In issue 17 of the original U.S. Marvel Comics Transformers series – remember that number, it’ll come back up – we are given a glimpse of what has been happening on Cybertron while the two smaller groups of Autobots and Decepticons have been earthbound. A character is introduced, Lord High Governor Straxus. He was, for lack of a better word, kind of a dick. With a – somewhat literal – iron fist, he ruled Polyhex, a region of the planet Cybertron, from the ancient fortress of Darkmount – remember that name, it’ll come back up. Straxus is seen holding “court”. Begging for their lives, one of two robots pleads, “We’ve done no wrong! Have Mercy!” Straxus’ reply simultaneously sums him up in one fell swoop,
as well as provides fodder for an internet meme 24 years later, when Straxus makes his toy incarnation debut. Latching onto this phrase, the boards at TFW2005, specifically the “Let’s See Some Cool Stuff 2010 – Transformers only Edition”, where board members post pictures of their Transformers, ran a short spate of “Mercy is not dispensed here, fools… only [Insert Humorous Replacement]”. Of these, my own personal favourite was ersico’s, which he has given me permission to include:
I was able to score Straxus, or rather “Darkmount” while out on a Toy hunt. Due to failing to maintain a copyright on the name – what? Hasbro didn’t foresee they’d make a toy of this character 24 years later? Sheesh. – Straxus is actually named “Darkmount”, after his fortress on Cybertron, on his card.
Everyone understands this is merely a formality and this character’s true name – and the name I’ll be using for the remainder of this post—is Straxus. In the comic, Straxus is shown transforming into a flying gun platform of sorts. This would most likely not sell toys, so those smart folks over at Hasbro/Takara came up with a more conventional alt-mode for him. Just to round out the homage, however, he has a third mode, “Battle Station Mode”, which attempts to hearken back to his original alt-mode:
My verdict? Leave the fan-modes to the fans. Fan-modes are unofficial alt-modes, made up by the Fans, for the toys . Sometimes they can extend the homage of a character, like the many versions of WFC Soundwave’s “Boombox” mode or Energon Kickback’s “Grasshopper” mode. Sometimes they are silly, like RotF Ravage’s “Chocobo” mode or Cybertron Shortround’s “Toilet” mode (really silly). Sometimes they are done into the ground, such as absolutely any Transformer in “Gerwalk” mode. ‘Nuff said about fan modes.
For his real alt-mode, to update Straxus, he was given a shiny new half-track Self-propelled Artillery vehicle mode. The barrel of his alt-mode separates to become a pick-axe, his weapon of choice in the comics.
Speaking of the comics, the homage goes a step further in referencing the issue in which he first appeared, Marvel Comics’ Issue 17.
This guy is easily one of the most fan-centric toys ever created for mass-release by Hasbro. Within the two issues that he appeared in the Marvel comics series, issues 17 and 18, Straxus’ coloration changed inexplicably. While appearing blue and silver with red and silver arms and a number of other red highlights in 17; the red is removed from his arms and legs with gold now appearing prominently on his torso, he retains only two of his red highlights in 18. A combination of the two colour schemes was created by David Willis and used for the cover of the fan-publication The Obscure Omnibus. This was used in designing the toy, giving him issue 17’s red and silver arms while retaining 18’s gold chest details.
The articulation in his robot mode is wonderful. Able to hold his pick-axe with both hands and having decent range of motion in his feet allows for some truly dynamic posing. As with most Transformers toys, his only real annoyance factor is his gimmick. Straxus features a series of bars and rungs onto which weapons can be clipped. Started in the RotF “Nest Global Alliance” line, these weapons attach through a uniformly sized clip, allowing the weaponry to be interchanged between any toy that uses this feature. Though mostly innocuous – certainly not one of those gimmicks that actively detracts from the toy – the problem here is two-fold. Number one, they detach and will certainly get lost. Number two, the hard plastic clips have little in the way of give and are going to break if attached and detached repeatedly. I just see the stress marks now…
Overall, a great toy, as long as you set aside his supposed third mode. I mean, seriously, what advantage is there to an alt-mode that essentially removes the mobility from your mobile artillery platform?