In 1985, with Transformers flying off the shelves faster than Hasbro could design them the company cast around for some other transforming robots they could add to the line. They found some at Bandai, who leased them use of the Macross Valkyrie (Jetfire), Dorvack Caliber (Roadbuster) & Gazette (Whirl) and Beetras (Deluxe Insecticons) moulds. These were originally designed by the defunct Takatoku company, who had revolutionised robot toys with the 'perfectly transforming' Valkyrie in 1982 only for a series of commercial failures to bankrupt them within a couple of years - Bandai buying out the designs when they folded. Bandai had little use for most of the moulds aside from the Valkyrie, and so had few qualms about renting them to Hasbro (Bandai's American presence at the time basically consisted of a couple of packaging & distribution centres, hence their efforts being things like Godaikin). The deal was only for North America, with Takara unable to use the figures in Japan - the demand for new Transformers wasn't as great world-wide as everyone else was still catching up to some extent anyway.

So, Barrage was one of the Beetras toys and as Beet-Gadol it had been among the final figures Takatoku released. The figure was recoloured for its' Transformers release. The Takatoku-originated toys were declared off-limits for TF media at the time - although Simon Furman would ignore this for the UK comic four years later, Barrage still wasn't used (only Chop Shop and Venom would manage this). More recently however the character has featured in minor roles in several Dreamwave and IDW comics. As a final note, Japanese cash-in company Mark arranged with Takatoku to make a smaller, simpler and above all cheaper version of Beet-Gadol for their own Zectron line. Through some sort of loophole (possibly as simple as Bandai only purchasing the physical moulds of the Beetras figures) this was still owned by Mark after Tatatoku folded and was licensed to American company Select. They issued the modified version as Crawler in their own Convertors line - probably around about the same time Hasbro were releasing Barrage.

Barrage's alt mode is a green-and-yellow scarab beetle - similar-looking in toy form - if not life - to Bombshell. However, the Deluxe is a little bit larger and more obviously an insect. There's no cockpit or wheels or anything like that. It's still a little robotic in design with lots of flat edges; it's not a Beast Wars-esque stab at realism either.

The green and yellow clashes quite badly, though the latter is often well-hidden on the insect mode. It's a shame as the scant paint applications work quite well. There are also a couple of neat moving parts - the wings can be swivelled up for a flight mode, the antler can be moved (this is sadly missing from my example) and the legs are jointed. If you can get past the colours and insects are your sort of thing it's really rather good.

The transformation is actually quite complex - not so bad from insect to robot, but trickier the other way around (when going from insect to robot make sure you extend the rear legs first and watch those spring-loaded hands). There are quite a few moving parts for something this size, and it's rather complex for a Transformer of the time.

The resulting robot stands around 6" tall, which is generally a good size for a figure. Barrage is a little portly but the basic design is sound - the proportions are good, and there are some pleasing 'extra mile' steps - the way the insect limbs are all neatly hidden away is great. There's even some respectable articulation with movement at the shoulders, hips and knees, while the wings can still be fiddled with in this mode. However, Hasbro's colour choice is just abysmal. The green and yellow go very, very badly together and Takatoku's version looks much better. The overall feeling is 'vegetable' with the odd head design really looking like some sort of anthropomorphic pissed-off sheaf of corn. The tiny, stingy red pain apps for the eyes don't help either, resulting in a very barren "Will this do?" face. It's a big shame to see a respectable mould ruined by such a sloppy choice of scheme.

Of all the Insecticon figures - Deluxe or otherwise - Barrage is probably the best designed, with a very slick alt mode, a comparatively complex transformation and a respectable robot mode. However, Hasbro's clumsy colour scheme smothers the robot mode and manages to cheapen the whole thing. Barrage is very much worth a go, but the blown opportunity is frustrating.