Review: Transformers Titans Return Galvatron

There are some characters, it seems, that are just doomed to have poor toys. Sometimes it’s an issue of impossible character design, where the cartoon model or fictional appearance cannot physically exist as a toy. Other times it’s just bad luck. For 30 years, the most prominent character suffering from this streak was G1 Ironhide. His ’86 toy was just bad, his Universe update was plagued with issues, and the Combiner Wars deluxe left much to be desired. Fortunately, his Masterpiece figure finally broke the streak of bad toys, giving Ironhide a proper, excellent toy representation at last. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Galvatron.

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Jet Mode

Okay, yeah, starting out with this mode isn’t doing to toy any favors, but let’s just get this over with. To be honest, I don’t actually think this jet mode is all that bad. I mean, it’s a little abstract (due to pretty much being an afterthought), but for the most part it’s got a pretty standard A-shape space fighter look. The ridiculous orange cannon really just adds to the look, in my opinion. Besides, despite its clunky and thrown-together appearance, everything actually tabs in quite securely. It just… looks funny.

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And hey, opening cockpit! Let’s all get excited! No? Okay, moving on.

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Cannon Mode

Come on, now, is this really any better? I know it’s G1 accurate and all, but Galvatron’s cannon mode has always been really stupid, and there’s not much improvement to the basic design here. The folded-up cockpit gives it a bit more mass, and the unpainted treads at least give the appearance of mobility. You don’t have to leave the black spike jutting out front like I have it; that’s just my preference. Let’s… let’s just move on.

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Titan Master

So yeah, Galvatron’s a Headmaster now, which is pretty hilarious given IDW Galvatron’s rather strong feelings toward the technology (he pretty much genocided them in the past). This little guy is called Nucleon, despite looking exactly like a tiny Megatron. The unpainted grey plastic makes him supremely uninteresting, but the homage is cute.

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Robot Mode

Okay, so there are a couple of things very wrong with this robot mode, both of which I will get to shortly. Those two things aside, most of my issues with this figure are down to personal taste for robot proportions. I don’t like his long, skinny arms, puffy upper body, and tiny thighs. Are these all nitpicks? Yes, they are. On the positive side, he looks a whole lot like Galvatron, particularly the excellent shade of purple. The grey plastic is a bit of a bummer, but it’s on-topic. Like Sentinel, Galvatron is covered in sculpted detail that could really use some nice paintwork to bring it out. So, objectively speaking, he’s not too bad so far, right? 

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Problem one is probably the biggest flaw of the figure, and it’s the head. Being a Headmaster, Nucleon forms the head of Galvatron… except it’s more like the face. On its own, this is a pretty good headsculpt. The face looks very Megatron/Galvatron, and with some actual paint it could look pretty spectacular. However, instead of painting the head (or at least molding it in purple), the rest of Galvatron’s trademark ornate head-crest is represented by a mask that flips up from the panel in his chest. Theoretically, this should work. In practice…

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Okay, so it technically works. The mask flips up, finishing off the Galvatron head. Unfortunately, because it’s a mask that is attacked to a mechanism in the figure’s chest, it hovers a few millimeters in front of the actual head, which looks very bad. Not only does it prevent any light from reaching Galvatron’s actual face, but the two-dimensional nature of the mask is painfully obvious given its contrast with the solid-grey head. To make matters worse, while the mask mechanism does allow for some neck rotation, it’s very slight. I’ve seen several mods that involve cutting the mask from the mechanism and glueing it to the Headmaster, and while they are improvements, it doesn’t look good enough to be worth the effort.

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Problem two is maybe not quite as bad as the head issue, but it bothers me all the same. Galvatron comes with his trademark giant translucent orange particle cannon, and don’t get me wrong, it is glorious. The bad news? It mounts on his bicep… the front of his bicep, restricting all elbow movement and most shoulder movement when attached. To be fair, in most media Galvatron did have his cannon mounted on his bicep (unlike Megatron, whose cannon was forearm-mounted), but with the lack of any wrist swivel or a secondary mounting point, this setup makes it near-impossible to pose the toy well. 

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This is really about the best you can do (also, yeah, those hollow forearms are very noticeable). Is it the worst thing in the world? No. Does it completely ruin the toy? Not exactly, but it helps make Galvatron a very un-fun toy to pose and fiddle with. No matter what, he always ends up looking really doofy (and not in the stupid-crazy-madman sort of way that Galvatron should).

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Heads and cannons aside, though, Galvatron’s articulation really isn’t much to sneeze at. His head is technically ball-jointed, but only swivels due to how tight the Headmaster connection is (not counting the mask). He has universal ratcheting shoulders, double-jointed elbows, universal hips, single-jointed knees, a waist swivel (though you need to move some stuff around on his back to get it to work), bicep and thigh swivels, and even has ankle tilts.

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Overall

Titans Return Galvatron is a very flawed toy. I hesitate to call it a bad toy, since he does have a good sculpt, functional gimmicks, and great articulation. The problem is that he doesn’t feel like a very good Galvatron. The Headmaster mask and front-mounted cannon make this toy look more like some guy in a cheap costume rather than the character himself. Maybe I’m being too nitpicky as a Galvatron fan, but this figure just doesn’t do it for me. Here’s hoping for a third-party upgrade set with better arms and a better head.

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