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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Clay's review of: Tripredacus

Name: Tripredacus
Group: Predacon
Function: Battle Master

The ultra beast Tripredacus mounts its attack on the Maximal fortress in the dead of night, calling upon and combining Cicadon's plague like destruction, Ram Horn's tenacity and Sea Clamp's crushing power. Emerging from the bowels of the earth, Tripredacus summons its forces to form an incredible weapon of destruction. Sea Clamp's concealed linkage system connects Cicadon's chopping rotor blades to Ram Horn's powerful driving motor, creating a mega-missile launcher the Predacon team uses to slash its slimy way into battle. With power and lethality multiplied three times over, Tripredacus perpares to overtake and rule the robotic jungle.

I began a Beast Wars binge shortly after the holidays, after running into another fellow on ebay that turned out to be super-great (that's another story, though). One figure he didn't have, however, was Tripredacus. I'd looked at the two (well, three if you count Magmatron) gestalts from Beast Wars, and the bugs were the only ones that did anything for me. Magnaboss just looked kind of silly to me. So, my one Beast Wars gestalt was destined to be... Tripredacus!

It all started about two months ago. I'd been trying to hunt the thing down for a while, but all the online auctions, stores, etc., either had it in parts or had nothing at all. Then, one day, I finally found a complete Tripredacus on ebay from a member with a good feedback score. He was in Australia, though, but I didn't figure that would be a big deal.

I managed to win the auction, but that's when the kinks began. He didn't have a paypal account, and neither did I. He accepted money orders, though. Now, my only previous experience with international money orders was about five and a half years ago, when I bought the Japanese version of a John Paul Jones album with an extra track. Apparently, sometime during the span of those five years, various countries have withdrawn from international money acceptance. Both Australia and Britain seem to have pulled out of it about three weeks before the auction took place. Great timing!

At any rate, I contacted him again to try and pursue other options. We found out that personal checks and cashier's checks require the bank to send it back to the country of origin for authentication, and that process takes two to three weeks to resolve.

We dismissed that idea, and went back to the drawing board. I made the suggestion of travelers' checks, so he interrogated the bank and found out that they did not have the delay. After finally finding our solution, I trotted merrily over to the bank to pick up the checks, but there was another kink: Travelers' checks are sold in booklets of $200 or more, not individually.

Naturally, I didn't have anywhere near that much. Thankfully, the bank teller that day wasn't as stubborn as the one I usually got stuck with, so she worked with me a bit. She let me use the excess number of checks that I didn't need to pay toward the cost of the check booklet, along with the money that I had anyway. Essentially, I just used the extra checks to pay for themselves before I bought them. Just in case visualizing mathematics isn't your area, it worked like this:

I had $5.
The checks cost $10.
She let me use my $5 and $5 of the checks to purchase the booklet.
I then gave $5 of the checks back, and kept the other $5.

She cautioned me that, next time, I wouldn't be able to do that, and I told her that I would know better starting out. Happy that, after two weeks, I was finally on my way to getting my Tripredacus, I waltzed over to the post office and mailed `er off. The postman said it was on airmail delivery, and would take seven to ten days to get there. I asked him what that actually meant, and he then said about ten to eleven days. Satisfied, I went home to report my progress.

And then we waited. And waited. And waited some more. The envelope took nearly three weeks (!) to arrive in Western Australia. We were both fairly relieved. He sent the Tripredacus off, and then proceeded to cash the checks. Then there was another kink! For my needs, I had thought of them as travelers' checks. However, I should have emphasized travelers' checks. The author of the check must be there, in person, at the bank, so that the teller can compare signatures. D'oh.

In the midst of all of this, we had both gotten paypal accounts, so we agreed that the best option was to send the checks back, so I could hopefully get them cancelled and send him the funds electronically. He sent the checks back, and we continued to wait. They were sent through a service similar to the United States Postal Service's global priority mail, so we thought it shouldn't take much more than the projected five days.

The Tripredacus actually showed up on schedule around a week later, and we were both relieved. It was somewhat smaller than I had expected. Then the waiting continued (waiting constituted the bulk of our relationship), and the travelers' checks finally returned home after two weeks, which was twice as long as the service had predicted. Apparently, the delivery times given are only to the destination country. After it gets that far, all bets are off, or so it seems.

At any rate, I made another one of my numerous trips to the bank, got the checks cancelled, and the funds dumped into my checking account. As soon as I got home, I shot off the paypal and the odyssey was over... after seven weeks! What began as an ebay win that I had really spent too much money on turned into one of the best experiences I've had with people online. Also, I got a toy, too. Now, the review!

There are a few reasons why I gravitated towards this figure. All of the modes for the individual robots looked nice and didn't have a lot of kibble, and everything was thoroughly articulated. Part of my fascination with it was the way it was designed: No extra parts for the gestalt form are required. After having several of the original combiners, and being able to make a mutt out of a third of them, I've come to dislike easily-lost parts. After being endlessly satisfied with the Superlink gestalts, I begin to look for more similarly-designed sets from eariler lines. I also ended up with a JRX, but that's another matter...

Cicadacon

Alt Mode: Cicadacon is a locust, and looks spot on for one for the original insecticons (Venom, I think). His legs aren't very articulated--they're just mounted on rotating joints--but his wings are ball jointed, so you can still make stop motion/animation films of plastic locusts flying around, terrorizing the plastic farmers of plastic crops, if you so choose. After the honeymoon of making low budget horror movies like The Seventh Year... is over, the realization sets in that his robot legs aren't really well hidden. They're not completely deplorable, though. They do form the rough shape of the abdomen, but the disguise isn't as complete as the other two figures.

