Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Cybertron Snarl

Every once in a while, even in a TransFormers toyline I really like, there's one particular model that's an easy pass... Either the character is dull, or the model is a bit rubbish, or even just that the standard colourscheme is inferior to the repaints that inevitably emerge later. Cybertron Snarl - aka Galaxy Force Fang Wolf - was just one such model. Inevitably, I received one as a gift just after I'd bought one with the intention of repainting it...

Beast Mode:
In its favour, this mold is almost absurdly detailed. Just about every surface is covered with detail, be it fur or cable/muscle or just the bits and bobs that go to make up a bio-mechanical being of nearly Beast Wars Transmetals proportions... In fact, the only thing separating the Fang Wolf mold from BWT is the lack of technicolour chrome.

And, really, it's only the colour scheme that ends up letting it down because, not only is the mold detailed, but it's exceptionally poseable in beast mode. All four legs are fully jointed, and the tail even has a bit of tilt to it. While the head doesn't move, the key-activated gimmick is that the wolf's mouth opens to reveal ginormous translucent yellow teeth, and the patches of blue fur either side of his head tilt up.

The problem with white plastic is that it just doesn't show up any detail - either in these photos or in person. Wolf mode actually comes out a little better, because the detail is rather more deeply carved but, even so, the white fur is practically invisible.

One cute aspect of this model is that he has a clip on his right thigh to hold his Cyber Planet Key. Not sure if this feature was ever explored in the show, but it works better in beast mode than in robot mode.
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Robot Mode:
Here's where the white plastic really lets the model down though, to be fair, that's mainly because of the face. Take a look at the closeup, and tell me that isn't a homage Beast Wars Fuzor Silverbolt... Can't tell? Well, that's because of the crappy white plastic and the dearth of paintwork to bring it out. Seriously, a touch of silver - or even flat grey - would have brought out so much detail on that face.

There's lots more detail on the newly-visible chest, making this mold look just as biomechanical in robot mode as it does in beast mode. It's a bit of a shame that the white paint from the groin area wasn't extended to the belly, because I'm pretty sure that some of the details there are intended to flow from the groin... At the very least, there's a curved piece right in the middle that definitely should be painted to match.

I quite like the way the tail can become a sword or a (spring-loaded) missile launcher and, despite the weird colour scheme, it is fairly effective in either role... Though perhaps a bit 'fat' for a sword.

The same key-activated gimmick is accessible in robot mode, where the wolf head becomes the right forearm and 'hand'. The only downside is that, in either mode, there is no clip to hold the key in place, so the mouth doesn't stay open very well.
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This model does have a rather clever transformation, which has turned out to be the saving grace of this particular iteration. I'm particularly impressed by how the robot's arms come together in beast mode to form the beast's head and 'beard'. The front half of the wolf basically turns inside out to switch into robot mode. The downside to this is that the legs - which barely transform - aren't really arranged very well for robot mode. Sure, the backward 'knee' straightens out to become the mid-shin, but the hips are awkward, the main knee joint is quite restricted and there's very little movement in the ankles.

The Cybertron/Galaxy Force line had a brilliantly diverse range of models, most of which seemed to reference Generation 1, but the Beast Planet/Animatros models were among the most interesting because they paid homage to Beast Wars/Beast Machines while putting a contemporary spin on things and creating some even more outlandish designs, albeit with mixed success.

I'm a huge fan of this mold, but this colour scheme is pretty terrible... and, for once, the Japanese version wasn't much better. I picked up Dark Fang Wolf almost as soon as it became available because the darker, muted colourscheme looked awesome on the mold. I also picked up the BotCon 2007 extra Weirdwolf because even that somewhat garish colourscheme looked better than this. Then there's my custom-painted version, Cybertron Sabrewulf, which can be seen in my deviantART gallery.

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