Transformers: Legacy Evolution Shrapnel by Hasbro

Last year, Hasbro gave us Kickback and the promise of getting the Insecticon band back together with new versions. I absolutely adore the Insecticons, and so this made me happy. Then Kickback came out and I absolutely loved him, and that made me happy. But as the old saying goes, fool me once! Because the last time Hasbro did the Insecticons, they started strong and we ended up with a team that didn’t really look like they belonged together. I was worried the same thing would happen here, and so I waited with baited breath for the second release, and here he is. Let’s check out Shrapnel.

We’ve seen the Legacy packaging before, and while I admit it’s rather eye catching in all it’s crazy colors, it doesn’t really scream Transformers to me. All I need in my Transformers packaging is a grid pattern, and either some purple or red to denote faction. Also, what’s this Evolution business? I still don’t know. Hasbro is still refusing to put plastic windows on the boxes, because of saving the planet or whatever, but I get my Transformers online, so there aren’t any kids to put their sticky fingers on my toy or wipe boogers on them. Now the Amazon employees do that. I am pleased to see that somehow Hasbro secured Shrapnel’s name again, as last time I think he was called Skrapnel. Also, the packaged shot showcases the thing about this figure that triggers me the most. Can you guess what it is?

Here’s Shrapnel’s beetle mode and it’s pretty good! But let’s get that one thing that triggers me out of the way first. Somewhere along the way, Hasbro decided to not paint the antenna-slash-pincers silver like it is in the solicitation photos. Instead they left them bare gray and it looks positively awful. I understand that if you read the fine print on the package it actually states that final production appearance may vary, but it still pisses me off, particularly when you look at the price hikes on these little Deluxes. I will give Hasbro credit on two points: First, it’s not a fully enclosed box so at least you can see what you’re getting if you buy him in the store. Secondly, they actually reflect the change in the official package shot online. Of course, I pre-ordered, so the first whiff I got of the change was when I took him out of the shipping box and looked at him.

Other than all of that bitching, I think the alt-mode here is fine. It locks together well and I like how the pincers will open and close without revealing the robot head. The translucent yellow chest plate with the silver plastic behind it and the Decepticon logo stamped on top looks fantastic. Plus, you get that most regal of all Decepticon colors: Black and purple. I also appreciate the use of gloss black paint on the body, as it resembles the diecast of the original toy. There’s some nice silver, red, and blue trim here and there and if it weren’t for that gray plastic, this little bug bot would be a total home run.

Shrapnel comes with two weapons, and you can peg them into his back to weaponize the beetle mode. And look, the G1-inspired gun is actually painted silver, making the ugly gray pincers stand out even more. Yeah, I know. I should get over it. Let’s get him transformed into his robot mode.

Hasbro didn’t muck up the rather simple transformation design from the original figures. Sure, it’s a bit more complex, but it’s still in the spirit of the original toy and it’s still quick, easy, and comfy. Like the beetle mode, Shrapnel’s robot form is a pitch perfect homage to the G1 toy only with better proportions and more articulation. Hey, did I mention how bad the pincers look without silver paint? Oh yeah. I did. Everything else here is just superbly done. You get most of the same beautiful colors on display in his bug mode, and that wonderful yellow chest plate is front and center. I could complain that the upper legs aren’t painted silver too, but that really doesn’t bother me at all. Just the pincers. See… I’m reasonable! From the back, he’s pretty well filled out, except for the hollow upper legs and backs of the pincers.

The head sculpt is also spot on perfect from his big red visor to his silver painted face. You had the silver paint out, Hasbro. It was on the table. You just had to use some more of it on those pincers, dammit!

The two guns are pretty cool, but I’ll mainly just be displaying him with the G1-inspired silver weapon. The purple one can be combined with it a couple of different ways, which is fun, but I don’t like how either of them look enough to go with it.

So, I was really pissed when I opened this figure and saw the pincers, but you probably get that from having read the same complaint over and over again. What I did not expect to happen was to get past it, but get past it I eventually did. At some point the rest of the figure’s merits won me over and I was willing to let it go. And since, Hasbro did something different with Kickback’s wings instead of painting them silver, the two figures do pair up pretty well and look great together. So all that’s left is to see what Hasbro is going to do with Bombshell. If they paint his head cannon silver it’ll make Shrapnel look worse, so I guess the only thing to do is to embrace the gray plastic. We’ll see. But for now, I’m actually really happy with these two, although I won’t be retiring my third party bug bots by Bad Cube any time soon.

