Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Rambings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: Assorted BW Neo toys
8/05/01

Once upon a time -- like two years ago -- I had a full-time job, paychecks seemed endless, and I had no qualms about dropping $30 on a spiffy Japanese Transformer. Happily, this time coincided neatly with Takara's Beast Wars Neo line, which contained a ready supply of such spiffy Japanese Transformers at not-so-spiffy prices. (Lucky for me, that time period ended about the same time time Car Robots started to come down the pike, meaning I haven't bought a single CR toy at import prices.)

So anyway, I blew a lot of cash on Neo figures. But y'know what? It was worth it. More and more, it's occurred to me that I really, really love the BW Neo toys I own. Individually, they feature beautiful animal forms, challenging (sometimes wonderfully frustrating) transformations, and fun robot forms. As a group, they're colorful, exotic, and just all-round appealing. Let's have a look, shall we?

MAGMATRON:
I got this guy last winter when Target.com had him on clearance for ten bucks. For that price, he's a steal. I don't envy those who paid full import prices a year or two ago, however; he's not THAT great, and in some ways is the least favorite of my Neo toys. This is partly just because I have the highest expectations for the biggest toys, and while Maggy's not bad by any stretch, he's far from outstanding, too.

My first criticism is the color scheme. His three individual dino components are fine on their own -- but put 'em together, and something just doesn't quite work. I think it's the clash of the sea blue-green Seasaur with the red Skysaur. It's not a great combo, and the purple of Landsaur just pushes it over the edge into Uglyland. In particular, his blue-green forearms make it look like he's wearing gloves.

My second criticism is one of my old ones from BW -- the organic look of his robot parts. Worst offenders are his legs, which are just the legs of the T-rex component with some mechanical skids stuck under them. Not only are they piss-poor robot legs, they're not even that great as T-rex legs. They're fat and blobby, what one might unflatteringly call thunder thighs. His robot arms are almost as bad, looking like they belong on the creature from the black lagoon. More annoying still is that the robot arms didn't HAVE to be this way, since they're totally concealed in Seasaur mode. I think they're also used in Orgy Mode, but I'm not sure since I haven't tried it. And, considering what a dumb and tacked-on mode THAT is, I really can't let the fleshy robot arms slide.

Third is his kibbleyness. About half of Seasaur and most of Skysaur is wasted, mass-wise. Specifically, Seasaur's underbelly comes off and forms a rather lame shield, which clips rather unstabley to Maggy's left arm. It falls off with the slightest arm movement, and I've become prone to leaving it off entirely; it doesn't really look all that great anyway. Skysaur adds almost nothing to the total mass besides the head; almost all the rest of him becomes ornamental kibble. I don't mind ornamental kibble, but having the birdbot become such a large amount of kibble makes him almost seem superfluous (a warrior doesn't need a head!) Landsaur also loses his tail when transforming to robot mode, which then goes on to do... nothing, really. Maggy can hold it like some kind of useless Beast Warsian funk weapon. Joy.

Fourth: something about his proportions just doesn't seem right. From his components, Maggy wants to be BIG. You'd expect him to tower over the other characters. But something -- I can't pin down what, exactly -- makes him seem only human sized or so. It might be his very humanly shaped and proportioned limbs; it might be his big (for a Transformer toy) head. I dunno.

Still, all that said, he's a lot of fun to play with. The transformation to beast modes(mode*s*!) is satisfyingly complex. And I love the fact that his robot mode sports FOUR heads... I picture Maggy walking around having 4-way arguments with himself, with the Seasaur head wandering around from one head to the next as instigator or mediator.

Beast components are decent to good. It's bizarre that they'd make Skysaur in the exact same colors as Terrorsaur; one would think that a bit of differentiation would be in order. Skysaur also has a funky little pot belly that makes him look really dumpy from below. Overall, he's very pelican-like, and I've discovered it's very easy and fun to annoy #wiigii!'s resident biology people by referring to him as such (well, that or "bird-bot".) Seasaur has a wonderfully long segmented neck, which you can tie into as many knots as your heart desires.

