Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings


Manic Ramblings and Delerious Ranting
re: Transmetals
4/04/98

I went a little nuts buying stuff this afternoon, and snapped up
Transmetal Rattrap, Waspinator, Cheetor, and Tarantulus.  I got south
Philly TRU's last Rattrap, which I think someone else might have been
eyeing as well -- it had been stashed on the back of the peg... ah well...
TOY SPOILERS AHEAD!!!  I am about to reveal exactly what happens when you
take Rattrap out of the package, so stop reading now or the dramatic
effect will be ruined for you!!  The stupid have been warned.   :P

Initial impressions:  Tarantulus is one sweet arachnid.  Waspinator looks
almost... *regal* in bug and jet modes.  Cheetor *looks* cool, but there's
less than meets the eye.  As for Rattrap... not quite sure what I was
thinking; probably wouldn't have gotten him if it weren't for the show and
the fact that he apparently *just* came out this week.  This was a really
fun haul to get, though looking at all that metallic plastic reminds me of
an unsettling fact from my childhood: I wore the chrome off of nearly
every one of my TFs when I was a kid.  How deep does this stuff go, I
wonder?  How easily will it wear out?

TARANTULUS:  Fabulous.  One of the coolest Beast Warriors yet made.  Where
to start?  His spider legs are 'mechanical', and end in a slightly curved
blade, like the end of a scyth.  The result is very creepy looking.  Add
to that the huge orange-chrome mandibles (which become his robot mode feet)
and you've got one wicked spider.  The abdomen section actually looks very
much like one of the stasis pods from the show.  It has some exhaust pipe
stuff on the sides, to make the vehicle mode look a little more vehicular.
The spider legs are ball-jointed to the side, meaning they can swing up
and down and a little bit front to back, except for the front pair, which
can swing from the side all the way to the front.  It's rather difficult
to get Tarantulus to stand on his spider legs... come to think of it,
that's been the case for almost every arachnid we've gotten from BW,
excepting Quickstrike.  Tarantulus's problem is that the legs are attached
too far forward, meaning that the rear end tends to sag to the ground.
Still, it's a relatively small complaint.

 Transformation is much more complex than the original big T.   The
vehicle mode is a simple pull-out-and-rotate of the front and back wheels.
The back wheel will split in two if you're not careful; it separates along
a beautiful curve and becomes his shoulder pads.  Curiously, it doesn't
spin nearly as well when it's in vehicle mode position as it does when
it's stored away in spider mode.  The front wheel is actually removeable
to become his hand weapon (the "pizza cutter of doom" as it's been dubbed
elsewhere.)  Getting the arms into the correct position with the wheel
halves on top of them is the only hard part of the transform; there's a
second hinge on the arm sections that allows them to swing into the proper
spot, and it's easy to miss and hard to move.  Swing the arms forward and
a little hole-and-peg system holds the wheel halves in place.   Tarantulus
now has three fingers; like the Invid Tesla, he's evolving. :]

I cannot say enough how much I like his colors.  The midnight blue with
neon green spots works perfectly; Tarantulus is now truly a creature of
darkness.  :]  My only real complaint about robot mode is the head --
Tarantulus now sports a slicked-back hairdo behind the edges of his face.
Come on, guys, robots do NOT look good with fur on their heads.  I would
also have appreciated if the face was a little closer to the original's; I
miss the inward-pointing spikey things.  Fun note, if you fold down his
head in robot mode and cover it with the plate that swings down from
behind it, he looks like an Invid drone or some other such mindless thug. 

 A small letdown about big T and the other Transmetals was the lack of any
gimmick beyond the metalicized plastic and the vehicle modes.  I guess
those two factors "make up" for it, but part of the fun of getting new BWs
has been figuring out what little hidden bonuses they have tucked away on
them (I usually don't read the package too carefully before I buy), and I
rather miss it.

Still, Tarantulus is my favorite of the bunch.  He might eventually
displace Retrax from the coveted position of car dashboard guardian (a
post previously held by Scorponok), though for now I want him in my room
where I can fiddle with him. (Incidentally, I seem to be the only Transfan
in the world who thinks Retrax is really cool, bought him on sight, and
can't understand why he's such an incredible peg warmer. :]

CHEETOR: At first glance this guy looks really good, so much so that
originally he was the only Transmetal I was going to get.  It's mainly
because of the smooth, organic-looking curves along his back in cat mode,
and a muted color scheme (grey, medium-dark blue, and gold chrome) that
works well.  But several things about him bother me.

 First, his cat mode head is completely frozen.  There's no way to wiggle
it up and down or side to side; nor does the jaw move.  This wouldn't be
such a problem if his head wasn't pointed down towards the ground;
however, if a figure has to be frozen, I expect them to be looking in
front of them, straight ahead.  Though the cat mode looks impressive, it
suffers from awkward posability and front legs that are considerably
shorter than the back ones.  There is nowhere to put those back legs so
they actually look right, especially since the torso keeps them from
moving forward beyond the perpindicular-to-the-ground position.
Compounding the problem, the rear legs are attached much lower on his body
than the front legs; all this adds up to him staring at the ground right
in front of him.  A flexible tail would help, also, but alas he's been
given a rigid tail structure.  ;]  I find his flight mode a wee bit weird,
since it leaves him with a big hole through his middle.  I'm disapointed
in the designers for not articulating him at the waist; it would have been
very easy to do.  He's yet another "beast legs become robot legs" design;
nothing below mid-torso (legs excepted) is involved in his transformation
or even moves.  His elbow and knee joints are needlessly limited in their
range of movement.  And I definately don't like his robot head, which
again has hair around the edge of the face and all over the back.  Worse,
Cheetor his baring his teeth.  I vastly prefer the robotic look of the
original Cheets face.  It should be noted that the show's animators struck
a good balance between the original and this version for their portrayal
of TM Cheetor.