Transformers Legacy: Kickback by Hasbro

Well, it looks like a Hasbro trifecta this week, as I’ve gone from Marvel Legends to GI JOE Classified, and now to Transformers Legacy. But hey, I do collect an awful lot of Hasbro properties, so that’s bound to happen from time to time. Today I’m dipping back into Hasbro’s new(ish) line called Legacy, which has been keeping a lot of the G1 love rolling, and this time it’s with a brand new version of an old favorite Insecticon of mine!

Here he is in the rather colorful Legacy packaging…. We last saw Kickback released in the Titan Returns line as a Legends Class in about five years ago. HOLY CRAP, THAT WAS FIVE YEARS AGO!?! He was the final release in that Insecticon trio, and while I liked that figure a lot, Hasbro took too long to release all three and by the time we got to Kickback, they all had annoying differences in their colors and aesthetics. When I finally got to put them on the shelf together and they just didn’t feel like a cohesive team. Later that same year, I picked up Bad Cube’s unofficial Insecticon Trinity, known as the Evil Bug Corps. Soon thereafter Hasbro’s little bugs went into a tote and I haven’t seen them since. But I absolutely adore the Insecticons ever since they made their first appearance in the old cartoon, and I’m ready to see Hasbro take another crack at these bug bots, so let’s start with Kickback and his cyber-locust mode.

Just from handling this guy, you don’t have to see the robot mode, to tell that Hasbro remained VERY faithful to the design and engineering of the original toy. That could be good or bad, depending on your opinion of overly simple transformations. For me, one of the reasons I Loved the G1 Kickback figure so much was that he looked exactly like his Sunbow animated counterpart, he actually had decent articulation and felt like a real action figure, and he was quick to get from robot to bug and back, which made playing with him a lot of fun. And all that certainly applies here! Sure, the way his legs work has been tweaked, but in spirit everything here is the same as the original. The deco is simple and gorgeous, and black and purple one-two punch to the eyeballs is to die for, and the added yellow brings it to new heights. And while his yellow chest plate is perfectly visible on his back here, I’ll wait to talk about it until we get him transformed.

The only thing I am torn on here are those wings. Oh, they look really nice with their intricate sculpted patterns set upon clear plastic canvases. But, I really miss the silver, because it’s just such an iconic part of the original toy. The chrome present on the original toy is very noticeably absent here. I’ve decided that it’s not a deal breaker for me, and that’s probably just because these do look so nice. The gun storage, on the other hand, is such a wonderful bonus on this update. It plugs right up into his undercarriage and adds some nice firepower to locust mode. If you’re a fan of asymmetry, you can also mount it on either leg.

Kickback also comes with two energy sword-gun-things, which are designed to tab into his wings in the locust mode. These are cast in translucent purple plastic and they’re OK. I’ll never complain about some nice bonus accessories, but I’m never going to display him with them, so they’re pretty much lost on me. Actually, I’ll probably loan them out to other figures. Maybe two of the Legacy Stunticons. But, yeah I wish Hasbro had saved the plastic to give us two sets of wings and the ability to swap them out for two different display options. That would have been really cool. Let’s move on to his robot mode…

Awww, yeah! It takes only a few seconds to get him into robot mode, and what a killer mode it is! Kickback is a tad on the stout side, but apart from that this is just a beautiful homage to his original G1 toy. He has actual fists now, instead of claws cobbled from his insect legs, and while I didn’t realize it in time for most of these pictures, he actually has ankle tilts hidden up in them feets. But what I absolutely have to uncontrollably gush over is that yellow chest plate. It’s yellow-tinted clear plastic over what I assume is a silver painted plate under it, and it creates a gorgeous radiant glow, like he’s practically pulsating with energon. Holy shit, it’s just gorgeous, and I can’t wait to see Bombshell and Shrapnel get the same treatment. I imagine the only people who could gripe about the execution here is that it doesn’t open up as an homage to the diaclone pilot compartment from the original toy. The Decepticon insignia on his upper chest looks great, and I dig the addition of some red panels and yellow striping on his lower legs. Kickback even looks all closed up and polished from the back! What an amazing robot mode!

