Friday, 9 February 2018

Appealingly Weird: Beastformers

 - Dale Butcher

So, what exactly is a "weird beastformer?" To me a weird beastformer is a Transformer with a beast mode that looks really weird. Simple enough, right? 

Toys of this ilk were of course prevalent in the Beast Era. Granted, the Beast Era was a very weird time for Transformers in general, especially when it came to the Japanese incarnations of Beast Wars. Hasbro/Kenner and Takara were experimenting with all sorts of new ideas and concepts, so there's bound to be some weirdness born from that.

So why am I fond of them to the point of writing an article dedicated to them? Firstly, I'm partial to beastformers in general, since beast modes usually have more playability than vehicle modes. Secondly, I suppose I can identify with them in a way. They're strange, mostly unpopular, often far from the best, but lovable in their own odd ways. I'm flawed, and far from normal, but people like me for some reason. The fact that I can identify with these toys reinforces my point. I guess the last thing that appeals to me about weird beastformers is the fact that there's something inherently fun about toys that are unusual and daft, as opposed to your standard G1-based stuff. 

While the standard Transformers toys from Masterpiece, Generations, and the like are awesome, I sometimes feel they can seem a little boring in comparison to the likes of Injector, Tripredacus, and basically all of Beast Wars Neo.

In this article I will show off a few of my favourite weird beastformers, and discuss their unique appeal. 

Kicking off proceedings, we have Injector! Injector is arguably the most popular of the weird beastformers; he has a whole sub-fandom dedicated to him. It's easy to see why. He's so hideous and so unlike any other Transformer. Granted, that much is to be expected when your alt-mode is a combination of a lionfish and a hornet.

Most of the Fuzors, those extra special beastformers with an alt-mode comprised of several animals fused together, were unusual to say the least, but none were on Injector's level. Was making the whole fish portion Injector's head a good idea? Especially since it leaves the rest of his body looking rather spindly? Well, it certainly makes him unique. How many Transformers do you know that have a fish for a head? The icing on the ugly fish-bug cake is the fact that, according to his bio, he believes the complete opposite of himself.

Moving onto Japan's Beast Wars offerings, we have Moon from Beast Wars II. Moon is one of a handful of original moulds for the line, as it mostly consisted of repaints and remoulds of original Beast Wars figures. Moon's an oddity for a different set of reasons than Injector; he's unusually cute! His altmode especially, is adorable and looks like it came straight out of an anime (because it did). 

It's difficult to describe what Moon's alt-mode actually is though. I guess you could call it an alien, rabbit, dog, thing. I personally find it strange that such a unique Beast turns into a really basic robot mode. I think the most unique thing about Moon is the View Master gimmick. You look into a hole in his robot mode to see art and screen caps from the show. That's something I've only ever seen from this one figure.

The last figure I want to discuss is from Beast Wars Neo. Before I do, I should give a special mention to Beast Wars Neo as a whole as the line gave us some of the strangest toys in the franchise's history. For example, we have the likes of Break, Saberback, Cohrada, and Sling. 

So, without further ado, the figure I want to look at is none other than Longrack! His giraffe mode isn't up to much in terms of weirdness, but does have the unusual gimmick of moving his eyes by pushing in his tongue. Gross. 

Longrack's robot mode on the other hand, is something special. He has one arm that's the giraffe neck (with a spring-loaded extension gimmick), his legs are basically armoured giraffe legs with spurs, complete with missile launchers that the mighty Thew described as "back-mounted titty penises". Longrack is so unapologetically weird, and I love him for that.

Weird beastformers are quite divisive, because they tend to not to be the best of toys. For that reason, I can appreciate that they're not for everyone. I believe their appeal comes not from the quality of the figure, but the uniqueness of their design. They stand out in your collection, and are loaded with charm and personality. It all boils down to the fact that they are different; much more so than anything else that came before or after.

I suppose you may be wondering why I haven't discussed Beast Machines at all. That's because I have very little from that line. Even then, I have more Vehicons than Maximals. I do know it has some proper oddball bots though. I will however, give an honourable mention to BM Buzzsaw, who has a spring for an arm. I may do a follow up once I get some more BM Maximals.

As I mentioned before, the Beast Era seemed to have been an experimental period for Hasbro/Kenner and Takara. Sadly, we haven't seen Transformers like these since it came to a close. With shelves filled with movie toys and G1 updates and with RID 2015 giving way to Cyberverse, it's unlikely that we'll see such figures again. Speaking of RID 2015, it did bring us a few weird beast-themed Transformers, but none of them could hold a candle to the likes of Injector, Moon and Longrack. It seems that weird beastformers will remain a lost art.

As always, keep it #Refined (and weird).

No comments:

Post a Comment