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numbat's review of: E-Hobby's Insecticon Clone Army

Name: Insecticon Clone Army (E-Hobby)
Allegiance: Destron (Decepticon)
Sub-Group: Insecticons

Well, I’ve had a long 9:00 to 21:00 day at work, following a 8:30 to 19:30 day (pity they don’t pay overtime, and my TOIL is now clocking over a week…), so what better to do than sit down, have a couple beers, and write about some Insecticons…

I don’t know about everyone else, but I love the original G1 Insecticons. There’s just something about their perfect design that sends tingles down your spine… (‘Now, calm down’ I hear you say.) They are by no means complicated Transformers, yet their design is timeless, and beautifully intricate. Plus, they had the most iconic evil Decepticon colour scheme at that point, and have hardly been surpassed since.

However, this review is of the E-Hobby Insecticon Clone Army release. As a tribute to the ability of the Insecticons to clone themselves, resulting in huge swarms of manifested Transformers, created through questionable means, E-Hobby released this box-set of the original G1 Insecticons in their Diaclone guise in 2004. As such, they do not exhibit those most excellent colour schemes of the originals, but are instead much brighter. But how does this trio match up to the originals? And how worthy are they of your collection? Well, those energon cubes in the box may give you some clue…

There are three Insecticon clones in the set, and so each will be dealt with individually.

ZAPTRAP

Stats: - Strength: 4 - Intelligence: 2 - Speed: 4 - Endurance: 7 - Rank: 2 - Courage: 6 - Firepower: 7 - Skill: 5
Function: Hunter-Seeker

One form of clone soldier created by the Insecticons. Possess only extremely limited intelligence themselves, but are capable of conducting skillful pursuit activities under the remote control their template, the electronic warfare specialist Shrapnel. Use the 40,000-volt electrical bursts from their twin horns for making ambushes to capture or destroy enemies. Instantly disintegrate into nothing if Shrapnel's control beams are intercepted, a weakness shared by all the other Insecticlones.

Alternate Mode:
Well, to be fair, I’ve never been 100% sure which insects the Insecticons represent, but, until writing this review, had never actually thought about it either – so it can’t really matter, at least not to me. However, I’d say that Zaptrap, like Shrapnel, is a stag beetle. Regardless of the dubious alternate mode, the design is superb, and I think looks great.

The colour pallet is quite rich and warm in comparison to the ‘original’ Shrapnel, with a lot of red and yellow showing. The abdomen, or what would be the elytra most probably, is slightly off-black, with some red or orange in it. And, of course, we have the huge chrome horns at the front, which look beautiful.

Although the design is somewhat ‘blocky’, and the hands show, clumsily just resting along Zaptrap’s side, I think all of this is more than made up for by all the stunning details. The rocketsat the rear, for example, or the plating running down the clear red plastic chest plate. And this is only the molded detail! The Insecticlones are all bestowed with superb stickers, just like their creators. The blue stripes and purple detail are both excellent contrasts to the overall colour scheme.

And, finally, we have the wonderful feature of being able to place Zaptrap’s energon cube within the chest compartment! This is a feature common to all the Insecticlones, and, of course, can be duplicated with the original Insecticons, using the Clone Army energon cubes.

Robot Mode:
Zaptrap’s transformation is of course identical to Shrapnel’s, and all the Insecticlones are likewise identical to their originals, so there’s little point going through a detailed explanation. Zaptrap’s is the most complex transformation of the trio, and is quite simple despite this. However, it’s very fun, and I have always loved the way Shrapnel’s horns split up the middle to reveal his head, and produce those huge shoulder weapon racks, and Zaptrap carries this off just as well. Being an ‘original’ Insecticon, Zaptrap clocks in at around 4” (10cm) tall – somewhere between a minibot and an Autobot car.

The colour scheme still works well in this mode, with identical proportions with the exception of the yellow, which now just peaks over his shoulders. Balance is superb, and articulation consists of a moveable head and arms. The gun is also a nice design, although is my least favourite of the Insecticons’ weapons. Unfortunately, the manner in which it clips to Zaptrap’s arm is rather loose, and also rubs against a sticker, causing rapid wear.

Another problem common to both Zaptrap and Salvo is the poor adhesive used on the stickers causing them to pop off. I have no doubt that Shot Hole’s stickers are just as shoddy – he just has the benefit of few curves!

Still, all this aside, I think you will agree that Zaptrap is a worthy Insecticon.

SALVO

Stats: - Strength: 5 - Intelligence: 2 - Speed: 4 - Endurance: 5 - Rank: 2 - Courage: 5 - Firepower: 6 - Skill: 5
Function: Assault Gunner

One form of clone soldier created by the Insecticons. Their template, the psychological warfare expert Bombshell, creates them by destroying machinery with his "insecti-shells," then exposing the resulting wreckage to his Electronic Clone Beams. These Salvo units are equipped with the same abilities and weaponry as Bombshell, but haven't the intelligence to handle advanced tactics or special skills. They are therefore hardwired to invade enemy territory and bombard all equipment there en masse.

Alternate Mode:
Here we have Bombshell’s clone. I’d say he’s some sort of weevil, and does look cool – especially in this colour scheme. I love the solid red head area!

