I said I’d be revealing the last of my Beast Wars Animated line in January, and here we are! Since everybody’s been so patient, I decided to post the final two (well, two and a half) figures all at once. Here we go! The third stasis pod was assumed destroyed in the experiment that created the Arachnid Sisters. Instead, badly damaged and malfunctioning, its makeshift DNA scanner struggling to fill in its fractured code, the pod gave birth to an entirely new breed of Transformer: the Maximal Botanica! Inheriting what remained of Blackarachnia’s former identity as Elita-1 and gifted with a technorganic form perfect for disappearing into the jungles of the the primitive planet, Botanica began a one femme guerrilla war of sabotage against the Predacon forces, becoming a literal thorn in the side of her creator. By far Botanica’s greatest victory over the Predacons was recovering a downed stasis pod and awakening the protoform within as the Maximal Nightscream. Sarcastic and pessimistic, the youthful bot resents being trapped on the jungle world and drafted into a war he didn’t start. Fortunately, he resents Blackarachnia’s attempts to experiment on the remaining stasis pods even more. Despite his caustic exterior, he has a good spark, and is unwaveringly loyal to ‘Sprouts’. The diagnostic drone was built from spare parts in a joint effort by the Arachnid Sisters to provide an extra set of servos for the numerous experiments conducted in the Predacon base. No one is really sure where the sparkless automaton came by its dry wit and long-suffering disposition, but being reprogrammed by Glavatron into a spy and double-agent certainly hasn’t helped to calm its frayed nerves. Waspinator and the drone have bonded over their shared experiences with dismemberment. I certainly wasn’t much of a Beast Machines fan while it was airing, though in retrospect it comes off pretty well once you average in RiD and the Unicron Trilogy. My biggest complaint, or course, was the significant character derailment for most of the cast. Logically, though, totally new characters couldn’t suffer from that, right? Awesome! So who do we get? The obnoxious emo kid and the sanctimonious technical pacifist. Hurr... That said, Nightscream and Botanica weren’t entirely without merit, and they have grown on me in the intervening years. The idea of a Transformer with a plant-mode always seemed like a really neat one to me in particular, even if I didn’t love the actual implementation. I got to thinking about the practical applications of a plant mode on a jungle world, and the idea of desperate, guerrilla warfare against overwhelming odds really started to grow on me. When I saw Derrick Wyatt’s design for an Animated Botanica, the die was pretty much cast. So! Botanica. Personally, I really think she’s the gem of the entire collection. Her torso, head and hands came from Blackarachnia originally, while her arms came from Waspinator and from the waist down she’s the stem of a plastic wine glass (thanks to venon for that idea). I definitely wanted her arms to be able to split in half, as a nod to her Beast Machines model. Of course, there’s a considerable amount of putty and styrene at work as well, which allows for her transformation into a technorganic venus fly trap. The four sections of her fly trap ‘mouth’ are attached to what used to be Blackarachnia’s four front legs, allowing the ‘mouth’ to open and close, then separate and fold into a sort of petticoat in robot mode. This accounts for my biggest departure from Wyatt’s design, but I’m quite pleased with it; it gives Botanica a sort of elegant, aristocratic air. I see her as akin to a resistance fighter in occupied Paris, attending formal events by day and committing acts of sabotage by night. In my head she’s got a bit of a French accent, but that’s neither here nor there. As a minor point of interest, in my version, her trademark electrical powers come from the prongs on the back of her wrists, which function something like tasers. Shooting chain lightning from one’s hips always seemed a bit silly to me. Nightscream was a lot simpler. I spent a pretty ridiculous amount of time trying to find a suitable bat head before deciding to just make one from scratch. The ears proved to be a bit tricky; I placed steel wire in them so that they could bend into a collar in robot mode. Speaking of which, I’m quite pleased with the way his robot head came out. I must confess to a certain fondness for Nightscreams goofy hair. Not everybody is going to like his wings, I suspect. I tried to give them a bit of a leathery look when I extended them from pteranodon wings into bat wings, but I’m not sure how well that really comes across. One thing I do like is the way they fold up to the side to give his a sort of cape-flapping-in-the-wind look. I think it helps to visually tie him in with Botanica. The diagnostic drone was really an after thought, poor guy. After making Botanica I was left with a good pile of Waspinator parts, and the tiny, vestigial arms from his robot mode brought this guy to mind. He’s built around a metal lug nut (as in the fastener, not the Decepticon) with just about everything else made from a combination of putty, styrene, wire and apoxy. I had a heck of a time getting his arms facing the right direction. Ultimately I had to saw off the sockets and reattach them at 90 degrees. His base is made from some wooden dowel and a Pringles lid. Sometimes you work with what’s on hand. I tried to simplify his design and colour scheme to give him a more Animated look, though there’s not much to him to begin with! Still, he makes a fun little addition to the set. Sadly, these are indeed the final figures in this collection. Anyone waiting on Transmutate is going home disappointed, I'm afraid, and if I ever get to Animated Ravage I expect he'll be a musical instrument rather than, well, inexplicably Russian. Still, I'll be putting up a few more fun photos of these guys in the weeks to come, including a monster of a group shot, and now I'll finally have time to get a start on some other projects. Until then, thank you all for the encouragement along the way and may you always have a rubber duckie close at hand!