Landsaur is unnecessarily and stupidly kibbley. No attempt is made to hide his robot-mode feet-skids in his dinolegs; they just hang there on the back of his thighs. Maggy's robot-mode chest also sits on Landsaur's chest looking very incongruous and robotty. Surely some kind of flip-change mechanism could have been made to hide the robot side and replace it with some beast stuff.

Overall: for $13, he was worth it. Don't go over $20, though, because that point he'll start failing to live up to expectations. Needs better colors and stronger connections.

10/01:
Some additional comments on Maggy boy:

Interestingly, all 5 of Maggy's missles store on him: 2 in Seasaur, the red ones on the pelican guy's wings, and the sword fits inside Landsaur's tail compartment. It's amazing the things you find out when you bother reading the directions....

I still love the paddling gimmick on Seasaur, but as spiffy as this gimmick is, it's just not a worthy trade-off for the fact that all that mass is wasted in robot mode. (A flimsy shield that falls off all the time just isn't worth it, IMO.) Between Landsaur's head and tail, Seasaur's belly, and Skysaur's wings, Maggy's robot mode could have been a LOT bigger.

I also think that, if they HAD to go with the paddling gimmick, they should have gone all out. Equip it with a wind-up spring and make it waterproof and buoyant, so that Seasaur could actually paddle his way through your sink or bathtub. That would SO rule. Floating TFs, along with glow-in-the-dark TFs, are a gimmick we should have gotten YEARS ago. Imagine a line of powered aquatic TFs: a redux of G2's Manta Ray, a submarine, a fish, a Seasaur-type beast.... unfortunately, the best time to do it would have been during G1's later years, when the much simpler design aesthetic would have easily leant itself to watertight TFs.

Robot mode kinda turns me off the more I look at it. I happen to have Maggy standing next to RiD Megatron, and Megs just puts him to shame. Megs has a strong, well-integrated color scheme that blows Maggy's hodgepodge mess right off the map. Maggy also looses in the proportions department, especially with his almost all-fleshy robot arms and legs.

I guess it's all aesthetics, really, and Maggy's nice enough for what he is. But I'm just not too keen on a fleshy robot. Still, he was definately worth my $13. :]



DEAD END:
I've heard so many people disparage this poor toy... but I think he's magnificent. I love him! I love his color scheme; I love his funkily complex and demanding transformation; I love his absurd but beautiful beast mode; I love the way his shell halves hang off his shoulders like some kind of oversized royal crests or shields; I love the way you can leave his gun attached in robot mode like a Tigerhawk-esque loincloth; I love his robot mode face... he's terrific!

I can hardly think of anything bad to say about him, in fact. Dead End rules.

Okay, I guess there is the complaint that I can never transform him either way without one or both of the shell halves popping off. One of them is spring loaded, and I think it's actually supposed to act as a lauched weapon. Why he'd want to jettison half his beast mode is beyond me, but it's not the first or last time Takara's come up with such an oddity. Sadly, mine doesn't shoot very far, doubtless due to the size of the would-be projectile.

If you leave his gun attached at the waist, it does hinder his range of leg movement. The huge shell halves also weigh down his arms a bit, but for now the ball joints on mine are strong enough to keep them in the poses you put them in. They do tend to limit what he can do with his arms, however.

The colors are worth commenting on . His base color is a pearly white, with numerous medium-purple parts. He has gold trim in several places, and medium neon pink on his chest (the top of his beast head.) The shell halves are striped with a similar color of salmon/pink; light green eyes on his beast mode round out the picture. It's perfect. I wouldn't change any of it. Oh, there's also red robot-mode eyes and.... is that a tongue inside his mouth? He's one of the very few Transformers who actually has a hollow mouth opening, as opposed to an inscribed line. There's a little piece of red plastic inside it, but I can't tell quite what it's supposed to be.

