"For the Royalty!" Beast Wars Inferno (Mega class, 1996)

Discussion in 'Transformers Feedback & Reviews' started by Smokescreen38, Feb 26, 2020.

  1. Smokescreen38

    Smokescreen38 Fight fire with smoke!

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    I didn't see a feedback thread for this classic Beast Era gem so I'll take a few minutes to blather on about this guy!

    Information on the interwebs indicate that this guy came into our lives and picnic baskets in 1996. I obtained my copy in late 1997 but it was purchased from a Kaybee toy store in Connecticut that tended to stock some stale merchandise so it very possibly could have been sitting around for a year. In any case, I was thrilled to find it after being totally captivated by the Basics and Deluxes that had fallen into my 18 year old hands up to that point.

    Just for some background- Let me just say that MANY of us "old timers" in the fandom will remember these days as being a pretty big deal. Those of us who spent happy childhood days with a G1 Transformer in each fist suddenly realized that there was a viable and interesting new toy line with an unqualified awesome new show with amazing voice acting and tons of charm. This new phenomenon arrived right around the time that many of us had our own money for the first time and the ability to get ourselves around to go and buy them for ourselves. Several friends of mine in the freshman college dorm were discovering Beast Wars at the exact same time. It was fertile ground for nostalgia. This rebirth of a beloved toy line also coincided with the dawn of the Internet as we know it today and the dawn of the fan community. IIRC, this very forum was once associated with www.bigbot.com which itself was a reference to Cheetor's frequently used nickname for the boss monkey Optimus Primal. So even if you're not a BW fan, it's hard to understate how important the Beast Wars line was to what we have today. Respect your elders! :D 

    Moving on to the toy:

    Inferno was the sole new Mega class figure (MSRP $14.99 USD) in wave 3 of Beast Wars product. The previous wave (2) featured Polar Claw and Scorponok wich were the first Mega class figures to hit the shelves. In my recollection, the Mega class figures were always weirdly executed. Often, they were not necessarily more complex than a Deluxe class figures but they generally stood a bit taller and featured a more ambitious gimmick. Inferno fit this pattern with a super simple transformation, somewhat cheap feeling construction but gorgeous plastic, impressive stature and a wild/silly mechanized third mode.

    Of the five pre-Transmetal Mega class figures (Scorponok, Polar Claw, Inferno, B'Boom, Transquito), only Inferno and Scorponok were featured on the TV show. This seems to help the opinion of this weird and lovable toy in the memory of the fandom.

    Beast Mode:

    Inferno is big, wild looking fire ant. It certainly looks a bit dated now but this beast mode was (and remains) one of my favorite alt modes of any Transformer ever. It makes such a visual impact. I generally leave Inferno in this mode and I'll often leave it around the house, much to the chagrin of my very understanding wife. The center legs are only articulated at the thorax joint and the rear legs are a bit of cheat but over all, it's a damn good looking representation of a monster ant.

    Transformation:

    Like nearly all of the Beast Era Mega class toys (not including Transmetal 2), this is a fairly simple sequence of steps that do a fair job of engaging the hands of the user but offer little to challenge. The conversion really is fun but the focus clearly lays at the destination of the transformation rather than the process. There are a few soft detents and pegs to let you know that things are in the right position but generally things just swing around until they look "right." I find that parts clash and get in the way f each other slightly but generally, it's a fun process. It's notable as to how much this doesn't feel like a classic Transformer, a trait common to many of the Kenner era guys, IMO.

    Robot Mode:

    This mode is both wonderful and frustrating. IMO, nearly any beast mode that keeps the beast head on the chest tends to be cool looking and Inferno accomplishes this. He’s symmetrical and interesting with lots of visual and details. Essentially, these pieces are kibble that has been put to use in the interest of carrying the “antness” to the humanoid form. Beast Wars figures often did this trick very well. Rather than hide the alt mode parts as “junk” it put them to use. Ultra Class Megatron’s beast arm is a great example. Each of Inferno’s limbs look insectoid and pointy (largely because they were carried over from the ant mode). The abdomen from the ant mode hangs off of Inferno’s posterior in a way that looks amusing but much better and more characterful than one might suspect. Nevertheless, there are quite a few hollow spots and unfinished/exposed hinges and joints.


