As I've mentioned before, Transformers: The Movie served a few purposes, one of the main ones being an ushering-in of all sorts of new characters. The old guard found themselves being killed off left and right, and by the end of the movie, fans found themselves watching a show that only felt familiar on the surface. They were still Transformers - just not really our Transformers.
The boldest switchover certainly came by way of the new robot leaders - Galvatron and Rodimus Prime. Even though Galvy was technically still Megatron, and even though Rodimus took Optimus' last name when he became a super-trooper, they both lacked the charm and charisma of their predecessors, and one could make a pretty strong argument that the switch ultimately killed the series.
Even though their positions on the cartoon left a lot to be desired, Galvatron and Rodimus did achieve one of the goals Hasbro had in mind when they decided to make a movie out of all this nonsense: two great new toys for kids to spend millions on. So, if I wanted to pay tribute to two characters who really didn't offer much on the screen, a look at their action figures might be the best course. We'll start with Galvatron, because he's purple and I'm in the mood for grape sherbet.
Granted, I'm not an expert on what happens to a Decepticon when a giant, world-crushing robot the size of eight moons decides to upgrade it, but I don't quite get why Megatron went so god damned nuts after transforming into Galvatron. He was completely useless after the change - the once all-powerful villain reduced to a maniacal day player who sat by lava pools in space all day, reading Rosie and trying to find constellations that looked like Mazda Miadas.
Galvatron rarely spoke to his troops, let alone lead them into battle. It was such a waste of talent because the Autobot team was so shitty by this point, I could've fitted my grandmother with armor and we would've kicked their asses all over Detroit. Optimus was dead, and now the chief Autobot staff consisted of a guy who didn't even want to be leader, a pacifist semitrailer, and some robot who spoke in rhymes and shot rocks out of a slingshot. If Galvatron could've got his act together for just a few hours, The Great War would've ended a whole lot differently.
That aside, Galvy made for an interesting toy. Much different from most of the other figures, this one was large, made of harder parts, and made good use of batteries to light up and make crazy noises that sounded sort of like an electric toothbrush. He was more expensive than most of the other toys, something I attribute partly to the electronics but mostly to Hasbro knowing they could overcharge for one of their leader characters.
Problem is, it looks absolutely NOTHING like Galvatron. It's no doubt a cool figure, but Galvatron was primarily purple. And while the cartoon had some weird decorations on the head, it wasn't the Roman crown found here. There's more, too. This Galvatron seems to have had his usual soap switched by a chard of coal. Why's his face black? How did they go ahead and forge zillions of these things without anyone ever once saying... "Hey, you know, my SHOE looks more like Galvatron!"
I suggest that Galvy wouldn't sign on to have his likeness exploited for toy sales, and since Hasbro already owned the rights to his name, they just used his cousin, Galvatony. Galvatony's legs are pretty immovable, but his arms can go in any of a zillion directions - and he's got a big black plastic gun. This is where the inflated price is justified, since most Transformers figures came with medium black plastic guns. That extra ten bucks was well spent!
Galvatony looks a little more true-to-toon after transforming into that tripod super-cannon thing. The orange arm-laser is moved to a central position, and after Galvy gets in the same position one would before being fucked up the ass, he's ready to blow the Autobots to kingdom come. Once you factor in the laser lights and battle sounds, Galvatony is about as close as you can get to buying a real, live Transformer. I just wish he was a little friendlier and more open to games of Parcheesi.
I actually prefer this toy to the original Megatron figure, which was cool in theory but nearly impossible to transform. I've seen FAQs on transforming the Megatron action figure that exceed 500 KB even after coming up with abbreviations for 'Walther P-38.' Galvatony may look nothing like the real thing, but at least you didn't need six hands and a brain transplant with someone smarter to turn him into a gun.
It's a decent hunk of plastic, and one of the cardinal figures in anyone's TF collection. I think Hasbro kind of missed the boat by making him look so unlike the cartoon. I mean, certainly there were kids who were dragging their parents to Toys R' Us who were still too young or stupid to read. And if you couldn't read Galavatron's name on the box, you probably would've thought they started marketing Expanded Universe Imaginary Transformers figures who weren't worth buying. Anyway, check this out - it was on America Online's (the best damn ISP there ever was, HOLLA BACK) welcome screen today...
