It may seem weird to us now, either as people who grew up with Beast Wars, Unicron Trilogy or even the 10 year old Movie franchise, or even as 30/40 year old adults who’ve just gotten used to tank-mode Megatrons, but there was a time when gun mode was all the rage.
Growing up, I had to make do with Galvatron, running around and making electronically provided “pew-pew” noises, but before that, and before Transformers even, there was Micro-Change, and they gave us not one, but three distinct gun mode transforming robots to choose from.
Although MC12 / MC13 made it over to the Transformers range as Megatron, and later MC07 received a release in the Japanese line as Browning, one of these molds never made it across to the Westernised Transformers brand. That figure was MC11 Gun Robo S&W Magnum 44, otherwise known as MC11 Pistola Robot 44 Magnum in the Gig distributed Trasformer line, but affectionately known by most as simply Magnum 44.
This was my birthday treat to myself this year, once again an expensive toy justified for my collection as a “future blog article”, when really I just wanted it for myself. The box isn’t amazing, but it’s more than good enough for my collection, especially seeing as I’m supposed to be a Loose collector anyway (owning a unique Takara mold is the important bit for me), but I must confess to really enjoying any of the Japanese or Italian pre-Transformers releases, as I feel the packaging mitigates the risk of depreciation in the unlikely event of a reissue (legitimate or otherwise). Sure, value is not why I collect, but all the same, it is good to protect your investment. And damn, does the packaging make the idea of becoming a boxed collector appealing!
Of course, there are many box variations for this guy, including a very similar Japanese text box, and of course the obligatory high-end KOs, including this most interesting and very Kingdam looking packaging featuring new character art.
This is probably how this piece looks best. Removing the outer packaging really lets this mold shine; with the lovely sleek black weapon and wooden-effect gun handle, this really is the colour toy guns look best in. The chrome weapon also looks great, but we can see one of the parts-forming weaknesses of this mold, with the arm extension and fists packaged separately. All bullets are included (actually includes four extra!), but for me the highlight of this version is the pack-in cardboard targets, which feature what look like Waruder bad-guys, unusual, seeing as Microchange and Diaclone were considered separate lines.
Update: Thanks to Bryan Wilkinson for pointing out the card artwork is of the AcroSatans (amazing name) from earlier in the New Microman line circa 1982, just before Microchange started. There is a similarity to the Waruder designs, because these too were designed by legendary Takara designer Kohjin Ohno.
Small cardboard targets might not look like much, but they’re the kind of thing that are not looked after and are easily damaged or lost, and for me go one step beyond, reminding jaded adult collectors such as myself that these are toys, designed to be fun for kids, not just sit behind glass on a shelf.
Lets do gun mode first, as we’ve already teased that in packaging. This is arguably his better side; cleaner, with the metal arm pin hidden. The little S&W sticker is an amazing detail, from a more innocent time where not everything was licensed because many companies simply didn’t have licensing wings and Intellectual Property lawyers. As a gun, you could probably fool a few people with it, although less so with this version and it’s EU friendly orange plug (I blame Brexit!) which was absent from the Japanese releases. Although I daresay it would be easier to convince US police that this is real than in other countries, but would you really want too?!?
You can pull back the hammer and that locks into place, waiting for the pull of the trigger, which is presumably what makes these fire, just like a real firearm! However, given the delicate nature of some toy’s firing pins after 35 years, I am reticent to try! The only real negative with this alt. mode as a disguise, is that the head doesn’t really go anywhere, and just folds down, hiding the face from view. At a glance, and in pictures, you can’t really notice, but in hand, it is glaringly obvious – as much as you might try and justify it as a sight for targeting – and the first indication that maybe this toy isn’t as perfect as it first looks.
The rounded multi-slug chamber in the middle of the gun really is the most convincing part of this toy, because it’s very hard to imagine how that transforms into a robot in a convincing way.
The transformation is very clever. The legs are pretty much the same as Megatron’s; flipping forwards, stretching out and unfolding feet. For the torso, you slide and rotate the mid-section, then there is a tiny trigger release on the back of the robot which you need to activate in order to release the chamber, you fold that down and push the metal pin which somewhat amazingly reveals an upper-arm hidden INSIDE the chamber!!! This is brilliant, and by far the genius moment of this transformation. Unfortunately, there is not enough space in the chamber for an entire arm, hence the arm extension and plug-in fists are necessary. A shame, but for a toy from the early-eighties, you cannot really complain.
Every holds together nicely, but I wish the chamber could click back into place just a little more on the right hand side of the body, and the shoulder joint coming mid-way down the left shoulder / mid-torso is a little odd, as seen below.
The head detail is stunning, just a fantastic and interesting sculpt, which might make you think of this toy as Rumble or Frenzy’s Dad, as there is a bit of family resemblance there! Colour wise, this guy is actually a little bland, and you can see how the flash or red and blue on the inside of the Megatron / Browning figures made a big difference to the robot modes.
Everything feels great, and the figure is sturdy and displayable, but in hand, this guy just doesn’t look as nice as it does in pictures, and I think it’s purely because you never see pictures of this guy from the side, where you can see how slightly awkward the body shape is, the slightly floaty head, and how much leftover gun just sits behind the figure’s torso. I included one above to help people make an informed choice when considering purchasing him, because this piece is a bit of a grail item these days, and was on sale at Botcon 2016 for as high as $750 for a MIB version!
That’s not to say this guy isn’t worth picking up for your collection, and certainly, I needed to buy him and he looks great on display with the other guns! He’s an amazing little figure for the time and an excellent piece of history, but he’s definitely one for Microchange and pre-TF collectors, and perhaps one that G1 collectors who might have considered picking up to boost their G1 Decepticons might want to evaluate, because I think Hasbro definitely made the right choice when it came to picking their Decepticon leader out of the three gun molds available.
So, just who is Kiloton? Never let it be said that the awesome chaps and chappettes over at the TFwiki leave any obscure reference untapped, and they like to associate the obscure Kiloton character and Megatron mentor as a reference to this unused pre-TF mold. Not for me, personally, but I always enjoy attempts to integrate unused molds into TF lore.
Sadly, there have been zero official or third party updates to this character. Ever. So it’s difficult to show comparisons to how he might look in 2016, or to include links back to Kapow, but just go check out the site and look at their selection of Megatrons and third party versions to see whether you prefer gun modes, or modern updated modes. What do you think, has the time of gun mode passed? Did G2 Megatron get it right? Comment below, and thanks for reading!