And the head sculpt is pure money! Hasbro went with the Sunbow style face, as opposed to that of the G1 toy, and I’m always happier when they go this route! He’s got some beautiful silver paint on his face and forehead, and his black “helmet” is flanked by his glorious yellow bug antenna. Yes, there’s a little silver overspray at the top of his bright red visor, but thanks to his pronounced brow, you have to get down low to really notice it. Thankfully, the rest of the paint is fine, but sometimes I worry about these silver faces exposed to the elements with no window to protect them in the packaging. I’ve been lucky so far, but I do buy most of these online and sight unseen, so it’s always a gamble now.

Kickback comes with a wonderful update to his original Electrothermic Blast Tube weapon, which is mostly silver, but also has some metallic purple on the muzzle and on the drum-style magazine. It’s a great looking gun and a very distinctive design!

And the sword-gun-thingies that we saw attached to his locust mode, can also be wielded as weapons in his robot mode. You can attach these to his arms as guns, or he can wield them like energon swords. Again, these are cool bonus accessories, but I don’t plan on using them. I would have much preferred Hasbro include some Energon Cubes instead of these.

Here are some comparison shots of Legacy Kickback with the Commemorative Collection G1 Reissue figure, and boy do I think he represents well! He’s a little bit bigger in locust mode and A LOT bigger in robot mode. Sure, the legacy version is missing a little of the pop from the stickers on the G1 toy, but still an absolutely great representation of one of my favorite G1 figures.

A few petty nitpicks aside, I am absolutely thrilled with how great Legacy Kickback came out. This is just another example of me retiring an older Transformers figure in favor of a newer update. He’s so much fun to zip in and out of locust mode, and to just play around with on my downtime. He’ll likely be on my desk for a while, before finding a home on the display shelves. Yeah, I may buy a second Kickback and have a go at coloring those wings, but we’ll see if the clear set grows on me. My only hope now is that Hasbro doesn’t wait a a couple years to finish the trio off, and that Bombshell and Shrapnel both show up with the same style chests, and an overall cohesive look for the team!

Evil Bug Corps: Kickbutt by BadCube

Here we are, folks, at BadCube’s final entry in their line of Not-Insecticons. Over the last two weeks I’ve looked at Claymore and Hypno, and now it’s Kickbutt’s turn. And yes, if you haven’t noticed some might say that Kickbutt bears something of a resemblance to that Transforming grasshopper Kickback, but I’m sure that wasn’t intentional and a total coincidence. Also… his name is great. Kickbutt. Lolz. Copyright infringement can be fun!

This is the third time seeing this packaging. It’s a fully enclosed box with some nice character artwork on the front. On it’s own, there’s nothing too remarkable here, but if you put all three packages together it creates a little panorama of art, which is kind of neat. Kickbutt comes packaged in his robot mode, between two clear plastic trays, but I’m going to “kick” things off with his alt mode.

Yup, he’s a grasshopper. Or locust. I’m not sure, because I’m not one of them bug doctors. In any event, Kickbutt’s alt mode looks absolutely fantastic, although of the three it is the most fiddly. Part of that has to do with the nature of his alt mode. Grasshoppers just aren’t as compact as beetles, so his legs required a bit of extra futzing when I was posing him to get all those legs even. Either way, I don’t want to make it out to be a big deal and it’s worth the effort because this bug mode is every bit as great as his fellow Evil Corps members.

Some points of interest include his ass-gun (they don’t call him Kickbutt for nothing!), the face shield that keeps his robot head from peeping at you when you look underneath, and the wonderful articulation in his legs. Not only are his back legs fully articulated, but his fronts are as well. Like Hypno, Kickbutt’s legs can hold him so he’s standing with his undercarriage completely off the ground. The butt gun may turn some people off, as it’s definitely the biggest departure any of these designs take from the original G1 models, but I actually enjoy that it incorporates the gun into the alt mode. Plus, he can still shoot at things when he’s running away.

The articulation also means that he can be posed with his back legs rearing up and kicking, which is pretty damn cool.

The deco here falls right in line with his peers and includes the same lovely black plastic with a smooth satin finish, purple plastic, and some red and blue paint hits for detail. I really dig the pencil thin blue lining that circles around those recessed gears on his legs. As this is the “Collector’s Edition” upgrade, Kickbutt features chromed out wings, a chromed out butt gun, and a yellow translucent plastic hatch on his back.

