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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Blackjack's Review: Cicadacon

Name: Cicadacon
Allegiance: Predacon
Accessories: Swords (2x)

Back in G1, combiners were mostly static affairs that werenít good for much but tower over smaller members of oneís collection and looking generally awesome the way a combiner is supposed to be. But theyíre big bricks, all of themÖ and itís hampered partly because of the problem of balancing a toy thatís supposed to break apart into its component parts with relatively light force, and partly because each individual robots need to transform into individual robot and vehicle modes in addition to whatever part they become as part of the robots.

However, come Beast Wars, and the first-ever articulated combiners were introduced. Each member of the combiner team is an articulated toy that can transform into a beast, and then further transform to form a combined modeÖ which itself has articulation. Indeed, the two combiners Magnaboss and Tripredacus paved their way to numerous other attempts after it. Unlike its predecessors and successors, the Beast Wars combiners all have a set configuration. None of those Scramble City gimmickry, which in turn led to a much better wholeÖ for Tripredacus, anyway. Magnaboss looks horribly messy.

And despite its small cast, the Tripredacus Council managed to worm its way into the highly acclaimed Beast Wars cartoon. They were written in as the backstory for the Predacons, as some kind of Illuminati mastermind scheming and leading the Predacons in a time of supposed peace, and were seen for a short while sending their agent Ravage back in time to eliminate the rogue Predacons.

Back in the days, the Tripredacus combiner was sold in a setÖ and all three members of the group, namely Cicadacon, Sea Clamp and Ramhorn, were all great-looking toys which I would own even without their combiner gimmick. And, as I have stated in Sea Clampís review, I had bought Ramhornís Japanese repaint Motorarm before even knowing about their combiner gimmick. And while one gestalt component would not make Tripredacus, I was quite content to own Motorarm.

It wasnít until nearly five years later that I started hunting down second-hand items, and lo and behold, someone sold Cicadacon and Sea Clamp in a baggie (with a random Powerpinch)Ö without Ramhorn! Itís like a big sign from above, even though I was prepared to pay for a second Ramhorn toy. So, long story short, I now have a full Tripredacus set, albeit with Motorarm subbing in as Ramhorn.

At this point in time, youíre just as likely to find the Tripredacus members separately as to find them in a set, so this review is for those of you who want to decide whether to buy Cicadacon if you happen to fancy buying one without the others.

Alternate Mode:
Cicadacon transforms into a cicada. Unlike Sea Clamp and Ramhorn, whoever assigned Cicadaconís name certainly has naught in terms of creativity. One thing I like about Beast Wars that not everyone shares the same alternate mode. There are only so many ways a car can look different, but animals? Hell, insects? Hell, cicadas? Other than Cicadacon I think only G1 Venom ever turned into a cicada. I certainly have no clue what specific cicada Cicadacon is (there are 2500 different kinds of cicada out there), other than the fact that itís green.

Cicadaconís alternate mode is notably smaller than deluxe class toys of his time, and is definitely smaller than fellow combiner members Ramhorn and Sea Clamp. Heís really rather compact, though, and relatively Ďtallí in beast mode, so to speak. Heís a relatively great plastic representation of a cicada, with great sculpting. And I do mean great sculpting. Beast Wars toys always astound me with great sculpting to imitate a real animal. And Cicadaconís full of it. Heís mainly sleek green bug carapace, with creepy-red segmented eyes jutting out very distinctly. Cicadaconís six black legs are well segmented, and the front pair is articulated to some extent.

Fun fact, fun fact! See, cicadas have these two giant bulging eyes, which Cicadacon has. But itís a lesser known fact that some cicadas have additional smaller eyes called ocelli in the space between their big eyesÖ and guess what? Cicadacon has them. Theyíre not painted but theyíre molded in there. Itís great attention to detail and research which impressed me.

The wings impressed me as well. Molded extensively with insect veins, Cicadaconís wings are anatomically accurate to a cicada, with two large long ones over two smaller ones. And theyíre cast in slightly dirty-yellow shade. It might be just my specimen yellowing over the years, but regardless itís a nice effect. All four wings are ball-jointed, and very posable, and can fold backwards or spread open in flight.

Cicadas feed by a long proboscis to drink sap from trees, and, yes, Cicadacon has a long proboscis. Itís entirely purple, as are some of the robot bits that peek out in-between the green carapace, which break up the colour palette nicely and let us know that Cicadacon is more than meets the eye and all that. The proboscis looks suitably threatening (as threatening as a cute little cicada can be, anyway) and since Cicadacon is a Predacon, Iím pretty sure that the proboscis isnít for drinking just sap. It can be moved to point downwards, though it doesnít do so very well mainly because itís longer than the space under Cicadaconís body.

Included with Cicadacon are two curved swords that peg under the large wings. However, they have orange rims which detracts from the lovely, nature-accurate (if thatís a word) detailing on the wings, so I usually leave them off Cicadacon when heís in beast mode.

