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 Shrapnel. Shrapnel transformers into a robotic stag beetle of the family Lucanidae.
Like all the (non-Deluxe) Insecticons, Shrapnel started his existence in Takara’s Diaclone as the Insecter Robo Kuwagatorer. This version of the toy is noticeably different from the Transformers release, red arms, red feet, and a translucent red chest hatch. 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. Shrapnel was invented by Takashi Matsuda and the US Patent, titled Reconfigurable insect toy (aka Transformers G1 Shrapnel) was filed on August 21, 1984 (U.S. Patent No. USD286664 S).
Shrapnel transforms into a black robotic stag beetle. He is nearly all black, with purple feed decorated with rockets pointing out to the rear, and his purple arms ending in the hind feet of the insect, including a small wheel. A pair of yellow forelegs extend down from the robot’s back, featuring the front wheels for rolling the insect mode along the ground. Shrapnel’s most prominent feature is the pair of long, hooked chrome mandibles tipped with laser blasters. His transformation is fairly simple, resulting in a normally-proportioned robot. However, the large mandibles swing out to either side to reval his robot face, leaving them awkwardly dangling in space. Shrapnel includes a chrome gun that fits over his fist using two flaps. Shrapnel’s chest features a translucent yellow door which serves no purpose in the Transformers release, release.
Like so many former Diaclone toys before, Shrapnel is prone to breakage. The yellow insect legs on his back are not firmly attached, and are often lost. Alternatively, one of the two prongs forming the hinge for the legs can break, to the same effect. He is also unusually prone to joint wear and looseness, due to many of his hinged plastic parts pivoting agains the die-cast metal chest of the robot.
Shrapnel shows only minor variance over the course of his run. Later versions featured a molded indent to house the rubsign, a slightly different rear insect leg, and a gun that lacked two small fins attached to the rear cone of the gun.
Shrapnel was available in 1985. He was available again in Japan in 1987 and 1988 as a mail-away exclusive. Shrapnel was reissued in Japan in the 2004 Transformers Collection with Kickback and Bombshell in the Insectrons set. 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. This version did not include the Energon cubes.
Redecos & Retools
Shrapnel’s mold was first used in 1983 to make Diaclone Kuwagatorer, available alone or in the Insecter Robo gift set. The reissue version of the mold was redecorated into Zaptrap, 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.