Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting re: Skyshadow, Noctorro, Torca, Bantor 1/29/99 Thanks to Zobovor's hot tip (Fuzors on sale at TRU for $3 and $5!), I wound up getting these four tonight for a total of $17... not too bad. It's a good move for TRU to cut the prices like that, since I've passed on Skyshadow numerous times (tempted mainly because he's aquired something of a cult following among fanfiction writers), and never really considered getting the other three at all. Amazingly enough, the store also had plenty of Quickstrikes and Silverbolts; I would have expected the show characters to be sold out. I almost missed the display -- it was on an endcap facing the rear of the store, separated from the Transmetals that comprise the "regular" Beast Wars display. So if you don't see it at first, poke around a bit. Alas, Retrax was not included, much to my disapointment. I had really wanted to pick up three Retraxes and learn to juggle with them... I was tempted to pick up several Buzzclaws instead -- dammit, I want to have an army of *something*! Retrax, Buzzclaw, whatever, just *some* cool and creepy looking figure that will follow me in mindless hordes and do my bidding! Anyway, my guess would be that this sale does indeed sound the death knell for the Fuzors line. Ah well, no biggie... the only ones that really impressed me were Quickstrike, Silverbolt, Buzzclaw, and -- to a lessor extent -- Terragator. Not a particularly great line, IMO -- at least, not compared to the Transmetals they were released alongside of. As I said, none of these guys impressed me enough for me to buy them before now. It's a bit odd to have four new figures and not be too excited about any of them.... Initial impressions: Skyshadow: great beast. Dumb looking robot. Torca: Nice in both modes, but transform is unsatisfyingly simple. Noctorro: Nicely dramatic looking robot... silly beast mode. Bantor: He RULES!! The best of the bunch. SKYSHADOW: I'll skip my usual ranting about how difficult it was to get him out of the package... that's par for the course by now with BW. His creature mode (lizard/dragon fly) is one of the better fusions in the line. He's pretty much a lizard with a dragon fly butt grafted onto his back. I can't help but thinking that he might have been a better TF if they'd just stuck with the lizard; the lizard head is actually the best part of him aesthetically. His colors are exotic and loud, but oddly enough they don't clash or conflict. He sticks to my three-main-colors rule, with a dark blue head and front legs, green back, tail, and rear legs, and translucent orange wings and headcrest. Bright red spots complete the picture. His beast head and neck come apart rather easily, but it's not hard to snap them back into place. Something that looks like it could be his robot head is on the end of his tail, with a missile in its mouth. The missile fires by the same pressure-based system as the G2 Cyberjets, but I haven't figured out if there's a more sophisticated launching mechanism than just pushing on the end of the missle. His beast mode posability is excellent, with two ball joints and one hinge joint on each leg. Rear legs are a bit bigger than the front ones; I suspect they become his robot mode legs as well. Ahh, there's the firing mechanism -- a little latch at the base of his tail that must be pushed toward the launcher to fire it. Overall the look of this mode is good from above, okay from the sides -- that angle reveals that he's actually a lot of beast parts tacked onto a pile of folded up robot parts, a bit like the original Airazor. Midway through his transformation, you can get a very funny image if you stand him upright on his rear legs -- he looks like a bad Godzilla movie monster. It's even worse if you let his beast head flop around on the arm that it forms the end of. Hmm, this is proving more difficult than I anticipated... ahh. There are two little things on his side that look like foot bones. The way they're hinged they look like they should swing out from his body, but in fact you have to first rotate them alongside his body. This is done by pulling his front beast legs out from his side a little bit. Okay, wow, I'm kinda stuck... he's standing here with limbs and wings flying off in every direction, but none of them in anything resembling a correct position... ah ha! I had his chest rotated backwards; the way the chest and waist pieces match each other in molded detail made me think that was the correct position for beast mode instead of robot mode. Okay, everthing falls together after that... but what to do with his front wings?? Do they just sit there on his chest? Consulting the package art, I see that they do indeed. This is another one of my big Beast Wars complaints -- wierd protrusions that would really impair everyday functions like sitting, picking things up, looking around... Anyway, the finished transformation is rather neat -- his tail ends up on his back, supporting his head on the end of it. Clever. The front beast legs fold out of the way onto his back though a nicely-designed swingbar. TRICKS: bascially