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Blackjack's Review: Rhinox

Name: Rhinox
Allegiance: Maximal
Size Class: Voyager Class
Accessories: Chaingun of Doom (2x)

Ah, Beast Wars. Whatever you may say, Beast Wars is one of the best, if not the best, Transformers cartoon of all time. And as such, the toys of the iconic characters that appeared in the show – less than half of the actual toyline – are very valuable and expensive. I myself have never really managed to obtain any toys of show characters, mostly because of how hard it is to come by them and how expensive they are when I do find them. Sure, there was a reissue some time ago… a year before the 2007 Movie sucked me into this crazy fandom. Oh Hasbro, why don’t you reissue Beast Wars toys again? Someday I’ll collect all of the Beast Wars toys. That is the dream.

However, there is one show character toy that I have never considered buying, and Warcry's review has further damned the toy in my eyes. Rhinox was certainly one of my favourite characters in the show, if only for the fact that he was almost always in the background yet never really manages to be unimportant. He’s that constant presence that doesn’t really change, and in a show with such heavy characterization being lobbed around he’s a necessary addition narrative-wise. Rhinox might not be my favourite Beast Wars character, but I certainly do like him.

Beast Wars has this thing where every single character, no matter how unimportant, still has characterization. Rhinox is stalwart and calm, smart enough to be suspicious but not too much as to be paranoid, and extremely capable in all sorts of things. He’s the resident medic, engineer, hacker and general wise old dude among the Maximals, plus if things get rough he turns into a rhinoceros and barrels through Predacons or mows them to hell with his awesome spinning chainguns of doom. Of course, he’s extremely humble so all the awesome traits do not get annoying, and he does have some flaws in sometimes being too passive as well as an implied bloodthirst underneath all that which was unleashed a couple times.

Generally, Rhinox is kind of an awesome dude. But he’s never really gotten a good toy. The original Beast Wars toy, as Warcry’s review stated in the blue link above, is an ugly piece of shit. They made a Transmetal toy later on which was later repainted in the Armada line, but that one, in addition to still being an ugly piece of shit, also looks nothing like Beast Wars Rhinox. So no, Rhinox has not really ever had a good toy. Well, until recently, that is.

When pictures of Generations Waspinator were toted around the internet, with rumours of Rhinox and Rattrap following close behind, it blew my mind. Hasbro’s two previous attempts at reinventing Beast Wars toys in the Classics style – Universe Cheetor and Dinobot – were far from promising. Dinobot is barely average at best, and Cheetor is a massively embarrassing mess. However, since 2008 Hasbro has steadily been improving their Beast-formers and actually, you know, actually having them be incorporated into toylines. And it seems like they’ve made sufficient improvements to the designing process to make new Classics-styled toys that are significantly better than the original BW era toys released all the way back in the 1990’s. Admittedly when you start off with a toy as horrible as the original Rhinox it’s not an achievement, but trust me, Generations Rhinox is awesome.

Beast Mode:
Rhinox transforms into a rhinoceros. What a twist! Unlike the lumpy mess that was the original Beast Wars toy, however, Rhinox now transforms into an anatomically accurate rhinoceros. As anatomically accurate as my untrained eyes can tell while looking at rhino pictures on the internet, anyway. And, well, it’s a gorgeous thing. Sure, it’s not a perfect disguise… there are obvious green parts of Rhinox’s robot arms on the back half of his forelegs, and less obvious are the robot feet tucked on the back of his hind legs. Some green hinges and whatnot are kind of visible from different angles, plus there’s the whole network of join lines across his flanks.

However, it is far, far better than what I expected them to do. The fact that they managed to pull off an anatomically accurate rhinoceros at all… this completely blows the hippo-with-a-horn alternate mode the original Rhinox toy right out of the water. Granted it’s not strictly show accurate, with the cartoon’s CGI model for Rhinox having a far larger head, but this is certainly a change for the better.

Rhinox is coloured a light brown, a couple shades lighter than the original toy as well as the CGI model… which I actually liked, since it strikes a nice, comfortable balance between more common grey rhinoceroses and Rhinox’s traditional brown hide. Plus I can wager it’s not a change that you’ll really be bothered with, for the shade of light greyish-brown they picked for Rhinox looks just so natural.

Rhinox has beady black eyes that look eternally sleepy, like he’s just lazily scanning the horizon for nice flowers to smell. His horn is cast in white plastic and has impressive detailing that makes him realistic. It’s not quite up to the crazy amount of detail that later Beast Wars toys sport, but Rhinox is still pretty awesomely detailed nonetheless, with great efforts undertaken to make sure his fake rhino hide really looks like some kind of hide, at least.

Rhinox’s ears and the entire piece that forms his ass are cast in soft, rubbery plastic, though these parts are unlikely to come into too much stress anyway so I don’t have any gripes about this particular use of rubbery plastic.

Rhinox’s beast legs can waggle a bit and he can lower his lower jaw and that’s about the only things you can do with the rhinoceros mode. Kind of a shame that you can’t pose him in a charging position, but it is a pretty anatomically correct beast mode. So yeah. As a bonus his chainguns of doom combine together and store in his stomach as part of transformation. What more can you ask?

Also a little side-note, every single promotional stock photograph with Rhinox’s beast mode has him open his mouth. Please do not do that. Not mentioned in his instructions are a small tab on the roof of beast mode Rhinox’s mouth, allowing the whole lower jaw assembly to tab in securely and turn Rhinox into a sleepy looking rhinoceros with its mouth closed instead of a fanged grinning horror. I’m pretty sure real rhinoceroses do not have sharp teeth, so it’s not a detail meant to be seen in beast mode.

