Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting re: Tigerhawk 9/08/99 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. ...as 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 toys.
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