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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Auntie Slag's review of: Shrapnel

Name: Shrapnel
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Electronic Warfare
Sub-Group: Insecticon
"Control electricity and you control the world."

The noise of war and the screams of his foes are music to this loathsome Insecticon's audio modules...has piercing battle cry...can be heard 8 miles away. In insect mode can use antennae to control almost any electrical device. In robot mode can attract lightning bolts to antennae and shoot them out hands. Grenade launcher shoots 30 pound steel balls that splinter into razor-sharp spikes. Insulation can stop his electrical blasts.

In 1985, I was a bristling little ankle biter caught betwixt New Romantic and synth-pop passion. A-Team sensibilities and Swop Shop tank tops ruled my world; I had a body warmer just like Marty McFly (only mine was grey) and even wore leg warmers to school in a rebellious statement that, unfortunately, really sucked the big one.

In 1985, Howard Jones and Duran Duran were the chart toppers, Band Aid was rocking Wembley Stadium, George Michael was whispering carelessly and Courtney Cox was on stage dancing with the Boss. In 1985, BMX's were the business, He-Man could do no wrong, J.R. got shot, Boba Fett rocked, Indiana Jones snogged Kate Capshaw, and Alexis Colby was the über bitch.

Most importantly, 1985 was the year I got my first Transformer. I had just begun reading Marvel UK's (then fortnightly) Transformer comic, and was entranced. One issue featured an advertisement for the newest toys on the block, The Insecticons: a trio of mean looking mauve mutha's. I wanted one; I wanted Shrapnel. Purple reign.

For the next 57 years (slight exaggeration), I scrimped and saved. The supermarket where my parents did the weekly shopping was my Transformers Mecca. The upstairs section was for clothes and toys, a whole aisle of which was devoted to Transformers. I saved five clean, crisp pound coins and kept them in a matchbox (which for some reason I'd turned inside out and glued back together again). When the day came I rode the big escalator, picked up that fiiiiiiine looking Shrapnel, oh object of my desires, and took him to the checkout... where my Dad proceeded to haggle on the price:

"I'll give you three for it, it's WORTH three. All right, four then".

Being a child of the Second World War, Dad's toys were pieces of actual Shrapnel, "Bit of string and a Satsuma for Christmas. That's what I had, and none of this 'buying' lark, we had to MAKE our toys, and they were better for it".

Yeah well, war's over Dad. Heaven knows were consumers now.

I'd imagine that some of you reading this may not have had the ejaculatory wonder of seeing an aisle full of G1 splendour. Let me tell you it was incredible! An army of robots each housed in his own glossy pristine box. They oozed class; they shat style. It was obvious that owning one of these would enhance your life. No other toy so obviously wrapped itself up in its own myth. Star Wars toys were simply plastic imitations of the things in the films, ergo it was obvious you were playing with toys. There was no Transformers film (at the time). So the tech spec readout and character biog. assured me that these guys were grizzled super warriors, each with an incredible history of their own that I, as a little kid, could only marvel at in wobbly milk-toothed awe. I would run up to my Mum in the shop clutching a Transformer box delicately whilst she was looking at shirts:

"Mum, it says here that Mirage can disappear, and he's an intelligence gatherer!"

I'd live in the hope my Mother would reply: "He IS? Well we must get him right away"

It never happened.

I remember once or twice I was standing in that aisle looking at Hound for the billionth time when the shop was ready to close. The lights would switch off aisle by aisle and the manager would come up to me simpering "Time to go now chief", or; "Ok boss, what say we make a move?" Yes as a kid, I would entertain the thought that if I stared long enough and pathetically enough, some nice store manager would buy me the damn thing. Just one? for free? there's so many and I've been here all evening, no-one will ever know...

Fortunately, time passed and I did get a very nice Transformer collection, and treated them like gold dust.

