HARDSHELL & KICKBACK & SHARPSHOT
Series: Universe 2.0 Commemorative Series
Eat all you can, and burn the rest!
Even in an army full of greedy, sadistic, bizarre individuals, the Insecticons stand out. They fight for nothing other than their own hunger. They are loyal to no one other than themselves. Though they occasionally fight alongside the other Decepticons, betrayal is an inevitable factor. The fact remains, however, that they are simply too powerful and effective to be easily disposed of, and so they remain to plague Autobot and Decepticon alike.
These three figures are, of course, re-issues of the original Generation 1 Insecticons from the year 1985. Trademark issues have forced Hasbro to rename two of them, but I am under no such restrictions and will refer to them by their original names throughout this review, those being Bombshell, Kickback, and Shrapnel.
The three Insecticons are all roughly the same height and colored mostly black with purple and chromed highlights, as well as some yellow and orange. They don't look very much alike, but their shared paint jobs easily mark them as a group. Bombshell is the broadest of them (if you don't count Shrapnel's huge antlers) and looks the most powerful physically. His posability is quite good for a G1 figure, he has shoulder joints and can move his legs at the hip and the knees. Bombshell is also very well armed, sporting a huge cannon on top of his head, sculpted hand lasers and a big chromed hand gun for good measure. He slightly edges out Shrapnel as my favorite Insecticon in terms of looks.
Shrapnel was the only Insecticon I had as a kid, so he does hold some sentimental value for me. He looks quite good as well and is distinguished by those huge chromed antlers of his. He's not quite as posable as Bombshell, lacking knee joints, but he can still pull of a pose. Shrapnel also features sculpted hand lasers, a big chromed hand gun, and his antlers were weapons in the cartoon as well, functioning as lightning rods. Shrapnel gets a thumbs up from me as well.
The third Insecticon is Kickback and he's my least favorite one. He looks slight compared to the other two and his grin is just a bit too friendly for my taste (even though it does fit with his profile). Kickback is about as posable as Shrapnel, but he does have some elbow movement as well thanks to the transformation requirements. Not much, but it's there. He's also the least well-armed of the Insecticons, having a chromed handgun and nothing else. Well, he did draw the short straw in special abilities, too. Bombshell controls minds, Shrapnel summons lightning, Kickback... kicks things. Yeah, he's my least favorite of the three, but still a good-looking G1 figure.
It's not much of a stretch, the Insecticons transform into robotic insects. Bombshell becomes a Rhinoceros Beetle, Kickback becomes a Grashopper, and Shrapnel becomes a Stag Beetle. You'd never confuse them with natural insects, of course, but they do somewhat resemble the insects they're supposed to be. The transformation isn't terribly complicated for any of them. They lie down on their stomachs (or the back in Shrapnel's case), that's pretty much it. Bombshell does the most here, folding his legs in, but it's still not that much of a process.
As in robot mode, Kickback is the weakest here in my opinion. His arms divide into two and he unfolds rear legs from his robot legs, but it's most evident with him that he's just a robot lying on his stomach. Shrapnel and Bombshell do better here, especially Bombshell who almost manages not to look like a robot lying on his stomach. All three have cockpits for driver figures, a holdover from their Diaclone days (see below). Anyway, the Insecticons give credible performances as robotic insects, but actual camouflage was never the issue here.
The Insecticons were first introduced near the end of the first season of the G1 cartoon series and quickly established themselves as dangerous lunatics. Unlike other Transformers they weren't dependent on Energon, but were capable of eating pretty much anything and their hunger knew no bounds. This, coupled with their dangerous ability to replicate themselves in near endless numbers, made them a threat to Autobots and Decepticons both. The Insecticons were among the casualties of the 1986 Transformers Movie and there is an ongoing debate among fans whether or not some or all of them were rebuilt into Cyclonus and/or the Sweeps (given their replication abilities). The Transformers Universe: The Wreckers comic book series from 3H Productions gave a semi-official answer, establishing Cyclonus to have been Bombshell in his former existence, which probably makes the other two Sweeps. Of course the Insecticons still did appear in the third season of the cartoon, but only in background shots and crowd scenes, so it's probably just a case of lazy animators.
The Insecticons began their existence as the Diaclone "Waruder Kabutron", mecha piloted by evil aliens. Their original paint jobs were later used for a Japanese exclusive E-Hobby release. This Universe release of the trio was available exclusively at American Toys R'Us stores and part of the 25th Anniversary of the Transformers. As toys they've stood the test of time pretty well and I can still fully recommend them to G1 fans everywhere who are unwilling to dish out big money on ebay for vintage Insecticons with yellowed chrome.