Evidently, Saddam found Magus' doppelganger gun and created several duplicates of himself so he wouldn't have to visit his mother-in-law's every Sunday like clockwork. AOL shoots themselves in the foot once again, overlooking a clearly more poignant and timely story...
Are they all the same Galvatron? Are they really?
Still a nice toy. Even though Galvatron sucked on the show, his unbridled insanity matched with the fact that he still looks badass as a nutcase has garnered him cult celebrity status over the years, just behind Jazz and Thundercracker in the Transformers You Like For No Real Reason department. Personally, I just enjoyed the fact that he was the only Decepticon on the show who they occasionally marked with a unibrow.
Now we move on to the Autobots' second master and chief, Rodimus Prime...
Ah, Rodimus Prime. Say what you will - and who can help themselves - but I just loved this guy as a kid. I wanted a Rodimus Prime figure more than anything else in the world, even winged shoes that'd enable me to fly. My eldest brother, who of all my siblings was the only one to share in my geeky interests, brought him home for me one birthday well over a decade ago, and I knew I had something special the second I unwrapped the gift. After my brother turned beet red realizing that he accidentally wrapped up a box of edible panties which I hope was meant for his girlfriend, I finally had my Rodimus and everything was right with the world.
In figure form, Rodimus was a majestic sight, and one of the truest representations of the actual cartoon character in the entire series. Everything was perfect - the sky blue eyes, the sunset yellow spoiler, the BLOOD OF MONKEYS car paint - this was seriously good stuff. Standing around seven inches tall or so, he was the king of any kid's toybox, and since he wasn't flimsy, Rodimus stood the test of time and I actually still have the very same one I chewed on back in 1987.
He even looked great in his trailer form, complete with extra wheels. Much like the case with Galvatony, I much prefer the Rodimus toy to the preceding Optimus one, which wasn't all that great. Optimus Prime's figure looked like the real deal, but it just lacked something overall. Since Rodimus was such a loser on the show, getting a neat toy out of him was an extra bonus.
I think the primary problem with his character was that, before turning into Rodimus, he was quite likable in his Hot Rod role. Hot Rod was the first Transformer that really seemed to hit as a 'teenager' - brazen, risky, courageous, full of sarcasm - he had it all. Then he turns into Rodimus, and even the damn animators are sure to draw wrinkles all over his face. Factor in the missing personality and you've got a pretty crappy hero on your hands. What is it about that Matrix that turns these guys into such boring, 'eh' characters? It got me to thinking - I bet Optimus used to be really cool back in college, before the Matrix turned him into the freakin' mechanical minister...
PARTY ANIMAL OPTIMUS PRIME
1) (1) Prostitute, slutty. Untested.
2) (1) Bottle, red wine. Aged.
3) (1) Weird, manta ray-shaped head. No apparent reason.
4) (1) Bottle, absinthe. Prime impresses poetry chicks and gets drunk simultaneously.
5) (1) Thong, cheetah print.
6) (1) Imaginary friend, invisible. Named 'Vinnie Godnuts'.
Prime's Pick Up Lines: "Hey, wanna see my trailer?" "You got booty. Autobooty."
Prime's College Major: Trichinosisology. The study of uncooked pork.
Favorite Shirt: Ripped t-shirt with 'Honk if you have an inbuilt car horn!' written on the back.
Rodimus' trailer unfolds to reveal a rolling battle platform, complete with huge double-cannon. The cannon extended almost to the figure's height, so they obviously put a lot of effort into making this figure work. It did, and Rodimus Prime remains to this day one of the most sought-after Transformers toys. If there's an elite few 'must haves' for collectors and fans, this would be one of them.
Rodimus Prime, Galvatron. Maybe they would've been better leaders in a different time. Maybe, just maybe, they're simply victims of circumstances. After all, things were a lot less interesting after the movie, and let's face it - all Optimus had to deal with back then were a few evil robots trying to steal cubes of glowing liquid. By the time Rodimus was in charge, the Decepticons were forcing Galvatron into trying to blow up the galaxy in every episode. Maybe they weren't so bad. Even if they were - who cares? They had great toys.
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