BWII & Neo Reviews

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BWII & Neo Reviews

Postby Onslaught Six » Fri Feb 26, 2016 11:20 am

Since the current crop of stuff is a little dry, I started finally delving back into some cool Japanese stuff I've always wanted, that I'm sure others have wanted too but weren't sure if they should ever really pull the trigger. At this moment, over the last few months I've acquired BWII Galvatron, Dirgegun, Thrustor and Max B, with my targets set on a Hellscream sometime by my birthday (he's an expensive one). I'm going to start with the Cyberbeasts and try to give them an objective review.

But first a quick rundown: If you don't know or have forgotten, the Cyberbeasts were Japanese exclusive BW remoulds released circa 1997 or early 1998ish (assuming Japanese toylines follow a similar schedule to US ones in the mid-90s). They were all remoulds of previously released 1996 US BW toys that turned into cyborg versions of their beast modes; they were a mishmash of completely technological parts and straight up animal parts. This is very cool and I don't think it's at all a stretch to say these influenced Hasbro when they went with a very similar design scheme for the Transmetal IIs in the last year of BW; just compare Thrustor to TM2 Dinobot and you'll see some immediate similarities (especially in the weird monocle cyborg eyes!). There's a reason these moulds (Hellscream excepted, nearly a decade later) never came out in the US though; they definitely upped the gimmick count on these. Of these toys, I've only ever owned 2 of the original moulds (Dinobot and Wolfang) and only have 1 with me for direct comparison (Wolfang) but each Cyberbeast has twice as many gimmicks as their original form--while Wolfang only had a missile launcher and a dopey shield that didn't do much, Max B has two missile launchers AND his shield became a flippy grabby thing.

So let's start off with the weakest, Dirgegun. I say he's the weakest only because of his base mould--if this is what the Waspinator toy was really like, I'm glad I never got one during BW's original run, in spite of his popularity in the show. His beast mode is a goddamned mess--his legs don't hold him up, his robot arms don't lock together in any meaningful way I can see, and his chest transformation moves around for no discernable reason I can tell, although the Japanese instructions seem to imply he can fold his head down into his chest to use the launcher in place of his head...? Weird. In comparison, his robot mode is very solid and everything clicks together, so this guy is at least half good. Besides the aformentioned back laucher, he has a handheld missile launcher that can store as his wasp thorax (?), and the missiles can store in his wings, totally hidden, if you're worried about losing them. (For a figure this rare and expensive, spare missiles aren't going to pop up on eBay for a few bucks.) His new detailing is great, and the primary reason to get this one over any of the other Cyberbeasts beyond his low price--all of the Cyberbeasts are long out of print so unless you know someone selling one, your only bet is to go to eBay and stalk the auctions. I got mine loose for something like $35 shipped (inside of America), which for a Japanese exclusive toy with this much play value that is coming up on 20 years old, is not a bad price--modern deluxes are $15 going on $20, and don't usually have this many gimmicks. A FunPub Deluxe is going to run you $40 before shipping on most days! But back to the detailing, his face is a menacing grimace with a big cyborg eye and he's got a cyborg leg, plus half of his wasp head is robotic. He actually looks like he has one of the least new parts counts compared to the others (I don't have Hellscream yet or a Cybershark to compare him to), too, which is odd.
Final decision: Only get Dirgegun if you are particularly interested in Waspinator retools, or you plan on buying the full set of Cyberbeasts. He looks great with his "brothers" but as an individual he's the worst off.

