Height: 13cm to top of head
Articulation: 15 total points - ball joint neck; 3 points each arm: ball joint shoulder, ball joint elbow, swivel wrist; 4 points each leg: ball joint hip, thigh swivel, hinge knee, hinge ankle.
Colors: Molded green, light green, dark green, yellow, brown; Painted black, yellow, dark green, metallic blue, brown.
Release Data: Released in the United States in December of 2013 at a retail price of US$12.99.
Waspinator was such a favorite with fans during Beast Wars that plans to kill him off at the start of the second season were changed. Considering that, it's not really surprising Waspinator ended up as one of the few Beast Wars characters to be included in generations as it observes the brand's 30th anniversary. And between Universe in 2008 and the upcoming Rattrap, we have updated toys for all of Scott McNeil's first season characters. That may very well say something about how memorable his performance made them as much as anything else.
Finding himself in a world thousands of years distant from the one he once knew, Waspinator did the only thing he could - found someone strong and put himself under their command. Sure, he's being manipulated. And sure, he's getting blown to pieces just as regularly as he used to. But at least the guy he's working for now knows how to put him back together properly.
Waspinator was one of the toy designs that Mainframe's animators really didn't stray too far from when modeling it for animation. Elements were detailed more thoroughly or interpreted in some different ways, but it all kept largely to what the toy was doing. Because of that, Generations Waspinator didn't have to be radically different on a design level from the original toy. The mechanism of a robotic head and bestial mutant head is dropped so there's just the mutant head as it was changed to become the head in the cartoon. Rather like Universe Dinobot before, the sculpt work is really excellent in capturing the shapes and details. It's light on paint to make them all look exactly as expected, but since all the structures are accounted for it's well within reason to complete the detailing yourself - or possibly wait to see if Takara pulls another Henkei Dinobot. The buggy eyes are nearly colorless clear plastic with the entire back half of the head taking in light. The eyes can shine well, but they do look the most off by always appearing white or grey. The neck ball joint gives the head plenty of room to move around in most directions, though sadly it's not possible to just tilt the head to one side for a quizzical look.
The arms are ball jointed at the elbow to consolidate the bicep swivel, sacrificing the ability to fully double up the arms as that's not required for transformation anymore. Waspinator has swivel wrists, and the hands are a little small with the impression of thin fingers with clawed points at the tips. Two of the bug legs are attached to either forearm, on their own swivel joint so they can be kept mostly out of the way through posing. Because unpaintable plastic was necessary for the shoulder joint, Waspinator still does not have the gold rings represented on the shoulder joints. Short of a sticker I'm sure that will always be a required absence in the deco.
The biggest ding to emulating the image of the show's robot mode is found with the wings. They're ball jointed, and have a lever driven flapping action, and as a result the wings can't be pointed upward like they always were for robot mode in the cartoon. Given how closely the details were followed otherwise, this becomes a really obvious shortfall. You can get kind of close by turning the wings around and pointing them back and pitched as far up in the sockets as they can go. That gets the wings peeking over the shoulders from a front view, but it leaves them sticking out the back pretty far which is a little unappealing. The only other thing to do is angle the wings most of the way up and then use the flapping hinges to get them the rest of the way (more or less) but there's no way to keep them there except by using the bug legs on the arms to prop them up. Generally only one side needs to be supported to keep them both in place, but you still have the choice of either full poseability available or having the wings in the right position. The wings are clear plastic with a slight iridescent quality that give them a silvery sheen when the light hits them, a really pretty effect that helps sell the insect wing idea. The clear plastic of the eyes has this quality as well, but it's more difficult to notice there.
As goes emulating the show, the legs are a little bit silly. The original toy made the robot legs one complete pair of bug legs, with the thighs formed out of the insect's abdomen. The show model kept most of the relevant detailing found on the toy, but of course it never looked like those legs were related to the bug legs. So fast forward here and the robot legs no longer become limbs in wasp mode. But for accuracy they still have the giant insect leg detailing. It's some kind of wacky full-circle thing, I guess. Because of how the transformation works, Waspinator's knees have only a small range of practical movement, only going to about 45 degrees back from straight or perhaps a little bit less. meanwhile they can bend considerably in the opposite direction. It's something this toy loses out on for trying to avoid some of the particular traits of the original. The ankles are forward and back hinges only, but they're stiff and stable, so a solid stance is not any problem at all even with the feet being a bit on the narrow and pointy side. Another set of insect legs are attached around the ankles, this time by a ball joint. It's tight and a little sticky feeling. I've been being very careful to slowly work it to loosen things up before trying to make any substantial moves because it feels really uncomfortable starting out.
