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Blackjack's Review: Spittor

Name: Spittor
Allegiance: Predacon
Size Class: Basic Class

I absolutely love Spittor. I have no idea why. I find real-life frogs abhorrently disgusting and will murder any I meet with a flamethrower, but Spittor is just so… cute is not exactly the right word. Quirky? Yeah, let’s go with quirky.

For those uninitiated, Spittor is one of the toys released during the Beast Wars line, and one of the many, many interesting looking toys that did not make it into the show and never got any fictional appearances until IDW released a rather messily-written but awesomely-drawn comic featuring all of them fifteen years later or something. Spittor was one of the more prominent Predacon goons featured in these comics, and I immediately loved how wacky-looking this bright blue-and-orange frog Predacon is. Despite having all sorts of awesome poison powers, Spittor is portrayed as a cocky goon that keeps getting himself beat up. Which is freaking hilarious.

Yeah, there was a different Transmetal 2 version of Spittor that turns into a spiky cyborg toad with a mace tongue and I would like to own that someday as well, but this is about the original, first-wave Spittor.

I was even more surprised when Transformers Animated showed a crack team of awesomely dangerous Decepticons – including the likes of G1 mainstay Cyclonus, Beast Machines show character Strika, iconic Bay Movie character Blackout – and yet somehow one of them is Spittor! A version of him, anyway. And he swallowed Autobots and spat them out with explosive goo… yeah, he’s a frog. What do you expect?

Anyway, I’ve always been far more enamoured with the creepy-crawly side of the animal kingdom as compared to the mammals, and Spittor ranks on the very top of the list of non-show Beast Wars toys I would like to own someday. And lo and behold, I did grab ahold of him. But does the actual toy stand up to Don Figueroa’s awesome art and the hype I’ve built up for him in my head?

Beast Mode:
Spittor’s beast mode is a bright blue frog with neon-bright orange splotches. His blue parts are cast out of clear plastic, and while I normally am a religious hater of clear plastic, Beast Wars does make great use of clear plastic. The clear plastic in Spittor isn’t so clear that you can see every single inner workings of the toy like what idiots like Takara do, but rather tastefully gradated so that when light passes through the blue parts, it makes him look see-through… just like a real frog! It makes him look borderline radioactive, and works wonders with the poison arrow frog that he transforms into.

His frog-thighs, lower jaw and underbelly are all cast in solid black plastic, and his eyes are painted in evil-looking green. There's a Predacon rubsign thing near the base of his lower jaw. His sculpting is incredibly awesome. sure, there are a couple of join lines here and there, but the intricate amount of work that went into making this toy… you can see every individual finger on both sides of all of his webbed feet, as well as the suction. Veins and warts and all sorts of awesome-looking details bring out the simple frogginess of Spittor, but that’s not just it. Even the surface is given some kind of glossy sheen which gives him a quasi-slimy look even though he’s completely dry to the touch. Good show, Beast Wars mould technicians! Good show.

Spittor does hide some robot kibble in his beast mode – his robot-mode legs tuck under his belly, and while it’s better than having them dangle randomly, they kinda poke out, being cast in the same bright blue as the rest of him. It’s kind of distracting but not exactly a deal-breaker… the large, folded-up hind legs kind of cover them up, and even if you hate the look of the robot legs so much, they are attached on ball joints and you can just pop them off if you are truly desperate for an accurate-looking frog. It’s not recommended, though, since those ball joints are pretty tight.

However, it has been brought to my attention by Skyquake87 that apparently the designer based the placement of these robot legs on some mutated frogs he saw in real life. Googling up 'mutated frogs with extra legs' led me to lots of pictures of frogs with extra hind legs, even an entire Wikipedia page devoted to it. If you extend Spittor's robot legs out and backwards, you mimic the six-legged frog mutation caused by parasitic Ribeiroia worms which somehow causes an extra pair of grasshopper-looking hind legs to grow from the back.

Not only is Spittor an awesome frog, he apparently can turn into an awesome six-legged frog as well! Just when you thought he can't be better!

Spittor’s front legs are ball-jointed, and his rear legs have two ball-joints and a hinge, so he can do jumping-poses if you want. The most proximal leg joint is relatively restricted, but that only adds to the realism since the limit actually mimics a real frog’s range of motion. Posing him in a mock-jumping position, however, and you expose the blue robot legs tucked under his belly. The lower jaw is hinged, too, though it’s not the best articulation point. It does reveal some sharp teeth moulded in the lower jaw, which I liked.

