Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings


Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: TM2 Prowl, Jawbreaker, Iguanis
9/07/99

  I've had all three of these guys for a while now; I got Prowl at 
a KMart almost a month ago, and the other two a week or two 
back at Delaware Ave. WalMart in Philadelphia, generally 
THE best source in Philly for new TFs.  I kinda feel compelled 
to babble about them so I can put them away and not have 
them cluttering up my desk anymore.  Since they're not really 
hot off the trucks anymore, this isn't going to be a full-fledged 
review.

JAWBREAKER:  People have been sounding warnings left 
and right about how floppy and cruddy Scourge is, and for 
that reason I haven't gotten him -- in spite of what a beautiful 
mess of colors and translucent plastics he looks like in the 
package.  Somewhat unfortunately, I bought Jawbreaker 
before any such warnings could be sounded on the 
newsgroups.

 Don't get me wrong.  This guy's beast mode is capital-S 
SWEET... as long as you're just looking at it.  They call him a 
hyena or a jackal or something, but as far as I'm concerned 
he's a mutated hell-spawned four-legged mongoloid death 
beast.  He's a snarly-looking tangle of spikes, fangs, claws, 
and other slashing, hacking, death-dealing bladed surfaces 
that basically says "Don't come within ten miles of me if you 
like your internal organs where they are."  He looks like 
Silverbolt possessed by Satan.  He looks like a TM2 Cheetor 
that's been TM2'd a second time.  In a word, he looks 
abolutely and totally kick-ass.  If Death's Head were inserted 
into BW, this is how I'd want him to look.  Unfortunately, he's 
got a list of engineering problems as long as the scythe-like 
blades that protrude from his rear ankles.

 First off is general floppiness.  Pick him up and maneuver a 
beast limb, and he's liable to come unfolded in your hands, 
leaving you with a tangley mess of TM2 beast parts.  
Specifically, the two side panels that hold his front limbs in 
place aren't secure enough for the amount of pressure 
they're under, and tend to pop out if he's twisted in the 
slightest.  Then the only thing holding his entire front half in 
place is the ball joints of his robot mode shoulders, and 
needless to say that doesn't keep him together very well.  
Furthermore, all the pressing I find myself doing on the side 
panels is sure to wear down the chrome there before long.

 Second is the back hatch.  A hinged panel on his back is 
supposed to cover up his robot mode arms, sitting just below 
the push-button that rotates the blade mounted in his back.  
But if through some miracle of physics you manage to get it 
into that position, it's no longer possible to push the button 
down.  It also adds to the pressures on those side panels, 
making him fall apart even more easily than before.

 Third -- the saw blade is a bit of a letdown, since as DVD 
wrote in his review, it's not free-spinning.  It only rotates as 
long as you're pushing the button.  The idea should be push-
push-push, then ziiiiing!  Send him off to slice Preds in half.  
Somehow it's not very satisfying to have it grind to a halt as 
soon as you stop pressing the button.

 Fourth -- the robot upper torso and head just kind of hang 
there beneath his beast form.  This can be alleviated slightly 
by turning the robot head around so it's facing into the chest, 
but it's still kind of annoying.  There's nothing to hold the torso 
up except the strength of the hinge bar, so if you happen to 
get a floppy one (as did one Transfan I know of) you're out of 
luck.

 Fifth -- if you get his beast body assembled correctly, he's 
off-center.  The robot torso is pushed to one side, and he's 
slightly twisted at the waist.  The effect is worse if you force 
the back hatch into its proper position (which, incidentally, 
looks strange because there's a sudden cleft in his back.  It 
would have been a lot better if they'd cut a hole in the back 
hatch, allowing it to be lowered OVER the blade button

 All that said, he's STILL a pretty nice toy.  The color scheme 
looks great.  Though close inspection reveals a whole pallette 
of shades, all of them can basically be grouped into three 
major categories: blue, red, and brown, along with yellow/gold 
highlighting.  Like Rampage, the various reds all pretty much 
read about the same way to the eye, giving him a more 
unified look than many of the TMs and TM2s have had.  And 
the bright red, IMO, is a perfect contrast to the muted blue 
and brown.