As with several Neos, his transformation consists of stuffing the robot inside the beast parts. But you have to get him just right, including some tricky manipulation of the shoulders.

Overall: I got him 'cause I liked the way his robot mode looked in the pictures I'd seen. I wasn't disapointed.



GUILEDART/KILLERPUNCH
Oh man. These guys are so sweet I don't even know how to begin describing them.

US buyers will know Guiledart as Striker, with a dark brown paint job. The Japanese version is mustard yellow, which IMO looks a bit better (not by much, though -- certainly not enough to offset the cost of importing the Neo version if you have a choice between that and the $10 Beast Machines recolor.) The design is magnificently complex, and FINALLY gave me what I'd been wanting since I first heard of BW: realistic dinosaur Transformers.

Do I care about a few kibble panels? Hell no, not when they're used for a real purpose. And here, the kibble is used to quite good effect: there are almost no robot parts visible in the dino modes, which is what I mean by "realistic" (as opposed to, for example, the original Dinobot mold.)

Still, I'll readily admit that the robot modes could have been a good bit less kibbley. The large panel on his back makes a good "backpack", but the side panels, with some additional range on the hinges, could have swung back entirely out of the way -- instead of sticking out to the sides and getting in the way of his arms (I wrap the larger halves of these panels around his back piece, and leave the smaller halves sticking out to the sides.) Alternatively, they can be pushed against his torso, but there they further inhibit his already somewhat hampered ability to rest his arms at his side.

His large, curved gun (made from his tail) is difficult to aim because of all the kibble, and it feels like it wants to pop out of his fist.

I love the "dead dino" gimmick (move GD's horn, and his eyes roll up into the back of his head, and he sticks his tongue out. Cool!) It is sufficiently absurd to overcome its total uselessness. I don't mind "motion gimmicks" like this one -- as opposed to more useless things like BM Rattrap's head turning or TM2 Megatron's neck thrashing, which are things that I can do myself, without turning a lever.

He has nice robot mode detailing: spikes on his wrist, a bandolier-like ornament on his chest, a round thing that looks like it should have a Spark crystal underneath it (and which also gets in the way of his head, natch.) I also like how one piece of kibble sticks up off his shoulders -- since it stores his two missiles, it looks very much like a weapon. Too bad they didn't make the storage holders springloaded and just make the thing an actual launcher. It would need a bigger rotational range for that, I suppose.

This guy ranks very high on the list of most complex Transformers -- easily in company with TM2 Megatron, Tripredacus, or Magnaboss. Getting him to robot mode isn't TOO difficult, but going the other way requires remembering (or re-discovering) exactly where each part goes, which is no mean feat since only his outer shell bits peg into one another. The folded up robot bits within just kinda sit there next to each other. And woe betide those who get one bit or another in the wrong place, for ne'er the mode of dino shall they see. Getting all his torso panels to line up correctly is nigh impossible without a lot of twisting and shoving.

One particularly nice bit of engineering is the use of his right arm, which ends in his gigantic dino head. Most BW limb joints are mere bonuses; here, his elbow and shoulder joints are elegantly used to maneuver the dino head into position for his beast mode. Each joint is absolutely necessary for him to transform -- I like that a lot.

Japanese buyers also got a recolored, remolded, and renamed version of Guiledart called Killerpunch. He's mostly light purple in beast mode, with light blue spots on his back (reminds me of Fruity Pebbles for some reason) and red robot parts within. Instead of GD's three horns, he has one horn on his nose and massive spikes around his neck frill. He can also launch his head at his enemies.

Lemme re-state that.

He can LAUNCH HIS FRIGGIN' HEAD.

How can you NOT want this toy?

Well, in theory at least, he can launch his head. Mine has always had launcher problems while in beast mode; the trigger (a lever hidden under the neck frill) never wants to move when the head is locked into position, and it's a struggle to get the head off at all. It does, however, have no compunctions about popping off when I want it to stay put, especially when I'm transforming him. It launches well enough in robot mode, though the spring is rather weak. Once the head is out of the way, he does have a "backup head", formed by flipping the trigger lever over like a beak.

