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Blackjack's Review: Sea Clamp

Name: Sea Clamp
Allegiance: Predacon
Accessories: Tripredacus’ Missile Launcher

Back in the original run of the Transformers toyline, combiners weren’t much good for anything but combining and being big and looking pretty damn badass… indeed they are by and by unarticulated bricks, mainly hampered by the necessity of each component needing to transform into individual robots and vehicle modes whilst still being able to combine… which meant the G1 combiners are simply limited to raising their arms or maybe turning their heads.

FOC Bruticus aside, many modern combiners (ROTF Devastator, the Power Core Combiners, et al) have mostly did away with individual transforming components, instead having some or all component parts transforming from vehicular modes straight into the combiner parts. This usually increased the quality of the finished product, with a better, more stable gestalt, but they’re simply not the same.

But before those, there were more dignified combiners, combiners that combined into gestalts with articulation, yet have component parts which transformed into robots and alternate modes. We’ve got Devastator, Superion and Bruticus from the Energon line, we’ve got Rail Racer and Build King from Robots in Disguise… but before those, the first two articulated ‘true’ gestalts are Tripredacus and Magnaboss from the Beast Wars.

Magnaboss always looked messy to me. Prowl looked all right, but Ironhide is one of the most horrible transformers I’ve ever seen, and Silverbolt looked ridiculous with oversized long wings… and Magnaboss himself doesn’t look quite that impressive himself. Whereas Tripredacus… the gestalt mode is a glorious Frankenstein of bug parts, and all three component robots have robot and beast modes that look actually awesome in their respective modes. I’d own Cicadacon, Sea Clamp or Ramhorn separately… in fact, I actually did own Ramhorn even before I knew what Beast Wars was! Well, technically I owned the reissue of Motorarm, Ramhorn’s Japanese Maximal counterpart. The Tripredacus set was released as the Maximal combiner Tripledacus in Japan, and the characters were turned into offensive Mexican stereotypes. Meanwhile, Tripredacus’ members enjoyed a short, speaking cameo in the highly excellent TV show where they were the mysterious, shadowy leaders behind the Predacons on Cybertron… certainly a step-up from bad stereotypes, yes?

I didn’t know any of this, of course, I just bought Motorarm because he looked quite cool in my opinion. One gestalt component does not make a Tripredacus… but I was content to have Motorarm as part of my collection. It wasn’t until a couple of months before this review was written that I start buying second-hand vintage items. Initially it was just G1 toys, but by and by I began to hunt down Beast Wars toys with obsession… and I found someone who sold two members of the Tripredacus combiner (which were bagged alongside a Powerpinch), but never managed to sell them because they were one figure short of forming Tripredacus. As fate would have had it, the missing link is Ramhorn… which I own in the form of Maximal Motorarm. And as such, I now have a Tripredacus with red claws.

There are plenty Tripredacus reviews out there, but here I’ll be reviewing Sea Clamp as an individual. While Tripredacus may have been sold as a set initially, at this point in time, more than ten years since the toy hit the stores you’re as likely to find them separately, and I do hope I’ll be helpful in deciding whether you should buy Sea Clamp if you happen to find the chap all by himself.

Beast Mode
Sea Clamp transforms into either a lobster or a crayfish, I can’t tell which. As far as I know, there isn’t much physical difference between lobsters and crayfish other than habitat (lobsters live in saltwater while crayfish live in freshwater) and size (lobsters are bigger). Since size isn’t much use in a world where peregrine falcons, wasps and pteranodons are all the same size, I’m inclined to think Sea Clamp is a lobster because he’s got ‘sea’ in his name. So unless someone wants to correct me, I shall now declare that Sea Clamp is, in fact, a lobster.

Oh, all right, crayfish do have an additional joint in the thorax or something, but you really can’t tell with Sea Clamp.

