"Beast Wars Transformers" Retrax Toy Review


Retrax is one of the deluxe releases of the 1997 Beast Wars Transformers line. This figure relies on a gimmick that more or less works, and has become a subject of much debate amongst Transformers fans. This is purely my opinion of this toy, everyone is free to have their own.

Beast Mode:
In beast mode, Retrax is a slightly mutated pillbug. I say slightly mutated only because he has certain features which "normal" pillbugs do not including pincers on the beast mode head and a slashing hook on the tail. Retrax's primary color scheme is green, neon yellow, a dark translucent green and some white. This dark color scheme gives Retrax a very "earthy" underground type of look, but a darker shade of yellow may have been better to use.

As a pillbug, Retrax has three primary "action features". One is activated by pushing the small lever on the top of his beast mode head. This snaps the two pincers on his mouth together. A similar mechanism snaps down the hook on his rear. The final spring loaded feature of this toy involves pressing the two "L" shaped levers on his back. This curls Retrax up into a ball (which pillbugs can do in real life). Because of the antennae, hook and various bumps and pincers on Retrax's body, this form cannot roll very well and looks very strange.

The detailing of this mode is very nicely done. Retrax's back has a lot of spike like formations and there is a nice rough pattern on his back, as if this Transformer has moved through a lot of underground passages. In this mode, posability is mainly limited to the pillbug legs totaling ten in all. Other points of posability are the aforementioned action features and antannae, bringing the total number of points of articulation to fifteen. This is a very nice beast mode, both creepy looking and weird all at once.

Transformation to Robot Mode:
Begin my folding up all of the small pillbug legs. Then flip him over and pull down the robot legs and straighten them out. Next, flip down the small piece with one of the pillbug legs on it and then flip down the chest piece. The head folds up and Retrax's robot mode is complete.

Robot Mode:
In robot mode, Retrax looks very much disappointing at first. Most Beast Wars Transformers toys have a great amount of posability and look rather "humanoid" as a robot. Some of this effect is lost however since Retrax's arms are basically stuck to his pillbug "halves". His hands can be swung forward a bit but the arms cannot be lowered or put into any position other than the outwardly stretched position. The purpose behind this is to be able to utilize his pillbug "ball scrunching" action into a grabbing action in robot mode. The hook and pincers still work as weapons here as well.

Retrax's color scheme is the same in this mode as the pillbug's, but shows more white here. As a robot he has twelve points of articulation. To be generous, I am including the ability of the hands to move and the three spring loaded abilities as points of articulation.

Overall this is not a bad toy, but it certainly isn't the best the Beast Wars line has to offer up. Recommended if you like bugs and creepy crawly Predacons. B-

Updated Thoughts (January 31, 2022):
Decades after its release, the Retrax figure is considered a prime example of how a gimmick can overwhelm the design of a figure.  If you're looking for an articulated figure, this is not the one for you.  However, I still dig this figure (more in beast mode than robot mode) for the sheer audacity of its design.  The designers had a very specific concept and they ran with it (for better or worse).  This figure is not for everybody, but if you can understand its charms, it might deserve a spot on your shelf.

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