I’m a big fan of a banging noggin, I admit.
Which is my way of saying I can’t get enough of a thoroughly impressive Transformers head sculpt, naturally. I’ve previously written entries on some of my favourites from Generation 1, but today, we’re mixing it up and putting the spotlight firmly on Beast Wars! It’s only fair because this era of toys is relatively unmatched when it comes to creative and unusual designs, as we’re about to prove…
This toy is somewhat bizarrely overlooked a lot of the time, from what I’ve seen, which is unfortunate as it’s a bit of a belter. If it had kept its original name of Inferno then it might be more widely thought of, especially as it does since a cracking job of giving that character’s original design a Transmetal makeover. All the right cues are there, including the trademark harrowing grin and frightful eyes. Yet here, it’s emboldened with a large set of demonic horns, giving him a remarkably memorable silhouette.
#13: Transmetal 2 Prowl
Prowl has many things going for him, not least of which is one of the most fantastic name slaps in the whole of Transformers history. As a Transmetal 2, he’s surprisingly symmetrical on the whole, yet there are still enough odd quirks and interest in his head design to make it stand out. Equally, the partially organic elements, such as the feathers and beak, are all well incorporated, and the light piping is killer. A beauty.
Bazooka hails from the Japanese Beast Wars Neo line and is a recent discovery in my own collecting. Yet my lack of familiarity with him hasn’t dampened my feelings towards his terrific head design, which ably takes elements from his Euoplocephalus alternate form and makes it work in a vaguely robotic sense. It’s superbly cartoonish yet still quite menacing, and I love it.
#11: Transmetal Optimus Primal
The first gorilla Optimus Primal toy kept things traditional by strongly recreating the look of classic Autobot commander Optimus Prime, but that was primarily eschewed for this Transmetal follow-up. True, it retains the familiar crest and other nods on the helmet section, but by and large, it’s entirely its own thing and brings in a lot of organic influence to boot. I know some fans who are less keen on this one, but personally, I’ve always enjoyed the flared nostrils, the massively bushy eyebrows and the snarling teeth. The Japanese Metals version (seen here) is even better for adding a gorgeous touch of translucent plastic to the mix.
The big gimmick of Transmetals was that they had more robotic animal modes and organic elements incorporated into the robot forms. Some toys showcase that better than others, but it’s hard to think of a much-more successful result than Rampage, who, in his humanoid guise, looks entirely like a real crab morphed into a giant angry death machine. The face sculpt works on numerous levels, not least because of how supremely close to the cartoon it is as well. Beyond that, it showcases incredible moulded detail and excellent paint applications.
A few Beast Wars head sculpts undoubtedly push the boundaries of what G1 fans might consider acceptable in terms of traditional Transformers, with Tripredacus here, no doubt, at the top of the tree. It’s hideous and monster-like, even looking akin to a nightmarish clown. Yet it stops short of being silly and veers solidly into terrifying territory, arguably making this combined form all the more impressive. This one is even more notable for how the varied paint placements on the Takara take give it an impressively different look and feel.
If you’ve watched the Beast Wars cartoon, you might be a fan of the 3-part season 2 climax, The Agenda. In which case, you’ll know all about classic Transformers kitty Ravage’s humanoid makeover. Though a toy of the character was never realised in the West, this Takara retool of Transmetal Cheetor more than does him justice, even if it’s not quite a dead ringer for how he looked on-screen. The head has to function in both modes but does an excellent job and instantly recalls the Decepticon’s G1 look despite stepping slightly away from the updated cartoon portrayal. Oh, and those pink eyes definitely sell it.
Be sure to join us for part 2 soon!