Blackjack's Review: Cheetor
Tail-club, Shuriken (2x)
"You can count on me, big bot!"
The Beast Wars guys were pretty distinctive and well-developed characters, perhaps the most well-developed of any character in the Transformer lore... even the bad guys. Cheetor was among the few who made it throughout Beast Wars and Beast Machines without dying, and the other guy that could boast of that achievement is Rattrap.
Now Cheetor started off as your standard 'Bumblebee' cliche. Like all good kid-friendly characters, Cheetor was bright yellow, he was brash, he was young, he was impetuous, he was pretty stupid... basically, the young, wide-eyed kid compared to the more grizzled Rattrap, Rhinox and Dinobot. But unlike other kid friendly characters like, say, Side Burn or Wedge or Hot Shot or Wheelie or Bumblebee, Cheetor actually got character development. As we proceed Cheetor noticeably became more and more mature, going into first a good soldier with his Transmetal upgrade, a rebellious 'teenager' phase when he became a Transmetal 2 and finally into a very mature guy who's basically a young leader that's constantly living in Opt imus Primal's shadow in Beast Machines. It's an organic character development, plus Cheetor is a great character.
Seeing Beast Wars characters getting an update for the Universe 2.0 line, I quickly jumped at the chance to own these guys I loved in my collection. Along with Dinobot, I brought Cheetor.
Now get this. Classics/Universe style updates are never always good. Galvatron, Ironhide and Dinobot are some of the more sub-par ones, saved only because of their characters. And Henkei blinged them up so you can't really complain. But there is always some that are irredeemable.
Regretably, this 'some' falls on Cheetor. Poor, poor Cheetor.
While the name is quite unimaginative (he transforms into a cheetah, so let's call him 'Cheetor'! That way he'll be at home with Tigatron, Rattrap, Rhinox, Waspinator, Scorponok and Tarantulas!) The fact is that great characterisation can overcome stupid names, so the name Cheetor had been reused for other characters post Beast Wars. It was used for an Autobot repainted from the Transmetal Cheetor toy in Armada, and as a BW-based character in Animated's comic series.
Unlike Dinobot, whose new Beast Mode looks as clunky as his original toy, Cheetor's new beast mode has a distinctive, muscular cheetah silhouette instead of the brick-like 'big cat' that the original toy had. It was so generic that Hasbro decided it passed off as a tiger and repainted him as Tigatron. This cannot be done with the new Cheetor toy. I will hand it to the designers: they focused a lot of work into the beast mode and it looks like a real life cheetah instead of a brick-like cat with spots.
It looks really great, with molded musculate and fur and spots and a nice yellow colour and those black things under his eyes... It's great work... unless you try to play with it.
Cheetor's sides has these massive flaps that look so out of place from his organic look. the blue things that jut out from his robot mode knees, as well as his blue hands and assorted blue parts, are not hidden, which breaks up the Beast Mode terribly. Especially the robot arms, which stick on the inner sides of his front legs, making it look obfuscatingly stupid.
Adding fire to the fuel is the thighs of the robot mode is supposed to function as the abdomen of the cheetah, which is fine... except the designers did not put any effort in making the thighs click onto place under the back flap, so we get ugly join lines, which isn't helped by the aforementioned panels. Also, try to move the rear legs and they pull the robot thighs with them, thereby ruining most play value with Cheetor.
To be fair, damn is he well articulated in this mode. His frontal legs have articulations in the shoulder, elbow and ankles, while his rear legs have four points of articulation each. His tail can stiffly move up and down.
And the gimmick here? You pull on the tab, and Cheetor's mouth opens. His eyes change from green into red as well. Now this apparently is a stupid homage to the fact that the original Cheetor toy existed with two eye variants. (The show model has red eyes, by the way) Now if the gimmick does not distract from the functionality of the toy, I wouldn't have minded. But all for a silly gimmick of changing the eyes they have ruined a perfectly good chance of giving us a good Cheetor toy.
Transform him. Good. See what's wrong? Yes. Big, massive, gigantic backpack which is comprised by about 40% of the toy's volume. It makes him look really hunchbacked, and it's certainly not a sneaky homage to his TM2's Igor design — that one actually looked cool instead of stupid like this. Why? All because they had to have the gimmick that changes Cheetor's eyes. Frankly, all parts of Cheetor that aren't limbs are left as a big, terrible backpack which is simply embarassing. But unlike most toys with backpacks, Cheetor does not need to be hunchbacked, no. Why? I'll tell you why.
It's those ugly clown feet of his. Cheetor uses his rear legs as his robot mode feet, but the ankles are too tiny to support his gigantic backpack, so Hasbro recommends you using the lower part of his beast mode alongside the ankles as the feet. This gives him stability... and mightily ugly clown feet. Now if we didn't have the backpack the robot mode feet might be the same as the beast mode feet and we'll get a nice, chicken-leg design like the Beast Machines toy, that actually makes sense, instead of these ugly clown feet.
