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Transformers Generations
by yo go re

The Beast Wars cartoon may have had good writing, but the toys were garbage. That made it easy it ignore the line completely, but now Hasbro is trying to pull us all back in. First it was Dinobot, now it's Waspinator.

Finding himself in a world thousands of years distant from the one he once knew, Waspinator did the only thing he could - found someone strong and put himself under their command. Sure, he's being manipulated. And sure, he's getting blown to pieces just as regularly as he used to. But at least the guy he's working for now knows how to put him back together properly.

Okay, so that bio implies this is the original Waspinator, the same one from Beast Wars - the same Beast Wars that began 300 years in the future, and mainly took place on Earth 2.5 million years ago. So, assuming the IDW stories take place "now," how did Waspinator get there, and in which direction is he thousands of years distant? It sounds like he's already lived through the Beast Wars, so are we to assume this him after he decided to leave Earth and fly back to Cybertron under his own power?

The original Beast Wars toys had a robot head, and then a "mutant" head that flipped up over it, leaving the show's creators to decide which one to use to represent the character. For Waspinator, they used his insectoid mutant head as the standard, and that's the one this toy updates, with the antennae over the brow, the folded mandibles, and the sharp teeth behind them. His segmented eyes are so large that the light-piping works excellently - of course, it helps that the entire back half of his head is translucent.

It's been almost 20 years since Beast Wars came out, so the current toy designers have an advantage that the old ones didn't: namely, they know what the characters ended up looking like. While the cartoon CGI was based on the already-existing toy molds, the animators took some liberties, adding details the toys didn't have, and removing things that just didn't work. This one definitely draws from the cartoon, with things like the rounded pipe things on the insides of his forearms or the spikes wrapping around his lower legs. The insect-head kibble on the chest doesn't come as far apart as the original toy, but the body behind it is more organic. The most amusing detail can be found on the top of the feet, where there's a sculpted sphere meant to represent the balljointed ankle on the CGI model! He does still have some major kibble in the form of insect legs poking off of him, but those were present both on the toy and the cartoon, so what are ya gonna do?

Waspinator moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. You can also pose his wings, if you want to count those as points of articulation. He's armed with a small blaster that's designed to look like the missile launcher he used to carry around - just like the rest, it's designed more like the cartoon than the toy.

Waspinator turns into a wasp. Gasp! Shock and amazement! If you think it's weird that a robot from the other side of space would have a name perfectly suited to an earthican insect, consider the word's origins: Old English "wæps," from West Germanic "wabis," from PIE "webh," which meant "weave" or "move quickly."

So considering that calling him "Waspinator" at all is just a translation of whatever Cybertronian language they're all actually speaking to one another, you can assume that his name has a similar root. Also, keep in mind that 1) "weave" can mean the metaphorical bringing of things together, and 2) Waspinator has plans. Name makes perfect sense!

Hasbro's not got the instructions for Waspinator on their website, but it's not terribly difficult to master. The final product is pretty good, save for the robot arms blatantly stuck to the sides, but it's less obtrusive here than it was on the original toy. Overall his body captures the shape of a real insect surprisingly well; you just have to ignore the robot-y parts. Of course, there aren't a lot of green wasps with striped butts, but so it goes.

The dainty little insect legs are somewhat articulated: the front pair are on balljoints, while the back four are on a pair of swivels. This allows you to find a pose that won't require his stinger to rest on the ground. Well, "her" stinger - Waspinator may be a boy, but only girl wasps have stingers (seeing as it's a modified ovipositor). There's a lever on the bug's back that makes the wings flap when you move it, which is a nice play feature.

In keeping with current trends, Waspinator comes with a reprint comic with a new cover. The book in question is Robots in Disguise #19, which definitely features Waspinator in a central role, but does nothing at all to explain why he's around at all. Like, we get a flashback that reveals part of his past... and yet it's still a "past" that has him hanging around with no explanation. On the other hand, he does seem to be working with some other Insecticons, so maybe there's a connection there we're just missing. The bulk of the issue seems to be set-up for the "Dark Cybertron" crossover.

The universe may hate Waspinator, but you shouldn't. This is a nicely made toy, and works well in both modes - much better than the original toy, so if you're a fan of Beast Wars, get this Waspinator.

-- 02/04/14

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