Second up to plate: Thrustor. Or Thrustol. Or Thrustorl. Or whatever. An unfortunate case of weird romanization makes this guy slightly harder to pick up than Dirgegun, but he is relatively common (for a Japanese exclusive) and without much trouble, can be had for about $35-40, and is much more worth it than Dirgegun. I was even able to find one intact in the box with all paperwork! It was a fucking joy looking throw a legitimate BWII catalogue, let me tell you.
Thrustor is the start of a long love affair Takara seemed to have with the Dinobot mould; I would say that they kept it and kept messing with it but we had stuff like the Fox Kids! repaint and BW10th Dinobot come out. Hmmm! Besides Thrustor, we got Neo Hardhead in purple, who became BM Dinobots' Dinotron in a suave green.
Starting at the beast mode, we're already doing better than Dirgegun. Dinobot was one of the better 1996 Deluxe moulds in terms of altmode aesthetics, but he wasn't perfect, with his weird translucent bone leg kibble and nearly-exposed face. Thrustor helps out with that by making his legs look like they're skin covered with robotic enhancements, so he just looks more like a weird fat robot raptor instead of having a weird exposed ribcage for some reason. The cyborg detailing makes it easier to hide his robot head and he stands pretty good. The new parts make his tail look fantastically deadly, and thankfully it is less reliant on his deco matching up, so unlike Dinobot, it doesn't matter what position the tail is spun around in for it to look "right," and you can open it up in beast mode in a way that makes a lot more visual sense than on Dinobot. One minor complaint I have is that the right side of his dino head is almost entirely unchanged from Dinobot--including the striped deco that Dinobot had throughout his beast mode. So he looks less like his own guy and more like a cyborg Dinobot, a problem Dirgegun and Max B don't share. The fact that Dinobot is tan while Thrustor is orangey reptile skin colour doesn't help much either.
Transformation is identical to Dinobot's so I won't go into it, but suffice to say it's relatively straightforward. His robot mode is killer--Thrustor is possibly the best looking in robot mode of all the Cyberbeasts. His dino head chest has a huge blade on the front, he's loaded with weapons, his head is super cool with its giant monocle and totally 90s grimacing face. He also has many more cyborg parts than Dirgegun, with both robot legs being retooled, his robot shoulder and forearm, all the weapons, and one of the dino arms (plus the aformentioned chest). He looks different enough that it's hard to consider him the same figure as Dinobot, but there it is. The new pair of legs definitely helps differentiate him.
Thrustor has a crazy amount of weaponry. The original Dinobot had a spinny tail weapon thing and a vertebrae-looking sword that went inside of it, but Thrustor doubles that up something fierce, giving us a serrated sword blade, the same spinny tail blade, and a buzzsaw-shaped missile launcher with a weird trident gun missile claw thing. It looks hella cool, and all three of these can be swapped around in different cool configurations. I love having options and Thrustor has quite a few to swap around to.
Final decision: If you're looking for a gateway Cyberbeast, look no further than Thrustor. He's probably the most common or second most common and is relatively easy to find and pick up, and most people owned a Dinobot mould during their time as a collector so it's not hard to imagine what he's like in that respect.