what I just said about pulling the beast legs out to the side, and the bit about getting his chest right -- the molding on the upper and lower sections lines up, looking like it's in position for beast mode when in fact it's in robot position. His robot mode is butt ugly, make no mistake about it. It's one of those modes that makes me question if it can legitimately be called a robot at all. Nothing about it looks mechanical -- *nothing*. Instead it's all organic, either insectile or reptillian. To be honest, I do *not* like it. Another of my BW complaints has always been that robots should look like *robots*, and Skyshadow is the worst offender in this department that I've yet encountered. He's mostly green in this form, with the orange wings sticking out of his abdomen, and the other two wings forming a giant pair of pinchers on one arm (the lizard head forms the other arm.) They snap together when you move a little lever back and forth, but unfortunately the wing/pinchers don't quite come all the way together -- a minor defect that should have been corrected. His barf missile can still be fired in this mode, by pushing on it from behind, Cyberjet-style. His head turns and can also be thrown back for maniacal laughter action. And oh, that head! He's got a cash register drawer of a lower jaw, even worse than Wolfang. His mouth is permanently opened, like Bonecrusher -- though to his credit, because of the pressure-launcher system, he doesn't have a three-inch head like Bonecrusher does. The overall shape of his head brings to mind some sort of primative fish. His torso can twist at the waist, but unfortunately his head isn't as agile -- the tail stays put, and therefore so does thehead. Overall: Most of my problems with this toy are matters of aesthetic taste. I do *not* like organic robots, or mutant-like heads, or randomly placed beast kibble, or hands without fingers -- and Skyshadow has 'em all. I _don't_ think I'll be transforming him to robot mode much, especially since his beast mode is pretty nice. He is quite well designed overall, with a deceptively simple-looking transformation that's actually complex in subtle ways. Worth $5, easily... I just really dislike his robot mode. Ack... I'm too tired right now... I'll do the others later... 1/30/99 Oh man... I've had a crap day (car broke down in Jersey and is still sitting there.) What better way to forget it than to review the rest of the Fuzors, who I finally opened this evening. TORCA: I like this guy's coloration a LOT -- he has a deep navy blue back and head, and dark gold limbs. It's quiet and dignified, and looks great. BWs in the last year have tended to have gaudy colors, but these are quite subtle. His beast mode is big and powerful looking, and actually looks like it might be adaptable to both of the environments it's designed for (unlike Noctorro for example, whos beast mode looks useless on land.) Torca's gimmicks are nothing spectacular, just a water-shooting back cannon (looks like a weapon that Depth Charge might use, actually), and a pair of front tusks that move around but -- like Skyshadow's pincers -- don't quite come together the way you'd think they're supposed to. Transformation is almost laughably simple, and contains nothing we haven't seen on other Beast Warriors. You basically stand him up on his hind legs, and swing a few elephant/whale bits out of the way. His fists are hidden in his front beast ankles, and instead of swinging back out of the way, the front beast feet just hang there from his wrists. That's a bit of a problem, because the beast feet are HUGE. He's mostly the same colors in this mode, though the pearl white of the tusks, fists, waist and upper legs adds a nice accent, as does the red of his lower jaw (which ends up on his chest.) His head is huge, since it has the tusks and their "holders" stuck on the sides of it. His limbs are massive and well-proportioned, giving him a look of great strenght. Though he only has the four colors, their placement, together with various details on his limbs, give him a 'busy' look that works very well. I especially like the jaw on his chest -- it has a deeply grooved tounge, and two front incisors that jut out and look cool. He looks like some kind of dignified alien regent or gladiator or something -- though not too much like a robot. Too much backpack kibble... I hate it when you can't see a robot's arms frombehind. TRICKS: There's only one, really. To get his beast head bits out of the way of his robot head, you have to turn them so they're upside down and pointed backwards -- then make sure those white ball joints are pushed outwards as far as they'll go. This will also form a cool shoulderpad look from the front, by the way. Overall: definately worth it for $5. $10, questionable... I'm glad I didn't pay that much for him. NOCTORRO: Dude, what's up with this beast mode?? Though I like the idea of a bat with horns, I almost wish they'd gone with a straight bat instead of the fusion thing, and made his legs to fold up underneath him (though if they did that, I'd be complaining again about how bird-type Transformers always