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Blackjack's Review: Torca

Name: Torca
Allegiance: Maximal
Size Class: Deluxe Class
Accessories: Spark-Diminishing Spray Gun/Beast Hump

Sometimes a single panel is enough to make you fall in love with the design of a character that you would buy a toy of said character almost instantaneously. Torca, whose appearances only number the IDW comics and whatever fanfiction people make of him, was one of those. And the comic in question was IDW’s Beast Wars Ascending, volume one. Now Ascending was a mess, but I’m not here to review comic books – you have to go to the comics section to see me do that – but that page when this titanic behemoth just bursts out of the ground, tusks and fangs and massive limbs swinging around and goring every single Predacon in its path away? There’s badass, and then there’s ‘mutant giant rabid killer-whale elephant’ badass.

Some of the Fuzors admittedly look a little silly. A scorpion with a snake as a tail? A crocodile with a spiky turtle shell? A bull-bat? A baboon-tiger? Freaking whatever the hell Injector is? But Torca? Torca’s beast mode has permanently been associated with the biblical beast behemoth in my head. It’s supposed to be a super-destructive beast who resides in the land and the water, but instead of being portrayed as a demon hippopotamus.

Torca’s tech specs basically describe him as a grand and wise warrior commanding respect (actual words) and then goes on to babble about how awesome this super Maximal is... oh, and apparently ‘Predacon poachers’ are a thing, and Torca’s impenetrable hide discourage them from hunting him. Well, poachers, have you taken a look at Torca? Yeah? That thing’s gonna split you into so many pieces before you can load your gun, poacher scum. IDW’s Sourcebook chose to add on to the tech specs and portray him as bashful and quiet outside of combat situations… which is basically Roadbuster. Come on people, don’t be lazy.

Of course, whatever the hell the deal with Torca is, subsequent appearances drawn by veteran Transformers artist Don Figueroa cemented Torca as one of the most badass designs. Ever. So in my hunt for Beast Wars toys, Torca was very, very high in my list. Of course, he was the last I expected to see. Because, well, Torca toys suffer from this disease called ‘Gold Plastic Syndrome’, where a lot of toys cast with gold plastic crumble upon the slightest pressure. Torca being around 80% gold plastic, I didn’t hold much hope of finding an intact Torca, let alone anything resembling mint condition.

But sometimes fate works in your favour and found a mint Torca I did… and the person was selling it in a set with a bunch of other Beast Wars toys I wanted as well. Torca came with a lot of other wicked-awesome toys including Spittor, Ramulus, Polar Claw and Dead End, but Torca was the prize find, mostly because he hasn’t self-destructed yet. But does this highly-anticipated toy of mine live up to the awesomeness IDW paints him up to be?

Beast Mode:
As mentioned before, Torca is a Fuzor, and transforms into a hybrid between an elephant and a killer whale. Both elephants and killer whales are dangerous animals, even though they don’t look like it in the first glance. Killer whales look like derpy zebra dolphins, but there is a reason they are named ‘killer’ whales and that isn’t because they can be trained to do tricks. That’s because they’re the apex predator of the freaking ocean. Elephants? Sure, they may be herbivores, but go meet one on a rampage and see if you can still keep all your limbs. They can easily weigh seven tonnes, those sharp tusks can gore houses to destruction nevermind humans, and that trunk is one big mean mass of muscle that will definitely break your bones if the elephant is so inclined to murder you. Of course, both can be domesticated and befriended, which I guess is why the animals were chosen for the heroic Maximal Torca.

Torca’s Fuzor mode doesn’t strictly only take features from elephants and killer whales, though. Sure, it takes on the four massive legs and massive curved tusks of an elephant, and the carnivorous teeth of a killer whale, as well as all that pectoral fin, that tail and those fins jutting from his front legs. And I suppose those ears that blend in well with the smoother killer whale skin are pachyderm in origin. But that does not account for the insanely sharp and dinosaur-looking feet that Torca has. But the accuracy doesn’t really matter, Torca can be a three-part Fuzor if he likes – whatever helps him pull off that ‘unstoppable predator unleashed from the bowels of hell’ look is a good thing in my books. And those reptilian claws do make him look far more imposing than, say, if he had simple columnar feet like elephants.