Anatomically, Sea Clamp is a pretty accurate lobster, lack of extremely-long antennae notwithstanding. He’s got good proportions, large claws, respectably-long antennae (two pairs jutting out of his mouth) and four pairs of legs, which, alongside the massive claws, make up ten pairs of legs. Lobsters and crayfish are members of the order Decapoda, which means ten legs. Science! Actual lobsters have claw tips on the anterior legs, but not Sea Clamp. He’s got some nice thorn-like details on his cephalothorax and claws, and his abdomen are nicely segmented. His robot-mode legs are arranged and detailed to masquerade as the tail fan. We’re spared an anatomically accurate mouth, which is impossible to do on a toy and would probably be broken in every Sea Clamp toy within minutes. Sea Clamp isn’t perfect, but he’s a damn good-looking lobster.

Sea Clamp is primarily cast in a fitting shade of brown I could see being on a lobster. Mind you, it is clear plastic, but Sea Clamp’s plastic is done so tastefully that unless you hold him against a light source it’s not apparent, not like the messy, godawful ‘show all the rods and whatnot within’ affairs Takara is churning out. Sea Clamp’s got some purple details, such as the area between his cephalothorax and abdomen, as well as the part of his hands closest to the body, as well as some bits on the underside. It’s a pity, but at least the purple isn’t quite that jarring, and Predacons do look good in purple anyway. His antennae and lobster legs are cast in a darker shade of brown, and his beady eyes are painted green.

In addition, Sea Clamp’s cephalothoax and claws have some sort of metallic finish on it which makes him look more… lobster, if you could say it that way. It’s some pretty detailing which I really appreciate.

Articulation wise, Sea Clamp can move his antenna, and each set of four legs are on a hinge, whereas his massive claws have two ball joints each along the ‘arm’, as well as a hinge joint for the claw itself… and then it opens. This is Sea Clamp’s main play feature here, I suppose, because all a lobster can do to defend itself is to use those massive, massive claws… and Sea Clamp’s serrated claws do look like they can tear through the flesh of any luckless Maximal that gets in his way. Not scary enough? Well, hidden within each claw is a flip-out serrated hook thing which looked pretty badass. Not sure if it’s inspired by something in nature (I wouldn’t be surprised if it was) but I can just imagine Sea Clamp’s claws bearing upon a Maximal’s neck, and the little claws inside flicked out like a switchblade to help grab onto the Maximal’s flesh… or Sea Clamp using them as some kind of funky lobster daggers…

If you look closely under the abdomen, there are some white serrated spikes. This is where you can hide Sea Clamp’s missile launcher. Remind yourself to look for this accessory when you buy a Sea Clamp! It’s needed to make Tripredacus’ weapon, and since it can’t interact with Sea Clamp beyond plugging under his ass and pretending to be an egg sack or something, there’s nothing prompting you to look for it.

Sea Clamp is the largest and longest compared to his Tripredacus combiners. I do not have much Beast Wars toys to compare Sea Clamp with, but he’s at least longer than Ramhorn and Cicadacon, and at least as long as the deluxe-sized Retrax. Each Tripredacus member, as I know it, is about the size of a small deluxe, with Cicadacon being the smallest (due to the wings) and Sea Clamp being the largest. By the length of the beast modes, Sea Clamp is easily twice as long as Cicadacon. Which, considering their beast modes, is actually very appropriate.

So, all and all, a pretty good lobster, which, with good imagination, could be quite fun.

God, I’m craving lobster.

Robot Mode
Sea Clamp’s transformation into robot mode is relatively simple, with the lobster claws forming the gangly arms, the lobster head splitting to form the shoulders, the lobster legs folding up, the robot head flipping out, the abdomen rotated and the robot legs unfurled into its proper position. Sea Clamp’s arms still retain their posability from the beast mode, and the shoulders add another ball joint. The head’s also on a ball joint, the waist can rotate, the thighs are ball-jointed, the knees are hinged and so are the ankles.

