Cliffbee.com: Spittor Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Spittor
Series: Beast Wars
Allegiance: Predacon
Function: Surprise Attack
Alternate Mode: Poison Arrow Frog



FROG MODE
Height: 5cm Length: 9cm Width: 9cm

   A dark transparent blue frog with palish fluorescent orange aposematic splotches, Spittor has green eyes, a black lower jaw and upper hindlegs. It's readily apparent that he's painted to be some sort of Poison Arrow Frog, although the bulk and width of the body are more toad-like than these fairly slender South American frogs. It's a striking colour scheme, and works well for a Predacon portrayed as toxic in his tech spec, so while the orange is garish, it really works for Spittor considering what they're trying to do with him, and the slightly transparent dark blue offsets the orange really well.

   There haven't been too many Transformer Amphibians - to my knowledge Spittor was actually the first - so I can excuse the slightly fat bodyshape - which is still very much a frog. The limbs are well proportioned and the skin is textured with glands and lumps, like those found on a real frog (although the Poison Arrow Frogs are quite smooth), and the toes have discs, making this a detailed and accurate moulding.

   The hindlegs have ball jointed ankles, knees and hips, allowing full poseability - including the still shot mid leap snapshot we often see in nature films and such. The front legs are solid pieces with ball joints at the shoulders, which is fine considering that frogs don't really do so much with the front legs anyway. The lower jaw opens and shuts, and just behind the lip are small domed teeth, which is a nice touch.

   Which brings me to Spittor's gimmick - there's a black button just in front of his tail, pressing it causes his "tongue" to shoot a couple of centimetres out from his mouth, something that frogs are of course known to do. I use the term tongue lightly because at the end of the protruding black shaft is a transparent blue bulb, which just happens to be the robot head. No, you can't rotate it so that he fires his face - which I consider a good thing, but I suppose it depends on your sense of humour. The spring controlling this mechanism is quite strong, as is the catch keeping the head stowed, so while it might be a freaky look for Spittor, the engineering is spot on.

   I like Spittor simply because he's a frog - when you consider how many reptile Transformers we've seen down the years, it's a nice change. Having said that, it's fairly obvious to those who know their animal classification that Spittor was designed as a generic frog and given the aposematic colour scheme after the event - since the colour scheme doesn't match the mould. I don't mind this so much since the mismatch is fairly obscure and the colour scheme is a good choice that makes things interesting - and hey, it's still a better fit than Snarl. The play value is great for a basic - the poseability in the legs is as good as I could ask for and the gimmick works very well.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Fold down the robot legs from underneath, extend the hindlegs. Fold the forelegs up onto his back and fold down the beast head to form his chestplate, which will reveal the robot head. Pivot the robot shoulders up into position and pose his hands and feet.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 10.5cm Width: 6cm

   Again largely dark transparent blue, with solid black plastic on his upper arms, groin and thighs, while the orange is now limited to highlights on his chest and forearms. Spittor has green eyes and an orange mouth, painted onto a transparent head. The facial sculpt looks quite alien and the transparent head with painted eyes makes for a very unusual head. The colour scheme again works, although I prefer the look of the beast mode, since the orange was more uniform - this robot mode is a little dark for my liking.

   While the frog mode was quite well formed, this robot mode is a bit of a mess, sadly. The arms are the long hindlegs of the beast mode, and so instead of hands he has giant frog feet which flop around on hinges. The beast forelegs are really obvious kibble sitting behind his shoulders, and while on their own they're ok, on top of the arms it's all too much. The legs are fairly well formed and his feet look like frog feet, despite being hidden in frog mode. The chestplate sticks out further than I'd like, in a very Micromaster way rather than a Jazz way. I wouldn't mind all this so much if his wrists hand moulded hands or something, but with his hands effectively being giant feet, it really looks bad.

   The upside of the robot arms' origin is great articulation - Spittor's shoulders and elbows are ball joints, along with his hips and knees. The wrists and ankles are hinged, although the latter can be a little weak for a toy that's quite top heavy. The gimmick still works in this mode, although I'm not sure why you'd want to give Spittor a narrow 5cm long neck.

   The play value is the best aspect of this rather disappointing robot mode. If the ankles were a little stronger I'd probably say it saves the mode, but as it is I'm neutral. The colours almost work, and I suppose the option of using the gimmick is a plus - despite the odd effect.

VARIATIONS

   Released in red and packaged as a Transmetal in Europe, co-packaged with a video cassette. Spittor was revisited as a Transmetal II. Diver, an all greeen repaint of Spittor with a playset, was later released in Japan.

OVERALL

   It's a very good first attempt at a frog, but Spittor's robot really disappointed me. The Poison Arrow Frog was a good choice of species, and while the mould doesn't fit, it still works. He's worth picking up simply for the beast mode - especially if you like amphibians. A little less kibble in robot mode would go a long way, and make a very mediocre toy into a very good one - 5.5/10

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