have fat beast legs...) His rear legs look silly; they look like they'd only be useful in conjunction with a pair of front legs, and he doesn't HAVE any front legs. His bat wings look cool, however. He's very dark blue, with coppery back and wing highlights. As with Torca, it works very well. His wings are spring-loaded and snap together if you touch the button on his back. Unfortunately the mechanism is very jumpy and will activate from just holding him... annoying if you want him to stay put. Transformation is even simpler than Torca, and very similar -- stand him up on his hind legs, fold a couple of beast bits back, pull animal head down to reveal robot head, twiddle with the arms and legs till they look right. He looks surprisingly good in this mode. He's not much more mechanical looking than Skyshadow, but instead of trying to be the Creature from the Black Lagoon, he's got more of a gothic thing goin' on, which I can kinda dig. Spiked knees, spikey toes, big horns on his head, and the cool-looking bat wings sticking out of his wrist make him a nifty-looking figure, if not a very convincing robot. He twists at the waist, which is nice. Only real flaw in this mode is the bat wings -- they refuse to stay pushed back against his sides, and keep springing open, making it hard to keep his arms at his side. His bat claws become his robot hands, meaning he's got BIG hands. His robot face is painted an oddly misplaced red color; it looks like some kind of demon skull thing. Ick. Overall: If you like his beast mode, you'll like his robot mode even more. Worth $3, but iffy for my five -- but that's because I don't like simple transformations and organic robot modes. BANTOR: This guy was a real surprise. I didn't think I'd like him much at all, since I didn't care for the look of his beast mode, and nothing else about him caught my attention. Once I got him out of the package, though, my impression changed greatly. For one thing, his beast mode looks a lot better when you get his front legs positioned correctly. In the package, his shins are turned backwards; once you get 'em right, he looks much more normal. In fact, to my untrained eye, he looks more like a normal lion than a Fuzor. Sure, he's got weird proportions (huge front legs, a really thin abdomen), but otherwise the only baboonish thing about him is the face. There was much newsgroup debate about his rear legs, specifically over whether they are two tiger legs (with one bent mid-foot) or one tiger and one baboon leg. I'm throwing my vote firmly on the side of two tiger legs. Second, he's got a *cool* gimmick. Push the button on his back, and his whole mane and head jumps forward about an inch or so. Sometimes, his fist and arm fly out as well, so that you're getting rammed by this lion head with a baboon face and a fist coming out of its mouth. Freaky... in keeping with the rest of him. There's something of an art to firing this thing... it works best if you run a fingernail along it and let it snap off the end of the button. His transformation is quite clever. Instead of simply standing him up on his legs, you first detach the front legs from his sides, and fold them down underneath him till the two side panels join together -- much like BW Fuzor Silverbolt. Then the rest of him rotates around the waist (a bit like Terragator), and you suddenly realize there's two arms there -- one coming out of the beast head, the other with the animal butt, rear legs, and tail attached to it. A lever on the back slides to push the robot head up out of his chest. He looks a bit demented in this mode, and I LIKE it. He's sporting an over-eager grin, for one thing. He has somewhat massive legs, huge feet, a stout torso, and smallish arms, both of which have animal stuff attached. In fact, the beast head IS his upper right arm, with only the forearm sticking out from it -- this makes the arm look short and stumpy, even though it's the same length as the other arm. Something about that short-looking arm adds to the demented look for me -- I can see him waving it about and spouting mad scientist mantras. "The fools! I'll destroy them all! Wheee!!!" ...The left-arm stuff can be detached, turned around, and re-attached to the top of his forearm, allowing the beast tail to be used as a sword or machette, though I can picture him using it more as a classroom pointer or a nasty dental instrument. Attach it underneath his forearm and it becomes a shield. His articulation is mixed -- legs are good; arms are a bit limited by some hinge joints, but still quite good. He can't twist to the left at all, and if you twist him to the right he looks like he's been cut in two since the rotator joint isn't in the center of his torso. His colors are a little loud -- I didn't like safety orange on Optimal Optimus, and I don't like it on this guy. On the other hand... it adds still further to the dementia aspect, somehow. The rest of him is chocolate brown, with a few silver highlights on the robot head and beast snout. Overall: This fellow is WELL worth $3, or even $5. Pick him up while you still have the chance.
Back to Rob's Pile of Ramblings