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Blackjack's Review: Beast Wars Neo Guiledart

Name: Guiledart
Allegiance: Predacon
Accessories: Tail/Missile Launcher, Missile (2x)

Iíve never really given Guiledart much thought. Heís a relatively obscure Predacon from Beast Wars Neo, yeah, and I vaguely remember his profile from the IDW Sourcebook as being a competent dude among the nest of vipers that is the Predacon faction (metaphorically, of courseÖ the Predacons are like 50% bugs and 50% dinosaurs). And I remember seeing a repaint of him, Triceradon, on the back of the packaging of the Hardhead and Airraptor toys I owned as a kid. But Guiledart is stuck in the pile of Ďcharacters no one cares aboutí in my head. Of course, having been invested in an unhealthy manner into the Transformers fandom, and especially in TFArchiveís own RPG boards, it has given me a big appreciation for what good fanfiction and RPG sessions can do for all these non-entities.

Keeping the Peace is one of those such great short stories, and you should check it out. It features a bunch of obscure Beast Wars characters mostly starring Torca and Guiledart. And while the story had turned Torca in my head from Ďawesome-looking giant bruteí into an actual full-fledged character, Guiledart leapt from being someone I donít even remember into an awesome character as well.

I donít remember precisely what happened in that small, short fan fiction, but the impact it made on me was enough to make Torca jump to the top of my Ďwantí list in my hunt for Beast Wars toys, and I eventually did find a Torca that thankfully doesnít self-destruct from gold plastic syndrome. The person selling me Torca had a lot of other Beast Wars figuresÖ and Guiledart, sitting innocently among the pile of the mainline Beast Wars toys. I certainly did not expect a Japanese-exclusive toy to show up among a pile of Beast Wars toys, but who am I to complain if he lands right in front of me? And at the same price as everyone else to boot. I snatched up Torca, Guiledart and a bunch of other Beast Wars toys, but I do find it rather fortunate and hilarious to get both of them at the same time. I honestly didnít really remember Guiledartís personality or behavior when I bought him, I just remembered really liking him and thatís it.

(Yeah, that kind of ended up as a massive endorsement for Warcryís fanfiction, but itís a pretty good one, and if you have the time go read his ĎReckoningí series. Itís amazingly awesome.)

Anyway, even before buying Guiledart I am already aware of howÖ unimpressive the Guiledart mould is, and indeed practically nearly everything from the Japanese Beast Wars lines are wacky with awkward-looking transformations, but heís already people in my mind. Plus, I was collecting Beast Wars toys, plus heís a dinosaur. And really, I have bought toys that are far, far more disappointing-looking, so I thought Iíd give him a shot. Was he as bad as what everyone said he was? Yes. Was I disappointed? Not so much.

If orange is not your colour, Guiledart himself was retooled from a Triceratops to a Styracosaurus and painted purple as the thug Killer Punch from the same Neo toyline, and was later repainted and released in the US and other markets as ĎTriceradoní in three varying decoes and three varying toylines.

Beast Mode:
Guiledart, as I mentioned above, transforms into a triceratops, one of the more famous and prominent stock dinosaurs. He is primarily orange, with brown details for his three horns, the spiky nubs on his frill and toes. Green detailing which may or may not be mold lines Guiledartís spine with a nice application which leads to the green sort of blending into the orange. Guiledartís eyes are white with beady black pupils. No one can really tell Takara that Guiledartís colours are inaccurate, at least until someone clones a triceratops and checks out for themselves. Orange with random green accents on the spine? Why not? In comparison, Killer Punch is a purple, and the Triceradon herd are dark brown-red, silver-grey and white-grey. Guiledart is orange and looks far more eye-catching than the possibly more realistic brown-red or the G1 throwback of greys. I personally like how ridiculously colourful the Beast Wars era toys are, and I certainly welcome this orange triceratops.

