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By Thomas Wheeler

It's fairly common knowledge that the single most expensive part of toymaking is casting the molds. And Transformers, because of their nature and complexity, generally take a lot of molds. Take an Alternator. Count all the parts -- I dare you!

A Transformer, especially a fairly complicated one -- and it doesn't take much for a Transformer to get complicated, could have dozens of parts. Possibly hundreds among some of the larger specimens. That's a lot of molds. That's a lot of expense.

So it's no great surprise that Hasbro and Takara want to get as much use out of those molds as possible. That's why we see multiple uses of the very complicated molds in the Alternators line. It doesn't cost anything to switch colors of plastic. And molding a new head, while certainly an expense, is going to be a lot less than casting an entire new car, and you're going to make money with the new character.

And it's no great surprise that we see this in Transformers Cybertron as well, which, while generally a less complicated line than Alternators, still has some pretty detailed toys in its line, and they're still going ot be using a lot more parts than the average "humanoid" action figure.

And hey, if it's a cool figure, I have no problem getting a second version.

Such was the case with Repugnus. Although using the same molds as Undermine, this character is actually an Autobot. And Undermine's mostly green color scheme has been traded in for a mostly black color scheme, with red and yellow-gold trim. It's interesting, but the result of this color scheme is that Repugnus actually looks a whole lot meaner than Undermine, even though Repugnus is one of the good guys!

The articulation of the toy in robot form is really excellent. The head moves, the mouth opens, the admittedly small arms move, the legs have a remarkable amount of poseability along four distinct points, and so does the tail, which ends in a nasty-looking spiked mace.

All Transformers Cybertron characters come with "Cyber Planet Keys" which, when installed into the robot, activate some secret function. In the case of Repugnus (and Undermine, of course), the key inserts into the back of the large fin on the back of the figure, and a nasty looking blade arcs out of the top of the fin.

The only downside to Repugnus is the robot form. As with Undermine, it just doesn't look like much (which is why I didn't photograph it -- I'd be a little worried about getting him back into the far superior dino form). The fin essentially becomes the head of the character, which somehow makes the figure look like he's part robotic angelfish as much as anything. It's a very weird look. The head and neck split to become arms, and he keeps the same legs as before. The tail, not surprisingly, becomes a weapon.

But there's something about that very weird finhead that is just a little too far removed from the usually expected "humanoid" robot form of Transformers that I just can't quite get around. It's honestly just a little too strange, so Repugnus, like Undermine, will be staying in dino form.

Repugnus' file card does present a very interesting tie-in to Undermine. I was pleased to see this. If they're going to use a set of molds twice, it's not a bad thing to tie the characters together if possible. Repugnus' file card reads:

Among the very few places on the Jungle Planet not firmly under the control of Scourge are the fetid swamps in the valleys at the foot of the Steel Shard Mountain. Here, Repugnus rules. His subjects rejoice in the stinking slime they call home. He protects their freedom fiercely, using his intimate knowledge of the swamps to isolate and destroy any invaders. So dedicated to freedom that he even exiled his own brother - Undermine - for being in league with Scourge.

It's interesting to do a paint detail comparison between Undermine and Scourge. In a day when paint details are getting fewer, and often sloppier, Transformers seems to have eluded both of these problems. I suspect this is due in no small part to the higher-grade factories that Takara no doubt uses, and probably has to use given the complexity of the toys. But it is interesting to study the two dinos, because, substantially different colors notwithstanding, their paint details ARE different in some respects. As follows:

Undermine has ridges on his tail painted -- Repugnus does not.

Undermine's claws and toes are painted - Repugnus' are not.

Repugnus' teeth and inner mouth are painted - Undermine's are not.

Repugnus' neck ridges are painted - Undermine's are not.

Undermine's back fin's outer frame is painted in two colors - Repugnus' is one color.

Repugnus has paint detail on his underbelly - Undermine does not.

The circles on the side of Undermine's head are painted - Repugnus' are not.

An area on the underside of Repugnus' jaw is painted - Undermine's is not.

The circle on Undermine's right hip is painted - Repugnus' is not.

I'm not really sure who, if anybody, came out ahead or behind on this one, or if it broke even financially, but it is interesting that the two toys have such noticably different paint details, even moreso given that all of the paint details were obviously done properly through paint mask stencils, not hand-painted.

That's the way it should be for all action figure toys.

The Transformers Cybertron line is an amazingly extensive Transformers series, and I doubt there are many people except the most die-hard, collect-nothing-else fans are in a position to buy all of them. I wish I could. It's an interesting concept, and the toys are certainly cool. But it's just not an option for me. So I have to pick and choose.

Bottom line? If you liked Undermine, you'll like Repugnus. Heck, I'd recommend both of them to you. They're a couple of very cool robotic dinosaurs. I can't really recommend their robot forms that much, but they're still cool, and certainly worthy additions to the Transformers Cybertron Collection!