His tail comes out like Guidedart's, and forms the base of a very cool curved sword. He also has a new robot head (which isn't inhibited by the round piece of chest molding). Otherwhise,he's pretty much the same as GD. It really comes down to a matter of aesthetics in choosing between the two, and I like them about the same.

Overall: Complex as hell, beautiful beast mode, challenging transformation, pretty good robot mode. Well worth $10 for Triceradon; $30 for Guiledart is pushing it, but I have no regrets. If you really like the mold, it's probably worth the $30 or so you'll pay for Killerpunch, too.



SABERBACK
This guy is probably the penultimate BW Neo toy, and one of (if not THE) nicest transforming dinosaur we've gotten. From colors and detailing to engineering and absurd, fun gimmicks, he's got it all.

Unlike Guiledart, Saberback really got the shaft when he was ported to the US. His original colors are vastly superior to the Fox Kids-esque pallette he got for his US release as Striker. Light grey dominates, with dark green and dark grey in dino mode, and red and yellow additions in robot mode. Some light purple and blue spotting on his dino back completes a beautiful, understated color scheme. I wouldn't change a single thing on him, and it's beyond me why Hasbro chose to change everything on him.

Like Guiledart, his dino mode is just about perfect. It's got modestly good articulation -- two joints each on the front legs, knees on the rear legs. The rear legs would bend at the thighs, but they're hindered by the beast skin. For what it's worth, his back plates pivot on his spine.

His gimmick is almost as bizarre as Guiledart Is Death. His tail, by use of a lever, unfolds into this big spring-loaded three-petaled flower thing. It's beautifully painted (yellow with splattered bloody red), but weird as shit. Still, it's fun: "Feed me!" his tail says to you.

His transform is nicely complex; I've hardly noticed till now that he's basically an arms-become-arms, legs-become-legs scheme. You end up with a robot that's got suprisingly small amounts of kibble. The two main kibble pieces form his beast-mode back, and they're fairly thin. You can position them behind his shoulders so they look pretty nice, actually, not much different from Onslaught's back cannons or the Skyraiders' wings or something. There's also two panels that can fold unobtrusively against his side.

He's got a skull on his chest in robot mode! Not just any skull, but the skull of his beast mode! He wears his own skull! That, friends, is hard core.

I can't help feeling they went a bit overboard with the Indian motif. Okay, the head dress is kinda cool -- but then they give him a stereotypish deep-lined scowl, a feathered loincloth, a braid-like spine hanging off the back of his head, and..... well, does the skull count?

Like Break, there's a lot of folding, twisting, pushing, and shoving required to get him back into beast mode. Even when I get everything in the right place, one of the side panels still persists in not fitting quite right; and getting his tail into place without it popping off the end of his spine is nearly impossible. At least everything pegs nicely, and holds pretty securely once you get it in place. And the way he folds up is pretty ingenious, with the torso folding in half and his head stashing neatly away in the gap created by the fold.

Overall: lord, if you only get one Neo, make it this one. And if you can spare the money, it's really worth getting the Japanese version. In both modes he's solid, well-designed, and visually pleasing.



STAMPY
I had to get this guy when I saw his robot mode. Something about it looks like a perfect candidate for animation. And I do love the robot mode. The colors in particular are nice: white with light grey, set off by gold and red trim. He also has an amusing smirk on his face. The rabbit ears are attached to his wrists, and look like big slashing blades or something.

Still, I'm a little saddened by his beast mode. I mean, dude. He's a BUNNY RABBIT. He should be cute. He should be adorable. He should be cuddly-wuddly-fuzzy!! There's nothing you can do to make him into a fierce killer monster, short of tossing him into a Monty Python flick. Nonetheless, Stampy goes for broke with... bloodshot red eyes, and some teeth. He coulda been totally, 100% cute, but no, they had to make him into Captain RABBET XTREEM.