Like most Beast Wars toys, Spittor has got a wacky, weird gimmick. Press a button near the stump that used to be his tail, and his spring-loaded tongue shoots out. Which seems pretty tame until you realize that on the tip of the tongue sits Spittor’s robot-mode head. It’s… well, I have no idea what practical use shooting your head on the tip of your tongue at an enemy like this would be, other than to shout “BOO!” really loudly and scare little kids to death, but it’s just so ridiculous I can’t help but like it.

Overall, the beast mode looks really, really great for static display as a basic, crouching, grumpy-looking frog. It’s not quite perfect – the robot legs aren’t exactly hidden well – but other than that, Spittor is one of the best-looking beast modes and one of the most realistic ones too.

Robot Mode:
Spittor’s transformation into robot mode is relatively simple. Spittor’s robot legs fold out, his frog head folds to form his chest, his beast forelegs tuck away to his back and his beast hind legs rotate up to become his long robot hands. Don Figueroa portrays Spittor with the forelegs pointing upwards so as not to make the robot mode too humanoid, and I actually like this – it gives Spittor four hands, which is absurdly awesome.

Even without this extra pair of hands, robot mode Spittor is pretty fun. He’s got less orange and more black thanks to revealing the frog underbelly, but he’s still colourful looking. The legs might look too short but they surprisingly support Spittor’s weight quite well. Sadly, no waist joint. I like how even Spittor’s robot feet are webbed, and every single one of his six limbs looks like they can stick to anything. I now have the mental image of Spittor scuttling on walls and ceilings like some sort of crazy six-legged Spider-Man, jumping from one surface to another like one of those annoying Geth leaper things from the first Mass Effect game and spitting poison loogie down at Maximals. Thanks to his athletic-looking limbs, Spittor does look like he can jump around a fair bit in battle and outmaneuver larger opponents.

Spittor is articulated on the thighs, knees and ankles, as well as the shoulders, elbows and… wrists? He’s either got really long frog-hands, or two elbows. Either way, though, I do quite like Spittor’s hands despite how odd it looks with the wrists so far up. His head, however, is completely static and cannot rotate, which is a shame – give him some head rotation and his articulation would be perfect.

The tongue gimmick still exists here, of course, by pressing the button. You shoot Spittor’s head up in a suddenly-rigid neck. I imagine anytime Spittor is surprised this gimmick deploys and he waves his overly-long hands up in the air while his head extends like so. Or maybe you can simulate someone tearing Spittor’s head and spine out of his body, all Predator-like.

Speaking of his head, Spittor’s head sculpt is no slouch either. His eyes are green and the interior of his mouth is orange, with two slimy-looking tentacle things on either side of his mouth. It’s an appropriately gross-looking thing for a frog like him.

He’s a pretty fun little robot, if not perfect. Sure, he’s got gangly hands and a slimy feel to him, but he’s supposed to be a frog. Graceful, frogs are not.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 5/10 It’s… okay? Pretty simple and unobtrusive, but I really wished they found a better way to incorporate the robot legs into the alternate mode, or alternatively make the robot legs turn into the frog forelegs instead of having one or the other hang around uselessly depending on the mode. Granted, the frog forelegs did look like some kind of crazy mutated second pair of hands and that’s kind of a good thing, but the robot legs tucked under him are kind of poor.

Durability: 8/10 Spittor is relatively durable, he’s survived falls with no visible damage. His ball joints are probably at a risk of becoming loose thanks to friction, but if that’s the worst you can think of, he’s a durable toy.

Aesthetics: 8/10 Unless you have a frog phobia, Spittor is pretty. I like how they went all neon to make Spittor look distinctive and eye-catching. His robot mode isn’t the most creative and threatening compared to other Predacons, but again, he does look pretty nice with a distinct long-armed silhouette, striking that balance between being ugly to match the frog theme and being too ugly that no one will buy him (like Sonar).

Articulation: 6/10 The lack of a head and waist joint hurts him somewhat, but all six of Spittor’s limbs are on ball joints and he is pretty well endowed in the articulation department. Kinda wish his robot legs are a bit longer to facilitate better crouching poses, but I like him as he is.

Fun: 8/10 Oh yes indeed I do have fun with him. He’s a frog robot! He’s a cool looking frog robot!

Price/Value: 9/10 I got him for a really cheap price. Not being a high-demand toy, you should be able to find good deals on Spittors.

Overall: 8/10 I was fully expected to be disappointed with Spittor, but in the quick span of the couple of years I owned him he has shot straight up onto one of my favourite-ever toys, even amongst my Beast Wars collection… and that is no mean feat. Now I realize Spittor may not be for everybody, and he is far from perfect, but he is a really neat little toy which I will very readily recommend to any Beast Wars collection in need of another Predacon goon. Spread the Spittor love!
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