Release Date: April 7, 2016
Price Point: $399 in a boxed set with Primus registration, $299 for a bagged set (with Cicadacon, Ramhorn, Ravage & Sea Clamp)
Retailer: Fun Publications (Botcon Exclusive)
Accessories: Hand/foot/weapon; Claw weapon
The theme for Botcon 2016 was the "Dawn of the Predacus", riffing off the "Beast Wars" Combiner character known as Tripredacus. The story told the tale of the fall of the Decepticons and the rise of the Predacons, featuring many Maximal and Predacon characters in their "pre-Beast Wars" forms. Botcon had played with this theme before in 2006 with the "Dawn of Future's Past" set, featuring vehicular forms for many Beast Wars characters. Interestingly this year's set seems more aligned with Hasbro's mass release figures, being labeled as "Combiner Wars" instead of "Timelines". That places this set of figures under the "Generations" banner instead.
The base sculpt for this figure is Protectobot Rook who was one of the surprise favorites among fans from 2015's "Combiner Wars" line. This mold was later given a significant retool and redeco as Autobot Hound who in turn was given another retool and redeco as the Combaticon Swindle. While this mold has not see a lot of use so far there are several upcoming releases including Wandering Roller, Impactor and "Unite Warriors" Nosecone.
All that said really you only need to read Protectobot Rook's review to familiarize yourself with this figure's base sculpt since Tarantulas is closest to Rook in design.
The Predacus set was available in two forms. The main packaging was a boxed set similar in style to those from past years. However instead of the "Timelines" label the set is under the "Generations" banner instead with "Combiner Wars" boldly printed on the front and sides. The right side (facing the box) has a list of "Special thanks" listing many names that have had a hand in Fun Publications over the years including Karl Hartman and Pete Sinclair. Inside the figures are in vehicle mode couched inside foam. Underneath are the tech specs, instructions and accessories. The cover features gorgeous box art by Marcelo Matere in the style of other "Combiner Wars" giants.
Pre-registrants could also order a "loose" set during the registration process. This set included all the figures, accessories and paperwork from the boxed set (minus the pin) sealed in a large plastic bag.
Tarantulas includes the same accessories as Rook. The smaller one is a claw weapon with a 5mm peg on the bottom and back. This piece is cast in black. The other accessory is the hand/foot/weapon piece cast in black featuring rockets sculpted on the ends. For illustrative purposes I used a red piece for the limb modes in this review. Both weapons fit nice and snug in Tarantulas' 5mm ports except the ones build into his wrists/hands. For some reason those are much more loose than they were on my copy of the Rook figure. The weapon can be inserted, but it isn't very tight. If you use the peg on the back of the weapon it holds well, however the peg at the bottom of the weapon doesn't hold at all. After some fiddling it seems like this is an issue specific to the weapon and not the figure since other 5mm peg accessories plug into the fist ports without a problem.
I have to admit, Tarantulas as a heavily armored ATV style vehicle is strange to me. In the second season of "Beast Wars", the character gained a vehicle mode but it was a motorcycle which you would normally associate with an agile character. An ATV feels more like something for a lumbering robot with thick armor. Still that's the mold that was chosen and thanks to a strong deco, it manages to work in an odd way.
From the looks of it, the designers decided to go with Transmetal Tarantulas as the basis for the colors on this figure. While the original Tarantulas was largely silver and purple, Transmetal Tarantulas is largely dark blue and purple in color. Those two colors are the main plastic colors on this figure along with some black used for joints and the wheels. The blue dominates this mold and it's a dark metallic blue, giving it a beautiful shine under the right lighting.
There is a lot of deco on this figure, which really helps him "become" Tarantulas instead of just looking like a "Dark Rook". The brightest of these colors is a neon green. This is used on the windows, headlights and details on the sides. The window details in the front are analogous to the spider eyes Tarantulas had in his beast mode. The headlights look almost like his robot mode eyes. Add in purple paint on the grille in front and it looks almost like the front of the vehicle is glaring at you menacingly. It's a really nice effect. Purple paint is also used as trim on the sides and on the top of the vehicle. Purple of course calls back to Tarantulas' original color, and it works beautifully against the blue. Orange is found on the front and top (towards the back). The orange is a visual reference to the vacuum metallized orange bits on Transmetal Tarantulas. The sides have a bit of silver on the mechanical details resembling control panels and tubes. Red is used to paint the sides of each wheel. The finishing touches are tampographed Predacon symbols on the sides in black with white outlines.
Overall this is an amazing deco. While the vehicle mode choice is unexpected, there's no denying that the vehicle mode looks amazing!
