In 1985, the second wave of Generation 1 deviated from the realistic cars, jets, and guns selection in the first series. However, many of the molds were still sourced from Takara’s previous toylines, such as the Insecticons like Kickback. Kickback transformers into a robotic locust, probably of family Acrididae.
Like all the (non-Deluxe) Insecticons, Kickback started his existence in Takara’s Diaclone, designed by Takashi Matsuda as the Insecter Robo Battas. This version of the toy is noticably different from the Transformers release, featureing a green torso, red insect legs, and a translucent red chestplate. This version also features longer, pointed wings (see Description, below). Insecticons are the only Diaclone-descended Transformers that were originally part of the evil Waruder Army. This version also came witha small die-cast and plastic driver that could be seated in the opening cockpit. Kickback’s US Patent, titled Reconfigurable insect toy (aka Transformers G1 Kickback) was filed on August 21, 1984 (U.S. Patent No. USD287261 S).
Kickback transforms into a black robotic locust or grasshopper. Purple insect legs, yellow antennae, and chrome wings accent his design. The chrome wings now feature a cirular tip instead of a sharp point, and a square indentation on one wing to house the rubsign. Thin yellow antennae adorn his head, which uses silver paint to represent the insect mandibles in alternate mode. He also features four small black roller wheels, pinned to his hind feet and the frontmost insect legs. These allow the insect mode to roll, so long as all the legs are correctly positioned. Stickers are used throughout the design to add robotic details and color. A very simple transormation uses most of the insect limbs for the analogous parts of the robot. He retains his robotic antennae, and joins his middle and front insect legs to form pincher-handed robot arms. His only accessory is a machine gun with a “Tommy-gun” like drum in front of the grip, which uses two panels to slide over both sides of Kickback’s pincher hands. Kickback’s chest features a translucent yellow door which serves no purpose in the Transformers release.
Like so many former Diaclone toys before, Kickback is prone to breakage. His most common damage is a broken antenna, snapped clear off its base. Despite his appearances, Kickback is not particularly fragile otherwise.
Kickback has two primary production variations in his original run. The first version features a rubsign indent on the outer face of the right wing and a slightly wider antenna, while the latter version features a rubsign indent on both faces of each wing, and thinner antenna design. There are also minor sticker variations between these versions. The latter verison also has reinforcing ridges on the gun to make the panels that grip Kickback’s hand sturdier.
Kickback was available in 1985. He was available again in Japan in 1987 and 1988 as a mail-away exclusive. Kickback was reissued in Japan in the 2004 Transformers Collection with Bombshell and Shrapnel in the Insectrons set. This version restored the pointed wingtips seen in Diaclone, and only featured one rubsign indent. This set also included three pink rubber Energon cubes that could fit inside the Insecticons’ chest compartments. The US received a reissue set by means of the Universe 2 line in 2009, as a Toys ’R’ Us exclusive. Strangely, this version featured the pointed wingtips, even though they were originally rounded to satisfy American toy safety laws. This version did not include the Energon cubes.
Redecos & Retools
Kickback’s mold was first used in 1983 to make Diaclone Battas, available alone or in the Insecter Robo gift set. The reissue version of the mold was redecorated into Shothole, available only in the e-HOBBY Insectron Clone Army as part of Collector’s Edition. This version’s color palette resembles the original Diaclone deco, but retains the Transformers insignia and rubsign.