I promised y’all that I had plenty of Transformers to keep Transformers Thursday going through most of the Summer, but I didn’t say they’d all be official products. Nope, today I’m going back to the world of Third Party convertorobots, a place I haven’t visited in nearly two years. It would be premature to say I’ve given up on the 3P stuff, but I’ve obviously pulled back on it a lot. I do, however, still have some unfinished business, like finally getting a set of Masterpiece-quality Insecticons. Shrapnel, Bombshell, and Kickback have always been among my favorite G1 characters, and there’s been no shortage of 3P versions to choose from. It was a recent deal on Bad Cubes’ Evil Bug Corps that finally got me to take the plunge.
These fellas were sold as a set, but they came individually boxed, and they’re each certainly worthy of their own reviews, so I’m starting today with Claymore, who could very possibly be mistaken for Shrapnel, but I’m sure that wasn’t intended at all. The figure comes in a rather unassuming enclosed box. There’s some cool artwork on the front, but not a lot else of note. Inside, Claymore is packaged in his robot mode, between two clear trays. He comes with a beefy instruction book that covers all three figures, a file card, and an Energon Cube. I should note that Claymore comes packaged with his pincers off. They snap into place via ball joints and I’m a little apprehensive about popping them on and off a lot, as it’s bound to stress the socket’s plastic. It’s a tad annoying, because if you want to put him back in the box, you have to take them off again. Anyway, let’s go ahead and start with his alt mode.
Claymore is a cybernetic stag beetle and if you’re looking for a faithful update to the original toy’s alt mode, this is definitely it! This bug is beefier and certainly locks together better than his G1 predecessor, but still retains all the familiar characteristics. You get the squared off body, the dual thrusters in his bug butt, the thinly disguised robot arms on the sides, and the long yellow feet. The bits of added die cast also give the figure a satisfying degree of heft. The coloring on this figure is absolutely perfect. Keep in mind, we’re looking at the premium “Collector’s Edition” release, which means the pincers and head are beautifully chromed out and the hatch on top is translucent yellow plastic. The black has a nice satin-matte finish, the purple is just the right shade for a proud Decepticon, and the yellow on the feet really pops.
In addition to locking together really well, this mode features a few other notable improvements. The pincers, as mentioned earlier are ball jointed, so you can get a lot of nice movement out of them. Besides opening and closing, they can be raised and lowered and moved independently of each other. It’s fun to play around with them and they can be posed to give him a lot of personality. Also, the chrome shield that covers Claymore’s robot face is not connected to the pincers, so you don’t have to reveal the robot head when you open and close them. The feet are not only hinged at the body, but also at the front tips, so you can have Claymore rear back a bit, which makes for a nice angle for display in his bug-bot mode.
If your curious about size comparison, he’s certainly a lot bigger than the G1 originals. Well, obviously… those bugs were tiny! In beetle mode, Claymore is about on par with a Masterpiece car, actually just a little bit bigger, which feels perfect to me. Now, transforming this guy is obviously a lot more complex than the original toy, but it’s actually not that bad at all for a Masterpiece-level figure. Not to get ahead of myself, but I find Claymore to be the easiest of this buggy bunch by far. Most of the work lies in packing and unpacking the robot legs, which is to be expected. The clearances and tolerances all feel good, and while I certainly had to consult the instructions the first time I took him from bot to bug and back to bot, I have been good to go on my own after that.
All of those successes from his beetle mode translate beautifully into a fantastic robot mode that hits all the points I’m looking for in a Masterpiece style Shrapnel. The proportions on this guy are great and he’s a damn solid robot. In fact, the only thing I’m going to gripe about here is the way the halves of the chrome face shield kind of just hover there above his shoulders a little too much in the foreground. If BadCube could have hinged these to fold backwards, I’d consider this fella a perfect 10. As it is, I’m thinking he’s approaching a solid 9. I just thought I’d get that quibble out of the way because it’s literally the only negative thing I have to say here. So, allow me to hit some of the cool high points…
I love this head sculpt and the silver and metallic red paint used for the face is very striking. Claymore does include an alternate smirking face, but the difference to me is negligible and I doubt I’ll ever go through the bother of swapping it out. The sculpted detail on the translucent yellow chest plate is great. It’s hard for me to imagine going for the yellow-painted-chest version on these figures. Maybe the appeal there is that it looks more like the animated style, whereas this is more like the toy. And yes, I do plan on slapping a Decepticon emblem on there when I get around to it… maybe for the final group shot. Finally, I really dig the metallic blue strips on the sides of his chest. They add that little extra pop to the deco.
The forearms feature mounted guns. which are always handy when you’re a member of an Evil Bug Corps. These are also articulated as part of the transformation, so if you want to give them an extended firing mode, that option is available to you.
The beetle legs pack pretty neatly away on his back and offer a convenient place for Claymore to store his gun. All in all, he’s pretty good looking from the back. You do get some exposed screw heads, but even those aren’t terribly obvious or unsightly.
If you remove the gun from his back, you can also make out some of the silver paint detailing, which is a really nice touch when you consider it can only be seen here or when looking at the beetle mode from underneath. BadCube could have totally left this out and nobody would have noticed.
The gun is painted in the same satin-silver as the figure’s upper legs. This is also the same paint used on the pincers on the regular edition set. The handle is a little odd, as it’s just a flat square that tabs inside the hand and then you close the hinged knuckle around it. It’s worth noting that Claymore is the only one of the three that doesn’t have a specific function for his gun while he’s in bug mode.
Claymore’s articulation is excellent. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, there are swivels in the biceps and wrists, and the elbows are double jointed. The legs have ratcheting hinges in the hips, which supply a satisfying click when re-positioned. The knees are double hinged and the ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers for those wide stances. There’s a swivel in the waist and the neck is ball jointed. All the joints on my figure are nice and tight, although I do feel like the ball joints will loosen fairly quickly and may eventually need some dabs of furniture polish, because I can’t stop playing with this guy.
Again, on the issue of scaling, Claymore’s robot mode dwarfs the G1 toy, but more importantly it scales beautifully with the Masterpiece cars. If you don’t count his antenna, Claymore comes in just a little short of MP Lambor, and I think that’s right where he’s supposed to be. The style of the designs match quite well too.
The included Energon Cube is just a squishy cube of pinkish plastic, but a nice addition nonetheless. And we all know how Shrapnel loved his energon… energon.
My longing after 3P Insecticons goes all the way back to FansProject’s Causality bugs, a set that I procrastinated on just a little too long before it was sold out at most retailers. After that it was a long internal struggle over whether to go with Fans Toys bugs or this Evil Bug Corps by BadCube. There were many pros and cons for me and in the end, it was just so close to call that I wound up at a stalemate. I couldn’t decide and wound up buying neither. It wasn’t until this set became available on clearance at a certain E-tailer that I decided to pull the trigger. And judging by Claymore alone, I’m very glad I did. The “Collector’s Edition” set was $140 (about $20 more than the regular editions), which makes Claymore about $46. Not bad at all for a Masterpiece scaled Third Party change-o-bot. The quality is certainly here and the engineering is just complex enough, but not overly complicated. Next week, we’ll press on with a look at Bombshell… er, I mean… Hypno!