Updated: Jan 9
That may sound like a bad death metal band, but the Monsterbots are one of the more obscure product lines in the pantheon of Generation One Transformers. Although the Dinobots will always steal the spotlight (Who doesn't love Grimlock?), the Monsterbots are baddies in their own right. And like the Dinobots, the Monsterbots operate in a pack. Created by a freak accident as seen in the below commercial, the maverick Monsterbots (Repugnus, Doublecross and Grotesque) are depicted in the various Transformers comics as ruffian muscle for hire, very much antiheroes with their penchant for violence. You can't really say they have a blood lust, because they're fighting other robots. "Oil lust"? We'll go with that.
The Monsterbots were released in 1987, and I've owned Repugnus since 1989. I remember an early bout with OCD, as I sat in the front doorway of our house: I'd just realized I'd put decals on the inside of the monster arms when they were supposed to go on the outside. In the midst of simultaneous rage and panic, my eight year-old brain decided to live with it, rather than risk mutilating the figure further. I told myself that the robot being a monster at its core should dissolve any need for explanations or logic! Over the last few years, reproduction decals for vintage Transformers have been created to negate such childhood idiocy. While I might be able to justify a new set of stickers to spruce up a garage sale Transformer, you'd better believe I'm leaving my Repugnus as it stands. These hastily-applied decorations immortalize a minute or two of my youth.
Because of the decal debacle, the robot mode looks like it has four nipples. I guess that could be intimidating.
For many years, my Repugnus figure would be unaccounted for, and at one point I was actively searching for a replacement. Then one fateful day in 2005 (which coincidentally was the setting of 1986's Transformers: The Movie), I was rummaging around in my parents' basement when I happened across a black duffel bag hanging from a rafter. Upon opening it, I found not only Repugnus, but my Blot, Wheelie and Laserbeak Transformers! Here they are, in a genuinely harrowing scenario. Just kidding: Nobody likes Wheelie! (The tape came from Hollywood Video.)
While the reunion was cause for jubilation, my outburst of excitement went unnoticed by my mom, who was shampooing the upstairs carpet. I made it a point at that moment to reacquire all of my childhood G1 Transformers, a goal I have almost reached: I prefer to find my toys "in the wild" as opposed to snagging them online. While I'm fine with the long-term nature of this quest, I do miss the days of readily-available, awesome toys at Kay-Bee.
There's one reason Repugnus was a personal favorite Transformer, even rivaling the mighty Powermaster Optimus Prime: Definitely the best feature of this figure is its ability to shoot flames from its mouth! Compound that with two sinister pincers threatening impalement, and you've got yourself a Monsterbot, kid.
This sparking gimmick was shared by all of the Monsterbots, and dates back to an era of more lax safety restrictions. Word on the street is the whole "fire coming out of toys" thing was scrapped by the industry when a Barbie accessory boasting the sparking ability set a kid's underwear ablaze! (No word on if it was being worn at the time.) These days, if a toy sparks, you'll be forced to view it from behind a transparent plastic shielding, which isn't nearly as cool as seeing miniature flames launch into your face! As an example, even as early as 1992, the McDonald's "Doc's DeLorean" Happy Meal toy encased its sparking mechanism.
In spite of McDonald's legal paranoia, this Back to the Future: The Series toy was still recalled: It might not burn the house down, but Becky could choke on a tire! I got this sign back in the day from our local McDonald's, and it makes a great display piece to compliment the toy. I wonder how many of these notices are still around, and more importantly, how many lives did they save? I'm going with zero.
It was a struggle to not showcase all of the Transformers I reacquired in the ensuing years, a direct result of finding my old Repugnus. Some of those toys are legitimate playsets in their own right, and should really get their own articles. Preferring delving over skimming, I've decided to save them for later. Thanks for checking out this review. And speaking of Transformers and McDonald's, you won't want to miss one of my favorite articles, covering the New Food Changeables Happy Meal. The DeLorean toy wasn't a tangent, it was a transition! I'll take that Pulitzer now.