 Robot mode is a bit short and stumpy, giving you the feel 
that he's a large Regular instead of a Deluxe.  Many of the 
Deluxes have been rather on the small side for the last year, 
come to think of it, but they're packing a lot of design into that 
space, so I am not complaining.  He is a new king of kibble: 
one arm consists of his beast head and most of his beast 
torso; both arms have the beast side-panels hanging off of 
them, and the panels both have the beast legs hanging off of 
*them*.  At least the legs partially fold in on themselves, 
reducing their bulk somewhat.

 One neat little pseudo-gimmick that the denizens of #wiigii! 
pointed out to me: he has semi-removable dentures.  This 
little bonus isn't mentioned in the instructions, and is really 
easy to miss; in fact, I'd swear I saw a drop of dried glue on 
mine, indicating that it was intened to be covered up -- 
another safety/quality concern, as I suspect TM2 Megs' neck-
lever was?  At any rate, to make his jaws pop out for use as a 
robot-mode hand, take a flatblade microscrewdriver and 
insert it in his upper gumline from the front, just below the 
nose, and lever the jaws down till they pop out.  Oooo-ahhh.  
Not much to it, but it's sort of a nifty little detail.  If you cover 
up his yellow jaws o' death and pretend that the upper gum is 
his real mouth, he looks a lot less threatening.  He can also 
hold his tail/sword (one of the coolest bladed instruments to 
be produced for TFs, IMO) between the dentures and his 
gums.

 OVERALL: Buy the toy, be awe-struck by the beast mode, 
put him on the shelf to guard your valuables.... just don't 
touch him.  He's a sweet looking toy with an interesting 
gimmick, and suffers from a host of design issues that by 
rights should have been fixed.


IGUANIS: I don't have much to say about this guy, but since 
I'm rambling, what the heck.

I think this guy is supposed to be a Transmetal 2 pirate.  From 
the beast mode head (which looks more like a shark than an 
iguana to my eyes), to the eye-patch on his robot face, to the 
tail hanging off the back of his head like a bandana, 
something about him just makes me envision him saying 
"Arrr, mates!  Surrender yer booty!"

 His head bears the base of the tail behind it in a way that 
reminds me of some of the one-faced Quintessons from G1... 
he has mongo-sized hands that look positively demonic... his 
beast mode frills form a sort of skirt behind him in robot mode, 
kinda like Depth Charge's butt flap... the frills, like many other 
wingish appendages of late, have holes cut in them... I keep 
looking for something -- anything -- to hold the robot shoulder 
pieces in place when he's in beast mode, but apparently 
there's nothing, no latches or post-and-holes or tab-and-slots 
or nothing...

 His beast mode is pretty scary looking, with jagged edges all 
over it and a mean-looking beast face, and a wide-legged 
stance that makes him look ready to rumble.  The gimmick is 
kinda creative... the frills pop up a bit when you fire his mouth-
mounted missile launcher.  The trigger for the launcher is a bit 
hard to find; it's a tiny latch on the underside of his beast 
neck that has to be pushed backwards -- generally with a 
fingernail -- to fire.

 Transformation is pretty simple, and gives you a nicely 
ornamented robot.  I think this robot mode is actually one of 
the best at making use of beast kibble for ornamentation.  
Color scheme is uninspiring, a couple of shades of blue mixed 
with silver chrome and orange.

 OVERALL: He's okay, nothing great, but nothing bad, either.  
Get him if you like the beast mode, which does have its 
appeal.

PROWL:  It's very rare that a BW rename really fits the 
character of its G1 counterpart, but this is the case.  What's 
even more unusual is that this would be something of a big 
switch for the character in question -- the G1 Prowl was a 
police car -- but somehow, this TM2 owl seems a worthy 
psuedo-reincarnation of the Autobot military strategist.