Ah well. At least he's not a shellformer, which makes him a rarity for this line. He does suffer from Cheetor legs, worse than most, actually. And I don't like the way his robot legs fold up to become his rabbit legs -- seems to me like his hips are unnaturally and unnecessarily large, and they splay out to the sides in a way that just doesn't seem as rabitty as it should.

Overall: Eh. He's okay, I guess. Nothing overwhelmingly great, though.



BREAK
I have a hard time getting past the penguin factor on this guy. The fact that he's the poster boy for Neo Kibble is practically irrelevant compared to the fact that he TURNS INTO A GODDAMN PENGUIN. That's almost as cool as turning into a chicken or a duck. Almost.

But putting aside the astounding coolness of being something as absurd as a penguin, he's an amazingly cheatsy toy. He's the archetypal BW Neo shellformer -- you can literally take him apart and have a complete penguin standing next to a complete robot. That's just not right. There's no reason for his two modes to be so non-integrated.

On the other hand, it does avoid the problem typified by the original Cheetor mold -- that of his robot parts intermingling with his beast parts. Cheetor's robot-mode legs are cheetah legs, and when you transform him, they're still cheetah legs, so he's a robot walking around on animal legs. Conversely, the molded robot parts on his legs are still there when he's in cheetah mode, so he's a cheetah with robot parts. That bugs me, and it is one problem that Break's eggshell tranformation neatly sidesteps. (However, as long as BW was out, what I really wanted to see was a design that got around these problems by either changing these parts -- have the robot parts flip or fold completely out of sight -- or having all the robot limbs fold completely into the beast mode body. Sadly, it never really happened.)

Anyway -- Break's not all bad, despite the eggshell problem. He's got sporty colors in robot mode (white, black, blue) that harmoniously complement those of his beast mode. His penguin articulation is suprisingly good (for a penguin, at least); he can turn his head, flap his flippers and wiggle his feet. If only his head had a way to look up, he could perfectly immitate the avian manner in which penguins swim underwater.

Still, the robot mode is hurt pretty badly by all the penguin parts. He's terribly skinny (as he must be to fold up inside of a penguin -- think first-run Pretenders here), and his would-be full range of motion is inhibited by beast bits sticking out every which way. His beast head in particular looks really wacko hanging over one of his shoulders, gazing about as if impatiently waiting for him to switch back to beast mode. The largest chunk of penguin debris hangs attached to his right arm, along with a built-in missile lanucher. Couldn't they have made this stuff fold up or something? Or better yet, solidly integrated it with his limbs or torso?

Even more oddly, he's got molded fur on his robot bits. What's the point of having the robot parts completely concealed, if they're not going to be robotic?

Like Guildart, he's enormously difficult to get back to beast mode -- if you don't pay strict attention to where every little bit goes, his panels won't line up. Basically, he balls up by throwing his legs around over his shoulders. I could insert a lewd comment here concerning dancers, but I won't. Sadly, it's not enough to have a general idea of where everything goes when you transform him; you have to know the exact positions. And even when I get mine completely back to beast mode, his stomach panel doesn't quite line up with the rest of him. Good lord. In five years, there should by all rights be a shortage of loose Breaks that haven't been thrown violently into the wall.

Overall: the designers were just damn lazy on this one. There's really no excuse for his total eggshellness, and unlike Dead End, the kibble only hurts his robot mode. Yeah, he's a penguin, and a pretty nice one at that. But that's about his only real merit.



BAZOOKA
Bazooka is one of my favorite Neos, aesthetically at least. He has the second nicest coloration after Saberback, especially in robot mode. His kibble, though enormous, looks pretty good. And his robot detailing is magnificent.

