What do kids love? Elephants. And the orca. So naturally combining the two, slapping on a robot mode, and calling the whole thing Torca is a stroke of genius, right? Well, sort of. Maybe. The toy was one of the first two Beast Wars toys I picked up due to the low price tag and high level of general weirdness. (The other, Sky Shadow, was just a good toy.) In the American toy continuity, the guy was a Maximal warrior which actually looked really strong and beefy. With such a strange design, it's hard to say no-- I love whales, I love elephants, and as a little kid, I loved Transformers. So as a college student, naturally, I needed to buy this in order to give the ladies yet another reason to avoid me and to give my roommate another reason to hate agreeing to drive me places.
The beast mode is, on the whole, a pretty solid toy on its own. Had Hasbro sold this as a meaner version of its Wuzzles property, little boys might enjoy a vicious, dinosaur-like animal toy. These things could totally fight dinosaurs and don't seem all that out of line with another of Kenner's offerings in 1998, wildly weird hybrid dinosaurs of Jurassic Park: Chaos Effect. In Torca's animal form, he carries a weapon on his back that squirts water-- effectively functioning as a blowhole. His tusks are capable of grasping other figures. Most interesting, though, is that both gimmicks are activated by his dorsal fun-- push forward to squirt, pull back to grasp. Simple. The skin textures are pretty great, and there are lots of muscles and veins sculpted on the toy. Even more amazing, the texture of the whale elements are pretty shiny and smooth, creating a nifty contrast. The only thing that could really improve the toy is the color, the gold skin doesn't really read as an elephant, nor does the blue with gold read as an orca, necessarily. It'd have been nice to see a repaint in grey and black, alas, this was not meant to be. In Japan, the toy was decorated in various shades of blue. The legs are all nicely articulated, as is the tail. If you sprang $10 for this creature as a bizarre animal toy, I think many kids would probably enjoy it.
Transformation is pretty simple, so I'll just skip to talking about the very mean looking robot mode. The face has this weird grin which seems to borrow slightly from Darth Vader, and as an added bonus the neck is articulated. The figure has great articulation all over the body, allowing him to (maybe) assume a number of poses-- some of his animal mode parts hanging off him may get in the way, though. There are lots of little robotic bits and pieces hidden on the figure, plus some parts of his animal form make up big parts of the robot. For example, his tongue hangs down his chest, which is really weird now that I look at it in 2011. One thing that always irked me were the paws hanging off his wrists-- they're so big, I had initially thought they were removable. They're attached with screws so I suppose technically they are, but eh, it's not like big goofy paws are going to make an elephant/orca robot look any better.
The toy is really ugly in both modes, the coloring doesn't do it many favors, and it may end up being a fragile toy-- plus since he had no real support in the Beast Wars stories surrounding his release, nobody really knows or cares who he is save for hardcore fans of the line and its related comics and fiction. In this age of Hasbro releasing tons of new Transformers toys every month, you really have no reason to go track down this or any of the Fuzors we're reviewing this week, but if you want something fun and weird you won't be able to do much better than these guys. I mean, just look at it-- it's a freak of nature. It needs love. Not yours, of course, but someone's. You can get it at or under issue price, and if you pick it up as part of a lot it might be ridiculously cheap. At next to nothing, it's a wonderful piece.
For fans of faction symbols, his Maximal logo is located under his gun in beast mode. While in robot mode, this rubsign is on his back. In other words, you really don't see it, so if you want to pretend Torca is a bad guy that's totally your business.
If and when you get one, be sure to examine it closely. The gold plastic used in its construction is said to fall prey to gold plastic syndrome, meaning it could be prone to breakage-- this kind of plastic is hard and may be brittle by the time it enters your collection.
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