Robot Mode: As a robot, Cicadacon rocks. The transformation is straightforward, and the combiner parts don't warp the design. He's completely ball-jointed, so he's on par with all the other Beast Wars figures of the time. Probably the nicest thing about him is that the torso, arm-lengths, and leg-lengths are fairly well proportioned, so he doesn't end up looking like some freaky mutant. He looks lean and muscular, like a sprinter. Like most BW toys, though, he doesn't have a lot of robotic-ness to him. It's not a discouraging feature for me, but I will mention it once for the review.

Sea Clamp

Alt Mode: Sea Clamp is a lobster. He appears some shade of grey in pictures, but he's actually translucent. As far as articulation goes, the beast has it all in the arms. The smaller legs and antennae can rotate a bit (like Cicadacon's), but the claws are more fun to play with anyway, so it's not a big sacrifice to make. Mercifully, we're spared having a biologically-accurate mouth; the area is hollow to accomodate the transformation. Aside from the claws, his lobster mode is about as interesting as a real lobster.

Robot Mode: The robot mode is better. Somewhat of the antithesis of Cicadacon, I like Sea Clamp's robot because the arms are wackily out-of-proportion. It makes him look like the muscle of the three, capable of interrogation or eating walnuts. He's mostly ball-jointed, and the claws can open up to reveal hidden extensions. The other neat effect is that Sea Clamp's beast mode is twice the size of Cicadacon's, but their robot modes are the same. Go figure.

Ram Horn

Alt Mode: Ram Horn is a rhinoceros beetle. Or an elephant beetle. Or maybe a dung beetle. Well, maybe I don't know my beetles too well. He appears brown, but he's actually vaguely translucent, like Sea Clamp. Not much happens in this mode. Certainly, there's no posable wings, and no clamping claws. What he does manage to pull off, however, is being fairly realistic.

Robot Mode: In robot mode, he's a portly gent. He has two fingers on each hand, but no thumbs, which means he can type, but not hitch-hike. It wouldn't matter if he could stick out his thumb, though, because he doesn't have legs attractive enough for hitch-hiking. Not that it matters much, since he's a Transformer. More so than that, he's a Transformer with friends in the air and water.

Anyway, getting back on topic, the robot mode is just as neat as the other two, due to the small details. His head is mounted on a ball joint between his upper and lower jaw, so you can make him perform chewing motions, if you're so inspired. He also has some small details on his legs that are slightly more robot-like than any details present on Cicadacon or Sea Clamp. It's not much, but it's there. The last thing to really mention is the transformation. Going from beetle to robot and vice versa is simple enough, but getting it back to normal when it comes shipped in the gestalt mode is very tricky indeed. Directions are recommended, but won't be of much help.

Tripredacus

Of course, this is the major selling point of the toy. I don't know if Hasbro ordered Kenner to make new gestalts, or if they just took it upon themselves to reinvent a tradition, but they did a fantastic job of it. It's not based on the scramble-designs of Defensor, Bruticus, and the like, but instead each bot has a specific body part it can form (like Devastator). It's not as if the lack of improvisation is a great loss, though: the design is very well thought out (it looks like someone intended it to look that way), and the articulation benefits from being the sum of the smaller robots.

Another defining point is that this was one of the first Transformer combiners to not require a slew of extra parts. Each robot contributes a part for a gun/right claw assembly, true, but those parts have homes in every other mode, so the parts aren't dead weight otherwise. The arrangement of the bots themselves is this: Cicadacon forms the head/torso, Ramhorn forms the arms, and Sea Clamp forms the legs and back.

As for the aesthetics themselves, Tripredacus constitutes a lumbering mass of nasty. Bug legs, wings, compound eyes, carapaces... he definately looks the part of an evil Predacon warrior. He stands about the same height as Optimus Primal and Megatron, if you're wondering about the size. As far as joints go, he does have knee, hip, head, shoulder, elbow, and wrist articulation. Although not immediately apparent, he does have a left hand--it's made from Ramhorn's head and forward insect limbs, giving him two fingers and a thumb which you can pose or pick up smaller bots with. The head is also ball-jointed, so he can look around with his scowling grimace, breaking mirrors and whatnot.

As a final note, and somewhat on the goofy side, you can flip Ramhorn's outer shell up to make it look like Buildron's shoulder bucket. Heh.

In summation...

Transformation: 7. Ramhorn is tough if you're starting out with the gestalt mode. Otherwise, everything is pretty simple and straightforward. What's really nice is that the combiner concept and subsequent parts don't intrude on the individual toys very much at all. Very cool. Go Kenner!
Durability: 9. Mine actually came with the handles for the wing missles broken (I knew that before I bought it, so now I need to find a way to fix it). Other than that, I don't see anything I could do to break the thing any further. Pretty solid little guys.
Fun: 10. Freakin' sweet...
Price: X. Highly variable, from what I've seen. I got mine for around $40, due partly to not fully understanding the value of Australian currency (and the shipping on top of that ended up costing me quite a bit). However, I've seen an auction go for as little as $14. He doesn't show up on ebay much, so when he does, not everybody is looking, I suppose.
Overall: 9.5. Aside from the debacle of just getting the thing, this is a great toy in its own right. It's really well designed in terms of articulation, lack of 'kibble', combination sequence, and appearance, all without negatively affecting the individual toys. Considering Kenner only made Transformers for a short time, they did an absolutely outstanding job of resurrecting the old theme of combining robots. Probably one of the best Beast Wars toys made, in terms of design alone. Overall, nifty!

And if you want to see the figures in action, click here to watch the commercial from the Japanese series Beast Wars 2. (The Japanese repaints don't do anything for me, though. Bleh.)
 
 
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