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Transformers Generations
by yo go re

Hasbro has an unfortunate habit of playing favorites with Transformers. Well, unfortunate if you're a GI Joe fan. TF fans may not even notice.

Insecticon master of mind control.

That bio may be pointlessly brief, but it is accurate: Bombshell is an Insecticon, and he uses devices called "cerebro-shells" to take over the minds of his victims. At one point, Hasbro lost the rights to the name "Bombshell," and renamed the character Hardshell; clearly they've regained the trademark, and that's where the favoritism comes in.

There is also a GI Joe character named Bombshell. At least, she was supposed to be. Since she came out during the time when Hasbro didn't have the name, she became "Bombstrike." But now the name is available again, and there's a new version of her coming out this year, but she doesn't get to use the name. It's the same "let's own all the words" strategy that brought us Shockblast, but why does GI Joe get the short end of the stick in these situations? True, TF Bombshell used the name first, but "Hardshell" suits him better, and "Bombshell" fits the pretty blonde girl.

Hardbomb has always had a very distinctive face. Instead of a mouth, he has a slatted grill that looks like the cowcatcher on the front of a locomotive. It's silver, contrasting with his black head, and looking like a psychotic smile or Hannibal Lecter's mask. He's got bright red eyes, and a cannon mounted behind his head (not on top, the way he used to be drawn).

Counting that cannon, Bombshell is 4⅜" tall, which means that his head comes up to almost the exact same height as the original 1985 toy. He moves at the shoulders, elbows, waist, hips, thighs, and knees, plus a few more spots to shift his kibble around. A lot of the sculptural elements are updates from the old toy, such as the circles on the thighs, the silver blocks on his chest, and even the bumps on his shoulders. There's a raised panel on his back that has a sunken dome and what appear to be two disc drives; knowing how Hasbro works, there's probably some episode of the cartoon where Bombshell is shown to have this exact configuration on him somewhere.

As he did in the '80s, Bombshell turns into a robotic rhinoceros beetle. The design used to be highly inorganic, and while this one still is, it's at least slightly more rounded. And the insect legs look like insect legs rather than something mechanical. You do have to make sure you have all the legs in the right position - all six move independently, which is real handy for getting them out of the way in robot mode, but can be frustrating here.

Bombshell is a Legends Class figure, just like Shrapnel, but their colors are slightly different. The purple and yellow are both darker on this figure than on his Insecticon pal, which really hurts the notion that they're a specific sub-group (unless they do a Kickback in the future and he's also in similar-but-clearly-different shades, and then it will all come back together).

As of this year, the Legends Class figures no longer come with little sidekicks/weapons - primarily because they themselves are the sidekicks/weapons. They're supposed to convert into guns or armor for the Combiners to use. They're supposed to, but Bombshell doesn't. All we get is a thick cardboard card with exaggerated art that doesn't even look very much like him. Bombshell is a fun TF (even if he is hogging a name that should have gone to someone else), but the lack of a Targetmaster partner lowers his value just a little bit.

-- 04/14/15

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