ARMORED INSECT BATALLION BEETRAS
ager to exploit the popularity of "kanzen henkei" ("perfectly
transforming") robot toys that had been touched off by the Macross
series, Takatoku teamed up with famed animation studio Artmic to
all-new series with an insect theme. It was the brainchild
of one of Artmic's top designers, Shinji Aramaki, the same man who
designed the transforming "Ride Armor" motorcycle for the Mospeda
series and the "Garland" from Megazone 23, among many others.
Aramaki envisioned the "Armored Insect Battalion Beetras" as a modern
reworking of insect robots that had previously appeared in Takara's
Diaclone line. (These Diaclone robots are widely known in America as
the "Insecticons" from Hasbro's Transformers series of toys.)
Beetras wasn't ever actually animated into a movie or television series, and
Takatoku's toy portrayals hit the marketplace just as they were going out of
business in 1984. Perhaps due to their impending bankruptcy, Takatoku
trimmed the series to four out of the originally planned five robots; the
ladybug-like Beet Papil never saw production. Only moderately successful in
their own country, the Beetras toys received a second lease on life in
America as the "Deluxe Insecticons."
Takatoku wasn't the only firm to sell Beetras merchandise. Japanese model
company Imai sold a series of unassembled plastic kits of the robots, while
Mark sold tiny "cheapie" (though fully transforming!) toy versions as well.
(Re-colors of these Mark toys would eventually hit American shelves as well,
as part of Select's "Convertors" series of blister-packaged transforming