    Flight Mode:

    On the one hand, it’s idiotic. It looks beyond silly and it exaggerates the already silly and prominent abdomen. On the other hand, this toy was designed in an era that focused on making fun toys first and monetizing IP second…nothing exemplifies this approach more than this mode. The robot mode pelvis gruesomely splits to allow the abdomen to swing back to the beast mode position. Next, the shell of the abdomen splits open in four sections and reveals an impressive looking bank of thrust nozzles. The insides of the abdomen shell are painted silver which does a satisfying job of conveying that this bug is “all machine” on the inside. The location of the Predacon faction rub symbol is inside one of the shells. These were often “hidden” on Beast Wars toys. By pressing a button, the sections of the abdomen shell which are attached to a geared section, spin hilariously and pointlessly…but it adds play value and it’s just fun.

    Gimmicks:
    BW figures were lousey with gimmicks! Usually, the higher the price point, the more they had. Inferno had the aforementioned whirling abdomen shell as the primary gimmick It was silly but sophisticated enough to add some legitimacy as a substantial "toy." The ant mode head has articulated pinchers which are lightly spring loaded. Additionally, the center of the ant head would slide out and the center of that section would slide out as well. The section with the pinchers could be plugged into the arm as a mele weapon while the other piece could be plugged to the other arm and serve as a spring loaded missile launcher. That sounds great until you realize that the missiles are the ant mode's rear legs. A dangerous idea for Inferno to do in battle and a quick way for a kid to fire a missile under the couch and end up with an incomplete ant mode from then on out. Still, fun gimmicks all around!! These features are long gone in mainline figures, for better or worse.

    Materials:

    It’s an underappreciate aspect of Beast eras in general that Kenner/Hasbro/Takara experimented with different plastics and finishes to give the toys a specific aesthetic. The odd translucent or metallic plastics, vacuum metalized chrome pieces, etc. were all carefully and artfully chosen. Not all of them have held up to passage of time but in general, these were extremely high quality toys in the materials departmemt. The metallic translucent bright red paired with black, grey and opaque red are extremely appealing and inviting.

    Construction:

    It seems like Kenner/Hasbro didn’t know what to do with this price point until the Transmetal Primal and Megatron figures came along in 1998. As nice as Inferno looks, there is a bit of “cheapness” about the feel of this toy, especially compared to the size clases above and below the Megas. On Inferno, balljoints are often inadequately supported by the sockets or undersized for their job, resulting in parts that pop off too easily or limbs that become loose over time. Balljointed action figures were still fairly novel at this point so I feel that the toy can get some slack for that. Somehow, I broke the front leg on my Inferno shortly after I bought it. I’ve saved that little piece all of these years! I don’t remember how it broke but I don’t think that the plastics are overly fragile.

    Details:

    For anyone not familiar with Beast Wars figures, there are some really lovely aspects to these guys that always feel like more than the sum of their parts. Like many BW figures, Inferno’s robot head is constructed of several pieces; the front and back sections of the head, the antennae and…the eyes…are each separate pieces of plastic. The effect is really impressive. The separate piece of plastic for the eyes is wonderful. It makes the eyes much more striking. Inferno’s face details are beautifully sculpted but one paint app shot of perfect, IMO. With changing realities of the toy business, lovingly made details like this multi piece head construction would probably never make it into a modern mainline figure.