But reptilian feet aside, the designers as usual made an excellent job at separating Torca’s two beast modes. Running down the center and upper parts of Torca’s body, his killer whale half is a beautiful shade of dark blue, sculpted with sleekness and a nice little gloss. As you go down the sides, however, the blue gives way to gold (in an excellently done gradation effect), and suddenly the texture becomes much rougher to simulate elephant skin. The flanks and the legs are particularly notable, but the elephant ears and the holes where the tusks protrude are all wrinkly and golden. In an excellent touch, those little fins that just out from his forelegs are done in the aesthetic of the killer whale. The mouth and face are wonderfully done as well, and while I am puzzled by the reverse-bucktooth on the lower jaw, it still does give the impression of a monstrous carnivore that can dismember any living creature in front of him.

Beast Wars designers never cease to amaze me. Just when I thought they’ve did a good job, with, say, Spittor, I go to the next toy and get blown away by the sheer amount of sculpting and detailing put into it!

He’s relatively well articulated for a beast. His forelegs are ball-jointed at two parts and hinged at the knee, and they are extremely fun to manipulate and the large reptile legs make for great centers of balance. The rear legs have two hinges accessible but they are generally not as useful as the front legs. The tail can swing up and down, and the lower jaw can depress a bit further… I suppose Torca can use those reverse buckteeth to grind up low-running Predacons like a bulldozer? I do know some primitive elephants do have these fancy tusks, so why not add them to the killer whale’s already-terrifying arsenal of teeth?

Torca has this little gimmick where you can pull that pectoral fin (the Jaws fin, if you will) and the tusks will move inwards, trapping any Predacon unfortunate enough to be between them and putting them face-to-face with that hungy-looking monster mouth ready to show a Predacon what a true apex predator is like. That is, if the Predacon wasn’t gored to death by those awesome-looking tusks first. Oh, and that piece is also a real water gun, meaning Torca can squirt water out of his blowhole because, you know, whale. I haven’t tried it because I don’t fancy getting water all over my toys, but it’s a cute gimmick I suppose.

Of course, Torca isn’t all awesomeness and sunshine. He looks really awesome from the front or diagonally – those forelegs do look massively imposing, but look at him from the side and he does look rather… disproportionate. His flanks kind of end up short and the lower legs are significantly smaller. Though I have gotten used to this look over the time I’ve had Torca displayed in his hellbeast mode on my desk, it might come as a bit of a surprise.

He’s also relatively small. Sure, he’s has the same mass as any Beast-era Deluxe class toy I own, but a lot of Beast-era Predacons have hollow wings and the like which makes them appear far larger than Torca, so his whole ‘biggest Maximal’ shtick kind of gets ruined if you try to replicate it in toy form.

But still, minor complaints. Because Torca turns into a freaking hellbeast and he is awesome.

Robot Mode:
In the comics Torca’s robot mode is similarly portrayed as monolithic, towering over everyone else and generally looking big, muscular and awesome. His toy’s robot mode is… still awesome, but kinda disappointing. He’s awesome looking, but nowhere as bulky or muscular as I’d like him to be. He does look a lot alike, and does give the appearance of a tough-looking warrior, so there’s that for him, I suppose.

Transforming Torca is a relatively simple business, nothing too tricky unless you are handling a specimen with Gold Plastic Syndrome, in which case his gold parts would probably burst apart into a cloud of dust. The flanks in particular worry me. My Torca is immaculate and has been transformed a lot of times, but I don’t want to jinx myself by talking too much about how awesome my Torca is.

The first thing you notice about Torca’s robot mode is that… he’s kinda kibbly. The upper half of his killer whale face kind of just hang upwards from his back, his elephant flanks open and just jut sideways from his sides, those awesome-looking front claws don’t even try to hide under those fists, and the tail, while able to be folded up, kind of look weird all around. However, somehow the general layout of all these kibble achieves a rather pleasing side effect of making Torca look wider and therefore bulkier than the actual robot actually is, so that’s a good thing in my book.

