a lot to like. Kingdom had by and large dispensed with the earlier-WFC Leader gimmick of “Voyager plus stuff”, and so this Galvatron was a fittingly hefty, imposing figure, with a solid head sculpt and suitably intimidating proportions. The transformation also largely delivered on what one would expect, with some clever twists (the waist flaps pegging onto the shoulder pylons). As a bonus, the main cannon body is correctly gray rather than purple (a detail that I had for all these years never actually known!). The accessory complement is nifty, too — while I would drop the Revenge guns in a heartbeat if it meant the budget could go to something else, I really love how the cannon is executed, and the Matrix-on-a-chain is much appreciated. All of this at retail price is honestly a very welcome thing indeed.
Of course, this being the era of Obvious Redecos Mostly Being Caught By Selects, we got a Galvatron II before the year was out, which was even cooler.
Now, the toy isn’t quite perfect. For one, I would’ve liked less bulky arms and a less flared-out torso (the main part already has a wide/squat feel, and these double that). Also, the purple on the Kingdom release has more red than blue in it (and really, they could’ve just skipped the Stegey paint). Then there’s the rear tripod leg for cannon mode, which, while making clever use of the lower leg bulk, ends up too chunky for my tastes, especially with the feet sticking out. Even the Selects one has the mismatched helmet colors (which I plan to address by getting one of them sweet fan-designed 3D-printed alternate heads).
But this is still a long-awaited “proper” update, with enough charm to smooth over those issues to get me to commit to the redeco (and even consider the “Behold, Galvatron” version and/or a show-accurate colors custom)… so it must be doing something right.
I guess, after the last few years, it’s just nice to have a mad tyrant I can deal with… for a change.
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