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Blackjack's Review: Scourge

Name: Scourge
Allegiance: Predacon
Function: Special Operations Combatant
Size Class: Deluxe Class (Transmetal 2)

”A plague upon all their houses!”

Scourge is possibly the most despicable of the already loathsome Predacons. Delights in taking depravity to all-time low levels. Obsessed with germ warfare and lethal chemical development. Despised by peers for his inclination to test deadly viral and bacterial concoctions on fellow Predacons. Skilled in combat, Scourge wields photon cluster cannons with chemical warhead capabilities. Has electrostatic disruptors inside antennae; capable of leaping distances exceeding two miles with use of wings.

Beast Wars is full of weird toys, and in its last year it went full steam with weirdness. Between Fuzors, which have beast modes that are hybrids of two animals, and Transmetal 2’s, which are insanely awesome Frankenstein mish-mashes of organic and technological details, the last year of Beast Wars saw some of the best toys ever to grace the Transformers fandom… and some of the most downright bizarre.

Now I have a love-hate relationship with bugs. I am eternally fascinated by them and if you ever meet me in real life and wish that I would shut up, just plop a National Geographic video about the weirdness of insects and whatnot and I will sit still and watch it like a good two-year-old. But release a real-life bug that is not a butterfly anywhere near me and I will go ballistic and break out the flamethrowers and bazookas until I send it to bug heaven.

But plastic bugs? Plastic bugs are cool. The Generation One Insecticons are one of my all-time favourite toys and characters, and I’m always happy to expand my army of Decepticons and Predacons with arthropodal alternate modes. During my Beast Wars spree a lot of my acquisitions were Predacons with buggy alternate modes, and one of them is this plague locust of death, Scourge. Not to be confused with the G1 bearded flying hot tub Scourge, or RID’s proto-Nemesis-Prime Scourge.

Scourge already had an interesting bio I quoted up above. He’s a vile mad scientist even by Predacon standards, specializes in germ warfare, and carries around chemical warheads. He sounds like a fun character! And only looking at his beast mode when I bought him, I was suitably impressed. How can such a crazy-looking locust not be an awesome toy? Well, let me tell you how.

Beast Mode:
Scourge has a wonderful locust beast mode. Like all Transmetal Twos, Scourge is techno-organic and thus an insane, asymmetrical blend of technologic and mechanical features. And while at first glance you’d think the mechanical are basically the shiny chrome orange parts, upon closer inspection you realize the designers, as always, put so much effort into it. It’s just crazy the amount of work that goes into Scourge, putting him on a pedestal above even Transmetal Twos Ramulus and Prowl.

Scourge is coloured in an extremely loud combination of purple, chrome orange, lime green and an orangey shade of red. Spinister and Skyquake gets all the flak, but really, Beast Wars Scourge is the loudest, craziest paint scheme of all time. The result is a capophany of loud colours that simply works to accentuate the sheer madness of his beast mode, befitting of his character. From the massive and impressive-looking hind legs to the crazy wings to the awesomely threatening bug face… those wings in particular are memorable. The main part of the wings are a network of veined transparent light green skeletal structure that have a lot of holes punched through them, while another set of… I cannot find a word to describe whatever the hell those segmented things that are within the green wings. What I do know is that they look cool.

And all the asymmetry! At first, everyone will probably only notice the obvious differences. Yes, his two jaws are of different shapes, one more hooked and another one straighter. His right eye is a more standard-looking insect’s compound-eye, whereas his left one has a robotic hexagonal pattern. His antennas are different, with the right looking more organic than the left. But as I start to inspect him thoroughly, well, I am simply blown away by the amount of detail. Those two lime-green clear wings? Well, they’re different. The one on the right is has more holes and has larger, disarrayed spikes and the one on the left looks more whole. And the spots painted are different, too. The insect legs, which on first glance looks the same, are different. Some have spikes pointing forwards while the opposite number has them pointing backwards, or don’t have spikes at all. And all the technical-organic stuff on the rear legs are all different while having a generally similar macroscopic structure. Even the abdomen has a lot of details that are simply lost in the orange chrome with green dots. The left flank, for example, has but a single pipe-like structure, whereas the other side has a lot of smaller mechanical greebles as moulded detail. I could go on and on.

Scourge is relatively decently articulated. The front two parts are ball-jointed and unlike bug legs, are thick and stable enough to support Scourge’s weight. The hind legs, by virtue of having additional parts, are double-jointed near the body and have ‘knees’ that don’t move that much. Scourge’s curved and barbed stinger (locusts don’t have stingers) can tuck into his abdomen. Both of his mandibles can swing independently, and his head can bend downwards a bit.

His wings can splay out at an angle, or swing forwards and backwards as part of a gimmick. By pressing an obnoxiously long handle that would stand out on any other toy but Scourge (where it is simply a single aspect amongst everything that’s going on) the wings will swing and point forwards… which I have no idea to what effect. The left wing has a button that can launch the red thing like a missile, presumably the warhead spoken of in the bio. The other wing’s missile is also removable and just slots in there just because.

Scourge’s robotic left eye can flip open to reveal a purple Predacon crystal. It even has a small crack on the front to allow you to hook your fingernails and open it.

However, not all is lights and sunshine with Scourge. His orange paint, while undoubtedly fabulous, is not something that has withstood the test of time. They flake off. They flake off very, very terribly. The toy is shedding chrome all over my desk as I type this review, and it’s the reason that I have never ever taken Scourge out of display ever since the first day I received him. It’s just monumentally terrible and there are a lot of chrome-less splotches to reveal the white underneath. While it might fit Scourge’s personality that he’s gotten robo-leprosy while testing out his plagues, I would rather keep my figure safe from any future harm.

