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Blackjack's review: Snarl

Name: Snarl
Allegiance: Autobot/Dinobot
Size Class: Deluxe Class
Accessories: Cheetos Lava Club

ĒSnarl smash!Ē

Snarl is one of the three Dinobots featured in Transformers Animated, but unlike Grimlock and Swoop, who are straight-up Animated versions of their G1 counterparts, Snarl does not turn into a stegosaurus like his G1 counterpart. He instead turns into a triceratops like Slag. So why doesnít Hasbro use the name Slag? Well, apparently Hasbro has since discovered that Ďslagí has another offensive meaning in some parts of the United Kingdom. Hence, Snarl.

Iíve loved dinosaurs ever since I was a little kid, and my first-ever contact with Transformers has been with the dinosaur Transformers Airraptor, Dinotron and T-Wrecks of the Beast Machines Dinobots line. When I started descending into Transformers geekdom I discovered the Dinobots fairly quickly, with their Marvel comics debut being one of the very first Transformers comics Iíve ever read. So I do quite like the Dinobots.

Snarl and the other Animated Dinobots started off as animatronic robots which, by a mixture of Megatronís machinations and Sariís Allspark Key, brought to life. Snarl and Swoop played two seasons basically as the non-speaking muscle to Grimlock, generally following Grimlock whether they are working against or with the Autobots. They only transformed far later into the series because I guess screw any Dinobot that isnít Grimlock. They were happy to be confined to the Dinobot Island most of the time, although Snarl was disowned in season three for making friends with the Constructicon Scrapper (and was first named in that episode), and starred in a fun little two-parter with Scrapper, Sari and Wreck-Gar as part of the Substitute Autobots. And despite that Snarl has never spoken a single word other than the odd grunt or two.

Snarlís name originated from the stegosaurus Dinobot from G1, whose most famous exploit is not appearing in the 1986 movie. The name Snarl had since been slapped on several other Transformers by Hasbro, first on a Tasmanian Devil in Beast Wars, a lion in Beast Machines, a wolf in Cybertron, a Mini-Con tiger in Classics, before the name returned to a Dinobot in Animated.

Beast Mode:
Snarl transforms into a fully-mechanical triceratops, decked in a slightly brighter version of classic G1 Dinobot colours. Comparing Snarl to a Jurassic Park triceratops in my room, heís a fairly faithful rendition of the dinosaur, albeit obviously drawn in Animatedís characteristic stylized fashion. His legs are a fair bit more pudgier, though. Snarl is pretty cute in this mode, though, and I do like it.

Snarl is mainly a shade of slightly-bluish gray, with a nice shade of red colouring his stomach and horns, while his tail, head and toes are cast in gold. Black and red pick out the detailing on him. I particularly like the black streak running under Snarlís baby-blue eyes. Overall, it certainly screams Dinobot.

There are a fair bit of kibble that are visible in beast mode, though, most egregiously the robot head smack dab on the middle of his back. Itís made even worse by the three horns jutting up from his head which are visible, plain as day. His robot mode fists can kinda be seen if you look at him from the back, but theyíre not too prominent.

Posability is not that good, unfortunately. The rear legs are pretty good, with full rotation joints on the thighs and two hinges Ė one that allows it to bend backwards and another that allows it to bend laterally Ė on the knees. The front legs, however, can only bend backwards on an odd angle Ė those black bits are completely immobile in beast mode. His head can angle up and down somewhat, as can his horns and upper beak. Heís pretty brickish though itís pretty decent for a toy his size.

Snarlís gimmick includes pressing buttons to have little flames pop out from his hind legsí thighs. In the show Snarl inherits G1 Slagís ability to breathe fire, but since thatís kind of impractical to do here, we get this instead. Eh.

Snarl is a pretty great beast mode. Itís certainly the better of the two modes, because unfortunately the robot mode isnít as spectacular.

Robot Mode:
Snarlís transformation is a bit awkward. The red halves in the middle of his body, and the whole spine-waist black assembly are engineered such that they will only move in certain steps and transforming Snarl after a long time of not doing so made me nearly break some of the more fragile parts. His legs are a bit too long, his waist too thin and his shoulder pads are too large, and the ends of the tail halves should point upwards instead of downwards. The end result is kind of a disappointment since he looks like heís cut off a fair bit of the fat from the waist down and generally looks a bit awkward.

However, as the ever-awesome Clay has informed me, there really is a trick to transforming Snarl properly so that he can assume the stocky thickset silhouette he has in the show. By folding the waist piece so that it points at a 30-degree angle from the blue piece that forms his chest and not having the waist piece point straight down, the end result enables the triceratops beak to slot into the slot in the waist in addition to moving the black bits closer to the waist and generally makes the robot mode look far more compact and clean. Making the black waist assume the proper position is a bit fiddly to do, though.