From a functional standpoint all the wheels roll without issue and no parts are falling off. The weapons attach to the top of the vehicle without a problem.
Transformation to Robot Mode:
- Detach the accessories and set them aside for now.
- Lift up the front section with the windows on it.
- Swing the sides of the rear section out to form the robot arms.
- Swing the halves of the vehicle's front end out to the sides, then down to begin forming the legs.
- On each leg swing the robot feet up.
- Straighten out the robot arms.
- Swing the robot head forward.
- Push the front/top of the vehicle mode against the back.
- Attach the weapons to the arms.
Tarantulas robot mode features an all new head sculpt and it's a beautiful thing to behold. Using the CG model from the Transmetal version of the character on the "Beast Wars" TV show as its foundation, the head features a diamond shaped crest, a round "helmet" section and what look like spider legs on the sides of the head with mandibles in the middle. The top of the head features small bumps that call back to similar designs on the TV show model. His eyes are visor eyes and there are small round "bumps" near the crest. Completing this gorgeous set of details are small circles on the back of the head. Kudos to Fun Publications for really paying attention to the details of the CG model for this head sculpt. It looks amazing!
The rest of the body uses the Rook design including the unusual choice of not having 5mm ports in the fists but instead built into cannon barrels protruding from the top of the hands. I mentioned in the vehicle mode review that this form was a bit odd for Tarantulas since you normally don't think of the character as particularly bulky, and the same thought applies here. To me it looks almost like Tarantulas is wearing an exo-suit to augment his power instead of this actually being his body. All that said, the deco really helps make the figure.
The dark metallic blue makes up most of this form, with black and purple plastic making up smaller parts like his elbows and thighs. The dark colors serve as a nice backdrop for his paint colors. Neon green is used to paint several small details on his torso and shoulders, serving as a visual callback to the beast mode "eyes" on his Transmetal form's chest. Green is also found on his head, filling in the crest and the circles around it. Purple paint is found on the forearms, torso, head and legs. Black paint is used on his lower legs and chest. Orange is used for his feet (another callback to his Transmetal form) and the sides of his head. His eyes are painted yellow and some of the detailing on his face is blue. The sheer level of detail on this paint job is really something to behold.
The joints on my copy of this figure are not as tight as those on my Rook, but they're not flopping around by any means. He can be posed and hold those poses, but the elbow and hip joints in particular feel noticeably different than Rook.
Transformation to Arm Mode (Starting in vehicle mode):
- Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
- Lift up the front of the vehicle and swing it back on top of the robot arms.
- Swing the halves of the vehicle's front end out and connect them together.
- Swing the robot foot pieces up.
- Swing the Combiner connection piece up.
- Turn the lower body around. The direction depends on which arm you want him to form.
- Transform the hand/foot/weapon piece into hand mode bu swinging the thumb up and in. The swing out the other fingers.
- Attach the hand to the port on the bottom of the robot feet.
Tarantulas' arm mode is a real testament to cool design. Normally I don't like "bulky" limbs on the Combiners but in this case I really like the lines and how they wind up on the Rook sculpt, so they work out nicely here. The way the front section of the vehicle forms a nice slope towards the forearms gives the arm a sleek look despite its bulk.
From a color standpoint the deco looks great on the limb but he doesn't match up very well with the other Predacus team members. This is mostly due to the blue and purple being rather different in theme than the greys and reds on the Predacus Generals. Still thanks to some red paint on the figure and the red hand piece it does manage to match up just enough to not look completely out of place.
As I mentioned in the robot mode review the joints on this figure aren't super tight, so don't expect him to hold up any Legends Class figures in weapon mode. He will however do just fine posing and holding up regular weapons with 5mm pegs.
Transformation to Leg mode (Starting in vehicle mode):
- Detach all the accessories.
- Swing out the palm portion of the hand/foot piece to flatten it out. The thumb piece should act as a heel.
- Swing the robot head up.
- Swing the "back pack" up and back against the robot arms.
- Push the robot head down.
- Swing the black connection piece in the center of the torso up.
- Swing the robot feet up.
Connect the foot piece to the bottom of the vehicle.
I've said it many (many) times so this won't shock you but I prefer the bulkier "Combiner Wars" sculpts as legs. I think Tarantulas looks great as a leg. He has width and depth that makes him look like a limb supporting a giant robot. Since this mode relies on the big ratchet joint in the connector piece there are no issues with loose ball joints.
Tarantulas is a surprise in this set. I honestly didn't think I would enjoy this mold being used for Tarantulas as much as I do but it totally works thanks to a strong paint job and a fantastic head sculpt. This is one of the strongest figures in this boxed set.