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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Kamen's review: Retrax

Name: Retrax
Function: Desert Demolitions
Subgroup: Beast Wars Deluxe Beasts

Burrowing deep into desert sand dunes, Retrax survives in a series of cool, cavernous tunnels lined with the remains of his fallen enemies. His greatest defense is his ability to curl into a ball and escape danger by racing across the desert like a turbo-charged tire screaming down a mountain. Or, when attacking, he can roll over a similar-sized enemy and crush their body upon impact, then use his powerful front pincers to dissect them in seconds.

Retrax first appeared in the original run of Beast Wars. He recently appeared in IDWís Beast Wars comic series, where, after encountering Grimlock, he proudly turned his tail and fled.

Alternate Mode:

One thing that I really liked about Beast Wars was the breadth of alternate modes the concept offered. The animal kingdom offers pretty much unlimited options. Even so, some animals are more popular with kids, more recognizable, and just easier to engineer overall. But sometimes, well, sometimes you have Ďbots like Retrax.

Retrax transforms into a pillbug, or a rolly-polly. Honestly, this mold is fantastic. Cast in dark to light green plastic, the plates of his exoskeleton are meticulously detailed with bumps and divots place asymmetrically down his back. His eyes are compounded with a nice crosshatch, and creepy, orange, arrow-shaped pupils pop off the black background. The yellow tail blade and pincers are molded with wicked serrations. And when you think of how large he would have to be...well, he could be downright terrifying.

His articulation isnít too shabby either. The tail and pincers are on spring triggers; you can adjust his antenna independently of each other, and each of his ten legs can move up and down. Poseability-wise, he really canít do much more than lay there, though.

As a pill bug, Retrax can curl into a ball by pressing both of the yellow tabs on his back. He canít actually roll (Bowling for Bugbots!), but itís a nice feature.

This mode comes off pretty good, though molding is off-set somewhat by the number of gaps running along his body. Still, Itís something different, and creepy.

Robot Mode:

Ho-boy. Ever looked at something and realized it was FAIL in a tangible form? If there were a museum for ideas that should have had a preemptive meeting with a coat hanger, Retrax would have a wing to himself. Itís not that the designers didnít try, itís just that they didnít have much to work with. His legs are long and spindly, with no detail whatever. The horribly massive translucent chest is met by a emaciated waist on the one end, and...okay, the head sculpt here is pretty awesome. He has a weird piggish snout, creepy bug eyes, and sweeping horns. Nice. His hands and arms, flat and lacking detailed, are eagle-spread across the length of the bug. Didnít I mention that? His entire, and complete, beast mode remains on his back.

His only articulation is in his hips and knees, but his poses are limited to standing straight up because of the beast mode being on his back. That, and his gimmick totally removes all articulation in his arms except for a little in his wrists. His weapons are the head and ass of the bug, and by pressing the yellow tabs on his back, he can give you a cuddly-wuddly hug. Thatís right. Retrax is really just a teddy bear trapped in a bugís shell.


Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: Iím not even going to dignify this with a grade....

Durability: He has two ball joints, breakage anywhere else will result in catastrophic structural failure. He seems built to account for that, though. 9

Fun: He lays there. In both modes. 1

Price: Iíve seen him on e-bay from .99 to $20. Both of those numbers are sad. 5

Overall: Retrax tries something a little different. I like that. He fails in almost all relevant ways. But he fails spectacularly. 1
 
 
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