Alternate Mode: Horned Beetle
Height: 6cm Length: 13cm Width: 10cm
Attaching the energon weaponry adds about 4cm to his length
A dark green horned beetle with a yellow underside, Insecticon runs up to you, screams "Barrage" and runs away again. Ok, so maybe a Deluxe Insecticon is a strange homage, but it's nice that Hasbro used their imagination, and while Barrage is an obscure toy often overlooked, he's an excellent toy, so it's a good choice. It also continues the theme amongst the Energon basics of paying homage to obscure characters (Skyfire, Arcee).
Getting back to Insecticon, he has dark brown legs and a dark brown horn, although the picture on the card shows these parts as light brown. While the light brown is closer to Barrage, the dark brown works quite well so it's a change I don't mind. There's a Decepticon symbol on top of his thorax, on the right hand side of his spark crystal. Also on the thorax and wing covers are some silver and purple highlights, white he has silver eyes on the sides of his head. All in all it's a good colour scheme that's a clear homage without being a straight copy.
Insecticon has a very boxy body and very mechanical legs - gone are the organic Beast Wars days. Adding to the robotic nature are two angular claws on the end of his horn enclosing twin barrels. There's a little bit of wiggle in the horn, it can move up and down through about 70°. The head also has some wiggle, it wiggles around a little on the central axis of the toy.
There's a lot of play value here for a basic. The front legs are on restricted ball joints and the rear legs can swing back and forth. All six feet have hooks but sit flat on the table (or whatever) and the legs support his weight easily. They're not as poseable as a lot of the Beast Wars era insects were, but a lot of these toys would flop onto their belly thanks to knee or hip joints that weren't tight enough - Inferno springs to mind. It's a good compromise between articulation and stability.
In general I'm not a huge fan of the clear energon weapons, but Insecticon's is one I do like. He has a giant transparent yellow spike that can clip over his brown horn, thanks to a helmet that clips over his head to support it. Apart from the fact that the colour matches, the morphology of this weapon is suitable (unlike say Strongarm's weird red crane). The horn spins, almost like a really long drill bit, thanks to a swivel in the base, and if you remove the horn you'll reveal a four-barrelled Gatling gun. This is more for the robot mode and looks a little odd with the brown horn sticking out underneath, but it's another option, which is a plus.
The yellow helmet piece has a wash of brown paint on it, to help it blend a little better with the dark brown behind it. While it doesn't come off that well, this gets points for effort and does help somewhat. Attaching the little yellow energon chip over his spark crystal helps sell the green and yellow mixture, making it more useful than most energon chips.
Insecticon's beetle mode is a nice tribute to Barrage, with good colours, some really nice engineering in the legs and an energon weapon that really adds to the play value of this beetle mode.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Swing the rear legs back to become the robot feet. Unclip and swing the wing covers out to the sides, stand him up. Rotate the entire torso section around the central axis of the toy, swing down the fists and rotate them around.
The above probably made no sense to someone without Insecticon in front of them. Basically, the robot mode boots are formed from the rear pairs of beetle legs, the wing covers become his arms and the head of the beetle is the head of the robot mode.
Height: 15cm Width: 9cm
Again green, yellow and brown make up Insecticon's colours. The torso and arms are green, the head and thighs yellow while the boots and insect horn on his head are brown. His face is a maroon that's close enough to his brown that you'll miss the difference on first glance, while his eyes are silver. The mouth is actually moulded to resemble an insect's mouthparts, which is cool, even if it is hard to see. He has a stamped Decepticon logo on the left side of his chest, to the right of this in the centre of his chest is a Decepticon spark crystal.
They've done a pretty good job of this paint job, aside from the face which should have been brown not maroon (not that it's really that bad). The knees have some brown details that match the boots while the thighs have green bits, marrying up with the torso. The end result is a great transition between the chest and the boots. He actually has a black groin, but you hardly notice, and the green on the thighs helps hide it. There's some silver detailing on his shoulders, remnants of the wing cover details, that prevent the arms from drowning in green, and as mentioned he has the Decepticon logo on his chest. All in all it's a good colour scheme, with some thoughtful elements that I can really appreciate.
The proportions are a little unusual, he's quite wide, short and stocky, with big fists and a shortened torso. I wouldn't say Insecticon has bad proportions, since all these elements contribute to the same end result - he looks like a tough little punk. The other theme running through is the brown mechanical pieces. The boots, each formed from two beetle legs side by side, have a pneumatic look about them, while the front legs are sitting over his shoulders as shoulder cannons of sorts - and they work quite well there, giving the shoulders plenty of clearance and having moulded barrels. The spike on top of his head is a little strange, but being brown against a yellow head it doesn't stand out, rather it fades into the background. Of course, it fits into his design scheme and adds height to a short robot mode so I don't mind there. Ideally, I'd prefer the spike not being there, but I certainly don't hate it.
Poseability is dictated by his transformation. The head again wiggles a little, although you can spin his torso around for those swinging body punches, giving the impression of a turned head. The shoulders rotate, the arms can lift out to the sides and the wrists rotate. The hips are on ball joints, but they're restricted by the total lack of knee articulation. Being formed from two separate pieces, I don't expect the boots to be on joints, so I'm happy that his large footprints and the heelspurs formed from the beetle feet allow some stable leg poses. The shoulder cannons are independently targetable, although they're restricted by the design of their ball joints.
One thing that really annoys me about some of the energon basics' weaponry is that it's designed for larger toys and doesn't always suit the toy it's sold with. Insecticon's two accessories suit him very well. The horn now forms a four blade, star shaped sword while the helmet again forms the Gatling gun, with the wide helmet fitting over his big fists. Adding these to his solid build and shoulder cannons, this guy's a tough little Decepticon who you'd not want to confront at close range or be in range of his weaponry.
The joint horn weapon can be assembled in this mode if you like, and he's able to wield it, although it's more of a charging weapon than a hand weapon. Lastly, the energon chip can fit over his spark crystal. Unlike most energon chips, it fits in with his colour scheme and he has an alternate Decepticon symbol, so covering the spark isn't a drawback. I prefer him without the chip, but it works better than most of them do.
On the whole this is a pretty cool robot mode. The colour scheme and paint job are both good, he's got a lot of play value - despite fairly limited poseability - thanks to some great weaponry, and he looks menacing and impressive. The only real flaw is the spike on his head, although I suppose you could count his body shape against him if it bothers you.
Recoloured in Japan as "Chrome Horn Forest Type" (Chrome Horn is his japanese name), in various shades of green, while the transparent elements are amber.
I initially passed on Insecticon, because the pictures on his card didn't impress me. I did like the Barrage tribute, and on the recommendations of others picked him up. I'm glad I did, since he's better than the pictures convey - especially in robot mode. I definitely recommend him, both as a toy in his own right and as a G1 tribute, since he's a fun toy and a nice throwback to the G1 Insecticons - 8/10