And here are some quick shots for scale comparison. Like his buddies, he dwarfs his G1 counterpart, and rightly so, as those guys are roughly equivalent to today’s Legends Class figures. On the other hand, he’s just a bit bigger than your average Masterpiece car, which for me makes him scaled perfectly with Takara’s MP line. So how’s the robot mode?

Pretty damn great! (Even better if you remember to turn both his fists the right way, which I sadly did not! DAMMIT!) Now, if you read my other Bug Corps reviews, than you’ll know I found Hypno and Claymore to have pretty comfy transformations. Kickbutt breaks that trend. The first time, I converted this guy it was a fidgety nightmare with bug and robot parts flopping around everywhere! He was not fun to transform. But the second time (and a couple days later), I attempted it without instructions and I was surprised to find that I had no problems. So, it’s still pretty fiddly with a lot going on, but it’s fairly intuitive, and it’s impressive just what a clean bot form it produces. The proportions on this guy are great and he fits the bill as a great looking MP version of Kickback.

The deco remains pretty consistent with what we saw in bug mode, with that lovely combination of black and purple and some extra hits of silver and red to make things pop. Once again, the translucent yellow chest plate and those beautiful chromed out wings are exclusive to the “Collector’s Edition” and I couldn’t imagine going any other way with these guys. I really dig the little bit of extra sculpted detail on his back and the fact that they painted it in yellow to more closely match the deco of the other two buggy bots.

Also, like his peers, Kickbutt can store his gun on his back.

The head sculpt is superb and follows the Sunbow animated model of the character, rather than the G1 toy. The silver paint looks sharp and I can’t even begin to properly express my love for that red paint they used for his visor. It looks amazing. His yellow antenna swivel, so you can pose them to give him a little more expression if you like. Also, like Claymore, Kickback comes with an extra smirking face. It’s a great bonus, but not something I’m likely to bother with ever swapping out. I will, however, eventually make use of that spot in the middle of his chest for a Decepticon sticker.

Kickbutt’s gun features the same great “tommy gun” design that the original toy’s gun had. It also features the same spatula handle design that the other Bug Corps guns use. It simply tabs into the slot inside the hand and you hinge the knuckles closed around it.

And yes, Kickbutt also comes with another squishy plastic Energon cube. Before wrapping up, let’s take a look at some size comparison shots for the robot mode.

Yup, he towers over his official G1 counterpart. I love checking these out side-by-side and seeing what a great job BadCube did updating the design. And once again, I think these bugs scale beautifully with the Masterpiece cars. Kickbutt has the edge over Smokecreen, but only because of his shoulder wings. Otherwise, he’s about a head shorter, and that works perfectly for me!

As I mentioned in the previous reviews, these guys are currently selling as a set at $140 for the “Collector’s Edition” and I can honestly say these feel like one of the few bargains of the 3P Transformers market. At just under $50 a figure, they’re certainly a little cheaper than the official MP figures of the same size. I think BadCube did a great job here on just about every level. The plastic quality feels good, the engineering has just the right level of complexity (at least if you account for the initial shock of Kickbutt’s transformation) and the designs hit that wonderful sweet spot between Sunbow animated model and original toy homage. I feel as if this trio fills a vacant hole in my collection. The Legends Class Insecticons were fine individually, but they just don’t match up well enough as a set for me to fully enjoy them. These fellas, on the other hand, really make for a great looking team. And while I hear that Fan Toys’ Not-Insecticons are also pretty spectacular, I’ve got no regrets having gone with these guys.

Evil Bug Corps: Hypno by BadCube

Last week, I kicked off my look at BadCube’s Not-Insecticons with a review of the leader, Claymore, and found him to be an excellent bug-bot. Today I’m pressing on with Hypno, who you could possibly argue is inspired by a certain Transformer called Bombshell. But I’m sure that BadCube’s lawyers would suggest otherwise. The Bug Corps are scaled to go with Takara’s Masterpiece Collection and as I write this are readily available at a few online retailers for some very good deals.

I bought my Bug Corps as a set, but they come individually boxed. The boxes have some nice artwork on the front, but are otherwise unremarkable. The figure comes packaged in his robot mode, between two clear plastic trays. You also get a beefy instruction book that covers all three figures, a character card, and an Energon cube. I should also note that I’m looking at the “Collector’s Edition” set, which for a little bit more money gives you some chromed parts and translucent chests. Let’s start with the bug mode!