Last for today, Max B. This guy is one of the harder to find examples on eBay due to his naming--variously I've searched "Max B," "Max Bee," "MaxB," and even a few listings only have him as "Cyborg K-9." Max B is an important character, being Hellscream's second in command, and is also a remould of a non-show BW mould, which may have made people order him less when he was originally around, making him more scarce in the US aftermarket. I was able to grab mine for maybe $40 (can't remember exactly offhand) but he normally goes for $60-70; definitely a pricier one. So is he worth that? Let's see...
Wolfang (or K-9, I guess) is one of the lesser 1996 BW moulds in my opinion, but I've always had a soft spot for his weirdness; his Jay Leno chin and mutant head, his missiles that form part of his chest (and leave gaping holes?!), his back shield, everything about him screams "weird," and it's definitely not the kind of toy Hasbro would have made in 1998 or 1999. Why Takara chose him to remould is a mystery; maybe all the Cyberbeasts are just based on certain moulds that were no longer in production at a certain point. Some of these lesser qualities, like the beast mode, transfer over to Max B. He's basically an unposable brick in beast mode; this isn't all that uncommon for even later BW toys, but especially early ones were often almost devoid of beast mode articulation, like Rhinox or Cheetor. In a more modern era where 95% of Transformers turn into a car, truck or jet with no articulation, I guess this doesn't matter too much, but it still would be cool if Max B (or Wolfang or K-9) could do a realistic running or leaping pose. Thankfully, there's still some good play value in Max B; for one thing his entire back is remoulded with some fantastic detailing, including what look like jet thrusters on his hind! Imagine this fucking cheetah-sized robot dog using an ass jetpack to come after you. I would piss my pants. If that wasn't cool enough though, one of his robot mode weapons can be used here--on his back is a trigger that activates a two-button gimmick; the first button fires a missile (if you have one in) and the second click shoots out a pair of spring loaded jaws or capture claw or something like that. Really neat stuff!
Transformation is, again, the same as Wolfang/K-9, with the minor difference of his back weapon not becoming a shield. Now, just like his predecessors, Max B has a minor kibble problem (it's funny because he's a dog!) that makes him look kind of cruddy and hinders his articulation if you don't arrange it just so. It's a shame, because his weapons are huge and don't help matters at all. Besides his weapons, Max B only has THREE new parts--a cyborg dog leg, one side of his wolf head, and his robot head (which has a terrific, Power Rangers monster suit looking evil open-mouthed grin going on. I love it!) So of the Cyberbeasts, he's one of the least changed in robot mode from his original appearance. The changes do help drastically though--this is the only version of the mould without a Mutant Head, and a fresh noggin makes the robot look like an entirely different guy. Also, his robot chest is significantly differently detailed from Wolfang's, so if you only have him he seems different enough. While his altmode is still a grey wolf (or dog), you don't get the same "Wolfang wearing cyborg parts" effect as you do with Thrustor because Max B has a silvery and purple robot colour scheme, whereas Wolfang has blue and black.
His weapons are cool--there's the aformentioned back piece that becomes a missile launcher and capture claw, which can no longer be held up like a shield, unfortunately, but it can be held as a weapon! Making up for that is his original tail missile launcher, which has been remoulded in an entirely new shape and has a big spiky mace ball at the end, and has been given 2 different handles, so you can either hold it as a missile launcher, or flip it around and have it be a swingy melee mace weapon! Sweet!
Final verdict: Max B is not quite worth the $60+ he can command on the secondary market, BUT if you are willing to play the long game and wait for him to go back down to about $40, he is worth that. The weapons are some of the most fun in the group and his robot mode--even if there isn't many new parts--looks really cool, and the beast mode--brickness aside--is full of cool detail that makes him great.

Other upcoming reviews: BWII Galvatron, BW Neo Survive, and more as I buy it!
BWprowl wrote:The internet having this many different words to describe nerdy folks is akin to the whole eskimos/ice situation, I would presume.


People spend so much time worrying about whether a figure is "mint" or not that they never stop to consider other flavours.
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Re: BWII & Neo Reviews

Postby andersonh1 » Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:18 am

The only Japanese BW figure I own is Lio Convoy. The figure looks great, but I'm not too impressed with how well the figure holds together in robot mode. Lots of panels and struts that barely hold together.
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Re: BWII & Neo Reviews

Postby JediTricks » Tue Mar 01, 2016 11:51 am

Oh god, yeah, I own Lio Convoy as well because of the ridiculous Hasbro Collectors website back in 2000. Aside from the shoulder junk being floppy, I don't remember anything not holding together, but I also don't remember the sculpting being up to par with the other figures of that era, so I kinda just have him in limbo.
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Re: BWII & Neo Reviews

Postby Onslaught Six » Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:57 am

LioConvoy is on my list, because.

Today we have from BWNeo, Survive!

