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Warcry's Review: 10th Anniversary Rhinox

Maximal second-in-command and chief science officer, Rhinox prefers to remain aboard the Axalon to engaging in battle, but that doesn't mean he can't fight. On the contrary, his triple-plated steel skin and wide array of medium range and hand-to-hand weapons make him dangerous to even the toughest opponent. There's a good reason Rhinox is the last line of Maximal defense, after the perimeter is breached and all weapons systems are offline - no one's ever got past him.

I really, really wanted to like Rhinox. He was never really a major character in the Beast Wars show, falling firmly into the lower tier of supporting cast along with Airazor, Inferno, Quickstrike or Scorponok. He was a stalwart presence right from the beginning, though, a rock that the Maximals could always rely on when things got bad. He has a lot of fans, and I count myself among them even if he's not one of my favourite Beast Wars characters. I missed out on a lot of Beast Wars the first time through because my parents were embarrassed by my continued interest in toys and did their best to discourage me from buying. I never picked up Rhinox back in the 90s, but when Hasbro's 10th Anniversary Beast Wars line was out I happily snapped him up.

That...that was a mistake.

Most of you have heard the word "shellformer" to describe a Transformer whose beast-mode parts just awkwardly hang off of him in robot mode. Rhinox isn't juat a shellformer, he's the shellformer. He's not the worst, but he's the first real egregious one that I ever came across. The Kenner designers that Hasbro had working on the brand learned their lesson and did their best to incorporate the beast-mode parts into the robot mode as the line went on. Takara not so much, and many (if not most) of the Japanese-exclusive Beast Wars toys were shellformers.

But while he might be a stepping stone to bigger and better things, Rhinox himself is an unmitigated disaster.

Alternate Mode: Rhinox is, shockingly, a rhinoceros. Like most first-wave Beast Wars toys, he's more of an approximation than an accurate representation of the creature. His wide body and tree trunk-like legs resemble an elephant as much as they do a rhino, and overall the whole beast mode looks very pudgy compared to pictures of a real rhino. The whole package would be much more accurate if it was 1/4 or 1/3 narrower.

Most rhinos in the wild are grey, but Rhinox is a medium brown with dark brown paint on the back of his head adding a bit of interest to a mode that was very, very bland on the original toy. His horn is painted gold, his eyes are white with a black pupil and he's got a Maximal symbol tampographed onto his right front shoulder. Notably, his tail piece (a separate part that detaches to form a blade in robot mode) wasn't painted and stands out very badly amidst the darker brown on his back.

Aside from looking like an overweight rhino, Rhinox doesn't do anything in robot mode. His lower jaw hinges open as part of his transformation, but the joint is somewhere inside his rib cage so opening his mouth makes it look like he's gotten a fatal injury. His legs are all articulated at the shoulder, but have a seriously restricted range of motion and look very unnatural when posed in anything but the default "standing straight up" position.

So not only is Rhinox bloated and funny-looking, he's a brick too. His beast mode doesn't have anything going for it at all...and yet somehow it still manages to be the better of his two modes.

Robot Mode: In robot mode, Rhinox has a lot more colour than he did as a beast. In addition to his brown beast-mode parts, he's got a lot of green and black. Like most of the 10th Anniversary reissues, Rhinox some new paint apps in robot mode that the original was lacking. As far as I can tell, in his case it's limited to a little bit more detail on his face. The original Rhinox was just plain green, but the CGI model coloured his head crest and chinstrap gold. His mutant head (more on that in a bit) also got some attention, with red eyes instead of black and a painted brow.

