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Skrapnel & Reflector

Transformers Generations
by yo go re

Look out! This review has been bugged!

Reflector and Skrapnel are always on the lookout. Reflector can turn his lens on anything, getting a snapshot of enemy movements and stealing Autobot secrets from long range. Skrapnel is also on the lookout...for his next victim. The Insecticon treats every enemy as a welcome excuse to bombard something with blasts of his supercharged electric current.

It's weird that the sidekick in this set gets named in the bio before the real figure, isn't it? Especially since Shrapnel (his not-as-easily-trademarkable real name) was the leader of the Insecticons!

Shrapnel was fairly rare among G1 Transformers, in that his toy, cartoon, and comicbook incarnations' heads all looked fundamentally the same: a bit of a bucket shape, with a raised ridge over the top, and a solid visor instead of eyes. This toy keeps all those same features, though it's more rounded and... head-shaped(?) than before.

Proving that it's easy to over-estimate the toys that you played with as a kid, this little Legends Class figure is the same height as the 1985 original - his "antlers" reach 4½" tall, but his head tops out around 3⅜". He has balljointed shoulders, elbows, hips and knees, and a swivel neck that's really hard to get moving. There's a bright yellow panel on his chest, just like the old toy, but also some very obtrusive kibble in the form of bug legs sticking out all over his body. That's new. The detailing on his limbs is really nice, though - they look purposefully mechanical, like he was constructed this way instead of just randomly being thrown together. Look at the vents on his shins, or the angled armor on his forearms (which could almost make it look like he's just wearing those bug legs like gloves).

As before, Shrapnel turns into a robotic stag beetle. But like Fall of Cybertron Kickback, this is much more organic than the rolling brick that was the G1 toy. He still looks mechanical, it's just got a more complex shape than before. Adorably, there are wheels sculpted on his feet, a nod to the olden days.

We will warn you, however, that getting the rear legs into place is tough - you have to push them farther than it seems like they can safely move in order to fit everything together properly. To tell if the legs are in place properly, just remember that all six feet should be on the ground evenly, and the robot's arms should stow away securely. If those aren't true, push the back legs more.

Rather than a small helicopter or a truck or what have you, Shrapnel comes with a camera. Assuming this camera and its telephoto lens are the size of the real item, Shrapnel would be about 3' tall, which may not sound like much, but you've never seen a 3' beetle! You'd freak right the hell out, you would!

The camera is an update of Reflector. Well, specifically, an update of Viewfinder, the middle component. He's the epitome of "stand up to robot" conversions: all you do is tip the camera onto its lens. His arms swivel at the shoulder, though, so you can change his pose a little if you feel like it. He's gray, purple and green, and is even molded with a bit of faux-kibble on his chest: a circle, to suggest the camera lens on the old toy. The head looks exactly like the original Viewfinder, but the shoulders should be higher.

Like the rest of the Mini-Cons in these two-packs, Reflector can also turn into a gun for the larger robot. You fold down the camera's lens, and a spring-loaded feature causes the robot to split in half - that's all it takes. The really cool thing is Reflector was clearly designed with Shrapnel's original gun in mind: the shape of the arms and the cone-shaped barrel are exactly the same! There's a lot more kibble here, because the old weapon didn't turn into a robot, but the intention is both clear and welcome. The gun can attach to the beetle's back, but the camera can't; at least, not without being upside down.

The last series in this subline was incredibly difficult to find, and this new series doesn't seem to be much easier. I lucked into finding Shrapnel and Reflector at Target one day, and I haven't seen them again since. If you can get this set without overpaying, you'll find a lot to like.

-- 09/02/14

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