Survive is a repaint of Polar Claw. Do you own Polar Claw? Why not? He's probably the coolest and most solid Mega class figure from Beast Wars, without any of the fiddly problems guys like Inferno or Scavenger have, and he's readily available. Probably the biggest flaw is that he's a vintage toy coloured in white--meaning he's susceptible to yellowing pretty bad. Survive perks this up by being in a great charcoal colour. The underside kibble is a darker navy blue plastic, not painted over like Polar Claw's was. His back has a very subtle silver wash effect that really brings out the detail in the back fur that gets lost in the white of the original figure, something that'll become a running theme through the figure. Being a first-year BW toy, his articulation in beast mode is still pretty bupkiss; worse, the way it's sculpted means anything that does move is going to look pretty bad.

The big gimmick for Polar Claw in beast mode is the opening jaws. This gimmick has a problem: in 20 years I haven't been able to get it to work consistently. Supposedly when you move the beast legs backwards, it should trigger a mechanism to push the button on his robot head forward, which activates the jaws. But unless I have the robot arms splayed out and the crotch plate folded down, it never works. It's a shame, because the teeth on Survive are very nicely painted white and look really striking coming out of his dark face.

So, transforming him. Again, being a first-year BW toy, it's not extremely involved. But we've seen a huge backlash against complex transformations in the last few years and modern toys aren't much more complicated than a BW Deluxe or Mega. Survive starts off by unfolding the legs, then unfolding the beast arms and splaying out the robot mode arms. Finally, unfold the crotch plate and back plate, rotate around the robot chest module, close everything up, and you're good, aside from some cleanup of folding up the beast feet and unfolding the arms, and switching the head to your preferred version, or activating his weapons.

In robot mode, Survive is even better looking. Yellow splashes out in a very good contrast (and makes this figure feel like a better version of the hugely expensive Botcon Japan '97 Grizzly-1), with some red details and a nice blue metallic on his robot chest. Silver helps detail out his robot chest and his crotch plate is yellow and navy blue. Altogether it looks hugely different than Polar Claw and really helps sell this as a separate character.

He's still got the same gimmicks Polar Claw did in robot mode--his left bear arm (our right) has a flip-out skeletal grabby hand...thing...and the right bear arm (our left!) becomes a launching bat thing. This little guy is super cool! He probably has a name but TFWiki isn't working right now, and also, who cares. He can reattach to the bear arm while extended (giving Survive a cool bat on his shoulder) or Survive can even hold him as a kind of handheld weapon, which is preferable to me here, as Survive has no other weapons. (I long ago gave my Polar Claw a rifle that, it turns out, is from the vintage TMNT Rocksteady. The charcoal gray matched Polar Claw's almost perfectly.) I always did wish this mould had any kind of secondary weapon, but it's not too bad without it.

Last thing: '96 Beast Wars toys, Mutant Heads. What the hell were these? Supposed to be some kind of half-Beast head for them? Why did they do this? Furthermore, which one is Polar Claw's mutant head and which is his real head?! I never liked the look of his skeletal screaming grimacing robot head on the original; I preferred the cyborg-looking, definitely robotic all-red head that is probably his mutant head. Survive casts this head in the navy blue colour with some red eyes, which looks pretty menacing but is also completing losing any of the detail from a distance. Meanwhile, even though it's in similar colours to Polar Claw's, the skeletal head has a lot of nice added paint to it in what looks like a kind of tribal or Native American theme, which really sets him apart and makes it much more visually interesting; it's my preferred head for him. It helps that it's in the same colours as the rest of his body too!

I picked up Survive for $30 shipped, brand new in the box, which is a pretty great price in this climate. Polar Claw retailed for $15 in 1996 dollarydoos and Deluxes retail for about that now, and Survive is pretty tall compared to a modern Deluxe (I have him next to a Generations Skids mouldmate and he's huge). Add in the Japanese exclusive factor and $30 is a great price. If you like the Polar Claw mould and like Japanese exclusives, Survive is one to pick up.
BWprowl wrote:The internet having this many different words to describe nerdy folks is akin to the whole eskimos/ice situation, I would presume.


People spend so much time worrying about whether a figure is "mint" or not that they never stop to consider other flavours.
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