Cheetor's got metallic blue to detail his robot parts, namely his face, his shoulders, his lower arms, his knee guards, his groin, bits of his thighs and necks. A red Maximal insignia adorns his stomach and the crest on his head. That's one heck of an ugly expression they molded into the face, I tell you. Cheetor's robot mode is supposed to be based on his first body, and it does a great job of looking like it... if you ignore all the limbs. Head? Check. Cheetah head on chest? Check. Everything else? Uncheck.
The arms? Well, they might conceivably be serviceable but the beast mode's entire front leg hangs from the lower arm, severely limiting his arm articulation... in addition to making it look disproportionate, as if he's grown some sort of growth on his arms. It looks unwieldy, and negates the points of articulation on his arm.
Speaking of articulation, Cheetor has got quite a few. His head can turn, his shoulders and elbows are articulated (although thanks to the beast mode limbs these don't do much) and his thighs, knees and waist can move, in addition to joints on his lower leg courtesy of his beast mode. But try moving any of these and you upset the law of balance, so the backpack causes Cheetor to topple over.
Allright, so if a toy is this terrible at least it must have great weapons, right? At least Dinobot is gifted with weapons that resemble his original toy's. Now Cheetor, he's got quite an arsenal to pick from. His original toy had a gun formed from a chunk of his beast mode. Now since Hasbro likes backpacks instead of guns, this funky weapon is denied of us. What about the axe of the Transmetal body? Or the tail-whip of the TM2? Or the sexy scimitars from the BM design? Or hell, just a generic gun?
What do we get? Well, let's see... his tail can be detached. And attached to his robot mode as some sort of... well, I don't know. Club? Whip? Breadstick? Unlike the tail weapons of Cheetor's Transmetal and Transmetal 2 bodies (an axe and a whip respectively) it does not look in the least threatening and simply makes Cheetor, with the Igor backpack and the clown shoes and the diseased arms, look even more stupid. Look at me! I'm holding a breadstick!
Concealed in the beast mode parts on his lower legs are two circular shurikens, taking a page off of Animated Prowl. These are collapsible and when you pull a spike out all three fold out. However, unlike Animated Prowl, there is no sense of Cheetor wielding shurikens, and besides these look so brickish that it's a miracle if Cheetor could send them slashing through an enemy. These ugly projectiles look more useful to lob at the enemy's head instead of slicing or embedding like shurikens are supposed to do.
So instead of a gun, or other proper weapons, we get these jokes. And a terrible robot mode.
All because Hasbro had to have Cheetor change his beast mode eyes for no good reason at all. Ignore anyone who says this toy has any sort of merit beyond having a good looking beast mode; any single toy of Cheetor's in the past, ten years ago or otherwise, can't be worse than this.
Marks out of ten for the following:
0/10 EPIC FAIL in all forms of the phrase. The beast mode doesn't hold together well, and the robot mode is so screwed up by the stupid gimmick and transformation scheme that even the original toy looks better in hindsight.
8/10 Can't fault Cheetor for this bit, at least. He's a brick, and has survived falls from the display case with impunity, thereby robbing me any excuse to junk him due to being broken.
4/10 Beast mode is cool enough if you ignore the fact that the rear parts aren't held together at all. Robot mode? Do I need to repeat myself? Terribly ugly and gigantic backpack kibble. Clown feet. Bloated lower arms. Goofy expression. Breadstick weapon. Bricky shurikens.
3/10 Again, the beast mode is well-endowed with useful articulation slightly hampered by the robot mode upper legs not clicking together, but the robot mode's articulation is so severely hampered by kibble and balancing issues, thereby making his robot mode not much more better than a designed toy ten years ago.
2/10 And I like Cheetor, too... There are many sub-par toys... like Galvatron or Dinobot from the same line... that I pretend are okay toys because I like the characters. But, no, sometimes a toy is so horrible that character can't even save it.
1/10 As if the review hasn't made my feelings clear enough. I am a hardcore BW fan, yet I still feel violated having paid for this shit while it's at full price.
1/10 Most of the worse toys in the Classics lines, like Galvatron or Ironhide or Dinobot or Octane, have some semblance of redeeming qualities, be it a great headsculpt, or at least resembling their original counterparts, or failing that having some great weapons. Cheetor fails utterly at even those, and all of it is foiled because some idiot at Hasbro decided to have his eyes change colour and make the gimmick take up the entire front half of the body, thereby robbing Cheetor of any proper transformation scheme. If you're looking for a modern Cheetor toy, I'd recommend the Titanium toy released some time ago. It may be harder to find, but at the very least it looks good and seems to be a decent toy, not like this horrendous disaster. Avoid like the plague.