Hypno’s cyber-beetle mode is a fantastic update to the original G1 toy. This new design retains the large boxy body with rounded edges as well as the down swept head, large bug eyes, six legs, and long silver proboscis. He features some simple sculpted panel lines, which are just enough to add detail and still let him keep something of a smooth, animated appearance. The coloring here features a lot of black plastic, which has a nice satin finish, yellow plastic for his eyes and under his belly, and purple plastic for the head. The deco is rounded out with some red and blue paint hits on the body for detail and that gorgeous chrome on his proboscis.

This is a really solid bug that locks together perfectly, and the die cast gives it some decent heft for a figure this size. One of the things I dig the most about this guy is his set of chunky and fully articulated legs. Each leg features several strong hinges, and the legs are capable of holding Hypno so that his undercarriage isn’t resting on the ground. I’m not entirely sure why this pleases me so much, but it does.

Once again, this premium edition features the transparent yellow panel on the top of the head, and he has some surprisingly good articulation in the proboscis. Not only can it hinge up and down, but the front of it can swivel. The plate on the front of his head also floats on a joint, so it can move a bit side to side to get an even better range of motion out of that chromed out sucker.

Here are some side-by-side shots of Hypno in his bug mode with other figures. He’s obviously a lot bigger than the original G1 toy, which is no surprise as those were quite small and roughly equivalent to the modern Legends Class. The shot of him beside Streak shows he’s just a bit bigger than the MP cars. As with Claymore, I think this scale holds pretty well as the original Insecticons were about on par with the original Autobot cars. So far, I’m thrilled with the way this guy turned out, but how about his robot mode, eh?

Not bad at all! I found transforming Hypno to be a bit more fiddly than Claymore, but really not by much. A lot of the engineering involves his robot legs packing and unpacking into the back of the bug. There’s also a clever flip that happens inside his torso to exchange the robot head with the front of the bug head. Another key point worth mentioning is that his proboscis actually detaches to become his weapon in robot mode and I think that works great. BadCube selected some iconic aspects of the original toy to remain, like the tenuous way the arms attach to the shoulders, but they also streamlined a lot too. There’s virtually no bug-kibble on the arms at all, just the blasters that he has on his forearms. I will say that I think the front of Hypno’s lower legs look a bit unpolished, but it’s not all that bad, and they added some paint hits to help spruce it up.

The back of Hypno presents a very clean robot. Again, there’s really no bug-kibble to be seen. Even the two insect legs that reside back here are folded up neatly on his little yellow backpack. The back of the legs look even more refined than the front, with some blue and red paint down near the ankles. About the only thing I can gripe about here are the exposed screw heads, and that’s to be expected. Also, the backpack serves as a storage for Hypno’s gun. It simply clips right on.

Bombshell always had the most distinctive head sculpt of the Insecticons, and by sheer coincidence so does Hypno! I’ve always loved the mouth plate on this guy. It looks like a knight’s visor. The paint used for the eyes casts a cool shimmer effect, which can look like light-piping from certain angles. And, of course, on top Hypno has a faked out diminished version of his proboscis, which can be angled up and down for firing Insecti-shells. Once again, the chest plate on these “Collector’s” versions is clear plastic and he has some silver painted panels down near his abs.

The articulation here is right on par with Claymore. The arms feature universal movement in the shoulders, double hinges in the elbows with swivels, and swivels in the wrists. The legs have rotating hinges in the hips, with some lovely clicking ratchets, double hinges in the knees, and the ankles feature both hinges and lateral rockers. He can rotate at the waist and he has a ball joint in his neck.

As mentioned earlier, Hypno comes with a chromed gun, which is actually formed from the insect mode’s proboscis. It has a spatula-shaped handle that tabs into a slot inside either of Hypno’s fists and holds it pretty well.

And finally, Hypno comes with the same type of Energon cube that we saw with Claymore. Yup, it’s just a squishy cube of pink plastic, but cool nonetheless. Finally, let’s check out a couple of size-comparison shots.

Hypno towers over the original G1 version of Bombshell and he comes up just a little short of Masterpiece Streak, which feels perfect to me. I really dig the way these two styles fit together, making Hypno quite welcome on one of my official MP shelves.

