*Disclaimer, these items were sent free of charge for review purposes by Hasbro, but all opinions are my own*
At the start of this year, Hasbro decided to reissue some of their Vintage Beast Wars figures to help celebrate their 25th anniversary.
As I had no prior connection to these characters or toys, I was relatively uninterested, but now I’ve had the chance to actually get hands-on with them, I’m curious to see how they fare as vintage collectibles. Let’s take a look, shall we?
[Click to Enlarge]
There are two distinct styles of packaging for these figures; blister packs, which is how all deluxe figures were usually packaged, and is how I remember most of my Transformers being packed; and boxes for the ultra class figures. Each package has text specs on the back, and a small bio detailing attributes of the characters.
Cheetor and Ratrap have their instructions on the back, and a small deviation from the original is that the plastic on the front is the wrong shape. The originals was circular to fit the eye shape, so this is a sneaky way of distinguishing them on the aftermarket. Primal and Megatron have a photo of all the reissues on the back of their boxes. While I was surprised by how big he was, Primal still leaves a lot of space in his box, unlike Megatron who uses every spare millimeter of space. ‘Sealed in box’ collectors rejoice.
Now, let’s tale a look at the figures themselves…
Firstly, let’s start with the smallest. Rattrap is the only Kingdom figure I’ve purchased so far, and I have to say the Kingdom figure is significantly better than this one. For a figure from 1996, the sculpting and painting isn’t awful. There are some chrome highlights, including the feet, shins, brain and forearms, all the paint seems durable enough.
However, there is a major flaw with this figure I can’t ignore. Namely, the backpack. It’s huge, obstructive and throws this figure of balance – good luck getting him standing up. Another problem with this kibble is that, in robot mode, Rattrap ends up with six rest legs in robot mode. Is he some kind of inesctoid rat?
That said, I am a massive fan of the accessories, two halves of his iconic weapon pop off the kibble and combine for some action poses. Plus, it’s cross-compatible with the Kingdom’s weapon, with both using the 3mm port system.
The articulation is surprisingly good for a toy line that was sandwiched between G2 and RID. I think it’s because Kenner (the Star Wars designers) headed this line. It doesn’t hold a candle to modern poseability, but the ball joints allow for extra swivels (or it would if they didn’t pop off all the time.). Size wise, he’s a head taller than the core class figures (see above) and is shorter than his great aunt Arcee.
As for the transformation, it’s refreshingly simple. We have this figure to thank for one-step changers, and all you need to do is plug in the hands and fold back the tail. This should be really simple and satisfying, but, in reality, it’s clashy and stiff.
In beast mode, Rattrap is pretty cool. He’s got nice sculpting, the eyes, mouth, feet and back are all painted, but he’s basically a brick with feet. There is one major advantage that this issue has over the Kingdom version – it’s significantly bigger, he’s closer to the size of a bear than a mouse.
If you are going to by any of these to keep sealed in box, Rattrap is the one for you, as there is nothing really interesting or unique he does. However, for the time, a one-step changer was a massive departure from the existing Transformers. This really isn’t worth as much as Cheetor, but for some reason, they are the same price. I would only get this if you have an attachment to the toy, or of you a need a vintage Beast Wars figure that you don’t feel bad about keeping sealed.
Next, let’s take a look at Cheetor. Honestly, I have never really liked Cheetor’s design – I’ve always thought he looks like he’s wearing a cheetah as clothing. I do feel that this figure looks quite stupid. I mean… he can’t see over his chest due to the massive cheetah head, for starters. The metallic blue shins are very shiny, he’s covered in spots, I’m thankful to report no chipping on them.
The head is pretty decent, and could pass for a regular Transformers head. The head features one of the main gimmicks, a second face, and when the head is brought down the face that inspired Kingdom Shadow Panther’s is revealed. And, while I appreciate all the detail, it still looks ridiculous.
As for accessories, Cheetor gets his tail canon, a small transforming piece, and his gut gun – a weapon notably absent from his Kingdom release and his more iconic weapon from the show.
The articulation on this figure is really good, with double elbows and incredible forward butterfly being the highlights. Ankle pivots would’ve been nice, but those were not common when this released.
The transformation is basically an upside down version of the Kingdom figure’s. If the kibble was tightened a bit then this transformation would fit in a modern lineup.
The cheetah mode is pretty ridiculous. It wouldn’t be out of place in a rescue bots line, and I think the figure looks better without the gut gun on the underside. The front legs don’t really articulate but the back legs retain the legs’ functionality.
Honestly, the Kingdom figure is better. If you want a good modern Cheetor, this isn’t for you.
Now, let’s move up in both size and price and take a look at the leader of the heroic Maximals. Optimus Primal looks really cool with his mostly black and grey scheme, but the small amounts of red and white on the legs and shoulders really help to not only break up the black, but to differentiate him even further from his beast mode.
The sculpting on this figure is remarkable, with all the fur texturing and detail in particular looking amazing. I am a massive fan of the head, which has more of a G1 look with a mouth guard, rather than the half open mask of the Beast Wars show. When you spin the head around, the mutant mask reveals itself, made from a soft rubber and painted in blue and red. Honestly, this mask is pretty stupid, and due to the fact that it’s hinged it constantly gets in the way of posing this figure.
