With Insecticon Kickback, any bot is vulnerable. The Decepticon has a knack for winning and luring in allies. But like a poisonous sting, Kickback quickly turns on them, blackmailing them into doing his dirty deeds.
Hasbro has a habit of starting sets of figures and then never polishing them off. We were lucky, during the "Combiner Wars" phase of Generations, that they actually managed to get all the limbs into stores (more or less), rather than leaving us with a gestalt who's missing an arm or a leg. But if you were a fan of the Fall of Cybertron Dinobots and wanted anybody other than Grimlock, you were out of luck. When Shrapnel was released, it looked like they were doing it again; but this time Hasbro's kept plugging away, and now with the release of Kickback, the trio is finished.
Of the three Insecticons, Kickback's head was the most insecty - the face was just a face, but he has big yellow antennae sticking up off his ears. His forehead is an angular shelf, and his eyes are hidden behind a visor that has a cutout for his nose. The comics and cartoon showed that visor as red, but the original toy was just black, so here it is too.
To the top of his wings, Kickback is
nearly 5¼" tall, but his actual head is only about 3½" off the ground - that's a lot of extra height! His chest is square, particularly as compared to the other Insecticons. For a guy with "kick" in his name, his legs don't look particularly powerful: in fact, of the three-member team, his limbs are the skinnest! The shapes molded on his body - the gaps on his feet, the horizontal bars on his shins, the things on his knees, even the tall rectangle on the left side of his chest and the thin lines at the bottom of it - are all taken from decals on the 1985 original. He has some major kibble on his back, but a little bit of tech detailing, too.
Kickback turns into a robotic grasshopper,
just like always. The conversion is more complex these days, but that just makes for a better looking robo-insect. It's hard to figure out what you're supposed to do with the robot's arms: they swivel down behind his back, then plug together to form the bug's tail. "Abdomen," if you want to get scientific. Also, the way the insect head just folds up from being a backpack on the robot is kind of cute.
Like his fellow Insecticons, Kickback is
a Legends Class figure, and since all of them were released a year apart, it's interesting the way they (and their gimmicks) reflect the changing focus of the Transformers Generations line: Shkhrapnel came with a little partner in the form of Reflector, Bombshell unjustly stole another character's name and supposedly turned into a gun for the Combiners to wield, while Kickback has a hatch that opens so a Titan Master can sit inside him (itself a nod to the Diaclone origins of the character). The hatch, like the wings, is translucent yellow, while the solid yellow and the purples used on the toy are back to matching those on Shkhkhrapnel, leaving the Insecticon rightly known as Hardshell as the odd bug out.
I didn't really trust Hasbro to make all three Insecticons. In fact, right up until I found this figure in a store, I was half convinced that it was little more than a fever dream. It's great getting the band back together, but Kickback is a nice robot in his own right, too.