And Torca’s general look is pretty awesome. His facial sculpt is hands-down my favourite amongst all the Beast Wars toys, with a grill mouth and stern yellow eyes that just scream ‘hardcore’, and as if that’s not enough, a crazy ensemble sits on either side of his head where the elephant tusks jut upwards. It all gives him a really badass looking look, and all the kibble splayed outwards, combined with his thick limbs, and even those claws that hand backwards from his fists make him look pretty tough. Warcry has informed me of an alternate way of posing the kibble if you want his robot mode to be neater and more streamlined, by popping them off and popping them back on to run downwards vertically. Whichever floats your boat, I guess. Pity he’s kinda short relative to other Beast Wars toys, but you can’t have everything.

Torca is still mainly gold in robot mode, but the colours are far more spread out. More white and red pick out details, and while the limbs are still almost entirely-gold, it’s a paint scheme I really like. I’m not sure why I like it, other than the fact that gold and dark orca blue do work very well together. And those tusks jutting out the side of his head! I’m not sure what this resembles but I do know it is freaking wicked awesome.

Torca is fairly well-articulated too. His head… or rather, the head-and-tusks assembly, can rotate a bit although not too much considering the tusk gimmick. It’s quite enough to look sideways and pose Torca as you with, though. His arms retain the same amount of articulation as they were when they were Torca’s forlegs, although the fists are actually far freer now that they don’t have to support Torca’s weight. I suppose having claws hanging down for them might make punches hurt more, I guess? A punch from Torca will leave a mark as if he’s stomped you in beast mode or something? Torca doesn’t have a waist joint, but his thighs are ball-jointed and his knees and ankles are still jointed.

A chunk of Torca’s back detach and become a fully-functional water gun, but it’s awkward for Torca to hold it blowhole-forwards, especially when moulded details imply that the business end of the gun is the one opposite to the blowhole. According to his bio, Torca’s fin-gun is a Spark-Diminishing Spray Gun that makes those it hits get paralyzed in fear, although the mere sight of Torca’s beast mode looming over them would probably net the same effect. It’s a decent enough weapon as far as beast parts go, though.

Overall, Torca may not be the best robot mode out there, but certainly one of the best-looking and a personal favourite.

Marks out of the following:
Transformation Design: 7/10 The design is simple, and I wish they used more mass to make the rear end of the beast mode look far better, and they could’ve worked the kibble better but all in all I’m pretty happy with the end result, what with the kibble making him look bigger and everything.

Durability: 0/10 or 8/10, depending if your specimen is one with GPS. If your Torca starts to crumble or crack upon touching, put it in a display case and never touch it. Mine is pretty durable, but I still maintain an aura of carefulness while mucking around with Torca that I never exhibit while playing with other Beast Wars toys.

Aesthetics: 9/10 The rear end of the beast mode is a bit iffy but if my review isn’t obvious, I really really really dig Torca’s look, kibble and all.

Articulation: 7/10 In beast mode Torca is great, but while the robot mode has all the joints, the flank kibble can get in the way of some poses. He’s got real great balance in both modes and the joints to pull off most poses you want to put a lumbering brute through, though

Fun: 8/10 He’s pretty fun to muck around with, yeah. The water gun is probably added play value as well even though I’ve never once tried it.

Price/Value: 8/10 He’s not a show character, and while finding specimens of Torca might be harder than other Beast Wars toys, I got him at a relatively great price, around $8 or so.

Overall: 9/10 Torca probably doesn’t compare well with modern toys in terms of transformation sophistication or articulation, but what it lacks in those departments it makes up in personality. How many modern toys transform into a bulky orca-mammoth hellbeast straight out of ancient mythology with tusks as long as their feet? A grand total of zero, that’s what. And the robot mode looks like it’s going to beat you up if you look at him funny, and those tusks growing from the sides of his head doesn’t make him any less threatening. Torca is a great-looking toy with personality, and his awesomeness factor is raised by imagining him to be twice as big as other Maximals and generally swatting small Predacons away with his tusks or feet or whatever. Just, uh, try to find one that doesn’t shatter into gold dust. Good news is, most Torca toys with GPS have shattered already, so if you find one you’ll probably find one that won’t explode I heartily recommend him to you.
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