My Unite Warriors Superion should be shipping any day now. Hopefully it will be here in time for next week’s Transformers Thursday. In the meantime, here’s a set that’s been sitting on my shelf for a long while and one that seemed appropriate to look at now. Not only are the Insecticons getting a whole lot of love from the Third Parties these days (got my Fans Toys versions on pre-order!), but the original figures recently got re-re-released as part of Takara’s Platinum Edition line.
In case you’re unfamiliar, the Commemorative Series was a line of G1 reissues exclusive to Toys R Us back in the day. The releases came in some snazzy G1 inspired boxes, usually with velcro-secured front flaps. This was some fantastic presentation! Walking into Toys R Us and seeing these things stacked high on the shelves was like a dream come true. Many of the Autobot cars got re-releases as well as the Seeker Jets and even a very Takara-esque Powermaster Optimus Prime, which is still one of my all-time favorite old-timey Transformers toys. Needless to say being able to walk into a store and snag all three Insecticons in one neat box made me a happy camper. There’s not a whole helluva lot to say about these guys, but I’ll still take some time to bask in their retro awesomeness. Let’s start with their insect modes…
Kickback was probably my favorite as a kid and still is. He’s a really cool looking cyber-grasshopper. I’ll just go ahead and point out here how amazing the decos on these toys were. The black and purple go so great together, but when you toss in the chrome parts and the translucent yellow these things had a way of turning heads. It’s rare that I can remember being attracted to a toy as a kid just because of its colors, but here’s a case where it was probably a big part of it and today they’re still as gorgeous as ever. My favorite thing about Kickback was always his wings and his creepy, almost featureless, insect head.
I think Bombshell probably fell in at number two. He’s got a nice compact alt mode and I was a big fan of that needle-like protuberance coming off his head. One problem with these reissues is that the stickers don’t stick so well. Every time I take these out of the box I need to press some of them back on. Eventually, I’ll get tired of doing it and just glue them down proper like.
And that brings us to their leader, Shrapnel. Just because I say his insect mode comes up third, doesn’t mean I don’t like them. It’s like saying that French Vanilla is my third favorite ice cream. I actually love Shrapnel’s chromed out pincers and the fact that they have laser guns on the ends. I think the only thing that mars this insect mode for me is he kind of looks looks more like a bug riding along on wheels than the others do.
I’m not going to rank these guys when it comes to their robot modes, because I don’t think I could choose a favorite. They all look so good. Each figure is pretty close to its animated counterpart and with at least five basic points of articulation, these are some of the more playable of the G1 Transformers toys. Their transformations are also so simple that they were super fun to play with because I could take them from bug to robot and back in no time. Kickback has the cleanest of all robot modes and the way his insect legs join together to form his robot arms is pretty sophisticated stuff for a G1 toy. I also really dig the drum magazine on his rifle. It kind of looks like a futuristic Tommy Gun.
Bombshell is a little more bug kibbly, but still a great looking figure. I knew some kids who transformed him with his cerebro shell launcher flat against his back, but they were wrong. I liked the distinctive look it gave him and the fact that it could be ready to fire at any time. Bombshell’s head sculpt is also super distinctive. That mouth plate always reminds me of the lower part of a knight’s helmet. His double-pronged rifle is also really distinctive looking and of the three it’s the only one that actually fits into the hand via a peg.
Shrapnel’s big appeal for me will always be the head reveal. I love how the pincers split open to show his face. It’s brilliant. I also really dig the laser guns he’s got mounted under his wrists. The original Shrapnel that I had as a kid got so loose that it was almost impossible to keep his legs extended while he stood, but thankfully I don’t have that problem with this reissue. At least not yet.
Even after nearly all of my Commemorative Series figures have gone the way of Ebay, this one remains and forever will. It’s impossible for me to put my finger on exactly why I love the Insecticons so much, but it’s an affection that was bred from both the cartoon and the original toys and one that I’ve never managed to shake. Being able to get a brand new minty set of these back in the day meant a hell of a lot to me and I think these figures hold up incredibly well even after all these years. The original price on this set was just under forty bucks, which didn’t seem too unreasonable at the time. Sure, they’re small and simple figures but I expect Hasbro to goose the price on these collector reissues and at about thirteen bucks a figure I was happy. Five years or so later I would expect some inflation, but when I saw the $90 price tag on the Platinum Edition I was rather taken aback. The scary thing is, if that were the first reissue and I didn’t already have a set, I might have ponied up for it. One thing’s for sure, getting these guys out and playing around with them again has me super pumped for the Fans Toys versions, the first of which should be shipping pretty soon!