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Warcry's Review: Snapper

A terrorizing turtle with secret speed! Turbo-driven quad thrusters ignite from below his armor-plated shell to send him screaming through murky earth swamps like a heat-seeking missile! When hydraulically hinged jaws snap down on their victims, the terrifying sight reminds one of a trash compactor crushing a soda can - except soda cans don't scream for mercy!

Snapper was the second or third Beast Wars toy I bought, back in the days before I'd seen the TV show when my young mind had just moved from believing that the BW toys were knockoffs to a firm conviction that every character was secretly a G1 guy in a new body (for some reason I'd decided that Snapper had been Triggerhappy, because that totally made more sense than fellow turtle with nearly the same name Snaptrap). I didn't really get Beast Wars then, not really, and wasn't sure what to make of Snapper. In many ways that holds true today.

Alternate Mode: Snapper is one of the early-wave Beast Wars Basics, which means that he's got a very simple spring-loaded transformation. That poses some issues in beast mode, because while Snapper does resemble the snapping turtle that he's supposed to be he's also got a lot of very poorly hidden robot parts. He's also a fairly old and well-used figure, so the mechanism is showing wear. I'll cover both of those issues later on.

Before that, though, we should talk about Snapper's appearance. He's a snapping turtle, obviously, so he's almost entirely green. A few red robot mode parts peek out from under his shell, but my impression is that they're not really supposed to be seen here. Snapper's head, shell and tail are all very detailed, with yellow paint washed into all the grooves, ridges and detail lines carved into the mold. The same cannot be said for his legs, unfortunately, which are left bare except for his painted fingernails. The overall effect is pretty startling, actually, and Snapper ends up looking like you slapped someone else's legs onto him by accident.

Snapper's head is articulated, able to look up and down but not side to side. His jaw is also hinged, although somewhat surprisingly it's not spring-loaded to snap shut on it's own. His legs have joints but are positioned such that they lack useful articulation, though that's only to be expected considering he's a turtle -- hardly the most limber, acrobatic creature in the world.

His legs, unfortunately, are a total mess. His rear legs are completely mismatched to the body, resembling nothing more than a pair of robot arms being dragged aimlessly behind him (which, naturally, they are). His front legs are much smaller and fit in much better, just as long as they stay where they're supposed to be. These legs are actually the soles of his robot feet, and since the robot legs don't lock into place underneath Snapper's shell the slightest jolt will knock them out of position.

And last but not least, Snapper's auto-transformation is starting to show it's age. The internal gear mechanisms that pull his turtle head up into the shell tend to slip, and when that happens he won't stay in either mode properly. That can be corrected, but requires a worrisome amount of force. And even when everything is aligned properly the gears and tabs aren't strong enough to hold everything in place, so Snapper's tail tends to droop. He's even been known to transform himself to robot mode of his own volition, which is hardly a good thing.

I really want to like Snapper's beast mode because the turtle shell is so eye-catching. All in all, though, it's a mess.

Robot Mode: Snapper's robot mode, then, is just weird. Any humanoid turtle from the 1990s is going to draw some comparisons to the Ninja Turtles, and Snapper does not come off very well in comparison. He wears his shell on his back, but he's got stick-thin limbs with no real hands. He's still mostly green, though now the red parts are more clearly (and intentionally) visible -- his shoulders, upper arms, thighs and torso (behind his turtle-tail chest plate) are all red. He's got yellow eyes but his face is otherwise unpainted, which is a shame because it's got very little molded detail. Other than the eyes he's got no new paint in robot mode, which makes you wonder if they blew the budget on the lovely turtle shell.

Snapper has your usual Beast Wars articulation, with ball-jointed shoulders, elbows, knees and hips. He's also got a neck swivel and hinged ankles -- very loose hinged ankles that can barely support his weight. Snapper can barely stand straight up, and any other pose is completely out of the question without additional support. The ankle joints have always been loose as far as I can remember, so if they weren't loose straight out of the package they got that way pretty quickly afterwards.

Snapper's only accessory isn't even an "accessory" per se, but a section of his shell that disconnects and transformed into a triple-barrelled cannon. The cannon can either be pegged into his forearm, where it looks kind of silly, or left in place on his back with the barrels pointing up like the original Transformer turtle Snaptrap. I prefer the latter, though truth be told I prefer even more to just leave the gun folded up because he looks better without it.

Snapper's biggest flaw is his hands. They're molded to look like turtle legs, but end up being especially silly hanging off of a robot's elbows. He lacks the huge, threatening claws that his Maximal counterpart Armordillo (who uses a very similar transformation) can boast, and winds up just looking like a poor bugger with no thumbs. The problem isn't helped by the orientation of the hands either, since because of how his arms are articulated he's stuck permanently looking like he's about to sit down and play the piano.

Snapper's pretty bad, and I can best sum up how bad with a comparison to a non-Transformer toy: at around the same time as I got Snapper I got a Michelangelo that "mutated" from normal turtle to Ninja Turtle. That toy had a better beast mode, a better humanoid mode and a better Transformation scheme. When non-Transformers designed by companies with no experience in the field do a better job implementing the idea than the actual Transformer brand does, you can only chalk it up as a failure.

Transformation Design: The lazy, spring-loaded transformation is the root cause of all of Snapper's ills. Later waves abandoned the gimmick entirely, and it's no coincidence that the first wave of Basics is the weakest. Toys like Snapper are just crying out to have a few more wrinkles tossed in to fix some pretty glaring problems. 2/10

Durability: I did manage to snap off the handle for Snapper's gun some time in the distant past, but that's more my stupidity than a flaw in the toy. The only real thing to worry about here is the auto-transform mechanism, which is definitely showing it's age to the detriment of my figure. 6/10

Fun: Snapper really doesn't bring much special to the table. He lacks any unique or interesting gimmicks to call his own, and the figure itself is pretty lacklustre. Out of all the Beast Wars toys I own he's the one I play with the least. And yes, that includes Drill Bit. 2/10

Aesthetics: Snapper's shell is a thing of beauty, but the rest of the toy is nowhere close to that level. And unfortunately, when taken as a whole Snapper is pretty plain. 5/10

Articulation: Snapper's got joints in all the right places in robot mode, but the weak ankles render them all but useless. His beast mode is in the same boat, with lots of joints but few that are actually useful. 3/10

Price: Snapper falls into the $10 to $15 range typical of non-show Beast Wars toys. Whether or not he's worth the price you'll have to decide for yourself, but if you want one the price tag will be reasonable. 9/10

Overall: Snapper's just not very good. 4/10
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