Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: Tigerhawk

 Same story as TM2 Megatron: I took my usual bike trip across 
the mean streets of south Philly, fully expecting not to find 
anything at Delaware Avenue WalMart... but there they were, two 
Tigerhawks along with a Megatron.  A mother was looking at one; 
I snagged the other.  It helps to know which day of the week your 
local WalMart restocks the toys, folks...

 Packaging is the same style as TM2 Megs, right down to the 
"firing weapons" effect -- one of Tigerhawk's wing cannons is 
supposed to be firing a blast that explodes on the edge of the 
clear plastic.  Unfortunately, since TH is so far back in the 
package, the effect only works if you're looking at him head-on.  
Proportionately, at least, he's not as twistie-tied down as some 
other recent toys have been (TM2 Megs and Jawbreaker, to 
name a couple.)  Nevertheless, the powers that be have seen fit 
to include a warning on his inner packaging: "NOTE: Adult should 
remove and discard fasteners."  Said fasteners are seven in 
number, with six plastic backing strips and three or four pieces of 
tape to boot.

 Beast mode is a huge jumbled mess of parts and kibble.  
There's far less chrome than my brief glimpse at BotCon lead me 
to believe, and less wing area as well.  And even my unobservant 
eye noticed after only a moment that, unlike his show 
appearance AND the pictures on the package, his trim is blue 
instead of purple.  This wouldn't be so bad by itself, but there's 
also a smattering of translucent neon green parts that would 
look a LOT better with purple than they do with blue.  I can't 
imagine the reason for the switch, but it was a poor choice 
aesthetically.  Speaking of odd aesthetics, he has a blue 
waggling tongue inside his hinged beast jaws.  Strange.

 There's a lot more Airazor in this figure than one might have 
thought from the show, where his beast mode was on-screen for 
approximately 3/7 of one second.  Most notable -- the shield-like 
thing above his tiger head is sculpted like a bird's beak and 
brows.  This shield can be sort-of half tucked away behind his 
tiger head, though this pushes the tiger head down somewhat; it 
can also form a sort of half-mask for his beast mode.  The rear 
legs are hawk-like, as Ben Yee reported; they have claws at the 
end that spring together when pushed past a certain point.  He 
has bird tailfeathers, and his wings are also feathered, where 
they aren't taken up by gimmicks and/or his two main guns 
(henceforth referred to as the Big Horkin' Cannons), which 
actually is a considerable part of their bulk.

 While I'm on the wings: they're quite gimmick laden.  The Big 
Horkin' Cannons feature molded tribarrel cannons on one end 
(Tigerhawk used these to shoot down Megatron during their 
aerial battle in "Other Victories"), then flip out to reveal missile 
launchers on the other end (which TH used to blow away 
Dinobot 2 and Rampage.)  It's not quite apparent how the 
flipping-out mechanismn is supposed to work... a latch at the 
base of the wings deploys them when you flatten the wings out 
to the side, but it's impossible to get them to come down 
together -- one wing sticks and won't deploy till you push forward 
a lever on his back; the other falls and won't stay up long enough 
for you to push the lever... Ahh.  Got it.

TRICK #1: To make the wings deploy right, fold both the cannons 
in, push down on the paired feathers that pop up on the top side 
of the wings, then fold the wings up till they're almost vertical.  
Then push the lever and bam, they deploy perfectly.  Be careful 
not to get your finger smacked by either of the Big Horkin' 
Cannons... them suckers hurt.  And getting them to stay put 
away with the wings down is nearly impossible... they pop out at 
the slightest bump.  I can't fathom what purpose the feather 
things serve; they look like they should swing all the way around 
like those claws on the original Airazor's wings did, but they don't 
even go 90 degrees up, and they'd be useless if they did since 
they wouldn't reach past his beast head.  Ah well... Ah, 
apparently their purpose is to lock the cannons into their stored 
position -- but that doesn't do much good since they themselves 
won't stay down while the wings are folded down.

 Other stuff in the wings includes a rotating joint that enables the 
chromed end section of the wings to spring from 90 degrees 
backward to 90 degrees forward.  The end section also has a 
built-in launcher that fires fatter versions of Silverbolt's 
feather/spoon missiles.  Finally, there are two pairs of tiny wheels 
mounted on top of the BHC housings.  These touch when the 
wings are folded all the way back, but I sense another purpose 
for them -- maybe a third mode?  I'll have to check the directions.

 As I mentioned, his beast mode is a big mess of stuck-together 
parts.  From every angle, one sees robot parts, gimmick 
mechanisms, joints... looking at him as a whole, it's simply hard to 
see the beast itself, since it only comes through in the head and 
a few wing and limb parts.  A robot arm along his underbelly is 
held in place only by the joint it's attached to, though at least it 
serves to keep his robot head out of sight (unlike TM2 Megs.)  
He's got two blue chrome... shields, I guess, attached to his 
forelimbs at the knees.  I assume they're used in robot mode 
somehow, since otherwise they're useless (though IRC TM2 
Cheetor had something similar on one arm.)

 On the plus side, he does have a nice angular quality to him -- 
spikey, like most of the TM2s, but without their gothic 
appearance.  And if you like heft in your toys... he's got it.  He 
probably weighs about the same as TM2 Megs, but he *feels* 
heavier since he's more compact.