On the accessories front, the best way to describe what he comes with is a predecessor to the ’86 Hot Rod. I say this because, much like the Hot Rod, you get every weapon that the character has. We get twin shoulder cannons, which are cleverly concealed in the back by two covers which blend into the back’s aesthetic. These cannons are spring loaded, can store while loaded, and are revealed by the press of a small unobtrusive button on the back. We also get Optimus Primal’s iconic swords, metallic blue weapons which are a great addition and, conveniently, are compatible with modern figure, featuring 5mm posts to plug into the hands. With a push of a button on his left forearm, the arm splits in half and a double-barreled spring loaded canon automatically folds out. This is what inspired Optimus Primal’s sleek forearm blasters, and the missiles for this store behind the head in two dedicated slots (whoopee, another thing for the mutant mask to choose to collide with!)
Finally, Primal has a mace with a skull on it, which begs a question… since this is used for the Kingdom Paleotrex, does that mean Primal decapitated a Predacon’s head, attached it to a string and used it to fight Paleotrex’s comrades? That’s dark. As far as maces go, this is a pretty great one. Paleotrex’s head is incredibly well detailed, and Primal can look epic whilst using it. It tucks away neatly in his right forearm, which is a really nice touch. His articulation is the most average of all the Beast Wars figures and he poses basically the same as most modern figures (minus ankle pivots.) Some wrist swivels or downward bending wrists might’ve been nice.
The transformation is really simple – it is just turning a man into a gorilla – and, once you’re finished, you end up with a pretty decent Beast Mode. A lot more grey comes out in this mode and I feel that this makes for a really convincing non-transforming gorilla toy. All the articulation is retained from robot mode, except from the head motion. Its a shame they weren’t able to incorporate some movement into his head. The poseability does allow for the cliché gorilla poses.
When you configure Primal’s arms into a chest pounding pose, a small black handle, pops out at the back. When you move it up and down, the arms swing back and forth. Another point worth mentioning about this figure is that it’s big! I thought that this was going to be around voyager height or so, but he is taller than Megatron and is about old leader class height.
This is really cool. If he was released this year in mainline, no one would even bat an eye. Quite honestly, he’s got the touch.
Finally, let’s take a look at Megatron. I have never really liked how this figure looks in robot mode, but nevertheless, I can appreciate how clean and precise all the sculpted detail is. The way the black and red contrasts with the Dino mode’s purple is also pleasing. That said, the maniacal, devious leader can’t even open a door – in one hand, he has a massive blade the other is a Dino head canon. I prefer having this orientated so that it’s side-on, but that restricts the elbow bend.
I do like the head, which is a remix of the classic G1 Megatron’s head. As a small note, on the back of the box, Megatron’s head is silver, but the one I’ve got has black helmet. I’m not sure whether this is a QC issue, or is this how is supposed to come? The biggest issue with this figures is obvious. Namely, the backpack is huge and messes with the balance of the figure.
This is an action-packed figure, complete with a ton of cool features. For instance, when you push a button on his elbow, his pincer blade retracts and extends. On the other arm, the throat of the Dino removes and a water cannon can be filled and fired (except I can’t get it to work when actually attached to the arm.) On either side of each thigh, there are two spring loaded launchers. The bullets are shaped like anchors, which is quite cool, and they are are on sliders and swivels, meaning that they get of the way when posing awesome. Lastly, Megatron’s mutant mask is cleverly disguised as two batwings on top of his head (how subtle), and when the mask closes up, he gets a really neat rhino helmet which really gives him a bruiser theme.
The transformation is incredible! It is essentially the Kingdom figure’s. Everything twists and turns – the best way to describe is organised chaos – and, after all is said and done, you end up with an incredible beast mode. I wouldn’t blame people if they thought that this was just a non-transforming plastic t-rex, that’s how convincing this is.
Similarly, the sculpting is amazing, really adding to the authenticity of this mode. He’s also a really good size for a t-rex toy, scaling well with Jurassic park toys. Two of the robot mode features: the opening Dino head still doesn’t fire water, and thigh cannons, which are hidden in Dino mode, slide out of the legs and retain their functionality.
On the down side, the articulation of this is not very good. The legs bend and swivel, a tail swivel or head rotation would’ve really kicked up the posing, but then again, how articulated were G1 Grimlock and Snapdragon? I do love this mode and I find the transformation to be addictive, even if I have to go through the rubbish robot mode to get to it. Megatron is definitely an instrument of destruction.
Now let’s take a look at everyone’s least favourite part. I have to admit, for vintage collectibles of this size, these are pretty fairly priced. Rattrap is the worst though – £22 for a one step changer feels like a massive rip off – but for the same price Cheetor isn’t a bad buy for anyone wanting to relive nostalgia without spending too much. Megatron and Optimus Primal cost £48.99 and are both about leader class size. Primal is definitely the better deal, but neither is overpriced in the grand scheme of things.
Minor niggles aside, I am surprised by how much I like these. They are great toys, and for any Beast Wars fan, these will be a holy grail. Rattrap is the worst, I wouldn’t bother with him. Primal is the best, he just does so much for the price. Megatron is my favourite, mostly because of the transformation, but the Kingdom figure is objectively better and for the same price, you’re probably better going for that.
So, what are your thoughts on these? Will you be picking any of them up? If you’re considering it you can pick them up at Smyths, Zavvi, or Hasbro Pulse.
The writer of this piece was: BrickBuiltDengar