There are a few grey and red robot bits tucked away here and there that becomes more obvious, mainly the backside of the rear legs and the grey robot shoulder on Guiledart's 'chest', and some red bits on the interior of his front legs and some grey bits showing around the joints, but it's otherwise really clean.

And, like all Beast Wars toys, they did a really awesome sculpting job with Guiledartís hide, giving a very nice impression of a rocky hide. If memory serves right, as a kid I learned that fossilized skin impression of triceratops skin does kinda look like that, so kudos for Takara for doing research. The frill even has a different looking leather-esque structure to it! Sadly the sculpting doesnít exactly go around Guiledartís entire body Ė the area under his frill around his neck in particular is extremely smooth Ė but itís a minor complaint.

Youíd think that Guiledart would be a brick, but beast modes usually have at least movement in their limbs since they generally share joints with equivalents in the robot mode. All four of Guiledartís limbs are ball-jointed, and the rear legs even have knee joints! Knee joints that are ultimately redundant without exposing robot legs or muscles (more on that) but hey. His head is also slightly ball-jointed though with that massive frill and the body halves clamping him together itís really hard to get much movement out of it. Of course, itís a triceratops, and thatís practically all a triceratops can do. They charge at predators and impale them on their horns, after all, they donít defend themselves with awesome articulation or whatever. Itís a shame that his toothless (actual triceratops have teeth, though) beak is not articulated, though he has a tongue and he can blow raspberries or pretend to be a dead dinosaur like I will detail shortly.

If you transform him properly, Guiledart is a pretty solid dinosaur. Thatís a pretty big Ďifí since like all Neo toys Guiledart is a mass of moving parts and panels, though it isnít as frustrating as a lot of modern toys. And itís practically a walk in the park compared to the ridiculously frustrating puzzle of getting his fellow Neo Predacon Dead End into his ammonite mode.

Pretty awesome dinosaur mode, and a pretty fun departure with a herbivore dinosaur being cast as a Predacon. I like it.

Dead Dinosaur Mode:
Guiledart has an additional Ďdead dinosaurí mode. Hey, itís Japanese! It certainly makes more sense than Striker and Slingís flower trap mode or Mach Kick's weapons emplacement mode made out of random horse bits and hair or Magmatronís wacky dinosaur conga line mode. Itís even kinda advertised in the instructions, although from a fictional standpoint I am not sure what is to be gained by Guiledart pretending to be a decaying half-eaten triceratops corpse. And from a practical standpoint Iím not sure why children would find the idea of a decaying half-eaten triceratops appealing. But far be it from me to try and decipher the fun wackiness of the Japanese.

You push Guiledartís nose-horn to cause his tongue to stick out and for his eyes to roll behind and become white, and then open panels on his side to reveal muscles and a bunch of awesome ribs. And robot kibble while you're at it. You can pull the tail slightly out and adjust the rear legs to expose even more muscle flesh. And there you have it, a dead triceratops! Yay! I am not even entirely sure what function this is supposed to serve but itís so ridiculously insane that I canít even hate it.

Robot Mode:
Guiledartís robot mode isÖ is a gigantic mess. His entire right arm is a disproportionately massive triceratops head with a tongue lolling out, but thatís tame compared to the left. Heís got his beast modeís torso as a shoulder pad on the other arm with ribs, dead flesh, two dinosaur legs and missiles jutting out of said shoulder pad. Meanwhile, the actual robotic left arm is a tiny little thing thatís not even visible when he holds his weapon, which is literally his severed tail. Complete with flesh detailing on where itís ripped off his beast mode. Heís got a kibble backpack that, while thankfully isnít visible from the front, does cause a lot of problems with posing. His legs look ridiculous too with massive triceratops legs as thighs, skinny metallic shins that end up in flesh shoes. His actual robot body is pretty cool looking and I frankly have no idea where to start describing all the robot details they incorporated into it. Overall itís a really weird looking asymmetrical robot mode which simply borders on laziness and lunacy.

