SHRAPNEL (SKRAPNEL) (2014)
As I’ve stated in past reviews, some of my favorite Transformers were the ones who transformed into animals. It didn’t matter if it was a lion, a dinosaur, or a bug; I just found more play value in a toy that had two “living” modes as opposed to a toy with only robot and vehicle modes. The Insecticons were an especially cool faction of the Decepticons. There were 3 main Insecticons: Bombshell, Shrapnel, and Kickback. Bombshell transformed into a rhinoceros beetle with a large horn that he used to attach mind controlling cerebro-shells onto unsuspecting Autobots. My brother Doug owned the original 1985 Bombshell.
I owned Shrapnel who transformed into a stag beetle with large mandibles that generated an electricity attack. I loved the way Shrapnel was portrayed in the cartoon. All of the Insections had funky voices but only Shrapnel had a weird tick where he repeated the last word of every sentence he said: “The Autobots must die, die” “Now is the time to attack, attack”.
Neither of us owned Kickback who transformed into a Grasshopper and was the least interesting of the group.
I loved that original Shrapnel toy. His mandibles, legs, and weapon were chrome silver which looked great with the black, purple, and yellow color scheme that he shared with the other members of the Insecticons. I loved his robot mode though articulation was quite limited. The transformation to bug mode was very simple which I always appreciated (complicated transformations piss me off). His insect alt. mode was decent but had some issues. While Bombshell’s big yellow bug eyes looked great Shrapnel got stuck with unpainted solid purple eyes. Also, instead of convincing bug legs he had wheels.
I regret getting rid of that toy and maybe someday I’ll replace it but as an adult collector my focus has been on obtaining updated versions of the Transformer toys I had as a kid. Unfortunately Hasbro has been very slow about producing the characters I want. Thankfully third party manufactures have stepped in to fill the void by releasing unlicensed versions of in-demand characters.
In 2012, third party company, Fans Project, released their versions of the 3 Insecticons. I bought their versions of Bombshell and Shrapnel named Stormbomb and Thundershred. I passed on their Kickback named Back Fiery. It was a nice figure but since I never owned the original I don’t have the same attachment to that character and the third party toys are too expensive to buy unless you really want them.
The Fans Project Bombshell/Stormbomb was absolutely fantastic and I named it my toy of the year in 2012. The Fans Project Shrapnel/Thundershred, which I haven’t yet reviewed, was a very cool toy but it didn’t feel like Shrapnel to me. The face was completely different and the trademark mandibles weren’t prominently displayed on the sides of his head. For those reasons I’ve always viewed Thundershred as his own character rather than an updated Shrapnel.
Well it took 29 years but Hasbro has finally released their own updated version of my favorite Insecticon. He’s constructed in the same scale as other recent “legends class” mini-bot releases like Swerve, Cosmos, and Tailgate. When I first saw pics of this figure online I was extremely underwhelmed and I decided that I wouldn’t buy it.
It seemed way too small and lacking in detail. It didn’t appear to hold a candle to the vintage figure, let alone the masterpiece that is Stormbomb. How could I possibly display this toy side by side with Stormbomb my collection? Bombshell and Shrapnel were always equals in the cartoons, and in mine and Doug’s Transformers universe, so this scrawny runt of a toy simply wouldn’t be able to hold his own.
But I really wanted Tailgate and BigBadToyStore was only preselling them as a pair so I had to order Shrapnel (who they now call Skrapnel for some reason) in order to get Tailgate. At only $10 it didn’t really bother me to spend the extra money.
Now that I have this toy in hand I still think it’s too small and lacking in detail but it’s much better than I expected. This figure seems extremely tiny to me so I was very surprised to learn, while preparing for this post, that its very close to the same size as the vintage figure. I recall the old one being bigger than this but perhaps that’s because I was smaller myself back then or because the old toy was much bulkier than this. I do miss that bulkiness and chrome accents of the original. This new Shrapnel is thin and wiry and his mandibles are molded in a dull gray plastic. But this version has much more articulation than the original. The old toy’s robot mode could barely be posed at all whereas this guy can bend at the knees and elbows and has ball jointed hips and shoulders which allow for lots of diverse poses.
This figure wins points with me because it looks like Shrapnel whereas Thundershred fell short. The face design is spot on and the mandibles are mounted on the shoulders/side-of-the-head as they should be. With the exception of silver legs this figure’s colors closely match the originals. This figure is not pretty from the back. As with tailgate it seems like no effort went into hiding his alt mode from behind; he’s just a jumble of legs back there. At least the multiple legs come in handy for his alt. insect mode. Shrapnel actually looks like an insect now with legs instead of wheels.
All of these legends class figures come with an even smaller Transformer who turns into the main bots’ weapon. Shrapnel comes with Reflector, the Decepticon that turns into a camera and who was a mainstay in the early cartoons and comics but who never had a wide-released figure in America. I’ve never owned a Reflector so it’s cool to get this itty bitty homage to the classic character.
This figure really isn’t as bad as I expected it to be. In fact, I probably like it better than the Tailgate figure. I actually hope Hasbro releases similar scaled version of Bombshell and Kickback so I can finally complete the team. 7 out of 10.