Robot Mode:
Transformation is a bit longwinded, and the instructions are kinda bad. Transforming into beast mode is harder though thanks to moving all those hide-plates. For the love of the Vok please be careful while handling the rump piece, it’s rubbery plastic and if you force it to go where it shouldn’t while transforming (and it’s easy to mistake the steps while doing it) you risk damaging it and giving Rhinox a bigger hole in his behind and that would be sad.

Anyway, Rhinox is robot mode is majestic. He looks like he’s just walked out of the Beast Wars show, except far better. And it’s certainly a massive leap from the horrid original toy. None of that Ninja Turtle grimace, or random battle mask halves jutting out of the sides of his face, or rhino-hide skirts, or any sort of kibble that isn’t in the show. Which means the only real kibble Rhinox has are the lower jaw ending up on his chest (filled with that characteristic row of non-rhino sharp teeth) and the rhino head (again with sharp teeth) that ends up as a backpack that peeks a little behind his robot head. Every single piece of rhinoceros hide in robot mode either transforms to unveil robot parts, or are tucked away so neatly on Rhinox’s back it doesn’t even form an actual backpack.

Rhinox is a bit mis-transformed out of the packaging, the waist assembly is supposed to be pushed a little upwards to make him stockier and look less skinny, allowing for more show accuracy. The instructions aren’t exactly clear about this either and I spent more time than I should trying to figure out the unclear instructions. Some photographs in the internet showing the taller (and wrong) robot mode didn’t help me either.

He has a lot of green and gold in robot mode, plus a fair bit of black here and there. It’s a gorgeous paint scheme that replicates his robot mode in the CGI extremely faithfully. Rhinox also has a majestic headsculpt that is show accurate. It’s beautiful. I cannot really describe his paintjob and headsculpt without repeating ‘awesome’ and ‘just like on tee-vee’ seven dozen times so let’s just leave it at that.

Rhinox’s extremely clean robot mode certainly lends to a lot of articulation possibilities. And being a Generations toy Rhinox does indeed take thirty years of Transformers engineering and got himself a lot of new joints. His head is ball-jointed, his shoulders and elbows both have a double-joint made up of a hinge and a rotator, his wrist are slightly hinged, he has a waist joint behind that skirt, his knees are hinged and his ankles are double jointed – the normal hinge and another hinge that allows Rhinox’s legs to bend slightly inwards to facilitate wide-legged poses.

Which brings me to my next point: it is futile trying to pose Rhinox with straight legs. His legs are designed in such a way to give him a wide-berthed stance, so much that they gave the ankles extra joints for balance. He’s always going to have his knees slightly bent thanks to how the kibble on his lower legs are positioned, but I say that it’s actually a good thing. You can make his legs be ramrod straight, but the thighs kind of bend inward like birds. It’s not very noticeable, though, and doesn’t hurt poseability a bit. Balance, though, is a different factor. It’s not terrible, but sometimes I wished they made the joints on Rhinox’s legs a little tighter.

Rhinox comes with two chainguns of doom. The original Rhinox toy had this weird-looking spinning buzzsaw-flail thing which the cartoon interpreted as a spinning chaingun of doom and destruction, and it’s the latter that gets remade. And unlike Universe Dinobot’s castrated spinning gimmicks, both chainguns of doom can spin spin spin spin spin when you press the brown button. And unlike a lot of modern toys I could name, the buttons look like little viewfinder things and not big ugly chunk of buttons.

Oh, and the chainguns can actually peg onto the back of Rhinox’s shoulders, which are incidentally where guns are magically pulled out from in the show. The chainguns, as mentioned before, can clip together and kind of transform into a compact form to be placed inside the stomach of Rhinox’s beast mode.

Despite modern Voyager toys being generally taller than Beast Wars toys, Rhinox fits perfectly with Beast-era toys, looking like a normal Mega-class toy, just better and more awesome and more show-accurate. The stocky mould and the relatively short height compared to modern Voyager toys coupled really helps to make him look like he belongs among the Beast-era toys.

There is only good things to be said about his robot mode.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 8/10 It’s fairly complex, and the instructions are especially bad, but it results in an awesome-looking robot. It’s a bit of a chore to learn and practice but Rhinox’s transformation is certainly fun and innovative.

Durability: 8/10 He’s not a literal brick like his original toy, but other than loose joints and soft plastic breaking, I do not see anything that will cause serious injury on Rhinox.

Aesthetics: 10/10 Oh, sure, it’s not exactly 100% show accurate, but I’ll go as far as to say that this is an improvement compared to the CGI show’s brown. And don’t even bullshit about Takara, their version of Rhinox is somehow painted in chrome-metal brown which makes him look like neither a real rhinoceros nor the CGI model instead of a good compromise like Hasbro Rhinox.

Articulation: 8/10 It’s not the best that it could be thanks to some bad balance preventing a couple poses, and initially I thought it was poorly designed, but the longer I fiddle with him the longer I found how incredibly awesome his legs really are, how they can bend inwards to be straight, how the ankles can bend medially to support a wide-legged stance…

Fun: 10/10 Chainguns of doom alone are worth the price of admission.

Price/Value: 9/10 For a while now I have limited myself to deluxe class toys and smaller. Voyagers are reserved for really awesome toys. Rhinox though? Rhinox is worth every penny I spent on him.

Overall: 9/10 It’s partially the love for my character that’s talking, and partially my love for Beast Wars. I will freely admit that any time. I’ve even purposefully waited nearly a month before reviewing him to get all the new-toy-euphoria out of the system, and I still really love him. Sure, his beast mode is a bit of a brick and there are some teensy-weensy balance issues. But disregard those and Rhinox is a really great Transformer, a really innovative one, and one that is a near-perfect representation of the on-show model. If you’re collecting Beast Wars in any form I would say buy him. He is a grand addition to any collection, and is certainly my favourite toy for a long, long time.
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