    Overall:

    Inferno is a really cool figure and a really fun toy. It’s not the best of its day and it looks quite outdated in a number of ways but even 22 years later, I still pull this guy out now and again and I appreciate it all over again. The BW era was a time when the fiction could be meaningful and exciting but not overly dark and brooding. It took itself seriously but not too seriously. This is a balance that is absolutely lost with almost every line since…starting with Beast Machines…The BW figures exemplify this balance too. The toy is a toy first and the character flows from that design. Today we’re so often critical of the latest toy because they got some detail “wrong” (as if it’s a black and white issue) and that just sucks the fun out of the whole thing. In any case, Inferno is is silly and fun but it's also slightly badass at the same time. This balance is something that John Warden's era seems to have brought back (Machinima cartoons NOT withstanding) and it's part of the reason why the current lines are so great (IMO).

    Is this one worth hunting down and adding to your collection? As a figure on its own, it's very middle of the road for BW figures. As the only fully transformable representation of an on-screen character, it's absolutely worth getting.
    364391FC-9D99-44AD-B404-D6B31C4213B9.jpeg 32612F74-4F00-4103-99B7-F4586593F837.jpeg AF0B9117-E688-4716-9574-3FE04D7F6266.jpeg B8390D6B-CE8A-4932-8CA3-192C7B31BA6F.jpeg 3899219F-5C54-4E38-B3B6-724D81B1BABF.jpeg 69AE6FFE-42D6-40A3-BC5A-4EAEA75B3844.jpeg 4E7DA5BC-B6AA-4C8E-816D-0B3F4DD0E6F2.jpeg 85C925BC-057C-4689-86BF-49ECB39EB3E8.jpeg 28E562C2-448F-4ED0-9486-53FDCB9A465D.jpeg ACD9713A-5FD5-4C6E-98D1-CA435171CD8B.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2020
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  2. LoserBroadside

    LoserBroadside Your ship just came in.

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    Great review. I forgot about his glorious metal-flake translucent red plastic!
     
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  3. mx-01 archon

    mx-01 archon Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately, that also means that he has the tendency to deteriorate over time. Fortunately, a lot of his most "poppable" joints use ABS/Nylon for the ball sockets and clips, so he's not the worst sufferer. But on my childhood copy, his neck socket cracked and had to be glued, and the raised rings around his hand holes cracked and crumbled away, leaving him unable to hold his small gun component (thankfully the holes were deep enough that he could still hold the larger jaw piece, and I left the pieces combined anyways because the separated gun was so dinky).
     
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  4. Mister D

    Mister D Bloosh Compatible TFW2005 Supporter

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    Haven't thought about this figure in forever, but when I saw the post that was the first thing that popped into my mind.

    I agree this is a kind of "meh" figure, but essential if you're a fan of the show. Totally forgot about that shit eating grin - totally out of place with the "royal guard" character we saw in the show.

    And poor Tansquito - those shelfwarmed my local TRU and KMart for years.
     
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  5. LoserBroadside

    LoserBroadside Your ship just came in.

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    Also, not for nothing, but B'Boom is a seriously underrated figure.
     
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  6. Smokescreen38

    Smokescreen38 Fight fire with smoke!

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    lol...thanks but imagine if I proofread my text!
    I’m leaving the repeated words, typos and generally uninspired prose in place. I tried to prepare everyone for “blathering” and that’s what you got.

    the metallic red translucent plastic is delicious. I’ve always wanted to find an Antagony (Botcon exclusive) which is a black repaint but I doubt it would be more appealing.
     
  7. Smokescreen38

    Smokescreen38 Fight fire with smoke!

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    Yikes. Good feedback. It sounds like results will vary here but buyers should be on the lookout.

    Mine shows no signs of cracking but the balljoints have loosened up a bit from use.

    I LOVE Transquito! He’s the first non-gender binary Transformer which is significant...also the mosquito mode is insane. Weirdly, despite being 90% made from swirly gold plastic, it’s the purple pieces that tend to be fragile on that figure. I didn’t feel like transforming yesterday it but it’s not so fragile as to be non-transformable.