 On the positive side, he does still *look* like Cheetor.  The robot mode
has improved posability since there aren't nearly as many animal bits to
get in the way.  Despite the problems above, the cheetah mode is
impressive looking.  The transformation of the arms is particularly clever
and unique: his cat face splits down the middle, and the upper and lower
jaws become two fingers (which AFAICT is all he's got on each hand.)
Overall, a decent toy, but not quite as cool as I'd expected.

RATTRAP:  Three words:  big honkin' wheels!  The first thing I did when I
got him out of the package was spin those giant rear wheels around  --
they spin no matter what mode he's in.  The colors -- brown, red chrome,
and silver-grey -- are not especially impressive; not dull enough to fit
Rattrap, not bright enough to be arresting or interesting.  Rat mode is
almost as lacking in posabilitiy as the original was; the feet can waggle
along ankle joints but that's about it. Brodie mode is kinda nifty; the
rear rat feet fold up neatly inside the rear wheels.  Rotate the front
legs upside-down and pop a couple of silly-looking exhaust pipes out of
his back and you're done.  The wheels are plastic but they roll quite
well... sure wish the old G1 Pretender ground vehicles rolled this well.
Incidentally, Dinobot can ride on him, but not in quite that hunched-over
position from the show due to the limits of Dinobot's posability.

As you're unfolding him into robot mode, _pay_careful_attention_ to where
the robot arms started off.  There are a lot of way to put them back when
you're changing him back to rat mode, and the correct one is not
intuitively obvious.  It should be by rights; they *should* have included
a hole in one arm to fit it onto the post on his underside, but didn't.
His tail, in rat mode, is held in place by one of his hands.  In a better
design the end of the tail should slide neatly into the box-shaped opening
on his posterior.  But it doesn't... maybe I'm still doing something
wrong.  Ah, there.  It kinda fits -- about one-third of it goes in -- but
still requires the hand to hold the tail in place.  The tail itself
continues the trend of articulation seen in Quickstrike and TM Megs, with
ten joints total.

Yuck!  He has sculpted mechanical intestines on his lower abdomen!  Worse,
he's baring a mouthful of spikey, Thunderwing-style teeth in his robot
mode.  The head looks like Rattrap (with much worse coloring -- bright
orange top, blue side and back, grey face and 'rim') but I can't really
say the face does.  The head has an annoying tendancy to slip back into
his chest, and it's not the easiest thing to get back out.  There's a lot
of bulk on this toy that's just wasted; he suffers a pretty bad case of
"animal on my back".  

WASPINATOR:  At last, I own Waspinator, or at least one version of him.
He's quite striking; the colors are very nice.  Most attention-getting are
the wings; they're teal blue with the geometrically patterned 'veins'
outlined in gold chrome.  Like Cicadadon (from the Tripredicus set) he has
two pairs of wings, small ones and big ones.  Elsewhere he's a mix of gold
chrome and black on the torso, with all his appendages (beast and robot)
in dark red.  The insect legs are mechanical like Tarantulus's, and the
front two pairs also have a ball joint at one juncture, giving them a LOT
of posability and a feel that just cries out "Waspinator!"  Jet mode looks
cool from up top, but it takes a lot of willing suspension of disbelief to
forget that the cockpit is sticking out from a giant wasp face.  Ditto for
all the wasp legs, which just kind of hang there in the back.  I doubt
we'll ever see TM Waspinator on the show, for this simple reason: if Waspy
is only 6-8 feet tall, the jet cockpit would be scaled for someone of
truly Liliputian size, maybe six inches at the most... There is no good
way to hide the cockpit in bug mode; I also can't seem to get his wasp
head to fold up correctly in jet mode so that the cockpit is parallel ot
the rest of the body.  My last big problem with jet/bug mode is that the
robot legs just fold up against the underside of the body without any
clips to secure them, just like the small Machine Wars jets.  I wish the
toy designers would realize the importance of having things like holes and
posts to let you know where things go, and more importantly to make sure
that they stay put there.

Robot mode is so-so.  Things don't snap neatly into place the way they do
on Tarantulus  He's still old Bug Eyes; his eyes are big, round,
multi-segmented, and colored the same slightly translucent teal as the
wings.  His rear wasp legs fold up very neatly against his robot leg shins
and are held in place by a post-and-hole, but there is no good place to
put the other two pairs of wasp legs.  He comes with a strange hand weapon
that looks like a giant ceremonial knife but is supposed to be his stinger
gun.  It doesn't fire; heck, it doesn't even have a barrel opening.  As
with the other three TMs, he retains the Waspinator "look" -- big bug eyes
on the chest, wings on the back, large bug-like eyes on the robot face,
big abdomen hanging off of his butt.  The only complaint I could have in
the "character" department is that he almost looks *too* cool -- he's not
quite goofy enough to be the Waspinator we're always seeing get squashed,
run over, shot down, and blown apart.

I'm not terribly displeased with any of these guys.  If you're going to
get just one, however, definately make it Tarantulus.  Second choice,
Cheetor or Waspinator.


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