The Canadian International Trade Tribunal, which usually deals with mundane subjects such as steel imports, found itself puzzling over whether Megatron, the anti-hero of the Transformers toy franchise, should be turned away at the border for looking too much like a fake weapon.
After consulting an RCMP forensics expert, the federal tribunal officially published its verdict online this week, decreeing that Megatron, leader of the Decepticons, is definitely not a replica firearm.
The ruling by the quasi-judicial tribunal means the classic versions of Megatron – a robot that turns into a facsimile of a Walther model P-38 pistol – can once again be imported.
Megatron, as children of the 1980s will know, is the arch-villain of the Transformers universe where robots can change into vehicles, devices and animals. He began life as a robot that turns into a pistol, but manufacturers also produced a version that transformed into something less worrisome for customs officials, such as a tiny tank.
The classic Megatron's case received a boost from the unlikeliest of sources when a Royal Canadian Mounted Police forensics lab measured him in pistol form and determined that he was too big to closely mimic a Walther pistol.
"It does not exactly resemble a firearm as it is approximately 30 per cent larger in size than an actual Walther, model P-38," a Mountie forensics specialist wrote in a report for the CITT deliberations.
Canadian customs officials triggered these hearings last November when they confiscated a collector's edition of the Megatron robot, saying the silver and black figure too closely resembled a replica firearm when rearranged.
Canada Border Services Agency, which reports to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, refused to reverse the decision, and so Jonathan Bell, the B.C. man who had been trying to import a copy of Megatron, appealed to the trade tribunal.
"The item is shipped as a Transformer robot and remains in the robot form until someone changes it to another form, in this case a Walther P-38 pistol," Mr. Bell wrote in his appeal.
He wrote that when laws and regulations on replica firearms are taken at face value without considering intent, "we would have to consider prohibiting wood, plastic or metal [from entering] our country, since all of those items can be transformed into something else."
Source: Globe & Mail