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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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The Reverend's Review: Kickback

Name: Kickback
Allegiance: Decepticon
Sub-Group: Insecticon
Function: Espionage

"Friend is another word for fool."

Charming, but cruelly clever... makes friends so he can influence them to do his bidding by digging up facts he can hold against them. Humans particularly susceptible to this Insecticon. In insect mode can jump 40 ft. for a distance of .1 miles... kick a hole in 1/4 inch steel. In robot mode, can fly 30mph up to 100 miles. Sub-machine gun fires 300 rounds per minute. Very vulnerable as insect and flying in high winds.

Kickback is probably, in retrospect, the least celebrated of the three non-Deluxe Insecticons, since he didn't really have the same type of spotlighted moments in the cartoon and comic that Bombshell and Shrapnel did. However, as far as insects go, Kickback's grasshopper mode is probably the most familiar of his team (we've all seen grasshoppers - we don't really see lamellicorns that frequently).

Alternate Mode:

Although he doesn't have the projecting stern that typical grasshoppers do, Kickback's still recognizable in this form due to his long wings, passable head sculpt (and its bright yellow antennae), simulated "hair" on his back legs, and the claw-like forelimbs. He has wheels on his foremost and rear feet, and he's mainly black with some purple on the ends of his each leg. A yellow hinged compartment on his back allows for the insertion of a Diaclone driver or whatever other small object you please. His head can rotate, the antennae can be posed to some degree, and he has two joints to each leg, although the front two pairs share the same shoulder joint - far superior, in terms of articulation, than his teammates. Although he's lacking in some key insect details, he still looks rather nice, and the back legs in particular have some rather well thought-out stickering. The lengthy chrome wings look good as well, although they're subject to wear on loose samples. I understand that a rubsign is usually found on one of these wings, although mine didn't have one when I bought it back in the 80s - I think those were still Mini-Spy territory. Although the robot face is visible at the underside of the insect head, a slight projection just above it hides it from many angles and gives the bug a somewhat beaked look, so you can have him chomp on things, I guess.

One interesting aspect of Kickback's insect mode is that because of the way his hind legs transform, posing those limbs in "pre-kick" position gives you two small "levers" (actually the robot mode's feet) at the top of each leg you can press down to simulate his ability to go around kicking holes in steel. It isn't mentioned in the instructions or anything, but you can use it to kick over poor Gears if you like, or that horde of Armada Mini-Cons you're now questioning the reason for buying.

Robot Mode:

Kickback has a relatively simple, if interesting transformation - especially the way his front legs pair together to make clawed arms. His wings are intended to stand straight up from his shoulders, but tend to droop on loose samples. Or if you like them angled back away from his shoulders, you can do that too. The yellow compartment now takes up most of his chest, he sports a black visor over his eyes, and the notable insect antennae are now forming earpieces of sorts on his head. He has movement available at the shoulders and hips, his head can rotate, and you can get some degree of elbow movement out of him if you're not too fussy about how the claws look. Unlike many G1s, his legs are independent of each other, so he can do a stiff-legged front kick of sorts, or at least trip Shrapnel from time to time. Technically, he has ankle movement too, but this is only due to the transformation and is pretty much useless in robot mode. He carries a chrome "submachine gun" that clips onto a claw and is reminiscient enough of the tommy-gun style. Oddly, he has stickers marking the soles of his feet. Don't ask. I'm not sure whether they're supposed to be tread or some kind of vent.

Regardless, he's probably got the best looking robot mode of the three "regular" Insecticons, in terms of proportions. Shorter than a Seeker, but taller than an Autobot minicar, his black-and-purple color scheme suits him well and he fits nicely in a displayed crowd of Decepticons.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 3. No challenge to it, although the arms/insect forelimbs could be briefly confusing.
Durability: 5. The antennae can break off, the insect's limbs are thin-ish, and there's the large, projecting wings to be careful of.
Fun: 7. I'll go high on this score because some people really, really like insects.
Price: 3. Aside from the durability issue, he's not hard to find.
Summary: 5. Let's "go halfies" here and say if you're a fan of the Insecticons in general, you really should pick him up. If you didn't care much for the characters to begin with, Kickback's a good ambassador for them, but I wouldn't guarantee you'd like it.
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