Orion vs. Hegemon
Review by Optimal III
Rolling into Botcon 2015, Hasbro banned all third-party products. One can't blame them for making that call, but it was a pretty disappointing decision for some fans, and one of the reasons I ended up not going. 3P isn't what I'm all about, but if I'm going to a Transformers convention, I'd like the opportunity to see it all, because honestly, most other conventions here in the USA like Wizard World and even SDCC aren't that great for toys, much less Transformers specifically, and even less third-party Transformers.
But life finds a way, and make no mistake about it, the third-party scene has a life all its own. So I shouldn't be surprised that a pseudo shadow convention popped up at the local hotels, forged by dealers and 3P groups alike. And so, it's funny, because arguably the best exclusive at this year's event is a third-party item.
There are a couple of trends developing within the 3P world right now. One is recognizing that fans will pay big $$ to get a great toy even after it's out of production, way more than it originally sold for. So in response, some groups are getting better about their numbers by making more products, doing reissues, or creating limited edition variants that will absorb some of the demand. The other is doing convention exclusives. It started with iGear and X-Transbots, but now Mastermind Creations, FansProject, and ToyWorld are all getting in on the act. ToyWorld in particular touched on both trends with this set.
Limited to 200 pieces and exclusive to TFsource, this boxset contains both Orion (G1 IDW Optimus Prime) and Hegemon (G1 Megatron) with decos based on their appearances in the classic Marvel G1 comics. I'll take the cartoon over the old Marvel stuff any day, but there's definitely a charm and quality there, especially in the look. And that's what this pair sets out to capture. Admittedly, the difference between Optimus Prime as most people remember him and the Marvel comic version isn't that drastic, but there is some. Also, I already have Orion and love him, so much that when this was announced, I had to jump on it, a chance to get another one in red and blue at a fair price. And then there's Hegemon.
I've never had the urge to get a 3P Megatron with a gun alt mode, because the Masterpiece does it for me. But many don't agree with that, so ToyWorld was the first to attempt a viable alternative. By most accounts, they knocked it out of the park and found a better, more affordable way. Also, this is the first toy based on Megatron's Marvel look. So to me, this set is a pretty big and cool deal.
It already started with the box art being modeled after an old school Marvel TF cover and profile art, but there's even more. There are two trading/spec cards, made of sturdy semi-translucent plastic.
There are two stickers. These are really neat to me because I had a folder in the early days of elementary school that was covered in TF stickers.
There are two separate sets of thin cardboard manuals that are so big, they're practically posters. I can't speak to Hegemon, but with Orion, this is a huge improvement over the original, because its manual had pictures too tiny to follow.
And then there's an actual poster of the front box art. This is definitely going on a wall someday.
I suppose for convenience or to let retailers and consumers alike inspect the goods, all ToyWorld exclusives come in unsealed boxes with flip-up lids. So don't freak out if you get one and don't find any tape, but also be wary if you don't get it from an actual retailer.
I already reviewed the original Orion here. so read that if you want the real skinny on him. This is more so gushing and just going over a few things.
Perhaps slightly due to technology at the time, but more so artistic choice, Marvel's Transformers definitely had its own style back in the 80's. For Optimus Prime, this meant usually being a very flat faded combination of red and blue, rather than the deep rich hues of the cartoon or the toy. Orion is the former here and does a good job of blending that old aspect with his newer, modern design. His gun especially has that funkiness, looking almost lilac or lavender but actually being grey, or at least trying to present that, the same effect the comics used all the time.
Also, thanks to the better instructions, I now know one thing I goofed on in my last review is how the rear end is supposed to be arranged. What becomes the front part of Orion's feet are supposed to cover the space over the bumpers. So actually, ToyWorld nailed everything perfectly in alt mode.
In robot mode, the same exact quality as the original is in play. I also got an accurate measurement on height. Orion is actually 7.75 inches tall.
The Matrix had all kinds of colors and designs in the comics. Sort of fittingly and also to distinguish each version of this toy, it's all gold this time.
Here, the head crest is an acceptable gold. And boy are those eyes pretty.
Though softer in color, the laser rifle is still a mighty firearm.
And adding to the weaponized wow factor, Orion now has an ax to grind (or more likely cleave). Both edges are sharp, and the spike up top is pointy, so accidentally cutting yourself is quite possible.
And then after 10 seconds of "ax time"...
But just like that, a wild Walther P-38 shows up!
I'm not into guns, so I can't say how accurate this is compared to a real Walther P-38. But it definitely looks like G1 Megatron sans stock and silencer. The only "accessory" is an orange cap for the barrel, which was probably included to avoid any legal hassles. The color change stands out more in robot mode, but even here, Hegemon screams familiar and strange at the same time. The off-white/gray and dark blue takes me back to when I first read the Marvel run from start to finish, which is a whole other animal compared to anything else.
