The Reverend's review: Gnaw
"I live for the taste of an Autobot's fuel line!"
Travels in packs with fellow Sharkticons. Fearless and vicous. Loyal only to the master who last fed him. Powerful tail fin allows him to travel at speeds over 150 Knots. Carnivourous with a voracious appetite. Possesses several rows of razor-sharp teeth that can tear through solid steel. In robot Mode, carries a maceration laser that shoots salt-based corrosive liquid. Also carries a barbed mace.
Okay, I'm going to explain Gnaw in a slightly divergent fashion from a typical review. He's a "Sharkticon". The exact reason for his and the Sharkticons' existence varies somewhat depending on the TF universe in question. They are unique, let's just leave it at that.
Now, a common tagline for G1 Transformers was "Robots in Disguise". This is true for many of them - without actually handling the piece, an observer couldn't (theoretically) tell that it was a transforming robot. Barring knowledge of the faction symbols.
Having said that, there are some G1 TFs whose alternate modes are not really intended as disguises, they exist to serve another purpose - be it transport (Omega Supreme), battlefield terror (Dinobots, Predacons, Monsterbots, etc) or as bases of operations (Metroplex, Scorponok), and so on.
In the case of Gnaw, his alternate mode is not a close emulation of a shark. It appears to be designed as a quizzically-imagined monster based very loosely on a cross between a shark and a trash compactor.
Gnaw is a fat-bodied, almost cone-shaped monster, widest at the head, possessing four limbs (two large legs for support/walking and two long, skinny, three-fingered forelimbs for grabbing, clawing, playing checkers, whatever) and a mouthful of shiny, layered chrome teeth. Most of his upper body is clad in a dark gray "armor" with overlapping layers going down his back, suggesting a high resistance to firepower and artillery. He has large, almost froglike bulging green eyes in the front of his head, a flat face with no snout or nose, and odd blue "warts" sticking out on either side of his chin. A sloping row of gray dorsal fins sticks out of his back, and he has a spiked mace for a tail growing out of his butt. Foil stickers add some stripes of green under his eyes and on his back and legs. He has a discernible overbite to his teeth, meaning the mouth can open wide, but it's harder to have him bite anything securely unless it's large (I stuck G1 Swindle's feet in his mouth while writing that, just to see).
Let's be blunt, Gnaw's funny-looking, but strangely compelling in a sort of Transformers' "demon from hell" sort of way. Despite all the detractions you could make, though, when you really look closely at his alternate mode, what's emphasized heavily in the design is that he's clearly mechanical and heavily armored, not to mention probably just plain heavy. Weird, but interesting to the imagination. Aside from his mouth's ability to open, his hips can move a full 360-degrees vertically, and his forelimbs' shoulders are capable of moving in the same fashion.
Overall, whatever else you could say about the alt-mode, he's a very close match to the version we saw on-screen in the 1986 animated film.
Transformation is fairly apparent - open the mouth all the way to reveal Gnaw's head, pull off the tail, pull the legs out of the body and flip up the feet, fold the movable alt-mode shoulders behind his back and slide the alt-mode's legs forward to become the robot's arms. The alt-mode's feet have little sliding tabs to release the fists from their soles, and the large blue toes on either side of each foot are folded back. One last thing - the robot looks like he's wearing a hood at this point. Which would be acceptable given some of his predecessors in the line (Gears, Menasor, etc), but the top of the shark's head can pivot backwards to reveal more of Gnaw's head. The removed mace/tail can be placed in his hand, although it's not actually flexible.
(NOTE: I've actually seen a "longer" Gnaw tail offered on the internet from time to time, and apparently flexible as well. Just in case anyone is interested.)
Although I believe that Gnaw's design started with the alt mode and the robot mode was just whatever the designer could come up with, it's interesting that his Tech Spec describes him as so ravenous, because he's not only fat-bodied but fat-faced. Seriously. He's got a big, wide, almost dementedly-cherubic face. Which is silly, but it goes well with his big, wide, almost dementedly obese body, standing upright on its precariously silly little skinny legs. He has little stubby "wings" behind his shoulders, and he's mainly showing off more of a lighter grey plastic and some light purple now. There's a big Decepticon logo on his belly. His arms, unlike most G1s, don't run straight and parallel to his body, they're curved outward as if he's about to hug someone. Silly, but it does make him look more like a big burly bouncer.
Now I guess you could complain about the massive kibble, having shark's jaws sticking out of his chest and the shark body on his back and all, but as Gnaw isn't exactly designed along the idea of "disguise" I think it's irrelevant. Although his "armored" look isn't really as pronounced in this form, he still has some obvious layering in the plates that make up his torso, along with the big bracelets on his wrists that were the alt-mode's feet.
Strictly speaking, you can't accuse him of being a brick either, because he's ROUND, right? Hahaha. Seriously, though, the robot mode's only articulation is at the shoulders, and the forearms can swivel. He has no knees and I don't think the ankle articulation needed for his transformation counts.
Marks out of ten for the following:
Let's say 2/10. I didn't need the instructions. I guess you could miss the fact that the shark's upper face folds back for robot mode, but that's it.
9/10. He really seems awfully sturdy to me. Sure, the joints can get loose, but there's not much to break here. You'd have to be trying really hard to do that. The forelimbs from the alt-mode can snap off - it appears that's actually happened to my secondhand Gnaw, because one of them is clearly on upside down!
6/10. There's certainly no TF that looks anything like Gnaw to me, that's for sure. I didn't have him as a kid, but I suspect I would have found him entertaining, just because he's such a big, oafish looking character.
3/10? I found him in a box of used TFs at a store, missing his tail and gun. I don't remember the price, but I bought three that day and I think I spent $22 total - and I'm pretty sure he wasn't over $10 of that. He's definitely not a popular piece because of his weird appearance - I've seen him go on Ebay for under $30 plenty of times.
4/10. Not the most exciting G1 Transformer by any means. His physical, objective toy value is dubious next to many in the line. But if you like the weird ones, you might like him. And with all the Quintesson figures being put out lately...