 The beast mode works beautifully.  Unlike most of the avian 
Beast Warriors we've gotten, it doesn't look like a pile of robot 
parts with wings and a bird head grafted on. Even though it's 
clearly mechanical and "unrealistic", and has two sets of 
thrusters sticking out of the waist, the torso actually does give 
the feel of an owl's body... albeit an owl that's about 85% 
cybernetic parts.  The only real flaw in this is the robot arms, 
which are visible beneath his tail feathers, and even that's not 
too bad; fold them up properly (upper arms straight down; 
bend elbows 90 degrees; lay lower arms alongside each 
other) and they're invisible from most angles.  It'd be nice if 
they locked into position somehow, but alas, you have to rely 
on the strength of the ball joints to hold them there.  The 
"thrusters" (which hide most of the robot arms between them) 
could also use some post-and-hole action to lock them in 
place; also, the beast/robot legs' bulk prevents them from 
folding quite as far in as one might expect.

 Minor flaws aside, this is a great looking beast.  The owl head 
is nice and big, with a transparent rounded dome on top 
(which rotates to reveal his Spark crystal underneath -- neat) 
and a large transparent shield in place of one eye (the eye is 
actually molded beneath the transparent panel... nice touch.)  
His wings are GREAT -- they can be unfolded to a fairly large 
span, or they can be folded up very compactly against his 
sides, perfect for perching him in some high place in your 
room.  They have feathery molding on both sides, mixed with 
mecha-feathers and some mechanical bits -- including 
transparent red domes that look like VTOL engines or sub-
woofers, depending on your interpretation, and are mirrored 
by two smaller ones on his chest.  If you include the tail 
feathers, he's got about a dozen points of articulation in this 
mode -- that's a lot for a transforming owl, IMO.  He's one of 
the best bird TFs we've gotten... almost a shame this design 
couldn't be used for a normal "realistic" beast mode.

 Color wise he's a nice light grey augmented with a beautiful 
medium-blue chrome, highlighted with dark grey and grey-
blue and a couple of shades of red.  His front side definately 
looks better than the back, where not as much of that 
pleasing blue chrome is visible.  The blue at the base of his 
wings fades to a somewhat less pleasant greenish color... 
kinda wish they'd just left the blue alone.

 His gimmick is a button on his back that makes his owl head 
spin around, very reminiscent of the somewhat disturbing way 
that real-life owls can turn their heads around 180 degrees.  
Rotate the wings forwards, and the head spins them around 
as well, turning him (in theory) into a spinning whirly hacksaw 
thing.  For this to work right, you have to get the owl head so 
that notches on its back-side base are both holding one of 
the tabs on the wings.  Otherwise the wings will only spin 
every three or four head turns, if at all.

 Transformation is simple enough, once you figure it out.  
Beast legs become robot legs.  The wings end up sitting on 
his shoulders like Silverbolt's; there's no way to lock them into 
place, which is about the only major design flaw IMO.  The 
tailfeathers end up as a skirt/butt flap; the "thruster ports" 
end up point backwards, enabling him to rocket along 
through the sky in robot mode.  His arms in this mode are 
transparent red plastic, reminiscent of the G2 Gobots; one 
writst sports a small blade-like extension, in keeping with the 
sharp-edged theme of the TM2s.  His legs have an odd mid-
shin ball joint (necessary for the beast mode) as well as 
hinged knees, and ball-jointed ankles to boot (though these 
are practically reduced to a rotator joint due to the way the 
ball joint is mounted.)  His feet are the beast mode's huge, 
fierce talons, which, though nice, could use a hinge or two a 
la Silverbolt's to make them posable.  The way they're drawn 
up into a tight, backwards arch is kind of uncomfortable to 
look at.

 OVERALL: Buy him.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  One of the best 
TM2s.

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