Features include a movable safety and a squeezable trigger that springs back into place once you let it go. You can also remove the scope if you want, which I never thought to take a pic of.
The one letdown with his alt mode is these hollow spots in the trigger ring. Maybe it was just the easiest way to mold the part. It's not a deal breaker, but it guarantees you're always going to focus on the left side.
At 7.5-inches tall in robot mode, it all really stands out now. Just thinking about Megatron from the Marvel comics gives me a different vibe, and Hegemon does him justice. The transformation is pretty impressive and involves almost no "parts forming". The instructions only get one so far, but I was able to figure the rest out with just my hands, so it's not too difficult. Probably the biggest thing about the process is what ToyWorld did with the grip/legs. G1 & MP Megatron both connect their legs from the inside, which works, but has always resulted in skinny legs with undesirable inner details. ToyWorld innovated by joining the legs from behind and making the topmost part a pair of folding panels that stow behind the hips. They added two more swivels, one below the waist and one above the abdomen, so everything is easily arranged. On top of all that though the instructions direct you to transform him with the trigger and barrel, you can actually remove both parts easily and reattach them after you're done.
This is the face of suspect mental health. When I think of G1 Megatron from anything other than the Marvel comics, I see a determined tyrant whose goals consist of destroying the Autobots and what they stand for, conquering the universe, and making sure Starscream doesn't successfully backstab him. But when I think of him from the Marvel comics, I get all of the above in addition to paranoia, being crazy (not Galvatron-crazy, normal crazy), being afraid of Optimus Prime, and ducking every other Decepticon. In addition to Starscream, he had to contend with usurpers in Ratbat (seriously), Shockwave, Scorponok, Bludgeon, Thunderwing, and an alternate-reality Galvatron, plus a bunch of other shenanigans.
The instructions actually direct you to remove the trigger all together and hang the hip flaps parallel to the body but tilted like sword sheaths. Even as is however, articulation is not inhibited. The flaps are attached by ball joints, so you could pull them off too, but I suspect over time the connection would wear out, so that's alright. The orange parts really pop and stand out to me, because the original has translucent red parts instead.
Hegemon's range of motion is pretty close to Orion, and he has joints in the same places mostly. What are additional are the ankles, and the crotch and chest swivels. He has stiff ratchets in his knees, hips and shoulders. Everything else is softer. His hands are solid, but the original was made before Orion, and he doesn't need them for his weapons. Maybe it's appropriate too that his fists are permanently balled.
Another nifty feature is the fold out panels in the shoulders, which help maintain a powerful appearance while concealing the inner arms.
His back cannon is pegged onto a swinging bit, so it can be pointed to the right or slung under his arm. The fusion cannon can rotate on its base, and the base can be elevated, so despite the blocky shoulders, he can aim any shot you can think of.
And to match his nemesis, he's got a mace. It could be a club too, and not being that familiar with either of the previous releases, I figured this was it.
But I noticed a rattling sound, and sure enough, it's actually pegged onto the base, connected by this metal chain. Sweet.
The one potential flaw with Hegemon is the joint assembly for his left shoulder. That blue peg is supposed to plug into the shoulder. But on some figures, including mine, there's too much plastic around the peg hole, making it difficult or impossible to get the shoulder locked in. Looking around, I've seen some people force it and others give up, but at least one talked about doing some trimming. So after struggling for a while, I got a razor blade and scraped the edge of the hole closest to the peg for about 5 minutes. It doesn't look like I did much, but it makes the difference, and I now have no problem getting it in.
* insert Batman sound effects *
This set would be fantastic if previous iterations of both figures were readily available, but with only the black Orion still plentiful, it's a steal at $220. The decoes may not be the most recognized, and the source material is hated by some, but that doesn't take away from how great the toys are. Orion with a faded look is still Orion, which is awesome, and I look forward to the day another non-MP Prime tops him, because that toy will be sublime. I don't enjoy Hegemon quite as much, but he's still solid and the cheapest alternative to the MP figure, the other being X-Transbots Apollyon (metal, MP quality). Hegemon just falls short of that status for the same reason as Orion (not big enough, paint/deco is top notch this time). Plus you get the swanky box and all the little extras.
The only negatives here are the left shoulder issue (easy fix if Hegemon has it) and if you insist on having a more complete Hegemon. The original version (G1 cartoon deco) comes with the silencer, a sword, and a stock that transforms into a base for most of his gear, in addition to the scope and mace. The second version (G1 toy deco) is when he was downscaled to just the mace and scope. But the money you'll pay to get that first version now is almost what you'd pay to get this set. So if you have any interest in either of these two, hit up TFsource before they're gone. At 200 pieces, it'll vanish sooner than later.
|Posted 25 July, 2015 - 15:19 by Optimal III|