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|Specifics: Toys and Transmetal version|
Tarantulas is the scheming mad scientist of the Predacon crew. The type of mad scientist who experiments on living beings, cackling in his trademarked laugh all the while, and then if things go wrong, happily eats what's left as his midday snack. (Considering his appetite, that must happen a lot.) He was one of the Predacons to join Megatron during his theft of the Golden Disc and the search for Earth. In addition to being an utterly psychotic, sadistic sociopath (even by Predacon standards, which is something he appears to wear with pride), Tarantulas has a record for treachery rivaled by few other Transformers. Tarantulas is actually an agent of the Tripredacus Council, which is trying to coax the Beast Wars toward an unspecified goal, where neither Autobot or Decepticon won the Great War.
Tarantulas has a particularly notable hatred of the Vok aliens, a hatred strong enough to make him work to eliminate them by any means.
—Tarantulas, Pretty much every episode
- Japanese name: Tarans
- Chinese name (Taiwan): Jr-jū (蜘蛛, "Spider"), later Húng Jr-jū (紅蜘蛛, "Red Spider")
- German name: Tarantulus
- Italian name: Metal Tarantulas (Transmetal)
- Polish name: Tarantulator
- Spanish name: Tarántula
- Russian dub name: Тарантул (Tarantula)
Tarantulas is a sneaky, mysterious ninja feared across the galaxy. A master of the martial arts, he's suspected in the disappearances of many Earthlings, and rumors swirl of giant cocoons where he stores his prey.
(Note: The on-package bios of the first wave of Beast Wars toys predate the development of the Beast Wars cartoon and its backstory. Instead, they seem to present the characters as a direct continuation of the previous Autobot/Decepticon conflict, with their battles taking place on present-day, human-inhabited Earth, rather than in the distant past. Once the cartoon launched, the toyline adjusted itself to match that continuity instead.)
Optimus Primal VS Megatron pack-in comic
Tarantulas is guarding the Predacons' jungle-based genetics lab along with Megatron and Waspinator. When the Maximals discover them, he engages Razorbeast in combat briefly before Megatron calls retreat and destroys the lab. (This story predates the animated continuity and seems to be set on present-day Earth. See note above.)
Tarantulas decoded the information on the Golden Disk, freshly stolen by Megatron. He thought this was quite hilarious, but then, he thinks that about everything.
As Megatron and his rogue band of Predacons escaped Cybertron in their stolen ship, the Darksyde, Tarantulas was in charge of scanning the disk for a desired set of coordinates. While Megatron was not watching, he was in secret communication with a member of the Tripredacus Council. (The reflections in his helmet show the silhouette of General Cicadacon.)
Beast Wars cartoon
Tarantulas was one of the original crew on the Darksyde when it crashed on prehistoric Earth. As Megatron's technical leader, he manned the scanners to appropriate beast forms based on the most powerful local creatures.
Tarantulas caused as many problems for Megatron as he fixed. He always needed a separate hideout to plot other, evil schemes, and he managed to stay one step ahead of most of his "allies". The only partner he worked with frequently—though they betrayed each other just as often—was Blackarachnia.
When Tarantulas learned of the Vok and their impending return to Earth, he spent his best efforts to capture a working stasis pod to craft an escape shuttle. At the hour of the Vok's return, he finally completed one. Megatron had known of his and Blackarachina's plans and threw a wrench in the works—Inferno. Inferno stomped into the room, interrupted Tarantulas's download of the stasis pod's datatracks, torched him, and was defeated by Blackarachnia.
Fortunately for Tarantulas, Blackarachnia picked up his discarded download visor. Tarantulas jumped into her mind, controlling her (presumably from his stasis-locked body). When the quantum surge knocked out all of the Transformers on Earth, his body was upgraded to a Transmetal form, complete with a motorcycle vehicle mode. He maintained a link to Blackarachnia's mind, but was forced to sever it when she threatened to to commit suicide, which would also off-line him. He also set up a second lair in Grid Arakis, which held a large cache of stable Energon cubes and had been written off by both sides.
At some undisclosed point, Tarantulas discovered the Nemesis, the flagship of the Decepticon fleet. Although his longterm goals for the vessel are unknown, he did manage to restore the ship to working status, complete with a Predacon control console and a transwarp cell, meaning that he may have planned to use it to return to Cybertron once he completed his main objective.
When the transwarp explosion finally reached through the time warp and had enough potency to enter Cybertronian space, Tarantulas's true allegiance was revealed: He was a member of the Predacon Secret Police and an agent of the Tripredacus Council. The Tripredacus Council was the first alerted of the transwarp explosion and realized it was from where Megatron's ship had gone. Ravage was sent to ally with the Maximals, arrest Megatron, and then betray and destroy them all.
