Cliffjumper's review: Barrage
Insecticon (c'mon, it's not like they went around calling themselves the Deluxe Insecticons... it'd be like the SAS calling themselves the Deluxe Para or something)
"Nothing left standing means nothing left to change"
Winning is not enough - this Insecticon's attack continues until the ground is scorched and leveled. Merciless, cruel... believes kindness only stirs hope among the vanquished. Disliked by fellow Decepticons. In insect mode, can shoot non-stop explosive charges from gun mounts, high energy photons from antenna. Flies 15mph with 400 mile range. Has powerful sonic rifle in robot mode.
In 1985, with Transformers
flying off the shelves faster than Hasbro could design them, the company cast around for some other transforming robots they could add to the line. They found some at Bandai, who leased them use of the Macross
Valkyrie (Jetfire), Dorvack
Caliber (Roadbuster) & Gazette (Whirl) and Beetras
(Deluxe Insecticons) moulds. These were originally designed by the defunct Takatoku company, who had revolutionised robot toys with the 'perfectly transforming' Valkyrie in 1982, only for a series of commercial failures to bankrupt them within a couple of years - Bandai buying out the designs when they folded.
Bandai had little use for most of the moulds aside from the Valkyrie, and so had few qualms about renting them to Hasbro (Bandai's American presence at the time basically consisted of a couple of packaging & distribution centres). The deal was only for North America, with Takara unable to use the figures in Japan - the demand for new Transformers wasn't as great worldwide, as everyone else was still catching up to some extent anyway.
Barrage was one of the Beetras
toys, and as Beet-Gadol it had been among the final figures Takatoku released. The figure was recoloured for its' Transformers
release. The Takatoku-originated toys were declared off-limits for TF media at the time - although Simon Furman would ignore this for the UK comic four years later, Barrage still wasn't used (only Chop Shop and Venom would manage this). More recently, however, the character has featured in minor roles in several Dreamwave comics.
Barrage's alt mode is a green-and-yellow stag beetle - roughly the same sort of beastie as Bombshell. However, the Deluxe is a little bit larger, and more obviously an insect. There's no cockpit or wheels or anything. It's still a little robotic in design, with lots of flat edges, and it's not a Beast Wars-esque stab at realism, however. The green and yellow clashes quite badly, though the latter is often well-hidden on the mode. It's a shame as the scant paint applications work quite well. There are also a couple of neat moving parts - the wings can be swiveled up for a flight mode, the antler can be moved (this is sadly missing from my example), and the legs are jointed. If you can get past the colours and insects are your sort of thing, it's really rather good.
The transformation is actually quite complex - not so bad from insect to robot, but trickier the other way around (when going from insect to robot, make sure you extend the rear legs first, and watch those spring-loaded hands!). There are quite a few moving parts for something this size, and it's rather complex for a Transformer of the time.
The resulting robot stands around 6" tall, which is generally a good size for a figure. Barrage is a little portly, but the basic design is sound - the proportions are good, and there are some pleasing 'extra mile' steps - the way the insect limbs are all neatly hidden away is great. There's even some respectable articulation, with movement at the shoulders, hips and knees, while the wings can still be fiddled with in this mode. The all-plastic construction. However, Hasbro's colour choice is just abysmal... The green and yellow go very, very badly together, and Takatoku's version looks much better. The overall feeling is 'vegetable', with the odd head design really looking like some sort of anthropomorphic pissed-off sheaf of corn. The tiny, stingy red pain apps for the eyes don't help either, resulting in a very barren "Will this do?" face. It's a big shame to see a respectable mould ruined by such a sloppy choice.
8 - for the period, hugely complex, and even this side of Alternators, Masterpieces and Movie figures it'll take a while to get down pat. Go careful, swallow your pride and download the instructions first.
5 - the plastic looks like the type that gets stress marks easily, while the various prongs and mandibles probably snap if mistreated.
6 - the transformation is diverting, and despite the colour scheme he's still rather fun. It would have been an 8, but I've docked two points for the eyesore colours.
4 - we're probably talking ~$20/30 - not cheap, but the character's low profile means he's surprisingly cheap for one of the few Transformers who's never, ever going to be reissued.
6 - again, 8 for the design alone, but the paint job really does damage him; possibly more than any other mould I can think of, this one's gone wrong in the final stages. A diverting curio for the G1 fan, but little beyond that.