As I mentioned last time, this “Collector’s Edition” of the Evil Bug Corps set me back $140, which makes these guys about $47 each and I think that makes them an incredible value. Indeed, it’s hard to find many MP scaled third party convertorobots of this quality for under $50 these days. The engineering is complex enough, but not overly fiddly, the tolerances feel fine, and there’s nothing involved in the transformation that feels like it can damage the toy. Yup, in the end, I give Hypno two Proboscises up. Sorry, I’ll never get to use that word again, so I might as well go nuts. Anyway, that’s two bug-bots down and my love for the Evil Bug Corps remains unshaken. These guys look fantastic together, and I’m all the more excited to bring the final member of the trio in next week when I look at Kickback… I mean… Kickbutt!

Evil Bug Corps: Claymore by BadCube

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!

Transformers Titans Return: Legends Class Kickback by Hasbro

Hooray, it’s the return of Transformers Thursday! And anyone who says, “Oh, but it’s only a Legends Class figure,” watch out because I’m gonna slap your face! I love the Legends Class figures! They’re great fun and I can stuff them in my pocket and take them to work and have robot battles on my desk. I love them even more lately because I have some ginormous robots for them to interact with! And today’s little change-o-bot is even more special, because Kickback finally completes the trio of Legends Class Insecticons, which Hasbro started way back in 2014 with the release of Skrapnel. Bombshell followed in 2015, and here we are in 2017 with Kickback.

Yup, these little fellas span three different lines: Generations, Combiner Wars, and now Titans Return. If I were a mint-on-card collector, this shit would irritate me to no end. Of course, there’s something else about this figure that does that, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Let’s bust him open and start with his insect mode!

Is he a locust, a grasshopper, or a cricket? Don’t look at me, I ain’t no bug scientist! I do, however, hold an honorary degree in toy robot bug appreciationology, and as such I give this alt mode my stamp of supreme approval. In fact, if these wings were painted silver, this Kickback would be a perfect update to the original G1 toy’s bug mode. The black and purple plastic looks fantastic (although he does sport a lot more purple than his G1 namesake) and the additional silver and yellow accents consist of more paint operations than some of the bigger bots get.

And.. OMG, THAT TRANSLUCENT YELLOW CHEST PANEL, I LOVE IT SO MUCH! Also… OMG, THAT TRANSLUCENT YELLOW CHEST PANEL, I HATE IT SO MUCH!!! Yeah, the chest panel really elevates the whole figure tremendously. Unfortunately, it also poops all over the painted chest panels on the other two Legends Insecticons, and it’s that lack of consistency that really… dare I say it? It bugs me! Sure, the gold and yellow chests never matched between Bomshell and Skrapnel anyway, but they were at least somewhat close. Kickback busts the whole deal wide open. The reasoning here might have been to accommodate a Titan Master, but by furthering the inconsistency between the three decos, it it’s also very irritating.

Transforming Kickback feels slightly more involved than it need be, but the results are overall good. In fact, my only real complaint here is the way the wings sit behind the shoulders, rather than be integrated into them. On the flip-side, it does give you the option of sweeping them down instead of up. Us G1 old-timers will likely stick with the up position, but I can see just as many younger fans happy to point them down and out of the way. Other than that, I really am very pleased with this figure. It may not be as clean as the original toy’s robot mode, but I think it skirts that fine line between old and new quite well and the passel of ball joints make him lots of fun to play with.

Rating Kickback on his own, I give him very high marks, and I’m a bit surprised by that, because I’ve heard a lot of people dumping on him. On the other hand, put him with the other Insecticons and the mismatched gold, yellow, and translucent yellow on the decos bothers me more than I wish it did. Because of the designs of Bombshell and Skrapnel, there’s no way to reverse engineer them with the matching translucent yellow parts they deserve. So, if Hasbro or Takara ever does decide to release these three in a more uniform deco, the best I can hope for is a repaint of Kickback’s chest to yellow, and that would be a shame. It would be basically reducing the better figure of the three to match the lesser two.

And so, finally getting Kickback into my collection has been rather bitter-sweet. Yes, it gives me a sense of closure and I think he’s a very good figure, but as soon as this little trio is complete, I find myself longing for another attempt. I feel like these three should have been designed and issued a lot closer together. And considering how much I adore the Insecticons, I find myself tempted to come out of retirement from buying third-party figures, and hunt down one of those sets of unofficial bug-bots.

Transformers Commemorative Series Insecticons by Hasbro

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!