Semi-retro Review: Beast Wars Retrax, the amazing pill bug

Discussion in 'Transformers Feedback & Reviews' started by Philister, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. Philister

    Philister Teutonicons Rising!

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    For more pics, click on the image above

    Alternate Mode: Retrax’ beast mode is a big pill bug (lat. Armadillidiidae) of impressive size, seeing as he’s “only” a Deluxe-class figure. The bug consists of seven segments, the center five each sporting a pair of short black legs. The front segment is a nicely sculpted head with yellow mandibles, while the tail segment has a single stinger. Articulation is present in this mode, but not really all that noticeable. All ten legs can move up and down, while the mandibles can snap shut and the stinger moves up and down as well.

    Like a real pill bug Retrax can roll himself into a ball by way of a spring-powered mechanism. And while the legs sticking out the side and the mandibles up front do not lend themselves to actual rolling, the whole thing still looks nicely ball-shaped. In both variants the bug mode is nicely detailed and offers no visible robot parts (unless you’re looking at it from the bottom). So bottom line, a pretty decent beast mode.

    Robot Mode: Given that the beast mode has been built around the gimmick of it being able to roll up into a ball automatically, it shouldn’t be surprising that the robot mode suffers for it. It’s basically the bug mode stood up on one side with robot legs and a head folding out. The arms are integrated into the length of the bug body, the fists sitting inside the head and tail segment. The roll-up gimmick from the beast mode translates into a sort of power-hug here, as Retrax can wrap his massive arms (or rather his tiny little thin arms along with the huge bug parts attached to them) around an opponent. The arms can be separated from the bug segments, but as the springs are attached to them, it still leaves them stuck in one of two positions, only now the bug segments are flopping around loosely on the back.

    And... yeah, that’s pretty much it. Retrax is a gimmick with legs, nothing more than that. His legs are nicely articulated, but given that about 90 percent of his mass is in his upper body, that doesn’t really avail him much in the way of posing ability. The detailing of the robot mode is a good deal less spectacular than the beast mode and he doesn’t have any weapons apart from the power-hug gimmick. So bottom line: leave Retrax in beast mode.

    Remarks: Beast Wars contained lots and lots of great toys, both those that appeared in the TV series and those that didn’t. Retrax didn’t, and he’s not a great toy, either. Retrax is a very good example of what happens when a gimmick takes over a figure. He’s got a great beast mode and the whole rolling-up-into-a-ball thing is nice, but it pretty much ruins the robot mode, which - to me- is almost always the main selling point of every Transformers toy.

    Retrax’ only in-media appearances are some background scenes in the IDW Beast Wars comics. The mold itself was recycled for the Beast Wars II character Power Hug, who did appear in the accompanying TV series, but it doesn’t improve the toy any. So the bottom line: only for Beast Wars completists and those who don’t mind a toy that they should never, ever transform into robot mode.

    Rating: D+
     
  2. Optimus Prime

    Optimus Prime Rethink your heroes TFW2005 Supporter

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    Retrax is one of my favorite BW toys. His robot mode headsculpt is really cool, and his colors are great (especially the translucent dark blue-green color). Sure, poseability isn't all that good in robot mode, and his gimmick really gets in the way, but he looks cool. His unusual beast mode makes him worth consideration, IMO, and his robot mode is good as a display piece if not for actual playability.
     
  3. TrueNomadSkies

    TrueNomadSkies Airachnid's ratservant

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    Hhaah, I remember a friend of mine having this toy, and while neither of us were overly impressed, I started to appreciate it much more as I got older, simply because it was different & because I've always liked bugs. Plus, I think the colours work really great, and you sort of have 3 modes if you count the ball.
     
  4. xanthax

    xanthax choppaface

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    Retrax is such a goofy toy. He is the planet that my Unicron is currently eating.

    omnomnomnom
     
  5. TrueNomadSkies

    TrueNomadSkies Airachnid's ratservant

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    Hahahh, I never thought of that...
     
  6. payres

    payres Well-Known Member

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    Now you mention it..... Why has Retrax never been repainted as Unicron? It'd work....
     
  7. TrueNomadSkies

    TrueNomadSkies Airachnid's ratservant

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    I swear I saw an orange version once, but it might've been a custom or something because I couldn't find it in the resource section & I was too lazy to google.
     
  8. Gepard

    Gepard Well-Known Member

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    ^Might you be thinking of Powerhug? He's mostly teal and white, but there's a not inconsiderable amount of orange on him.
     
  9. Gingerchris

    Gingerchris Telly-headed Tyrant

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    This is one of my least-enjoyed TF figures. I hated the face, which felt to me like it belonged to some other toyline. The arms didn't always stay opened for me and so many times he'd suddenly spring shut by himself and fall off the shelf. And in general he was a bit back-heavy and I would struggle to get him to stand without being leant back against something.

    Bravo for trying something a bit different, but for me it compromised too much.
     
  10. TrueNomadSkies

    TrueNomadSkies Airachnid's ratservant

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    Nah, I know about him. I'm talking about something I swear exists but probably doesn't, and was literally a Retrax with bright orange where the yellow/green actually is.
     
  11. Gingerchris

    Gingerchris Telly-headed Tyrant

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    Maybe you're thinking of Powerpinch, who was an orange and black earwig.
     
  12. _Flashback_

    _Flashback_ Well-Known Member

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    And people thought only Michael Bay was responsible for horrible TF designs.
     
  13. TrueNomadSkies

    TrueNomadSkies Airachnid's ratservant

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    Maybe, but looking back at it now, I probably just remember a picture online that somebody played around with in paint or something, or maybe even a custom :( 
     
  14. Gingerchris

    Gingerchris Telly-headed Tyrant

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    Memory can be a funny old thing. I have this clear image in my head of seeing a photograph of a Transmetal Scorponok as a co-sell image on one of the BW boxes back in the day. It had giant drill-bits instead of claws.
    I can only assume I must've dreamt it.
     
  15. TrueNomadSkies

    TrueNomadSkies Airachnid's ratservant

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    Scavenger comes to mind as a possible influence, but just like my example... who knows hah
     
  16. Gingerchris

    Gingerchris Telly-headed Tyrant

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    Nah, it definitely wasn't Scavenger, although maybe it did morph from that in my mind somehow. I can still recall the memory image of this TM Scorponok but I know it can't be real.
    Bummer really as a TM Scorp with drill claws would've been cool.
     

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