I like his beast mode, which is an anklosomethingorother dino thing. It's a nice, bright, assertive orange, with medium green spikes, dark grey legs, a weird bone-white club thing at the end of his tail, and tiny yellow eyes. By rights it should be hideous, but somehow it works quite well. He's got a cool face and head that reminds me of the terror dogs from Ghostbusters. And the long, curving rows of spikes are just a treat for the eye.

I do, however, wish they hadn't made the beast mode molded into a permanent curve. He's forever stuck in mid-turn, looking to his left. There's really no reason they had to do this; he could have been made straight without altering the transformation scheme at all. It's the beast mode equivalent of the unfortunate snarls and scowls that have graced so many Beast era robot mode faces. These things should have a laconic neutrality to them, and likewise, beasts should be by default in a neutral standing position. Oh well.

Both his gimmicks come into play in this mode. The first is 100% lame: move one of the scales at the base of his head, and his mouth will open part-way. Durrrrrrrr. Thanks, I couldn't have managed THAT myself. The second is kind of amusing: raise his tail up, then release a button, and a spring will bring that club-thing down onto the skulls of his victims, dashing out their brains. Little bunny Bazooka, hopping through the forest, scooping up the Maximals and cracking open their skulls! It'd be a cooler gimmick if the spring had some kick to it, but as is it barely beats gravity.

Transforming him is pretty much a matter of cracking the shell and unfolding the robot parts. Going the other way, as many an ATTer can attest, is not nearly as easy. His legs fold around behind his back (do I even need to point out the lewdness here?), and the shell covers it all up. My advice is to put the shell halves together first, then just... pray.

In robot mode, he wears fully half of his beast mode off of one arm. Because it's the half with the tail (and its club thing) attached, though, it comes across as both shield and weapon (especially since it ends in what looks like a gun barrel.) The effect is compounded by the fact that this "weapon" is taller than he is! The rest of his beast shell can be folded across his back, where it's pretty much out of the way. So I don't mind the two kibble chunks at all, really.

His aesthetics are beautiful in this mode. He's very well proportioned, with thick limbs and a torso that's just the right size. The orange is toned down by lots of dark grey, a perfect mix. He's got spikish details around his chest, a nice touch. His head has a green cap on it, another nice touch. The beast head ends up as one hand, and unlike most such transformations, it's not outlandishly huge -- you can see how he might be able to actually function on a day-to-day basis with this thing attached to him. The purple-pink spark crystal in his lower chest also adds a welcome touch of color.

His head has an annoying tendency to fall backwards; when it's forward where it's supposed to be, his chest molding prevents it from turning very far. That's really about his only stability/posability issue, aside from the balance issues introduced by the giant kibble on his arm.

Overall: worth it for the beast mode, even more worth it for the robot mode. Just make sure you're ready to expend some serious effort in transforming.



SLING
Man, it's really hit or miss with these names, eh? Bazooka's a great name. But.... Sling? WTF? Maybe it's supposed to follow in the great tradition of one-syllable S-names for Dinobots.

This guy is by far my least favorite of the whole lot; the only redeeming quality I find in him is that he sort of rounds out the set of Neo dinosaurs (some crazed paleobiopeople will now step in, frothing at the mouth, to inform me that HE'S NOT A DINOSAUR!! HE'S A APTODIMEANKLEFOOTSOMETHINGOROTHERUS!!!!! To which I say, nyah! He's a big mean scaley extinct lizard thing! So he's a dinosaur! >:]

My biggest complaint is his coloration. Rarely has such a bland TF been seen, especially in the Beast era. He's supposed to be dark green in beast mode, with lots of grey highlights -- I got no problem with that. Where the problem begins is with his robot parts, all of which are uniformly a bland melon-orange color. A number of them show through in his beast mode, including some which are molded to form the front half of his beast mode torso, leaving you with this bizarrely splotched animal. And in robot mode, everything except his head, feet, and the beast head floating in front of his chest are this one dull orange color. He looks like a robot wearing a jumpsuit.