There are a lot of additional colours added to Guiledart upon transformation. The beast mode parts are still obviously orange, but his main body is mainly grayÖ well, itís not mainly anything, really. Itís a mix of dark grey, light grey, silver and red, with a bunch of black parts, a little yellow circle thing on the right side of his chest and a brown sash going across his chest. It doesnít really help his already messy-looking robot mode, but itís appealing, contrasts well, and looks good enough to be loud and not ridiculous. Well, not too ridiculous, anyway.

Heís got a great headsculpt with an orange helmeted horn, a red face and yellow eyes. Heís scowling, probably because of how uncomfortable all those beast mode kibble must make him. I like how his robot mode face still brings to mind an angry triceratops, or an angry rhinoceros at least.

Articulation wise Guiledart is a massive mess, though. All the kibble gets in the way of any sort of articulation on the upper limbs. His head can rotate, and heís got a strange variation of the elusive waist joint, namely in that the joint is in the middle of the torso around where the ribcage ends in a human. Not that he gets much mileage out of said joint due to his kibble backpack and his massive shoulder pad. His dino-head right arm is double-jointed on the shoulder which is pretty nice, and heís got a double-jointed elbow of sorts, but considering the massive triceratops head and the frill the head has, itís relatively hard to pose. Itís got a really nice range of motion and despite the frill getting in the way it can be posed somewhat like a shield or ramming weapon, and you can just imagine him charging with his dinosaur head like a spiky shield to ram through Maximals. The dinosaur head probably snapped at the Maximals with that nasty-looking beak, too. Not that the toy gave him articulation for the mouth, so toy Guiledart can only blow raspberries with his dinosaur head arm.

His left arm is articulated on the shoulder and elbow, and actually looks pretty great with a spiky wrist gauntlet but itís so tiny and kind of disappears next to the massive orange shoulder pad. Not to mention that the shoulder joint is a triple-jointed affair that, in addition to being difficult to pose properly, is also attached to the multi-hinged mess of dinosaur parts on his shoulder. Itís really a massive mess, and since heís most likely just going to bend his arm at the elbow and point his tail-gun at people itís moot anyway. His legs are well articulated, with ball-jointed hips, beast mode knees halfway down the thighs, hinged knees, and hinged ankles that allow independent movement of his feet and heel. His legs look silly but they are stable and have a wide range of articulation.

The shoulder pad, complete with ribs hanging down from it and dinosaur legs sticking out of it (and some kind of weird mechanical blaster-missile things sticking out of those legs) simply looks messy, and really should have been a removable accessory, or couldíve tucked into his back, or actually transform into Guiledartís arm or something. You can pop it off at the risk of never being able to pop it on back again, but that only exposes the dinky robot arm underneath it, Guiledart looks like he's lugging a dinosaur head for no reason in one hand instead of being bulky all around, and the back kibble still restricts articulation anyway.

(Seriously, I accidentally popped off Guiledart's shoulder pad thing while taking pictures and the fiddliness and the amount of hinges involved, not to mention how deep the ball joint is, and how fiddly it is to get my fingers into the nooks and crannies to apply enough pressure... it's impossible and Guiledart as a result has stress marks deep in that ball joint not visible from the outside. Don't try this.)

Guiledartís tail (which with the exposed meat detailing looks like itís been ripped straight off his tail) turns into a missile launcher with a Predacon crystal insignia thing, but sadly the long tail end juts backwards, and kind of like to get caught up in the massive shoulder pad and the ribs that hang down from it. Itís a pretty nice gun compared to many Beast Wars era weapons that are made out of random animal bits, and the exposed mechanical bits actually look like a legitimate gun. The tail tucks in... sort of well into the cavity of the shoulder pad under those ribs. So. Guiledart comes with two missiles which fire rather well, which otherwise store sideways into nice, thoughtfully placed slots in the massive shoulder pad. That is also where they store in beast mode, and if you are so inclined you can have the missiles kinda poke out and make Guiledart's beast mode launch missiles from his back. And promptly have them explode against his frill. Compared to the tail-gun Guiledart has, I much prefer Killer Punchís insane curved blade-axe thing, though. That thing looks freaking awesome.

