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TRANSFORMERS TOYS AND MERCHANDISE SECTION

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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Warcry's Review: Drill Bit

Name: Drill Bit
Allegiance: Predacon
Function: Infantry

Arising from miles beneath the planet's surface, Drill Bit digs his way up through the ground to surprise Maximal enemies when they least expect it. His diamond-tipped, titanium-alloy destruction drill can bore through anything -- even the Maximals' latest high-tech battle armor! Drill Bit lives underground in a subterranean series of twisting tunnels that go straight to the mysterious planet's center, where molten lava mixed with Energon crystals fuels his constant thirst for more power.

The Bay store in downtown Winnipeg was the place to shop, once upon a time. My father has very fond memories of the place, but by the time the 1990s had arrived urban sprawl and the increasing number of malls popping up in the suburbs reduced the place to a little-used, run-down shadow of its former self. The same held true for the store's toy department, which is probably why they still had Beast Wars toys for sale when I started going to university a couple blocks away in 2002. To be more precise, they didn't have "Beast Wars toys" so much as they had lots and lots of Drill Bit – at least a couple pegs full of five or six year old Drill Bits covered in an impressive layer of dust. A cynical person might suggest that letting old stock rot on the pegs may have something to do with the store's continued downward spiral...

I bought one mostly out of pity, because even through an age-discoloured, dusty bubble I could see that Drill Bit was really, really ugly. I didn't expect to like the toy, and I wasn't surprised when I got him out of the package. The poor guy was relegated to sitting in a box most of the time, only thought about as part of a running gag between myself and fellow Archiver Brave Maximus. Digging him out now, I find that I don't really hate the toy the way I did when I first got it. When I look at it now I see a missed opportunity, a toy that could have been really cool but failed miserably because of a few really, really boneheaded design screwups. <--No, wait, that's a lie. After completing the review and enumerating all the things wrong with the guy, I hate him again. All is right with the world once more.

Alternate Mode:

Drill Bit's beast mode is a boll weevil, a little bug that chews away at cotton crops. That makes him probably one of the two or three least-threatening Predacons of all time. His colour scheme doesn't do much to help matters, either. His shell is a dull orange (and semitransparent, as you'll see if you hold it up to the light), while his legs and proboscis are a medium purple. He's got very little paint to break up the odd palette – light green eyes and a silver diamond on his rear are it. The end result is too bland to match the psychedelic awesomeness of the craziest Universe beasts, but clashes too much to actually be good. Drill Bit falls into the middle ground between the two, and has to settle for bland ugliness.

Like most early Beast Wars toys, Drill Bit has next to no articulation as an insect. His proboscis can flip up and down, but otherwise he just sits there and looks like an ugly bug. He does have an action feature, though – his eponymous drill, which flips out from his underbelly to...uh, well to hang awkwardly off his nose, honestly. A small wheel on the drill's underside spins the bit, though it's awkward to access when he's in beast mode because there's not much room underneath him.

Of course, the reason why there's not much room underneath him is because his robot mode legs and crotch are just sort of hanging there hoping you won't notice them. They don't really lock into place because, hilariously, the pegs on the upper body that they'd connect to were tooled incorrectly so that they're on a 90-degree angle away from the robot mode legs. That plus the fact that none of the other robot parts tucked between the insect shell and the legs fit together neatly, heaped on top of the horrible colours, makes Drill Bit a very, very poor bug.

Robot Mode:

Drill Bit's robot mode is a bit of an improvement, but not as much as you'd hope. The colours are pretty much the same, although now the purple is dominant – covering his lower torso, legs, most of his arms and the awkwardly-placed beast leg kibble. His chest and head are cast from semitransparent orange plastic, as is his left arm, his drill assembly and his backpack. Like in beast mode there's a real dearth of paint apps. Silver adorns his chest and the threads of his drill, and he's got a bit of paint on his face as well – green eyes, white teeth and a silver...uh, moustache?

A few Beast Wars toys had a significant amount of coloured transparent plastic used in their construction (Quickstrike being of the highest profile) but on Drill Bit it's really egregious. He's got a nice amount of sculpted detail on his orange parts, especially his face, but you can't see any of it unless you're looking at him with a magnifying glass [Editor numbat: somewhat appropriate for a bug, less-so for a Transformer!]. His eyes and mouth just seem to float in the middle of a vague orange mass, and if a solid-coloured plastic had been used instead, poor Drill Bit would look a whole lot better than he does as he is.

Moving on past Drill Bit's looks, you'll find that he actually gets a lot of little things right.

Like most of the little Beast Wars toys, Drill Bit is a veritable mess of ball joints – neck, shoulders, hips, knees and one of his elbows. The right elbow is restricted to just a hinge joint because his right hand is a huge, three-fingered assembly made up of his beast-mode proboscis. The proboscis can also flip up out of the way so that the drill assembly can swing down to become an arm-mounted weapon. He's light enough that none of the joints have suffered any wear as time went on, and aside from a couple of unfortunate insect legs jutting upwards from his knees there isn't any kibble to get in the way. That means that on the most basic level Drill Bit had the potential to be a really good toy.

I'd also like to note just how well the proboscis-arm works. A lot of Beast Wars toys wound up with random animal mode parts as "hands" – most often their beast-mode heads or paws. Most of the time this strikes me as really lazy, but for Drill Bit it was a really good design choice. Unlike Armordillo or Snapper or Tarantulas who wind up with awkward, useless appendages, Drill Bit's hand looks like it's actually useful. The fact that he can swap it out for a drill weapon as needed helps a lot, too.

Unfortunately, Drill Bit has one other annoying problem that drags the robot mode down almost as much as the colours did: nothing pegs together securely. His torso is the biggest offender, because the peg that holds his robot crotch to his insect shell backpack is basically useless – more than once I've seen the peg pop out for no reason while he's just standing there. The insect legs hinged onto his torso are just as bad, because they don't peg into anything and tend to flap around like awkward wings. His head is in a similar predicament – it folds backwards as part of his transformation into beast mode, but because the head is on a ball joint and there's nothing to stop it from folding back when you don't want it to you tend to lose his head amongst his shoulders. To make things worse, you need to transform him half-way to beast mode to get the head back out. All three of these things are preventable, but they're a symptom of the same sloppiness that left him with such a mess of a beast mode.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 2 – A nasty mess. There isn't a single thing about Drill Bit's transformation that doesn't need rethinking.
Durability: 9 – Lots of ball joints and no small fragile parts means that Drill Bit should be pretty durable. My only worry would be the clear orange plastic, which has a reputation of being less durable than the opaque kind.
Fun: 3 – Drill Bit could have been lots of fun, but with so many flaws he's not much more than a pile of missed opportunities.
Aesthetics: 1 – Ugly. Ugly ugly ugly ugly ugly. The mold actually looks OK, but the deco and plastic choices should have been scrapped and redone from scratch.
Articulation: 9 – He's a Beast Wars toy, so articulation is the one thing I can't really complain about.
Value/Price: 10 – No one cares about non-show Beast Wars toys twenty years after the fact, so if you're looking for Drill Bit you won't have to pay more than $10 or $15 for him.
Overall: 3 – Drill Bit isn't a total disaster like some of the poorer Beast Wars toys, but looking at the guy I'm almost left with the feeling that Hasbro was trying to make him as bad as he possibly could be. He's not on the show and he's not a good toy, so there's really no reason to ever buy him.
 
 
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