Again, the design is rather blocky – but lacks the obvious flaws in Zaptrap’s. The hands are more subtly folded beneath the body, and only slightly visible. Otherwise we’ve got a great biomechanical weevil, with a lovely huge Destron insignia. There are less stickers on Salvo, but the effect is still great. I particularly like the way the grid pattern shows through behind the head.

Robot Mode:
Salvo’s transformation is quite simple, and not really as nicely thought out as Zaptrap’s. The glaring problem with the robot mode, therefore, are the legs – which are hollow, and look quite awful. Nothing has been done to hide the screws – not even a simple sticker covering! And the stickers which are placed along the underside of his feet, and the inside leg have a horrible tendency of popping off. And, his balance is appalling! He just wants to topple forward.

This aside, though, the rest of the design is great. The face is an absolute gorgeous work of art. Coupled with the huge cannon over his head, and the large size (5” [12.5cm] foot to cannon-top), and broad red chest, this guy looks vicious. You ain’t gonna mess with him like this, and when he’s holding his gun as well, which nicely matches his head cannon, you’re looking at a heavy trooper.

Although articulation is poor (arms only, really), he looks solid on a shelf – if you can get him to balance for long enough.

Still, I do love the overall design – it’s just a pity about those few oversights. Regardless, Salvo’s name is apt, and he’s a great G1 figure, with a lovely ‘new’ colour scheme.

SHOT HOLE

Stats: - Strength: 3 - Intelligence: 1 - Speed: 4 - Endurance: 4 - Rank: 1 - Courage: 6 - Firepower: 5- Skill: 5
Function: Invader

One form of the clone soldiers mass-produced by the Insecticons' self-replicating capability. Possesses almost no individual personality or thinking capacity, instead acting in a swarm with its identical clones. Furnished with physical abilities equal to its original template, the espionage operative Kickback, but conversely, has extremely low intelligence. Invades enemy territories in great numbers, haphazardly destroying buildings, focusing purely on consuming resources and food and carrying them off as raw materials for energon cubes.

Alternate Mode:
Oddly, I think that Kickback has always been my favourite Insecticon. I think it’s likely the simple fact that he always drew the short straw, and had poor airtime, really. In retrospect, he also has the best alternate mode – actually looking just like a locust. Or, at least, some techno-fusion horror version. And, being his clone, Shot Hole is no exception on this score…

Furnished with the most striking colour scheme of the Insecticlones, Shot Hole’s locust mode looks even better than Kickback’s. The metallic green really makes it!

Plus, we have the poseable legs (all six), wings and antennae. Although rather cluttered with stickers, they actually work well, adding a lot of nice detail to the long rear legs in particular.

Shot Hole certainly looks great on display in this mode, and allows for a decent variety of poses.

Robot Mode:
Although Shot Hole’s transformation is very simple, I really love the way the two front locust legs fuse to form the arms. Furthermore, this results in the great bonus ability of Shot Hole’s – he can actually hold energon cubes!

He also has the greatest degree of articulation – moving at the hip, shoulder, wings, head, antennae, and – again thanks to that leg fusion – at the elbow!

At 3 ½” (9cm) from foot to head, he does appear the smallest despite the added height from his wings. Still, he is the best proportioned of the trio, and looks excellent, again thanks to the metallic green torso, and the great detail picked out by the stickers – which are less intrusive in this mode. I also like the off-centre Destron insignia, and the head design is cool, with well painted molded detail (although has always reminded me somewhat of the Gobot Road Ranger – and visa versa).

Then, of course, we have the simple fact that Shot Hole has the coolest of the handguns. It looks like some sort of futuristic Tommy-Gun.

Oh – and, for whatever reason, Shot Hole’s stickers have all kept on nicely.

I love this guy.

SUMMARY

This is a great set, and a fantastic idea. The trio looks fantastic on display alone or with their original counterparts. The energon cubes are a nice bonus, as is the great collector’s card artwork. I like the readily identifiable colour pallets used for each of the Insecticlones, while they share a unifying underlying scheme. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I don’t feel these guys look at all dated. They are certainly a great addition to any collection.

One point to note, however, is the quality of the toys. Now, I don’t know if I’ve just been unluck, but my Zaptrap came missing a wheel. It just had never been attached. This makes little or no difference to display, and given the time involved in replacing things, I just haven’t bothered – but I think it might be something worth looking out for. Similarly, this is my first E-Hobby buy, so I don’t know if similar problems occur regularly with other releases. I think, though, that it’s likely I’ve just been unlucky, and that E-Hobby are normally good top-notch chaps. Certainly the rest of the construction is great!

Transformation: 6 – They’re all pretty simple, but have nice little touches.
Durability: 7 – I think that generally they’re solid – it’s just the missing wheel that puzzles me…
Fun: 10 – They are unbeatable fun-wise. Come on, Insecticlones! With energon cubes!
Price: 3 – Not cheap… I got mine for £30 (£50) including postage from the states to the UK, and I’ve seen them for a lot more.
Overall: 5 – They’re not must-haves, I suppose. If you don’t have the original Insecticons, these guys are great. If you do, these guys are even greater! But, I know they’re not really for everyone’s collection.
 
 
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