Full circle. It’s something you rarely — if ever — get to see in a Transformers series, but Beast Wars was indeed a rarity.
When Rampage first appeared in the cartoon, he somehow managed to display an intensity that set him apart from a cast already chock full of intense characters. Perhaps this had something to do with the lead up to his actual appearance, when his supposedly deactivated form was found in his crashed stasis pod Optimus Primal was forced to reveal “the dark secret of Axalon’s journey”. Despite being ostensibly the “good guys” the Maximal Imperium — specifically the Maximal High Council of Elders — has not been depicted in the best light in the fiction. The ugly cherry on top of this cake made of horrible decisions is the Protoform X project.
Once word of Starscream’s seemingly-immortal spark got around, the council apparently thought, “We have no real idea of how or why Starscream’s spark is immortal but let’s try to recreate it anyway.”
Because playing God has ever worked out well for anyone. Ever.
Now that I have equated the Protoform X project to Frankenstein, my brain can’t help wondering how the series would have been if Protoform X turned out like Herman Munster instead.
But I digress, as far as this ill-fated series of experiments,
“It was a mistake to even try.”
Well, of course it was.
“Though brilliant, it was hopelessly treacherous”
Well, of course it was.
To be a little more precise, Rampage was a huge, gurgling pile of psycho-crazy. Seriously, just the noises alone he made were absolutely demented. That being said, he was not just your run-of-the-mill evil psychopath villain. He had moments of surprising depth such as when he befriended Transmutate, in whom he saw another tortured soul like his own.
None of this is to say that he should be considered a sympathetic character. Though, the horrible nature of the experiment that created him and the experiments that followed do add a great sense of tragedy to his story. By all accounts it was this that turned him into a violent, insane murderer and, if he himself is to be believed, a cannibal.
Of course, then his visit to Earth turned him into a violent, insane, murderous giant crab.
This mode combined with his immortal spark is particularly funny when you consider the peculiar Spanish idiom regarding daydreaming:
“Pensar en la inmortalidad del cangrejo”
“Thinking about the immortality of the crab”
Unfortunately, one thing is definitely not immortal. Being a Transmetal, his chromed paintjob is prone to scratching, cracking, and flaking.
Alas, a coat of clear nail polish can at least stave off the decay for now. Also as a Transmetal, he possesses a second alt mode. While some of the Transmetal toy’s vehicle modes are clearly afterthoughts, Rampage’s crab-tank is actually quite decent; with actual treads and a mechanism that allows his cannon to auto-fire as he rolls.
Not going to lie, I am pretty sure CrabTank is my favourite Beast Wars alt mode. In fact, it almost rivals TakoTank in awesome-ness. It also translates well into the show. Like a lot of Beast Wars toys that actually had corresponding show characters, at the core, his toy is very close to his on-screen appearance but with larger kibble.
Granted, it’s much easier with the cartoon model where they can do things to his robot mode like move his crab legs from his arms to his shoulder pads without having to account for the physics of how that would actually work. Even with this kibble, the toy retains a lot of articulation. I’m not entirely sure why they felt the need to also give him a smaller rifle, given the immensity of his cannon.
His paintjob is great; the oranges, reds, and purple play off each other wonderfully. This colour scheme was actually one-upped with the release of the Transformer Collector’s Club free figure for 2014, Timelines Rampage.
The First Edition Megatron mold is a great toy, but just like the larger scaled version, it is boring in appearance due to Megatron’s very subdued colour scheme in Prime. This version, with a new head, solves that rather solidly. The colour fades from red to orange are beautiful. Some have problems with the small size of Rampage’s head on this mold. I like it, first as a great sculpt, but secondly the proportionally smaller size of the head gives the deluxe scale body an illusion of larger size.
The symbol emblazoned on his chest marks him as Protoform “X”. His alt mode, that one could easily imagine he had prior to coming to Earth and scanning his crab beast mode, is a spaceship.
Even more so than with Megatron, Rampage’s head really has to be turned around in this mode to avoid looking very, very silly.
So, what makes Rampage’s story an example of something coming full circle? To answer that, we have to look at the other half of that circle. Rampage may have been an unwilling participant in the Beast Wars but not only did he add some wonderful colour and depth to the series, he also opened the door for another great character to be introduced…