Cliffbee.com: Beast Wars Snarl Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Snarl
Series: Beast Wars
Allegiance: Maximal
Function: Surprise Attack
Alternate Mode: Tasmanian Devil (supposedly)



TASMANIAN DEVIL MODE
Height: 7cm Length: 14cm Width: 6cm

   Don't believe the hype... this is _not_ a Tasmanian Devil at all. Snarl is a desert brown quadruped with a grey stripe down his back and a bushy grey tail. He's got ferocious teeth which are painted white, and visible claws on his front limbs, so he's clearly a predator, as Tassie Devils are. However they're also black with some white fur, not brown with grey. The proportions are also wrong, his body is too short, he's crouching when he shouldn't be and his ears are batlike. His face is almost doglike, with a big black nose and an open lower jaw that looks dog-like. Basically, this is a mode based on the Cartoon character "Taz", which looked nothing like an actual Tasmanian Devil anyway.

   That's not to say this is a bad beast mode, it's just not a Tasmanian Devil. It does look like a marsupial, the colours are close enough to typical Australian marsupial colours (greys and dull browns are common), the tail is very bushy and the moulded fur give the short bushy fur look that a lot of marsupial coats have - this is especially the case for the grey along his spine. I could believe it's some sort of Dasyurid species (Dasyuridae is the family to which the Tassie Devil belongs, it includes quolls and most of the animals commonly called marsupial mice). He's believable as a dunnart, although the mouth is a little too big, the ears the wrong shape and the eyes too small. The only bit that's downright impossible is the bright blue colour of his eyes. The teeth are right for a Dasyurid, and the large mouth fits the Tasmanian Devil, actually.

   Taxonomy aside, Snarl's play value is reasonable for a basic sized toy. His hind legs swing at the hips, although he's too front heavy to stand on two legs, since he'll only swing up so far before the tail gets in the way. His front limbs are the robot arms, so they have lots of ball joints, including shoulders, elbows and wrists/ankles. His wrists cannot swing up, only down, which allows his downward pointing claws to slash. The lower jaw is fixed open, but it can wiggle a little - it becomes the robot mode chest plate so there are joints that aren't meant for this mode. An unintended feature is that he's actually life sized for a dunnart!

   The detailing is good - there's a red tongue painted inside the lower jaw, and fur moulded all over this toy. The digits on his feet are also clearly moulded. Lastly, the distinctly moulded teeth really help, and make him look rather ferocious. It's worth nothing that most Dasyurids don't look anywhere as ferocious as this - with the exception of the Tassie Devil - but they're aggressive hunters so it's fitting.

   The main design feature of this mode is the tail gimmick. Basically, the tail is a launcher, the rest of him being the projectile. Pressing on a button underneath the tail shoots Snarl along the table - in theory. In reality he's way too heavy for the spring inside his back to push him more than an inch or two off the launcher. Considering the effort they put into this gimmick, it's a spectacular failure.

   Snarl's beast mode is an interesting mix of the good and the bad. Aesthetically, it works quite well, and it's a convincing Australian marsupial, even if it looks nothing like the species it's meant to be. The play value is okay if nothing special, but the main feature of this mode fails utterly. Despite the shortcomings, he actually looks really cool, so I quite like Snarl the dunnart (if not Snarl the Tasmanian Devil).

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   An unusual transformation for a Beast Wars toy, since it does a lot to accommodate the gimmick. Remove the tail, open the side panels and fold them up and out. Grab the ears and gently pull them apart, which will split the head into the robot feet. Swing the robot legs down, swing the feet up and fold out the heelspurs. Fold down the lower jaw to become his chest, swing his arms down to his sides. Fold the hindlegs into his side panels. You can attach his tail to his wrist to become a gun, but it looks pretty stupid there.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 10cm Width: 7.5cm

   Again largely brown, Snarl has a grey groin and grey thighs and arms but brown hands. His chestplate has a red tongue and white teeth on it, the overall effect reminds of Rhinox, who also has a jaw chestplate. His face is black with bright blue eyes, his head is brown. The blue of his eyes is the same colour as the beast mode, but it works a lot better in this mode since it's believable. His face is almost reminiscent of a raccoon's, with all that black on a brown head.

   There's a fair bit of kibble in this mode. The side panels of the beast mode sit on his back, forming a considerable backpack. Between them is the core of his gimmick, which weighs his back down considerably and causes some stability problems. The gun is little more than the tail/launcher, looking more like kibble than a weapon, especially since it attaches to his wrist.

   The upside is that there's lots of beast mode bits visible in this mode. The feet are the two head halves, and his lower jaw is on his chest as already mentioned. The hands are the front feet from dunnart mode and have distinct fingers with claws.

   As well as the abundance of beast mode elements in this mode, the general aesthetic has been retained - the colours are similar and the moulding on robot only bits is similar to the fur patterns on his back, so even in this mode he reminds me of an Australian marsupial. It really impresses me that they managed to do this.

   The play value's not so great. As mentioned, the backpack is quite heavy. The heelspurs do help, but you've still got to be wary since they're long and pointy and you have to position them right or his weight will tip him over. The head and waist both rotate, but the waist is almost fixed in place thanks to the mechanism parked directly behind it. His shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and knees are ball joints, although leg posing is limited by stability. The wrists allow his hands to fold backwards, which is weird, but they can rotate sideways, which works.

   Overall, this mode has the same strengths and weaknesses as the beast mode - a good aesthetic, good moulding but play value let down by the gimmick's domination of the engineering.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of. He was called "Tasmania Kid" in Japan. Bound Rogue is a repaint of Snarl.

OVERALL

   Snarl looks cool in both modes, even if he's clearly not a Tasmanian Devil. The fact is he looks like a Dasyurid, and the uniqueness of him being the only marsupial Transformer scores him points. The gimmick utterly flops, which is a shame since so much of his engineering is devoted to it - but it does make for an interesting transformation. Removing the gimmick would remove his only major flaw, which is the lack of stability in robot mode. While I like him purely because he's a marsupial, the fact is he pulls off looking like one, which makes him worthwhile since he's so unusual, even within Beast Wars - 7/10

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