For some reason, it seems like we should be getting some kind of remuneration or bribe for reviewing this.
As the leader of his own squad of Decepticons, Kickback is more independent than most of those under
the command of Megatron. He uses his freedom to surround himself with friends, who he then blackmails into becoming his servants.
It's interesting that they don't name Kickback's squad at all - is it supposed to be a secret? If so, spoiler alert: he's an Insecticon. He's been an Insecticon since G1, and he's an Insecticon now. Of course, this toy is based on the Fall of Cybertron videogame, which technically "isn't" (wink wink nudge nudge) G1, but we all know it is. Especially since all the designs for the game keep getting adopted to the comics as pre-Earth designs. Of course, for as much as the fiction lines up, it might as well be the backstory for the movie: because no matter what happens, every Transformers story starts with a war on Cybertron.
Maybe the reason they skirted the issue is that TF: Prime already has its own Insecticons, and they didn't want us to confuse Kickback with one of them. He definitely looks more like the 1980s Kickback than Prime Insecticons, what with the eye visor and the big yellow antennae on his ears - it's all very buggy. In the good way.
One thing that sets FoC Kickback apart from the Insecticons of yore? The color. Green and purple
meant "Constructicon"; red, gray and gold meant "Dinobot"; and black, yellow and purple meant "Insecticon." Kickback gets some dark grey, but no black - and rather than being a simple accent color, purple is now the dominating hue. So much purple! The yellow - or in this case, gold - appears in just the right amount, but the choice to use purple instead of black makes this something other than a direct update/homage.
Kickback has large legs, suiting his name.
The layered plates on his shoulders have a definite insectoid style, and there's armor on the chest and forearms. He's got insect legs hanging off his back as kibble, and two big pincers coming up over his shoulders. His weapon is a "Gear Shredder," which launches a translucent purple disc. Two purple wing blades plug into the weapon, making it look like a crossbow, or he can wield them in his hands like swords.
It's a little confusing to convert Kickback,
thanks to the way you have to swing his head down between his legs, but you'll get the hang of it easily enough. There is one step that's completely unclear, though, and without it you'll never get him successfully converted. You have to fold the hips back over themselves - it's hard to describe, but easy to figure out. I managed, after all, and I'm dumb!
Obviously, Kickback's altmode is a grasshopper, just like it was in Generation 1. There's no explanation
for why a robot on a distant alien world would look exactly like an Earth insect, but what are ya gonna do? He's still mainly purple in this mode - some customizer is going to make a killing turning these guys black. The blade weapons become the insect's wings in a most clever manner, clipping under the pincher arms. The way his back legs unfold is very weird - you can tell the designers were trying to keep it from just being a straight re-use of the robot's leg (which is a commendable goal), but the hinge they came up with looks really odd.
You can still attach the Gear Shredder to Kickback in this mode, but it doesn't fit on seamlessly. Two hooks on the wings can be matched up with notches on the weapon: so it plugs on securely, but it looks blatantly out of place. You'll probably never use the connection, unless it's time to put the figure in storage.
In Leviticus, the book of the Bible that lists all the rules of sacrifice and worship (written probably around 770-600 BC as a conservative reaction against the re-blending of the separate northern [Kingdom of Israel] and southern [Kingdom of Judah] traditions that had developed after the death of Solomon [c. 920]), grasshoppers are specifically listed as being kosher, while lobsters, crabs, frogs, chameleons, eels, rabbits, snails, lizards, moles, ravens, ospreys, vultures, swans, owls, storks, herons, bats, pelicans, prawns, eagles, ferrets and camels are all off the menu. Leviticus also forbids mixing fabrics, crop rotation, and shaving, and yet it's still the #1 excuse people give for not accepting homosexuality. It also says grasshoppers have four feet, and you know that's not right. There's no saying whether robots can be gay, but at least we know they can be kosher. Kickback would be a bit more appealing to us annoying G1 fanboys if he was blacker, but he's still quite good. Hopefully we'll see some more FoC Insecticons soon.