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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