Thursday, 22 July 2010

Beast Wars Reissue Waspinator

In all the years of TransFormers, across all the Generations and continuities, there has never been a character that attracted gunfire like Waspinator. He came across as the little guy with big dreams... and yet was blown up by his comrades as often as by his enemies.

Maybe it was the irritating voice (think Peter Lorre, but with a tendency to buzz any 's' sound)... or the delusion that he was far more powerful and competent than he really was... maybe it was just the annoying buzzing around in (giant green) wasp mode. Waspinator escaped very few episodes of Beast Wars unscathed, and frequently ended up strewn across the prehistoric landscape.

I actually skipped on most of Beast Wars the first time round, because I just didn't see the point of TransFormers - alien robots, let's not forget - that turned into animals. Leave it to Mainframe, the company behind the awesome ReBoot, to create one of the most finely judged stories for one of the most outlandish toylines in TransFormers history. When I finally got round to seeing Beast Wars - sporadically on UK kids TV, then via a website that carried decent resolution video files - I was utterly hooked. Each character in the initially small cast was well developed, and carried their own part of the story - a far cry from the random selection of two-dimensional characters that filled out the G1 cartoon. It was the TV series that got me interested in owning more than just Optimus Primal and Megatron, but original Beast Wars toys are hard to find, frequently expensive beyond all reason, and generally poorly decorated.

So when Takara decided to reissue a group of Beast Wars toys, with hugely improved paint jobs, Waspinator was quite high on my 'want' list.


Beast Mode:
As his name would suggest, Waspinator transforms into something resembling a wasp. The body is quite well done - the correct number of segments, a small amount of molded detail - and the wings are quite cleverly done - ball-jointed, and molded from a translucent, pearlescent plastic. They also house a pair of missiles. The only downsides to Waspinator's beast mode are the very visible robot forearms and fists just below the insect's head, and the disproportionate back legs. However, considering the simple yet reasonably clever transformation that turns these into robot legs, they're not too bad.

The main point of confusion for his beast mode is his colourscheme: when did you last see a green wasp?!

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Robot Mode:
Waspinator is a very strange looking robot. Obviously it's about as easy to diguise wasp parts on the robot as it was to disguide robot parts on the wasp, and he does end up looking awfully organic for a robot. The default head doesn't look much like his CGI appearance, but it does a fair job of simulating it with its clever, updated paint job. The alternate head, meanwhile, looks a little bit more like the normal TransFormer head, with its visor and 'helmet', but doesn't suit the model at all once you've seen Waspinator in the TV series.

Since almost all of the joints are ball joints, he should be very poseable, but many of the joints on mine are too loose, and the legs can't support such a back-heavy body. It may have helped to have 'feet' that were molded with anything other than 'standing bolt upright' in mind, but considering their appearance in beast mode, I guess certain compromises had to be made.

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Transformation is relatively simple - about average for the time they were originally released, and the size of the figure. Later Beast Wars lines introduced greater complexity, but tended more toward being robots encased in organic shells. Certain parts don't hang together particularly well in either mode - the wasp head being the most obvious example, but this could easily be down to the age of the mold.

The toy itself isn't that great, to be honest, but it's easily saved by the paintjob, and by the character of the robot it represents:





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"Wazzpinator hazz a headache in hizz whooooollllle body..."

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