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Warcry's Review: 10th Anniversary Cheetor

The youngest of the Maximal crew, Cheetor is fiery, impulsive, and just plain dumb sometimes. Youthful overconfidence combined with incredible speed can quickly get him into deep trouble from which he lacks the skill to escape. Still, beneath his reckless desire to impress his fellow Maximals is the heart of an honorable and capable warrior, and great potential as a future leader.

Since he was one of the most important characters in Beast Wars and Beast Machines, there have been a lot of Cheetor toys over the years. And since visual continuity wasn't a big thing in those years, each of the different Cheetors had a very different look from the last. His most distinctive look, however, was always his first. The original Cheetor toy has had many different outings over the years, mostly in different variations of the original colour scheme. The different releases tweak it this way and that, striving to improve different aspects of it for greater show-accuracy. Since it's impossible to perfectly replicate his CGI model on a necessarily-flawed physical model, none of them have ever gotten it quite right.

In 2006 Hasbro released Cheetor as part of their 10th Anniversary Beast Wars line, and that particular iteration of the toy was their attempt at making a show-accurate Cheetor. They did a fairly good job considering the restrictions they were working with, though the colours aren't as intricate as Takara's Telemocha version that came out at around the same time. At this point, though, the differences are just splitting hairs. The Hasbro version does a good enough job of looking like the character model, but colour scheme tweaks won't make a difference if the actual toy isn't very good.

Alternate Mode: And it isn't, at least in beast mode. Cheetor mostly gets the look right, because he's primarily yellow with black spots. However, there's a lot of visible blue in cat mode on his legs, tail and chest. On top of that, he's got none of the white that a real-life cheetah would sport (and which the Telemocha version does have). The reason for that is because Cheetor's CGI model cheats. The white on his cat mode isn't really visible on the same parts in robot mode, and the blue on his robot mode disappears when he turns into a cat. The toy physically can't do what the CGI model can, and trying to make it means that one mode or the other is going to suffer. For this particular toy Hasbro decided to prioritize the robot mode, and it shows.

However, they made the right choice. Ignoring colour issues, Cheetor's beast mode is simply awful. His silhouette looks feline only in the vaguest of ways. He's covered with joint and transformation lines. His rear legs are clearly those of a humanoid robot. He clearly has a giant cannon hanging from his belly, and a slightly less blatant one on his tail. And to top it all off, he has absolutely no articulation that isn't a part of his transformation. He is, for lack of a better description, a polka-dotted brick with molded fur patterns on it. Every other Cheetor toy in existence has a better beast mode than this, including the Cheetors that don't transform at all.

Robot Mode: Once he's in robot mode, Cheetor has more going for him. For one, he looks like what he's supposed to be instead of a deformed mockery of it. For another, he now qualifies as a toy instead of a statue.

Cheetor is still primarily yellow with black spots, of course. The blue that was accidentally visible in beast mode has a major presence as well, dominating the newly-revealed robot parts. The mix of blue and yellow works very well, actually, with the two colours each covering about half of his body when viewed from the front and blending together very well. He has a fantastic head sculpt too, a smoother, more organic take on the tradition Prowl head design that gives him a fresh, youthful look. His face his blue with a yellow helmet and green eyes. Eye colour (both beast and robot) has changed a lot on the different versions of Cheetor, but green aways was and still remains the best-looking.

He also has a good amount of articulation. Cheetor's shoulders and hips are ball-jointed, his elbows and knees are hinged and he's got thigh and bicep swivels. He's also got articulation at the neck and the waist. The arrangement of his hip joints is problematic, though -- he's got almost no range of motion if you try to move his legs directly forward. You can sort of finagle them into the right position if you move them out to the side first, but it's awkward at best. As well, because he's got a gigantic cheetah head on his chest his arm movement is somewhat limited (along with the issue of not being able to reach past his own chest).

That problem is mitigated somewhat by the accessories he comes with. Unlike a lot of later Beast Wars figures, Cheetor here is very well-armed. He's got a rifle made up of an awkwardly-folded chunk of his hindquarters and tail, which somehow manages to look a lot less ridiculous than it sounds when he's actually holding it. He's also got a water-squirter cannon made up of some parts of his cheetah-mode belly (though that's being a bit's more honest to say that his cheetah-mode belly clearly has a water-squirting cannon hanging from it). Between the two weapons he's very well-armed, and they increase the number of poses he can be put into quite a bit.

Cheetor also features a second, "mutant" head like most of the larger first-wave Beast Wars toys. His actually fits the "mutant" label better than most, with a distinctly non-human skull shape and giant buggy eyes. It's a neat feature, but if you're buying this toy you probably want him to look like he did on TV so you're not going to use it very often.

There are problems, unfortunately. Well, actually, there's one big problem and I've mentioned it already. The cheetah head on his chest not only limits arm movement, it doesn't really lock into place. Viewed from the side or above, it looks like you've missed a step in transforming him and forgotten to lock the head into place. Viewed from the front, it blocks out his face completely. Obviously that's sub-optimal for a robot who's trying to shoot at things, though I suppose it does explain why he was so damned ineffectual early on in the cartoon. But the beast head is awkward any way you look at it, and it really detracts not only from the figure's looks but its functionality as well.

Transformation Design: They really tried, and he turned out a lot better than some other early Beast Wars figures, but Cheetor really hasn't aged well. Both modes have some pretty serious flaws that could have been ironed out with another revision or two (and, indeed, were ironed out for Transmetal Cheetor). 4/10

Durability: Although it has some parts that look fragile, the Cheetor mold is actually quite durable. Even broken examples of the original are pretty rare. Your only real worry would be losing the figure's guns, since they form key parts of his beast mode. 9/10

Fun: While it's cool to own a plastic representation of a favourite character's most recognizable form, Cheetor really doesn't bring much else to the table. He's an average robot at best, and his beast mode is sub-par. I'm glad I've got him, but 'fun' really isn't a part of the equation. Most of the time he just stands on a shelf and looks like Cheetor, and if I ever get an urge to actually play with a Cheetor toy he's the last one I'd reach for. 4/10

Aesthetics: Eh. He's a pretty good representation of the character in robot mode. In beast mode, not so much. He's really no better than any of the other decos the toy has gotten over the years, though. 6/10

Articulation: Once again, it's a tale of two figures. Compared to other Beast Wars toys, his robot mode is average or better. But his beast mode is such a brick that even G1 toys can point and laugh. 5/10

Price: Since he's a reissue, and since so many different versions of the toy have been released over the years, 10th Anniversary Cheetor isn't especially expensive. And if you're not picky about versions and just want the original Cheetor mold, there are definitely deals to be had. He'll cost more than the average Beast Wars toy, but not much. Between $20 and $30 seems pretty achievable, for a loose version. 8/10

Overall: Evaluating him objectively, without letting the character's history influence me, there's nothing special about this toy at all. But subjectively, if you're a fan of Beast Wars this is probably what you think of when you hear the name "Cheetor". I like this deco the best out of all the ones I've seen, but that's a matter of taste and honestly the differences between the versions are marginal, at best. If you're looking for a toy of the original Cheetor, there's nothing wrong with this version that isn't wrong with all the others. But honestly, Cheetor has so many other, better molds that you'd be better off looking into those first. The Transmetal, Transmetal II and (if you like Beast Machines) Night Slash toys would all be a better choice. 5/10
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