Dislike for the more “religious” aspects of Transformers is understandable. Somehow, Transformers made it all the way to 2005 without any apparent knowledge of the following:
- All life on Cybertron — in fact Cyberton itself — was created by Primus, Lord of the Light Gods.
- Primus had a twin, a sibling known as Unicron, a Dark God, and last of the Lords of Chaos.
- Contained within the chest of Optimus Prime was “The Matrix”, a housing for the power of Primus himself.
The biggest reason for this is prior to the 1986 movie (set in the year 2005), none of this existed. The makers of the movie needed a big bad guy. They invented the planet-eater, Unicron. They needed a device to allow the seemingly insignificant Transformers to fight back against said big bad guy. They invented the Matrix. They then provided absolutely no explanation for why Unicron was aware of the Matrix, or why it was the only thing he feared in the universe.
In the intervening years, many attempts have been made to resolve this, including one remarkably misguided attempt in Season 3 in which Unicron was actually built by a hyper-intelligent monkey alien spaceman creature… thing.
Setting all that aside (as Hasbro has apparently done) we are left with the Aligned Continuity. Basically attempting to unify the various Transformers continuity into one, it picks and chooses its way through the entirety of Transformers franchise history.
What we are left with is: Primus is the incarnation of good; his creations, the Transformers, all carry a piece of him within themselves; the Autobot Matrix of Leadership carries a very large piece of him; and Unicron is the incarnation of evil bent on the destruction of literally everything.
Biggest bad guy in Transformers history? Check. Toy?
There had been a prototype for a toy version after his appearance in the movie but it would never see the light of day… thankfully. As I have typed before, this thing ain’t pretty, falling in the “better to have nothing than to have that” category.
Preposterously not intimidating for a Dark-God-Lord-of-Chaos-Devourer-of-Worlds-Destroyer-of-Realities. There was another prototype in 1999 when Unicron showed up in the anime and manga for the Japanese-only Beast Wars Neo. Though, thanks to advancements in toy engineering, Beast Wars Neo Unicron was much better than the G1 prototype, he suffered from much too much “shellformer” syndrome.
It looked like Unicron would continue to suffer the indignity of no retail release. This was rectified in 2003 when Transformers Armada introduced Unicron none-too-suprisingly to their storyline and subsequently, and quite surprisingly, to retail toy shelves.
At over a foot tall, this is just an amazing toy. With the exception of two shell pieces that hang somewhat loosely off his back, very little of his planet mode is apparent in robot mode. Of course, this is Armada Unicron and therefore is not meant to be G1 Unicron, but this didn’t stop the fanboys at the time from whining about the differences. For me, just like with many other Transformers updates, it was a case of “close enough, this thing is awesome!” So much so that I was not overly tempted to purchase the 2010 Takara version of Unicron. Luckily for me, my friend Michael doesn’t have the Armada release and used Takara’s 2010 release to add Unicron to his collection.
Now with a brand new, more cartoon accurate headsculpt and completely new, more detailed paintjob, Takara has added panel lining, to enhance the details along his arms, torso, and legs and removed the translucent parts from the Armada mold.
In truth, my desire to own the Takara version of Unicron was heavily influenced by price. Though I really, reaaaaaaally liked the new headsculpt, I couldn’t justify spending the money when I already had the Armada version. Hasbro was apparently listening, because they responded by announcing the Amazon.com exclusive reissue of the Takara mold. Released to coincide with this year being the 25th anniversary of The Transformers: The Movie, he was again give a completely new paintjob.
So the question stands: which Unicron toy is most Unicron-like? Starting with the head, of course, the Armada mold is disqualified off the bat seeing as he is meant to specifically be Armada Unicron.
So, we have the Takara version,
As a literal interpretation of the cartoon, I would have to say the Takara version’s white face looks like what was shown in the cartoon. The issue with the Takara one is the “helmet” sections. The orange is far too bright. The 25th anniversary’s more yellowish gold with blue coloured panels fits what was on screen. At this point this one becomes a tie. An easy winner would be a white face with gold and blue surrounding headpiece. However, 25th Anniversary squeaks out a win thanks to an unlikely added detail.
Unicron’s eyes — a very well documented facial feature in the movie when they became points of both entrance and egress for entire spaceships — were green. Both Armada and Takara Unicron use red, to coincide with the red light effect gimmick. 25th Anniversary has the red light gimmick, as evidenced above, but uses green plastic for the eyes themselves.
Though he does, indeed have green eyes, his box
kind of fibs outright lies when depicting his various features by showing glowing green eyes.
So, on to the rest of the robot body.
Once again, Armada Unicron, with a bevy of wonderfully transclucent plastics, is out of the running for most G1. In this case the blue on the 25th Anniversary works against it. In full body shots of Unicron, the bluish tinge is far, far more subdued, looking more like the colour on the legs of the Takara one. Granted, the orange is still way too bright, but the overall effect is more coherent and therefore more like the movie than the stark blue, silver, and gold of the 25th Anniversary.
Which leaves us with alt mode. The planet-eating planet.
This mode is where Takara’s Unicron really shines, the panel lining and extra painted details, like the orange applied on the surface detailing. Just look at all that detail (go ahead, click on the image, I’ll wait.) Even with that, 25th Anniversary is the clear winner in the most accurate here. Though the blue could be more subdued and the grey detailing along the top edge could be lighter, this time it’s thanks to the band of gold that bisects the planet like his movie appearance that he pulls out a win.
So, who wins in the most cartoon accurate contest? Armada Unicron. Seriously, he is most like his cartoon incarnation. Okay, okay. Who wins the most G1 cartoon accurate?
Sorry, but it remains a tie with Takara taking the robot mode and 25th Anniversary taking the alt mode.
Basically, regardless of the mode, we have three wonderfully detailed, respectably large toys of the ultimate Transformers bad guy.
I think the overall winner here is the fans.
But we’re not done! See, Unicron may be a big bad guy but he’s still a bad guy and that means he must ultimately face defeat. Who wants to watch something where evil wins in the end?
Primus wanted to reinforce this notion, so some packaging of the release of his Cybertron toy included…
But you can’t keep a
good evil Lord of Chaos down, and Unicron was able to use his greatly diminished energies to create a new body for himself. Complete with Cyberkey gimmick, he now transformed into a tank-like vehicle.
Though he had a new robot mode to go with it, his head still depicts some of the damage received in his previous form.
However, this new form mirrors his greatly diminished energies.
So as of right now, he is running around unchecked but severely restricted in his destructive capacity.
As for my collection, I got the new 25th Anniversary for the new head, so he’ll be displayed in robot mode, while Armada Unicron will be displayed in planet mode.
Thanks again to Michael for lugging his Takara Unicron over for the photo shoot! Did I mention this guy is a freaking big toy? Unicron, that is, not Michael