Allied with Ravage and having the use of his stealth ship, the Maximals easily overwhelmed Megatron. Tarantulas knocked out the power to Megatron's ship at that exact moment, allowing an easy capture.
Megatron managed to manipulate Ravage into his servitude using a recording of the original Megatron on the Golden Disk and gained his freedom. Tarantulas joined Ravage on his stealth ship for an attack on the Axalon. However, Tarantulas was blown to pieces by Rattrap through a combination of the rodent's demolition bombs and the explosion of the ship. Tarantulas survived, though, and was quickly put back together by his spider drones.
Megatron, in all his wisdom, forgave Tarantulas's treachery, as it was simply the Predacon way and the spider was too useful to execute, even though Megatron made it very clear that he'd never trusted Tarantulas, even before the scientist did anything treacherous. Tarantulas appeared back in the Predacon camp on a regular basis—though it would later become clear that he was still very busy working on his own agenda, apparently during his numerous unexplained absences. He battled the Maximals alongside Megatron's Transmetal raptors (a harbinger of things to come) and helped the other Predacons construct a massive disruptor ray (which ultimately backfired on them). When the Maximals attempted to remove Blackarachnia's shell program, he revealed to Megatron that he had included "certain safeguards" that guaranteed she would not survive, and joined the other Predacons in an attack on the Maximals that was meant to disrupt the attempted shell removal. He fired the missile which knocked the Maximals' power off-line at a crucial instant, seemingly bringing an end to his "treacherous creation". Enraged by the death of his beloved, Silverbolt attempted to kill the scientist, but was thwarted by Rampage, who was later defeated by a revived—and Transmetalized—Blackarachnia.
Tarantulas participated in the Predacons' next attempt to retake the Ark, but manipulated Quickstrike into throwing Megatron into the nearby lava while he himself set the Ark's engines to overload. At this point, he claimed to be descended from neither the Autobots nor the Decepticons, which was why he was willing to destroy the core members of both factions then present (in stasis lock) in the Ark. Megatron survived his lava-dunking, gaining a new body in the process. However, he had lost his patience. While he'd tolerated Tarantulas's treachery, he could not tolerate incompetence. Tarantulas survived his punishment and fled back to his lair.
When the Vok emissary Tigerhawk arrived on Earth shortly afterwards, Tarantulas managed to disable and capture him. Tarantulas intended to force the all-powerful being into his servitude by drawing the Vok influences out of his body and reprogramming him. The scheme backfired, however, as his energy beam device expelled two actual Vok out of Tigerhawk. The formless spectres attempted to take over Tarantulas' body. Panicking, he opened fire on them—a futile gesture that merely served to spin the energy device around 'til its rays were blasting him and his lab equipment. Overloaded by the beams, Tarantulas exploded, leaving nothing behind but his boots. The remainder of his equipment detonated seconds later, blowing the lair to rubble. Cheetor managed to rescue the inert Tigerhawk, and Tarantulas was presumed dead.
While searching the ruins of Tarantulas's lair, Megatron offhandedly referred to him as "Unicron's spawn".
Beast Wars: Transmetals
In an alternate timeline, Tarantulas found a way to escape prehistoric Earth and return to Cybertron.
Then he came back, with an armada of Transwarp battleships under his command, out to end the Beast Wars and enforce the Tripredacus Council's will...
3H Primeval Dawn comics
Following the Beast Wars, Tarantulas's body returned to life, reanimated by the Vok powers he'd previously absorbed. The undead Tarantulas, along with a rebuilt Ravage (as Tripredacus Agent), nurtured new troops to life through enigmatic means, growing Razorclaw and Iguanus in tubes.
The remaining Vok anticipated Tarantulas's plan to destroy the rest of them, take their power, and fashion the timestream to his desires, and so they assembled an army of their own consisting of Primal Prime, Airazor, and Tigatron. Tarantulas met this opposition in battle, overwhelmed them, and ripped the Matrix of Leadership from Primal Prime's chest.
Wounded critically, the Maximals withdrew to the Ark. Tarantulas ordered Ravage to take Razorclaw, Iguanus, and their new recruit Spittor and assault the Ark in order to finish them off.
3H Universe comics
When the influence of Unicron swayed Blackarachnia to the side of darkness, she was surprised to see Tarantulas (still in his undead body) greet her as she joined the ranks of the Minions of Unicron. Apparently the commander of Unicron's armies, he dispatched Blackarachnia and her Piranacons to Cybertron to kill Alpha Trion.
- Tarantulas (Deluxe, 1996/1997)
- Japanese ID number: D-4, VS-4
- Part of the first wave of Beast Wars product, Tarantulas transforms into an organic spider (NOT a tarantula). His abdomen contains a spring-loaded missile launcher, which fires the anchor-missile kept in his spider-butt. This missile is attached by a string so he can hang from things like a real spider. The launcher can be removed and used as a robot-mode weapon, using any of his front four spider-legs as missiles. Like all early Deluxe-and-up Beast Wars toys, he has two different robot-mode "heads", a robotic face and a "mutant" face. He is almost always depicted using the mutant face.