Sea Clamp’s transformation scheme means that he ends up being as tall as Ramhorn and Cicadacon despite having a massive beast mode, which I thought was neat. He’s a rather impressive figure which looks like he could really throw it down with someone. He’s got a pretty nice-looking face sculpt, one that made me think that he’s probably the schemer of the group… although he is a big, muscular-looking thing, so maybe he’s the thug? All in your minds, kids!

In this mode he’s got much more purple, namely those mentioned before, plus the robot-mode crotch and upper legs. It’s a pretty dour colour scheme that suits a Predacon. He can assume quite a number of poses, although the beast-mode abdomen that sticks down from the butt does limit how you can stand him. It doesn’t interfere with the articulation itself per se, but with the display. Then again, Sea Clamp is an aquatic combatant, so he doesn’t really have to worry about standing properly, no? Or how his hands are close to scraping the ground with its tips? It’s actually pretty cool-looking. His inner claw weapons are still accessible in this mode.

There’s really not much more to say about Sea Clamp, he’s a pretty decent robot.

Combined Mode
Sea Clamp transforms into Tripredacus’ legs. His thick lobster claws become Tripredacus’ feet, which means he’s got very, very stable and multi-jointed feet. Sea Clamp’s joints are pretty tight, which means you don’t have to worry about a wobbly-legged Tripredacus. Sea Clamp’s torso connects to Cicadacon by way of several pegs, but if you think that’s it, well… Sea Clamp’s abdomen swings up to click into place on Cicadacon’s back through two pegs, which actually forms quite a cool backpack that helps to balance Tripredacus.

When I bought Sea Clamp, one of the pegs that connect him to Cicadacon’s back has snapped off and is still inside Cicadacon. This irked me. It doesn’t affect Tripredacus’ stability any, for which I am truly thankful, but it irks me nonetheless.

That aside, Sea Clamp again forms a pretty serviceable lower body, and ends up being pretty awesome-looking with all the pretty lobster thorns. It’s actually far better for gestalts to be designed with specific parts in mind, instead of having interchangeability which results in the gestalts looking extremely gimpy. The abdomen has also apparently been christened as some sort of jetpack by IDW’s Sourcebook, which I could totally see it being. I mean, Tripredacus’ butterfly-cicada wings can’t seriously lift that behemoth up, could it?

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 8/10 Pretty simple, but it works to create a pretty fun robot mode, as well as a very well-implemented gestalt mode.

Durability: 8/10 There’s the aforementioned peg problem, and you can lose the accessory or break the antennae. That aside, unlike most Beast Wars toys Sea Clamp doesn’t have any loose ball joints… you’d have to be a bit of a barbarian to break Sea Clamp.

Aesthetics: 7/10 He does look a little boring, but I happen to find his lobster mode pretty fun, and I like his robot mode, Scorponokesque vibe notwithstanding. And he does look like a passable lobster and that makes me very hungry.

Articulation: 8/10 It’s actually very well-articulated, even compared to modern toys. It’s a shame that the abdomen piece does hinder posing a bit, but I think the awesome four-jointed arms more than make up for it.

Fun: 9/10 I do have fun with Sea Clamp pretending he’s a master manipulator who fights Maximals in the seas with his massive claws and everything… and those flip-out miniclaws are pretty cool.

Price/Value: 7/10 Here’s the kicker. Depending on how much you find him for, and whether you have the rest of Tripredacus, his value would be different for you. He should fetch around the same or slightly more than normal prices for a non-show Deluxe class toy.

Overall: 8/10 Sea Clamp isn’t a perfect toy. However, I’ve had quite a bit of fun with the fellow, especially since he’s now back as part of a cracking Predacon combiner squad. He’s got some nice, unobtrusive yet cool gimmicks, he’s a great robot and lobster… this is what a combiner component should be, not some half-assed job that fails in all three modes. He is a pretty solid (if average) toy on his own with the added value of being able to combine with two other toys to form a pretty kickass-looking gestalt. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a sudden urge to eat a lobster dish.
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