Looking up the instructions on the internet, apparently the toy designers designed a Ďbattle modeí, wherein you swing the blades out from their recessed groove under the wings (and they even sculpted a space for the blades to swing!) and stick out the proboscis out menacingly. ItísÖ well, itís a cicada with extended sword wing and a sharp proboscis to drink your blood or something.

Cicadaconís bug head splits apart into three parts when combining into Tripredacus. My Cicadacon has its left side of the bug head droop slightly, but itís hardly noticeable.

Yeah, a great, great, near-perfect beast mode.

Robot Mode:
By some miracle of engineering, despite seemingly being smaller than his Tripredacus teammates, Cicadacon transforms into a robot that is only slightly shorter than Sea Clamp and Ramhorn. Thereís some great engineering there. His transformation is relatively simple, simply folding down his bug head (ignoring the Tripredacus combiner head underneath) to form his chest, fold out the robot arms (which have the middle and rear pairs of bug legs), fold out the robot legs and fold out the head. Itís a pretty nice-looking robot. As a robot, Cicadacon has more purple and white to break up the palette, and he looks suitably great as well. Cicadaconís face has a rather shifty expression which suits his cartoon characterization, what little of it he had.

I like how he incorporates insect parts into his robot mode as well, such as the front legs sticking out of his shoulders, and how the cicada wings all bunch up on his back. The wings are still articulated, so they can flow down like some kind of buggy cape, or expand, butterfly style, to emulate flightÖ or to simply intimidate Cicadaconís enemies because he really looks considerably larger with the wings outstretched, kind of like a frilled lizard. (Also, rather unfortunately his proboscis ends up on his crotch.)

Cicadacon has ball joints, as is common for BW toys. Specifically, in the head, shoulders, elbows, thighs and knees, and his ankles are hinged. With the two swords included with him, you can strike any number of dual sword wielding poses with Cicadacon. And that face makes it look like heís one dangerous opponent as well.

One thing to note, thoughÖ Cicadaconís swords can snap off at the handle. Mine did, directly after taking the comparison photograph that ended up on Sea Clampís review. The chunk of the sword that goes into Cicadaconís fist hole simply snapped off apropos of nothing, and the hole doesnít go all the way through like modern toys. After some blu-tack and super glue Cicadaconís swords are fixed well enough for me to dare plug it in again for the photos in this review, but damn was that scary.

Combined Mode:
Cicadacon forms the torso and head of Tripredacus. The transformation is rather intuitive as well. First you fold away the robot head and legs. Then the bug head splits apart into three parts. The middle part is, of course, Tripredacusí noggin, and the proboscis forms some kind of demonic horn. Tripredacusí head is articulated on a ball joint, though you have to pop it off a little latch first for the head to freely move, which is done so that it does not compromise Cicadaconís beast mode. The gap left by the central part of Cicadaconís bug head is filled by his robot mode arms, specifically the mass of bug legs that will protrude outwards. I absolutely like how this is done, and Iím a big fun of the Frankensteining of bug parts Tripredacus has.

A large bar on Ramhorn slots in very securely into the space where the robot head and legs reside, which is very well-engineered, and impossible to fall off unless you manually open the hatches that lock Ramhorn in place. Sea Clamp latches onto Cicadacon at two points. First, at Tripedacusí waist, formerly Cicadaconís split-apart waist. And the second point is where Cicadaconís lobster tail latches onto Cicadaconís back to form some kind of funky crustacean backpack. One of the tabs of my Sea Clamp had snapped off inside Cicadacon, and I was pissed off to discover this after buying themÖ but not too much. The other tab still holds Sea Clampís abdomen pretty securely, after all.

Cicadacon forms a very awesome, buggy torso and head, and after you combine Ramhorn and Sea Clamp onto him, Tripedacus himself is a great gestalt.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 8/10 Cicadaconís transformation is relatively simple, but it works, leading to all three modes being wonderful and great.

Durability: 4/10 Cicadacon ages pretty well, all things considered, but with tabs snapping off here and there, and a droopy bug head, itís hard to ignore that Cicadacon might be more fragile than you think he is. And thatís not counting limbs snapping off or whatever.

Aesthetics: 9/10 Yeah, itís pretty obvious that I like robots, bugs, and robots that turn into bugs. Cicadacon does look a little plain in robot mode compared to his two gestalt mates, but I still think he looks great.

Articulation: 7/10 Cicadacon has pretty standard articulation, but he has a wide range due to having non-kibbly arms and legs.

Fun: 9/10 I like Cicadacon and members of Tripreadcus more than I should.

Price/Value: 9/10 For I paid, anyway, which I donít remember at the moment, but I certainly did not regret doing so. You get a great toy, with great accessories and a great beast mode, which combines into a great gestalt. Hell yeah.

Overall: 9/10 I shower Cicadacon with praise. Heís a great toy that while might seem a little simple, stands up very well among Beast Wars toys, and even against modern toys. Some minor durability issues (and sword snapping, although that hopefully will only happen on my Cicada) aside there's not much stopping me from recommending Cicadacon to you. And thatís before taking the fact that combines into factorÖ
 
 
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