Some people’s Holy Grail of Transformers collecting is the two-foot tall Fortress Maximus, MISB (“Mint In Sealed Box”, for the uninitiated). For me, for almost ten years now, it has been Ikard October Barks, the transforming squid and his Octopus — “Tako” is the Japanese word for Octopus — tank with a motorcycle for a brain. (If your brain has a slight seizure whilst reading that sentence, that means your brain is working correctly.)
One thing I underestimated was his sheer size, jdcarling, the fellow TFW2005 board member I bought Tako Tank from, did a commendable job packaging him up for the trip.
Now, before we get to the figure — really, the squid is nice but it’s all about the Octopus Tank, let’s not lie — here’s the strange thing about this being a Holy Grail for me: I’ve never seen a single episode of the show he’s from.
Once Chō Seimeitai Transformers Beast Wars (Super Lifeform Transformers Beast Wars… oh Japan) ended, while America had moved on to Beast Machines, Japan put out two more Beast Wars series. Beast Wars II, pronounced “Second” not “Two”, and Beast Wars Neo, pronounced… like the guy in the Matrix movies. Anyway, Tako Tank is from Beast Wars Second, a show that has never been fully subtitled officially or unofficially. What the Japanese did was take some of the non-show Beast Wars toys we got here in America and re-purpose them as show characters for both the sequels. Along with these they also made all new molds — such as the glorious Wooly Mammoth alt-moded Big Convoy for Neo, a toy to be posted another day. Two of these new molds were larger-sized “Special” class, a tank and an aquatic base, that came with smaller toys. Tako Tank was packaged with its pilot, Ikard (a repaint of the Beast Wars Second character Scuba who was, in turn, an ever so slight repaint of the American release, Claw Jaw). It has been rumored that both of these larger molds actually were meant as part of a unreleased concept for the Microman line (also owned by Takara). Anything is possible from the only Transformers line that I’m aware of that actually had an official sausage.
The box on this thing is just huge but it’s pretty easy to see why. A good half of it was taken up by tentacles (there’s a Japanese anime joke in there somewhere, I’m sure). The front two are a rubbery plastic molded into joints to allow for movement controlled by two puppet rods in the back. This feature was declared by the TFWiki to be “one of the funnest play-features in Transformers ever”. Normally my least favourite part of a toy is the “gimmick” but here I completely agree, though the degree of control is dubious at best, it leads to some fun hijinks for unsuspecting cats (and wives, but we’ll get to that in a moment…)
The Tank’s “head” opens and a transformable hoverbike/land-cycle is inserted to serve as the cockpit complete with two missle (torpedo?) launchers. There’s also a plunger that runs the length of the body to activate the water-bellows and shoot water from the front of the tank (not a feature I’ve investigated yet.) Oddest of the “features” of the toy are eyes that rotate in unison, for what purpose I am completely unaware. The only real disappointment is the fact that, due to where all the pieces fold up, you can’t leave the pilot in the cockpit and close the halves of the head. Which is both an extremely minor thing as well as something I would have known had I actually read his TFWiki entry beforehand.
End result: this thing has lived up to its Holy Grail status. It is easily my favourite Beast-era toy, just undeniably Japanese in its self-deprecating bizarreness. All sausages aside, Beast Wars II is a series that does not in any way, shape, or form take itself seriously and Tako Tank is a shining example. I love him. Which is why the fact that my wife, Jamie, intensely dislikes him (going so far as to call him “creepy”) hurts my heart a little. Just like all of us, Tako Tank just wants to be loved. Well, that, and to be left alone to enjoy a good glass of wine in front of the TV.