He’s also got a fair bit of visible kibble, although it’s hard to tell thanks to the extremely garish and loud paint scheme. The aforementioned plunger-lever thing, but also part of his robot mode’s lower body and thighs are visible, although painted red so they blend in with everything. His right hand also sticks out a bit behind the locust’s abdomen stinger.

But overall, I am extremely happy with Scourge’s beast mode. It’s the most insane locust of apocalypse ever, and while it’s extremely different from a real locust (he’s more of a locust-wasp fuzor with crazy DNA wings, but ‘monster locust’ is easier to type), all the insane additions are forgiveable because of how well he turns out.

Robot Mode:
The robot mode, on the other hand, is a veritable mess. I just don’t know where to start. I am a fan of unconventional looking robot modes – I’m a big fan of ROTF Demolishor and Mixmaster, and I sing praises over the BM Vehicons. But Scourge? Scourge’s robot mode is just a massive cluster**** of a mess.

Scourge’s torso, head and right arm are generally well done. His head has a suitably bug-looking face, glowing red eyes and two lime-coloured locust-eye decorations on the forehead which I really like. The black shoulder pauldron and spiky lower arm, as well as the black-and-lime-green chest, are all very well done. I also actually liked how the massive locust head ended up on the left shoulder. Everything else, however, redefines what ‘messy’ is.

The rest of him, well… unlike the beast mode, which has some sort of insane cohesion to them, the robot mode is just all over the place. The entire lower body up to the thighs are just one solid block of red plastic, and so is the left arm, when painting some parts of them black would make Scourge look a lot better. And that’s not going into the design of the toy. Scourge’s massive abdomen just sticks out from his ass, and the entire thorax-and-wings section sticks out from his back. The wings in particular end up just pointing backwards and doing nothing. While Scourge’s massive legs means that they don’t really harm his balance, looking at Scourge from any angle but the front really does make him look horrible. His legs are extremely dog-legged, and while additional support struts makes him unbelievably stable, they look extremely thin and point so far backwards and generally just look all over the place and weird.

Scourge’s left arm is just messy. In addition to being entirely red and therefore not easy to pick out, the issue is further compounded by having four contrastly-coloured gigantic insect legs sticking out of it. Granted, the position of the ball joints and the box art does recommend you to position them so they don’t just bunch up. Scourge looks like he’s got a massive set of pincer-claw as a left hand, it still looks messy. I like the idea of the massive claw-hand, but with all the things that Scourge has going on he really doesn’t need additional things like this that just adds to the cluster of madness.

All the kibble compound to Scourge having an extremely limited articulation. Scourge’s right arm is relatively unobstructed, of course, with shoulder and elbow joints. And his head can turn. And the purple leg-claw assembly on the left arm can open and close. But the elbow and shoulder joints on that arm are extremely limited by all the locust parts that hand out from there. And that’s not to mention the wings that block a fair bit of articulation. The head and waist can rotate, but the waist isn’t very useful thanks to half a locust sticking out of his back. His thighs and knees are jointed, as are his ankles, but really, those feet are not meant for posing at all.

Scourge’s right hand can hold one of those DNA missile warhead things to use as a sword-club thing. The wings can kinda swing forwards from under Scourge’s arms but it’s extremely impractical and messy to pull off.

I’ve really tried hard to try to like robot mode Scourge. Granted he’s not as bad as I thought he would be – unlike a lot of people, I don’t have issues with the left hand’s mass of bug-leg kibble, but the rest of his problems do make his robot mode an extremely bizarre affair, and not in the good way.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 1/10 It’s different all right, but it’s messy and generally fiddly to avoid touching any of the flaky chrome bits. Entire chunks of the insect mode jutting straight out of the back… the mass of kibble that ends up on one arm… the bad robot legs… the fact that you have to force the chrome-covered abdomen to split open to transform him…

Durability: 3/10 The toy itself feels very durable, although those beast-mode mandibles pop off easily. The chrome, on the other hand, is a little disaster zone all by itself.

Aesthetics: 3/10 on average. I really really like the locust mode despite its insane paint scheme, but not even I can honestly give that robot mode anything but a bad score.

Articulation: 3/10 A textbook example of having all the joints, but none of them usable thanks to a mass of kibble. Even with the good example afforded by the legs, beyond just holding weapons and the massive claw threateningly Scourge’s robot mode posing is really limited.

Fun: 2/10 Believe me, dealing with a freakishly unwieldy robot mode and chrome paint that rains down all over my desk and hands if I try to transform or pose him is not the definition of fun at all.

Price/Value: 3/10 He is a pretty wicked-looking display piece in locust mode and has been decorating my table for at least a year now, but there are a lot of other better toys for the same price.

Overall: 2/10 Sometimes you deal with a toy like Torca, who (may) have shitty durability issues but is otherwise a solid toy and looks freaking awesome. Sometimes you have a toy like Injector or Retrax, who is freaking weird but you forgive because it’s so much fun to play around with them. And then there is Scourge. Who I would probably rate a lot higher if I had spent time fiddling around with him. But as it is, I will forever associate Scourge with exploding flaky chrome paint and a ridiculously horrible robot mode. It is a shame, because I bought him with an already-low expectation, and tried to hard to like him. But the beast mode and the sculpting is really the only good thing about him, and as a Transformer that’s just a no-no. Scourge has so many things going on for him... an interesting bio, a wicked-ass Transmetal alternate mode with inane amounts of detailing, built-in weaponry, a crazy awesome paint scheme... yet still manages to cock it up by having a terrible transformation, a terrible robot mode, and terrible QC issues. There's weirdness that loops around to become awesomeness like Injector, and there's weirdness that causes the toy to dig a deeper hole for itself.

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