Truthfully, I am afraid of some things breaking. Besides the last pair of wasp legs, the antennae hanging out on the chest are not jointed and are not really flexible, but are thin, long bits of plastic that doesn't have as much give in all directions as I'd really prefer to find. It makes me uneasy handling the toy and worry about some stages of transforming it. The legs on the forearms don't concern me quite so much since their point of articulation allows them some easier give if pressure is applied. But that is some uncomfortable stuff just hanging out on Waspinator.
Moving the ball jointed bug legs is scary in this, but there's also a basic automorph thing going on between the robot shoulders and the bug head where compressing one expands the other and it doesn't feel like it's really happy about doing that, nor does lowering the abdomen so everything else lines up the way it needs to. There's a lot happening that feels like you're using bad kinds of force and something's gonna give out before it does what it's supposed to.
First up, the wasp head doesn't ever seem to find a place where it really gets secured in a position, and so it ends up drooping a little - enough at least to be able to see the robot head buried in the body. The legs are all perfectly adequate for the beast mode to stand on since there are no joints except for at the bases of the legs. But since the robot legs don't become a pair of bug legs anymore, they have to incorporate in to the body, and they go pretty much where the robot arms went on the original Waspinator. So now the robot arms are stuck literally hanging out along the sides with no kind of cover at all. The robot hands really blow it, but even the generic, mostly cylindrical parts of the arms would look out of place anyway. It's possibly the thing I find most off-putting about the way this toy was engineered as it entirely trades one limb placement problem for a different one that comes off as worse than the old way.
Of course because of the robot legs and generally prioritizing the shape of the robot parts the wasp is really really chunky and has a profile that doesn't read as wasp at all. I'll grant it's not easy to turn largely traditionally shaped robots in to really passable insect forms, at least not without going larger scale and even then you can't really count on it. This does at least have a somewhat natural looking curve along the length of the body rather than the really straight line of the original toy which looked even less natural as a bug. Even though the legs are jointed, they're not designed for posing, so it is mostly a static beast mode. The wingflap does provide some action for this mode and moves pretty smoothly. Though for the number of parts involved anyway, I'd have been more happy if the wings were just freely poseable on universal joints so they could sit wherever they needed between modes.
This is also a much less show-accurate form as compared to the efforts taken to get the appearance of the robot mode right. I don't believe that both could have been accomplished just thanks to limitations of engineering, so it might help a little to treat the beast mode as a more idealized take on the original toy while the robot mode is the effort to match the media primarily. But it may not be a big deal that I dislike transforming Waspinator since I have so little interest in the toy being in beast mode. At least the bug eyes are painted in a really nice metallic blue that really brings out the look of the CGI as much as is possible here. The robot eyes painted similarly would have been more fun than the clear lightpiping.
Waspinator's stinger gun won't fire a missile, but it looks good as a gun. There's a little detail sculpting that's mostly lost by being clear and almost colorless, but it's not anything that seems really special where it should have merited a paint operation. If the gun doesn't look quite enough the short pistol that the show played it as, you can fold the stinger back and turn the whole piece backward. Enough of the peg sticks down so Waspinator can still hold it and it looks a little more like the show.
I found this doesn't want to plug very flush in the abdomen in beast mode, leaving a visible gap around the edges. It's also a little hard to pry back out later which if it would fit all the way in the space to start with would be more understandable. Oh, and despite what the current comics show, there's no way to replace part of Shockwave's cannon arm with this part. Disappointment.
Waspinator is the stronger of the two new molds in this assortment, but there's still more than a few things I'm not really satisfied with in its execution. If nothing else we can have some comfort in that this struck a better balance between functional design and picking up on show details than Universe Dinobot. But things like the wings being partly compromised by the action feature, limited joint movements in the correct direction, things I'm afraid of breaking with anything but careful handling, and a wasp mode that I feel fails to show a net improvement over one designed over fifteen years ago makes this a hard thing for me to feel completely good about.
But I still look at the robot mode standing there, and feel like a lot of the image of a favorite character has made an improbable translation to a physical form and I'm more than a little impressed. There's much I feel like ought to have been better, but I just can't hate it. I'm giving Waspinator a (low) Good on the figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Scale. Just, go at this with realistic expectations; we haven't fully left behind what Universe Dinobot presented us with, but there is both good and bad in that fact. Hopefully by the time they hit Rattrap things had gotten dialed in just a little more.
|Date||December 27th 2013|
|Score||(5 out of 10)|
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