- There is a variation of this toy in the Hasbro line: Later releases (the smooth bubble) lack the yellow paint on his elbows.
- The Japanese release of Tarantulas was originally unchanged and could also be purchased in a two-pack with Dinobot. Later, a slightly color-altered version was released, using a brighter shade of green and a slightly darker gray. The color-altered version also replaced the blue eyes on the "robot" head and the black eyes of the "mutant" head with gold.
- This mold was used to make the first Blackarachnia toy.
- Orcanoch (MicroVerse, 1997)
- A small, non-transforming micro-figure of Tarantulas came with the MicroVerse Orcanoch playset. It was presumably painted based on the original design, as it's a bright copper rather than purple.
- Tarantulas (Deluxe Transmetal, 1998)
- Japanese ID number: D-44
- Part of the first assortment of Transmetals, Tarantulas transforms into a robotic spider. He also has a third "transport" mode, flipping down a wheel from his abdomen and a saw-blade from under his beast-head, making a spidey-cycle. The saw detaches for robot mode to become a hand-held weapon. His head has two eyes, instead of one visor.
- The Japanese version is slightly different, replacing the "TARANTULAS" tampograph with "DESTRON" and the Predacon sigil, plus his robot-mode eyes are painted as a single visor to match the show look better.
- Tarantulas (Deluxe "Fox Kids" Transmetal, 1999)
- A redeco of the Transmetal Tarantulas toy in grays, silver and black. He and a Transmetal Cheetor redeco were part of the little-seen second wave of Toys "R" Us exclusive "Fox Kids" toys, so called for the advertisements for the Fox channel on the packaging (as the Beast Wars cartoon had moved there from syndication). Internal Hasbro documents have listed this toy as "Steel Tech Tarantulas", a name that did not make it to final packaging. These colors were used to depict Tarantulas in the Primeval Dawn and Universe comics.
Beast Wars 10th Anniversary
- Predacon Tarantulus (Deluxe, 2006)
- This toy is a slight redeco of the original Tarantulas toy, more closely resembling Tarantulas's appearance in the cartoon (save the big Predacon faction sigil tampograph). Part of the second wave of Beast Wars 10th Anniversary product, he came with a DVD of the episode "Spider's Game", plus the left leg to Trans-Mutate.
- Optimus Primal vs Predacon Tarantulas (2008)
- Tarantulas's origins are a bit complicated. He declares in "Other Victories" that he and the Tripredacus Council have origins other than Autobot and Decepticon, such that they would not be affected by the destruction of the Ark. Megatron's line about "Unicron's spawn" was apparently not intended by Bob Forward to be taken literally; it was to have been a generic insult rather than a statement of fact.  (Forward's own inkling, albeit never realized, was that they might be descended from Jhiaxus's Cybertronian Empire.) A Unicronian origin also creates potential canonical issues, as Tarantulas says that "under our rule, Cybertron will conquer the universe" ("Other Victories"), whereas Unicron's goal would have been to eat Cybertron. But, much like Terrorsaur's line about "the dark side", this line developed a life of its own. Eventually this connection was reasserted in 3H Productions' Primeval Dawn storyline.
- Tarantulas' "mad scientist" character and his habit to use simple things to build something unusual slightly resembles to Generation One Mixmaster.
- Tarantulas was part of a running gag involving Dinobot. Almost every time the two worked against each other, Dinobot would inevitably knock over a very large rock, which would then fall on and crush Tarantulas. This continued until Dinobot's death.
- In the Japanese dub of Beast Wars, Tarantulas retained his trademark cackle, but it was a little different. His voice was very high-pitched and he shrieked almost constantly. His trademark laugh more closely resembled a wicked witch of sorts.
- Early promotional pictures showed the original Tarantulas toy as being transparent orange, but the final toy was a clear deep purple instead. Presumably, this was for a little visual variety in the early line, which already had a largely tan toy (Dinobot) and a largely yellow toy (Cheetor) in the Deluxe range, plus a Mega-sized Predacon arachnid then planned to be orange (Scorponok), and Tigatron, who was at one point slated to be a traditional orange tiger.
- The original Tarantulas toy has nine eyes in beast mode, as does the show model. This makes characters' references to him as "eight-eyes" rather interesting.
- In the original control art for Tarantulas, the claws are shown in the same configuration as used in the show. In other words, the claws were somehow swapped during the assembly process and have remained as such on every version of the mold thereafter.
- Tarantulas is referred to as simply "Tarantula" in the commercial advertising his toy.
- Although his name suggests it, Tarantulas is not a Tarantula. He resembles more closely a North American wolf spider, having smaller legs and not being hairy.