Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Rambings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: G1 Pretender Beast Carnivac
8/17/01

I got Carnivac a few weeks back for pretty cheap ($14) on Ebay. There are still deals to be had out there; you just gotta hunt around a bit.... and be willing to accept less-than-complete toys. Mine is missing the gun and the shell's shoulder pads, but hey, it's still Carnivac!

Carnivac, for those who don't know, is the UK comic's equivalent of Bludgeon -- a crappy, forgettable toy rescued from obscurity by the sheer coolness of his character. He was a nobody in the US -- a one-shot non-character who showed up in issue #51 soley for the purpose of hawking a new toy (he and his buddy Snarler were sent to kill Spike Witwicky, thus removing Fortress Maximus from the war.) However, he starred in numerous UK stories. Carnivac leads the original Mayhem Attack Squad, a counterpart to the Autobot Wreckers, whose first (and last) appearance is in Time Wars. He winds up... not quite switching sides, but definately leaving the Decepticons, after the original Mayhems are wiped out by Galvatron and Megatron. For this, he's hunted down by the successor group to the squad he himself led. He holds his own against 6 other 'cons till his Autobot allies save him. Later he infiltrates the Mayhem's base and singlehandedly takes out 3 of the squad in revenge for the death of his friend, fellow ex-Decepticon Catilla. Through it all, he continues to insist he's NOT an Autobot. Very much a Dinobot type of character, and one that I have a predilection for.

Sadly, the character in the comics looks very little like the toy. It's a shame, too -- the comic models for both Snarler and Carnivac look really cool. I almost got them back in the 80s, based on how neat their robot modes looked in US #51. The US model differs somewhat from the model used for Carny in the UK, and the UK often differed from itself (sometimes I think they just handed the toy to the artist and said, "DON'T draw this.") But the two models are much closer to each other than either is to the toy.

In the comics, his robot form has humanoid proportions, almost no beast kibble, no hood behind his head, and some cool spikes sticking out of his shoulders. Even his head got a considerable re-deco for the comics, which IMO is *not* an improvement over the toy -- too often, his comic version looks like a man in a space helmet with goggles (especially when someone like Dan Reed is drawing him.) His colors also got altered; both comic models use a bright yellow for his trim parts, while the toy is a rather unappealing dark gold-mustard. His dominant color is medium purple (fairly well matched in the US; much darker in the UK strips), and there's a few bits of dark turquoise -- hardly enough to matter.

The engineering on this thing could have been handled by a twelve year old; it's pretty much how nearly every beast after 1987 transformed. Front legs become arms; rear torso becomes uni-leg with beast legs hanging off of it. His jaw folds down onto his chest, leaving him with a giant Throttlebot-style hood behind his tiny robot head. His head is lost in it, and with fingers the size of mine, you can barely reach in there enough to turn it (though at least it *can* turn.) His arms move at the shoulder, and he can bend at the knees -- though in typical G1 fashion, that counts for nothing since he has a giant unileg below the knees. He's covered with kibble, including most of his beast legs; his limbs are so blocky they really don't stand out as limbs. It's no wonder they altered him so much for the comics.

His beast mode's not too bad. It's well proportioned, at very least, and modestly posable (shoulder joints on the rear legs, shoulder and elbow joints on the front.) It's also, as far as I know, the only TF to have an eyeband in beast mode instead of individual eyes, a trait usually reserved for robot-mode faces. Definately the best of his modes, though that's not saying much. It's also the mode he spent the least amount of time in in the comics, natch, and the one that was altered least for the comics.

It's not even a matter of what they could do with toys at the time -- even his outer shell got some alteration, with the gun being massively enlarged and relocated to the top of its backpack. He's nowhere near as mangy as he often looks in the comics, either. It's a fairly blatant admission that the toy could have been a lot better, and just wasn't. Like all the Pretender Beasts (as far as I know; I only have Chainclaw myself, but the other two look similar), his shell is a total statue. It's a fairly fierce looking grey wolf, with bared fangs, a whacko backpack molded around its torso, and a blue tail. A blue tail. Don't ask; I don't know. The tail is on a hinge, but can't move due to the molding of the shell. That's typical of the half-hearted engineering that typifies the first year of Pretenders.

Objectively, I like him more than Chainclaw -- but that's not saying much, since I find Chainclaw's inner robot to be pretty horrid. Carnivac's shell isn't quite as cool as Chainclaw's, but it's at least fierce enough to sort of capture the feel of the character. Oh well. I just have to keep telling myself: it's Carnivac!

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