Guiledartís robot mode is really, really weird looking. I canít say that I hate looking at him, because that would be untrue. I like some asymmetry in my crazy alien robots, and Guiledart is as asymmetrical as they come. Perhaps partly due to his pretty pleasing paint scheme, partly due to Warcryís fanfiction, and partly due to wanting a Triceradon toy as a kid, I really canít bear to hate this objectively really messy toy.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 3/10 Itís a really messy transformation. There are so many moving parts that shifting him back and forth is a chore and a puzzle, and thereís the aforementioned idiocy of having a giant chunk of triceratops body parts acting as a prohibitive shoulder pad. I donít really mind the massive triceratops arm, though, which actually looks threatening as opposed to many Ďbeast head as handí designs. But otherwise itís a messy and poorly-executed transformation.

Durability: 10/10 Short of losing missiles, despite being a jumble of joints itís pretty durable. Itís just as sturdy as a triceratops would have you believe, and I have had him skydiving from the top of my shelf to the floor with nary a scratch.

Aesthetics: 7/10 Strange as it might be, I really like Guiledartís unconventional looks. He already is a pretty convincing and awesome triceratops, and his robot mode really looks well with the paint scheme they gave him. There are a lot of weird things like the atrophied-looking robot legs, the tiny left arm and the triceratops feet sticking randomly from the shoulders, but all in all I think I quite like Guiledartís looks a lot. Of course, tastes may differ.

Articulation: 3/10 Yeah, heís not going to get good scores for this. Heís got a great range of articulation, itís just really frustrating to pose him in any meaningful fashion beyond moving the triceratops head a little, turning his head and bending his knees.

Fun: 2/10 Heís got too many little annoyances that takes away from the fun factor. Itís frustrating to transform him, itís frustrating to pose him, and itís frustrating to do practically anything with him that isnít static. Or a dead dinosaur.

Price/Value: 8/10 For me, at least. Iím not sure what the going price for Beast Wars Neo toys is, but I know for a fact that simply by being a low-key Japanese line means that fans of Japanese Transformers wouldíve lapped up a significant amount of Guiledarts in the aftermarket. I donít doubt that youíll find one if you look hard enough, but price may vary. I got my Guiledart for a nice deal and he didnít cost any more than Torca or any of the toys I bought alongside him. Guiledart himself might be harder to find, although I'm not sure how hard due to never really putting effort into actually hunting him down. His repaints, the Triceradon herd, are far easier and cheaper to purchase so they would be better options for you if you want to experience the... the uniqueness of Guiledart's mould.

Overall: 3/10 Yeah, I like Guiledart a fair bit mostly because Iím not bothered too much by his looks in robot mode, but there are a lot of things that make him fall short of being a good toy, and a lot of it stems from the insane design concept of his transformation. Ingenuous, I admit, and certainly unique, but it also leads to a frustrating time trying to transform the toy, it leads to chunks of kibble hindering articulation, it leads to random triceratops parts sticking out of his robot mode, and itís generally messy. It's the epitome of Japanese Beast Wars toys, with a frustrating and ridiculous transformation, wacky gimmicks, a ridiculous 'third mode' and generally being bizarre. I do know what Iím getting into when I bought Guiledart, and frankly considering the damning and unflattering reviews he and his moldmates have got floating around, I think I ended up liking him more than I should due to decreased expectations. Subjectively he's a Beast Wars toy (yay) of an obscure character (yay!) which has been personified (yay!) and to top that transforms into a dinosaur (yay!) and I got him for cheap (yay!). Objectively heís a horrible toy.
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