While the extra paint is a nice touch, it's akin to putting lipstick on a pig. Colour scheme aside, Rhinox is a complete mess. He has a gigantic slab of rhino hide hanging off of each hip like a bizarre dress, and giant poofy sleeves made up of a rhino's front legs. A rhino's head hangs (comparatively unobtrusively) off of his back, too. In fact, the only parts of his beast mode that are actually included in his robot mode are his rear legs, eyes, lower jaw and belly. A good 80% of the rhino's body is left hanging off of the robot. The bits on his arms tend to pop off without provocation, and the bits on his hips block off any meaningful poseability that he might have had below the waist. Rhinox features standard articulation for a Beast Wars toy, with full range of motion at the shoulders, hips, elbows and knees along with a swivel-jointed neck. Unfortunately, as I said above the leftover beast parts seriously restrict what he can do with any of that and the only pose he can pull off convincingly is standing straight up with his arms out 45 degrees from his body.

Rhinox comes with a few accessories. His beast-mode tail is a separate piece that becomes a blade, and a few bits hidden in different parts of his beast mode become a spinning ball-and-chain weapon. The blade is unimpressive, cast in the same plain brown as his hide and unadorned with any paint or molded details. It's hook-shaped, but neither edge is smooth so I'm not sure which is supposed to be the cutting edge. Although I appreciate the effort, a small amount of silver paint on the inside edge would have really made a difference here.

The spinning weapon was interpreted by the cartoon as a type of machine gun. Unfortunately, the weapon wasn't originally designed to be that. The handle is on what would be the back of the gun, so he can't hold it properly. Indeed, it's hard to say exactly what the accessory is meant to be. The core of it is a spinning saw blade, but it's also got a pair of small ball-and-chain attachments tacked on. The whole thing is really tiny for a melee weapon, and that's only made worse by how bulky and ungainly Rhinox himself is.

Like many first-wave Beast Wars toys, Rhinox comes with a built-in secondary face called a "mutant head". The gimmick was abandoned quickly, since most of them were obtrusive and ugly. Rhinox's is both. He wears his mutant head like a mask, and when it's not in use the halves of it flap around uselessly like a couple gigantic ears. The mutant head itself actually looks really good, and would have been a good fit for a Predacon repaint of the figure (and likewise would have worked nicely in the episode of the show where Rhinox was turned evil). That's more than I can say for most mutant heads, but the giant ears bother me enough that I've modified the figure some. It's fairly simple to pop the mask off, and I've reinstalled it backwards so that it'll close over the back side of his head instead. The up-side of that is that Rhinox's normal head no longer looks ridiculous. It does mean that he's got another face on the back of his head, but I don't mind that so much. Honestly I think the mutant head looks better than the "default" one, because the the mutant head looks vicious and threatening. The main head, on the other hand, had a goofy grimace that looks more than a little silly. Unfortunately, the main head is the one that actually looks like Rhinox did on the TV show.

Unfortunately there's really nothing good to say about Rhinox in robot mode. He was one of the first Beast Wars toys they designed, making his flaws a lot more understandable. But understanding why he is the way he is doesn't make him a good toy.

Transformation Design: Rhinox is an embarrassing mess. The designers couldn't have made him worse if they'd been trying. 1/10

Durability: He's got fewer ball joints than your average Beastie, and a lot of thin plates that you could break if you really wanted to. He's still tougher than a lot of modern toys, though. 8/10

Fun: Does pointing and laughing count? No? Then 'fun' isn't his thing. Frustration, on the other hand... 1/10

Aesthetics: In rhino mode he's OK, but his robot mode is a ridiculous shellformer. The design doesn't come together at all, and the end result is uglier than any other Transformer I own. The absurd Ninja Turtles grimace does no favours, either. 1/10

Articulation: Lots of joints, but zero poseability. 2/10

Price: Like most Beast Wars toys he's pretty cheap, and you can probably find him for under $20 if you're patient. Even that is too much for this piece of crap, but for a vintage toy it's nothing to sneeze at. 10/10

Overall: In my last review I said that Airazor embodied everything that was good about Beast Wars toys. Rhinox, sadly, embodies everything bad about them. He's beyond awful, and on it's own merits there's zero reason to ever buy this toy. Unfortunately this is the only Rhinox mold that looks a thing like the character model, so if you want to collect the Beast Wars cast you're stuck with him. But even taking that into consideration I still can't recommend this toy. It's just too much of a mess. 1/10
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