Itís not a perfect resemblance like the show model unlike many of the Animated toys, but Snarl, when transformed properly, does look have the Animated lineís high standards of show-accuracy. I like how Snarl is extremely (and almost exaggeratedly) thick and stocky, whereas Swoop is all thin, athletic and agile-looking, whereas Grimlock has a compromise between the two, looking large and muscular. On any other lines Iíd write it off as coincidence, but Animated puts a lot of focus in exaggerating physical features in theme with the charactersí personality, and I personally think itís a rather excellent gradation.

Unlike Grimlock and Swoop, who are mostly faithful to their G1 counterpartís transformations, Snarl eschews it all in favour of a brand-new transformation which has the triceratops head end up smack dab on the chest instead of behind his robot head. The head is completely different as well instead of a straight-up Animatized version of the G1 like the other two, being a flat-ish affair with a blank expression and three horns. The light piping is neutered with painted eyes, but I donít particularly care. The gold tail splits in half and end up sticking up behind the shoulders, which is actually a fairly nice visual tribute to G1 Snarl which I always found amusing.

From the side, Snarl is fairly messy, with the beast head jutting a bit more forward than it should (though not as much if transformed properly), whereas parts of the lower body are skinnier than they should be, mostly on the black parts. Of course, after Clay had taught me how to transform him properly his general silhouette has looked a lot better.

Snarl is pretty nicely articulated. The head rotates, the shoulder still retains that rotary joint and heís got a double-jointed elbow. The thumb and the other four fingers are on separate hinges which is a nice little touch I love. His thighs are double-jointed with rotary and hinge joints, and his knees are on hinge joints.

However, the halves of his waist like to split apart anytime you even think of messing with his feet, making posing his lower half a veritable nightmare. The waist halves have pegs that are supposed to click together but on my specimen they never did, making the waist a floppy mess. Less of a problem are the torso halves, which are very hard to move around, and constantly like to get in the way of properly transforming him either in the beast or robot modes.

Snarlís fingers are conducive to holding the club included with him. All stock photography show an awesomely painted mainly-black lava club with red glowing streaks. The thing included with Snarl is far from that, though. Itís the same shape but is cast in entirely bright clear orange plastic, making it look extremely stupid-looking. Like he picked up a petrified Cheetos piece from my trashbin and starts waving it threateningly at Decepticons. Itís ugly. I have no idea where it is now. Maybe itís returned to the trashbin. Even among the Animated lineís penchant of freaky weapons, Snarlís Cheetos is the weirdest. I do still kinda wish I had it just to laugh at how funny it is, though.

Thereís a Ďbattle modeí where you transform the triceratops head into the beast mode configuration which looks stupid. We do not mention that here. The spring-loaded fires end up on his shoulders, which looks less stupid.

Overall, itís a pretty mediocre robot mode. Too many things wrong with it to be satisfactory.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 3/10 Between the bad waist and the difficulty in properly transforming the waist and getting the general look of Snarl right, plus how easier it is to transform him in the improper, ugly wayÖ Snarlís transformation does result in a great dinosaur mode and a relatively serviceable robot mode, but it is a poorly designed one.

Durability: 7/10 The pudgy Dinobot is pretty sturdy, though the whole spine-waist assembly looks dangerously fragile since transformation usually makes me put too much strain on it because of how hard to transform the aforementioned red flanks. Otherwise, though, heís pretty sturdy stuff.

Aesthetics: 6/10 Unlike most Animated toys Snarl isnít a picture-perfect copy of the show model in robot mode. Itís all little things, and while the proper transformation makes him look better, there are some parts that still doesnít quite make him look perfect. The robot head in beast mode, the slightly too-thin waist and upper legs, the general lack of mass around the waist areaÖ still, itís a pretty serviceable robot mode.

Articulation: 3/10 Heís got a lot of joints, but the waist being badly designed and a generally floppy mess makes it nearly to pose anything on the lower body. The exploding waist makes balance terrible as well despite the sturdy legs. The arms and head are pretty posable, though, making good for Cheeto-waving poses.

Fun: 6/10 I found him fun as a set with the other Dinobots, but alone heís a brickish if cute triceratops that turns into a messy robot that wields a cheese stick. I have to admit that my opinion after owning him for a long time has actually made me appreciate him more than I did before.

Price/Value: 3/10 Heís not the cheapest toy out there but I donít find it that worthwile to shell too much money out for this kind of messy toy.

Overall: 3/10 I like the Dinobots, but Snarl is an ungodly mess in robot mode. Of course, itís a bit better when transformed properly Ė a couple little changes makes all the difference Ė but thereís still no denying that Snarl suffers from a lot of problems. Bad kibble, a waist that keeps exploding at the slightest provocation, bad balanceÖ heís coherent, yes, but while Iíve grown fond of him over the years heís still a fairly bad mess and I wonít recommend him for anyone whoís not trying to collect a set of Dinobots or Animated toys. Snarl is kind of bad.
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