Alternate Mode:
As a child I loved:

- Transformers - Dinosaurs - Star Wars - Cartoons - Wildlife

It seemed reasonable to me that Shrapnel's insect mode was modelled from a Stag Beetle; a vicious looking midnight black beetle that I used to love playing with in the garden or at school. It wasn't until 2003 that someone here at the Archive mentioned Shrapnel is in fact, a Lamellicorn. Whatever that is, Shrapnel clearly rocks looking sufficiently deadly with those shiny pointy antler things that can shoot electricity. Chrome was always a big selling point for me. A robot's got to have a bit of chrome somewhere; else he just isn't a robot.

This brings me onto the excellent colour scheme. Purple, black and shiny shiny chrome. What a geezer. Shockingly he also features a little bit of yellow in his Insecticon legs, which really works well considering.

One of the best things about Shrapnel's Insect mode is that he's the perfect size for capturing rogue army men between his antennae and carrying them off to a grisly doom. Aha ha ha ha ha! Er, yes.

Robot Mode:
Sex on a stick. Shrapnel's robot mode is everything a Decepticon should be, vicious, stylish, loaded with weaponry and wearing a cocky smile. I used to repeatedly count how many guns Shrapnel possessed, one under each fist, one on the end of each antenna, and that massive hunk of chrome finery that was his gun. What a fucking immense gun it is! Its similar in design to the weapon Soundwave wields and I've always been partial to it.

From a style aspect, Shrapnel was a perfect 80's robot because of his wraparound shades. He could've starred in Cameo's 'Word Up', or Michael Jackson's 'Beat It' video if he wasn't busy being a Transformer, he was THAT cool.

Articulation was quite good too. His legs move independently of each other and his body swivelled at the hip. Both arms move up and down and... well that's about it. Nevertheless, it's still a lot more than most TF toys of that period. Starscream could only move his piddly little arms for example. Articulation was never a sticking point for me; so much of it was the lust, the lustre, the shiny bits, the character's personality and it being mine. Mine mine all mine! I was like Daffy Duck in the Genie's lair.

I remember spending a good while wondering what that compartment in his chest was for. Perhaps it was a weapons stash? Nah, his gun was far too large and only went in halfway. I had a few Zoids, and the little gold pilots fit in easily enough... but I hated the idea of sullying a Transformer's serious past by placing a silly human inside. So I was content to leave it as a mystery, finding out many many years later that it was because he was part of the 'Microman' range of Japanese toys, a mould purchased by Hasbro to incorporate into their Transformers line that originally featured little men as pilots of these presumably lifeless mech's. Surely the sadness I felt at the shocking realisation that day was akin to J.R. seeing Sue Ellen with the glock.

Transformation: 3 - Really easy. The only reason I had to get my Dad to help me (at the time) was because he was my first Transformer and I was being ultra careful. I almost snapped the legs the first time and reasoned it shouldn't be that hard. It wasn't, I was just crap with instructions.
Durability: 5 - Its quite conceivable that his antennae would snap if you dropped him, apart from that he's fairly rugged, and he owes that more to his reasonably small size than anything else.
Fun: 7 - I'm obviously biased because he was my first, but he's just so damned cool. He looks like someone no Autobot in his right mind would mess with. In addition, he's a little on the small side, so he probably has that short-man complex. The big gun really elevated his kick-assness too, and the colour and body design make him look lovely on the shelf.
Price: 4 - The only reason I could possibly see Shrapnel being expensive is on eBay where people are bidding against each other so that can complete their Insecticon set. If it weren't for that, I can't imagine many people getting into a lather about wanting to acquire Shrapnel. I wouldn't pay more than £8 for him in reasonable condition, which would include his gun and a fair amount of sticker wear. That must equal about $5.
Summary: If what you want from a Decepticon is a mean looking frag-merchant capable of muchos death and destruction, then Shrapnel's your man. Only his size compared to his compatriots works against him, but it possibly works for you in price. I think he's a great little piece.

Hmmm, Evil Decepticon. It does exactly what it says on the tin!

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