Series: Beast Wars 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 pinchers to dissect them in seconds.
Retrax’ beast mode is a big pill bug (lat. Armadillidiidae) of impressive size, seeing as he’s “only” a Deluxe-class figure. The bug consists of seven segments, the center five each sporting a pair of short black legs. The front segment is a nicely sculpted head with yellow mandibles, while the tail segment has a single stinger. Articulation is present in this mode, but not really all that noticeable. All ten legs can move up and down, while the mandibles can snap shut and the stinger moves up and down as well.
Like a real pill bug Retrax can roll himself into a ball by way of a spring-powered mechanism. And while the legs sticking out the side and the mandibles up front do not lend themselves to actual rolling, the whole thing still looks nicely ball-shaped. In both variants the bug mode is nicely detailed and offers no visible robot parts (unless you’re looking at it from the bottom). So bottom line, a pretty decent beast mode.
Given that the beast mode has been built around the gimmick of it being able to roll up into a ball automatically, it shouldn’t be surprising that the robot mode suffers for it. It’s basically the bug mode stood up on one side with robot legs and a head folding out. The arms are integrated into the length of the bug body, the fists sitting inside the head and tail segment. The roll-up gimmick from the beast mode translates into a sort of power-hug here, as Retrax can wrap his massive arms (or rather his tiny little thin arms along with the huge bug parts attached to them) around an opponent. The arms can be separated from the bug segments, but as the springs are attached to them, it still leaves them stuck in one of two positions, only now the bug segments are flopping around loosely on the back.
And... yeah, that’s pretty much it. Retrax is a gimmick with legs, nothing more than that. His legs are nicely articulated, but given that about 90 percent of his mass is in his upper body, that doesn’t really avail him much in the way of posing ability. The detailing of the robot mode is a good deal less spectacular than the beast mode and he doesn’t have any weapons apart from the power-hug gimmick. So bottom line: leave Retrax in beast mode.
Beast Wars contained lots and lots of great toys, both those that appeared in the TV series and those that didn’t. Retrax didn’t, and he’s not a great toy, either. Retrax is a very good example of what happens when a gimmick takes over a figure. He’s got a great beast mode and the whole rolling-up-into-a-ball thing is nice, but it pretty much ruins the robot mode, which - to me- is almost always the main selling point of every Transformers toy.
Retrax’ only in-media appearances are some background scenes in the IDW Beast Wars comics. The mold itself was recycled for the Beast Wars II character Power Hug, who did appear in the accompanying TV series, but it doesn’t improve the toy any. So the bottom line: only for Beast Wars completists and those who don’t mind a toy that they should never, ever transform into robot mode.