 Okay, on to the robot mode... the transformation is about as 
complicated as TM2 Megatron's, but not quite as niftily 
engineered.  He does, however, continue the trend of "double 
insurance" with snap-together pieces -- his waist snaps together 
and then is further secured by the tailfeather piece; likewise, the 
waist pieces are doubley secured by the cockpit piece when he's 
in beast mode.  A couple of pegs slide into chrome panels on his 
side, which might wear that chrome down over time... his beast 
forelegs become his robot legs, and feature similated hydralics 
that pull out like the Ultra Optimus Primal had.  The legs also 
make good use of the "useless" shield things I mentioned above; 
they rotate down and both serve as his ankles and hide his 
mongo-sized beast claws, which rotate into his legs... 
Everything's pretty easy to get in the right spot, if you note 
beforehand what his chest looks like; all the other parts have a 
limb attached, making it easy to figure out where they go.  
Getting them there isn't too hard, either -- he transforms pretty 
easily for such a large and complex toy.

TRICK #2: make sure you've got the arms the right way before 
locking the chest over them.  Look at him from the front and 
make sure the fists are on the correct side; otherwise you'll have 
a rather fumble-fingered Tigerhawk.  The arm are mounted on a 
clear green rotating colomn that also has his spark crystal 
embedded in it; it's a shame this lovely bright green is pretty 
much hidden in both modes (though I like that his Spark isn't just 
hidden by a dinky access panel).  The green we get instead, on 
his shoulders and feather missiles, is a pukey pea/sea green that 
just doesn't look appealing at all.

Robot mode is pretty sweet, tall and powerful looking.  The beast 
head(s) end up on one shoulder; the cockpit bubble (gyroscopic 
like Megatron's, but much more visible since the inside is white) 
on the other, a creative if somewhat odd placement (there's a 
clear green shield of some sort located just below the cockpit... 
just what purpose it serves, however, I can't imagine.  It doesn't 
seem to be movable at all.)  His hawk claws end up tucked neatly 
against his chest, which has a nice gold-colored raised Maximal 
symbol on it.  The robot head is great -- it's mounted high on his 
shoulders and has a nice range of motion that's been lacking in a 
lot of recent BW releases; it can be posed very expressively, and 
has no kibble hanging off of it.  It has a clear green visor across 
the eyes (a very nice touch), and features the same ferocious 
mouth of teeth that TH had on the show.  From a distance, his 
head looks very Robocop-esque, if you can adjust your thinking 
to see the visor as non-transparent.

 My two problems with robot mode are the wings and the arms.  
There's no way to get the wings very close to his body; the best 
you can do is point the chromed end sections upwards, and 
rotate them forwards.  But even like that, they're still hanging a 
good 2-3 inches off his back.  It'd be nifty if they could be rotated 
to fire from under his arm like in the show, but I can't really 
complain about that.  Hmmm....

TRICK #3: the missile launchers won't deploy if you've got the 
wings bent 90 degrees.  A small tab there locks them into place. for the robot arms, they're simply not long or bulky enough.  
Tigerhawk has a massive, powerful-looking physique, and his 
little forearms just disappear beneath it all.  It doesn't help that 
his upper arms, consisting as they do of beast kibble, don't 
actually *look* like arms.  The curled-up rear beast legs on his 
chest can also be mistaken for his arms at first glance.  The arms 
are ball-jointed at the elbow, but can't bend directly forwards, 
again requiring the "c'mere and let me pound you" gesture that 
Megatron has to have.  One arm has a couple of molded wrist 
blasters, which is always good for cool points in my book -- 
especially since it almost hides his hand from view, making it look 
like a plain old gun arm like Shockwave or Trailbreaker had.

 Otherwise, his robot mode is quite appealing.  It doesn't jump 
out at you the way Rampage, Depth Charge, and TM2 Megs do, 
but "holds together" visually a lot better than the photos on the 
box would lead you to believe -- partly because those photos 
have him transformed incorrectly, with the panels that hold the 
hawk claws rotated down instead of folded up against his chest.  
Man, they must have worked HARD to mess him up that bad!  
It's hard to do!  And counter-intuitive, to boot...  His color scheme 
looks nice (even if that puke green is hideous).  He has the sort 
of proportions that TM2 Megs should have had.  And the bird 
claws, wings, and tail feathers (which form a sort of loin cloth in 
front) lend him a slightly Native American feel -- though for some 
odd reason the center feather is hinged separately from the 
ones around it, which I can see leading to a lot of "flacid grill 
structure" jokes in the near future... either that or a running "lift 
my loin cloth!" gag.  One last detail of note -- he's got a random, 
seemingly pointless extra talon in the center of the bottom of his 
feet, animal on one foot, mechanical on the other.  An extra toe 
growing out of his arch, kind of.  Strange.  No, wait, it's not 
useless... it actually supports his weight.  It's the shield/ankle 
thingy that's useless... just as I always suspected!!  I *knew* it!

 Okay, instruction time... ah ha, there's a button that deploys the 
bird leg claws.  Unfortunately, it's located inside their grasp, 
meaning that the claws snap closed over your finger, which in my 
case at least also impedes their full range of motion... when you 
lower the wings and deploy the lauchers, they'll also fire if they're 
loaded.  But that's too much setting up for me to bother with, 
especially since I hate chasing after launched missiles... Huh.  
They didn't even TRY to make Tigerhawk have a true third form; 
basically you deploy the wings, put the legs intoa good flying 
position, and unfold the robot arm with the wrist guns.  That's it.  
Guess those little wheels don't serve any true purpose... strange.

 OVERALL: He's not quite the spitting image of the short-lived 
show character (largely due to the color switch), but he's pretty 
close.  Beast mode is fairly weak, but makes up for it somewhat 
with a bunch of gimmicks.  Robot mode is quite nice.  I have to 
say TM2 Megs is slightly nicer: more visually striking, with a more 
grandiose and convincing beast mode, though a somewhat 
dumpier robot form... but if you're faced with choosing one or the 
other, go with your aesthetic taste, 'cause they're both pretty cool 

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