- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thanks to the proliferation of film, comic book and cartoon characters, companies are bombarding consumers with an incredible selection of action figures. With tongue-in-cheeck, let’s take a peek at some of the specimens worthy of a place in Zad’s Toy Vault.

Leader Class Megatron

Hasbro continues to fuel the conflict between Autobots and Decepticons with its latest selection of Transformers toys and action figures. Celebrating 25 years of the “More than Meets the Eye” franchise and new live-action film, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” the collection has something for every age.

The core lineup of popular characters such as Bumblebee, Breakaway, Starscream and Ravage encompasses nearly 40 figures for release this year.

Lines include Power Bots for the youngster who just wants the robots and 7-inch deluxe figures for the tween. The Leader Class line, made especially for the super owner who can manipulate his Transformers, currently features Optimus Prime and the meanest of Megatrons.

Figure profile: From the box - Rebuilt with parts cannibalized from other Decepticons, Megatron rises once again to lead his army. Though the AllSpark destroyed him once, he now can feel its power coursing through his circuitry. It calls him to seize his rightful place as ruler of the puny planet on which he was imprisoned and destroyed, and from which he will launch his conquest of the universe.

Accessories: The gunmetal gray Megatron is his own accessory: The 10-inch-tall robot turns into an alien tank by twisting and flipping his parts. As a bot he has a spring-loaded sword and laser arm cannon, which doubles as the main firepower on the vehicle.

Megatron includes two AA batteries and a launchable missile for the cannon. Owners also can pull down a piece on his chest to hear him declare, “I am Megatron,” while his innards glow red and his head and rib cage shake.

As far as the always-prickly conversion between forms, expect to spend about 20 minutes working through the 17-step process. Of course, the time spent is proportional to age. A 7-year-old likely needs only 8.5 minutes while a 46-year-old, staring at the directions, will need about 90 minutes.

Price: $44.99

Read all about it: IDW Publishing offers a four-issue, sequential art adaptation of the movie, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” as well as two four-issue prequel miniseries devoted to the Autobots, titled Revenge of the Fallen: Alliance and Decepticons, and Revenge of the Fallen: Defiance. Issues are $3.99 each while the associated trade paperbacks sell for $17.99.

What’s it worth:Hasbro has delivered a pricey Megatron that just isn’t as slick as the 2007 model. Despite its impressive tank conversion, less tech, less of a light show and only a single voice snippet keep it from really shining.

Also, check out the Human Alliance line that includes a 2 1/4-inch figures ($29.99, Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky kind of looks like him) and the soon-to-be-released Constructicon Devastator ($99.99) made up of six vehicles. Yes, Dad, break out the Excedrin.

Pop Bytes

Here’s a look at more toys from Hasbro devoted to the new Transformers movie.

Bumblebee Plasma Cannon ($39.99, includes three AAA batteries) - Complete the role-play transformation into the film’s coolest bot with a 12-inch-long arm cannon.

Slip on the yellow casing and use a trigger on the inside grip to feel an explosive sense of empowerment.

The cannon barrel recoils and a ring of red lights glows with sound effects to simulate its firing. Pull on the laser reticule to covert the device to a robot fist complete with smash sounds and Bumblebee acknowledging the transformation.

Bumblebee Voice Mixer Helmet ($39.99, includes two AA batteries) - Hasbro really has the Transformers headgear down. Last year’s Optimus Prime helmet shone and now fans get a turn as Bumblebee in this high-tech piece of head armor.

Sporting a translucent blue visor, pair of antennae and a three-way internal strap adjustment for a perfect fit, the helmet comes to life through three side buttons that offer a trio of sound effects.

First, there’s a simple conversion effect to warn enemies they are in trouble. Next, and most creative, are the battle phrases that mix generic pop-culture snippets from such genres as martial arts movies and situation comedies to produce canned dialogue such as, “Oooh, that’s gotta hurt” and “You are no match for my new kung fu.” Finally, the onboard microphone works to make the wearer’s voice mechanical and raspy with musical accompaniment culled from songs found by flipping the radio dial.

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