    Agreed! He got some love in the BW2 line but it was all but ignored in the US as far as I remember. More gold plastic on that guy but I’ve never heard reports of problems. The battle platform mode for B’Boom is off the wall. Clearly designed when the direction for the line was not well defined. It’s a super cool piece.
     
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  8. LoserBroadside

    LoserBroadside Your ship just came in.

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    You mean the John Carpenter's The Thing mode?
     
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  9. Smokescreen38

    Smokescreen38 Fight fire with smoke!

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    I hurriedly mentioned that the head was one paint app short- it has always bothered me that they just painted over the whole mouth in white instead of highlighting the monsterous "teef."

    Has anyone ever tried to paint in the negative space in black?

    They managed to do this on the Deluxe size class at least once. Damn, I love Cybershark...
    [​IMG]

    Oh god! You're right. :D 
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
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  10. LoserBroadside

    LoserBroadside Your ship just came in.

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    "Childs, Mac said to bring the flamethrower!"

    "What??"

    "BRING THE FLAME THROWER!"

    bthing.jpg
     
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  11. Smokescreen38

    Smokescreen38 Fight fire with smoke!

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    That mode is easily the best 3rd mode of the Mega class figures.
     
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  12. smkspy

    smkspy Remember true fans

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    Inferno is great, totally need to find mine and display him. I love how show accurate the BW line was generally.

    I remember buying him and B'Boom at the same time. For me, BW was a toy first line and I bought the majority of the early line purely based on how cool the toy looked to me. So I bought Tigatron because he looked better than Cheetor. Skipped pretty all the basic figures. All the deluxe were for the wow factor. Really regretted now getting a Polar Claw and Scorponak. Though eventually bought a Scorponak on ebay a few years ago.

    And Bonecrusher is also one of those highly underrated BW figures.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
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  13. mx-01 archon

    mx-01 archon Well-Known Member

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    Keep in mind that that was my childhood sample. Chucked in a storage bin all willy-nilly and the like, so not the greatest heed was paid in preserving him, and being largely unaware of the issues with translucent plastic at the time.

    Of the potential sufferers, Inferno's not actually the worst about it.
     
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  14. Galvatron1998

    Galvatron1998 Maximal

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    Inferno's one of my favorite Beast Wars figures I own. He just really pops out on the shelf. I think that the figure still holds up pretty well today.
     
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  15. Nope

    Nope if it's not in frame it doesn't exist

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    Part of me feels bad that this is happening in a thread about my all-time favorite character's toy, but I love how this has progressed to being about BW megas in general. Compared to the other size classes, they never get enough love. Maybe Transquito's reputation drags them down, lol.

    I still need to get both Maximals eventually, especially B'Boom. That third mode is batshit and divine.

    Don't have a pic handy, but I did. It definitely helps.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
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  16. LoserBroadside

    LoserBroadside Your ship just came in.

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    I miss the Mega price point. Tho I guess that's what Voyagers have been scaled down to.
     
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  17. mx-01 archon

    mx-01 archon Well-Known Member

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    The price points/scales have gotten sorta skewed over the years. Everything sort of bumped upwards with Armada, and then gradually came back down again with the rest of the UT, and it sort of messes with perceptions.

    Voyager is roughly analogous to the old Mega size. It's the "Ultra" class that has pretty much been phased out entirely.
     
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  18. Smokescreen38

    Smokescreen38 Fight fire with smoke!

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  19. Mister D

    Mister D Bloosh Compatible TFW2005 Supporter

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    One of the reasons I have tended to love the smaller figures more - well, mostly the basics and deluxe - is that it was harder to work gimmicks into them so they were more likely to be designed around character and transformation schemes.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2020
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  20. Mister D

    Mister D Bloosh Compatible TFW2005 Supporter

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    One thing I don't miss about Beast Wars is the arthropod legs. "Look - it's a robot, with a buncha legs hanging off him!"