He'd look vastly better with just a few paint ops to break up the huge field of melon. Or better yet, if they'd just made the beast mode all green instead of letting all that orange show through, he'd have enough green in robot mode to at least be passable.

His transformation's the simplest of the lot, aside from Stampy. He's not that much of a shellformer, yet he ends up with huge amounts of kibble on both his robot arms. On top of that, his robot legs simply hang underneath him in beast mode -- no pegs, and no attempt to disguise them as anything but robot legs. So he's got extraneous bits in BOTH modes. One suspects that these two problems could have been mutually remedied, perhaps by integrating the legs and the beast tail into one piece.

His one gimmick is so-so -- his big dorsal fin opens up and snaps shut at the push of a button. Unfortunately, said button is located at the center of the opened fin, bringing instantaneous jaws of death down upon the operator of the gimmick. I've already lost parts of two fingers to this damn thing. Cleaning all the blood out of the spring mechanism has been a pain in the butt. The inside of the fin is colored much like Saberback's whacko talking carnivorous tail, with red splatters on a yellow field. Or maybe the red is from my fingers?....

Overall: only recommended for the completist. My least favorite of the Neos.



LONGRACK
Longrack is satisfyingly big. In both modes, he's tall and feels like he's got a lot of mass to him, despite his overall skinnyness. He's also one of the most robotic Beast Warriors in the whole line, at least based on his clean-lined, Autobot-like face, with its large green forehead crest. His robot mode is big and handsomely proportioned -- which adds to the freak factor of his gigantic malformed claw arm of doom. Composed of the entirety of his giraffe neck, the arm is freakishly long, and ends in a grasping four-pronged claw that springs out at a button push. It looks totally bizarre attached to this otherwise normal-looking giraffey robot.

His colors seem highly naturalistic, somehow. Even in robot mode he's dominated by the light yellow and brown of the giraffe mode; his robot parts are a higly unobtrusive steel grey and medium-dark red, which you hardly even notice. Unlike many Beast toys, they don't seem like they were chosen so much as they simply chose themselves.

Robot mode, as I said, is pretty nice and fairly tall, an effect enhanced by his big robot head. Decent posability, except for his left (non-claw) arm, which is hurt by having a big piece of giraffe attached to it. A hidden blade also flips out from this kibble, but isn't very useful unless you detach it and put it in his hand.

His front giraffe legs and the launchers they contain end up on his back, meaning the launchers are not really useful in either of his basic modes. Like many (all?) of the Neo Maximals, he has a third "weapon" mode, that in his case looks like a jumbled pile of robot and giraffe parts. Stampy and Break both turn into these gun-things that IIRC Longrack can hold. As you might have guessed by now, I really haven't bothered with these things very much, certainly not enough to review them. The positioning of Longrack's launchers is the only evidence of these modes not being totally last-minute tack-ons, which is definately what they look like.

The launchers/giraffe legs are his main kibble; he also has two panels at the sides of his torso, but they fold away pretty unobtrusively. Two more giraffe pieces adorn his chest and back; the former nicely hides his spark crystal (visible through small slats, or by moving aside the piece.)

Going back to beast mode is a good balance between typical Neo complexity and something that a person can do in one lifetime without serious loss of sanity -- although if you can do it without launching at least one of his leg missiles, you're more talented than I. You're left with a giraffe that hides most of its robot parts, aside from those ubiquitous rear legs, where panels in the upper thigh unfold around to become the lower legs in robot mode. He's also left with a large hole where his butt might otherwise be. Rear legs are posable; front legs move only at the knees. Neck is immobile; head can look toward the sky, but that's it. His tongue is perpetually sticking out; if you push it in, his eyes roll forward in his head. It's not nearly as cool as Guiledart Is Death.

Overall: He's a nice giraffe, and a very nice robot. Still, he's pricey, and if you're just looking for a sampling of Neo, I'd go with one of the dinosaurs instead. If you're bugged by kibble, though, he might be a good choice.

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