REVIEW: Beast Wars reissue Cheetor

The current line-up of Beast Wars reissues is a wonderful thing, indeed.

We’ve already established as much through various reviews of the figures we’ve seen in the line thus far, but today it’s time to turn our attention to one of the poster boys of the nineties Transformers series. Yep, it’s everyone’s favourite pussy cat, Cheetor!

I have strong memories of getting this toy the first time around when it was released in 1996. The Beast Wars cartoon had yet to begin airing in the UK, so the toyline (and a small pack-in mini-comic with the Basic class Optimus Primal & Megatron release) was all we knew of the series at that point. That meant I really didn’t know what to expect from this new breed of robots in disguise.

I would say that even before he became the more child-friendly character archetype of the show, Cheetor already held an innate sense of appeal on a toy aisle. Firstly, the bright colour scheme is hard to miss, but besides, big cats are just kinda cool, aren’t they? I mean, if you’re going to have alien robots trussed up as organic animals, this form makes sense in many ways, but no doubt there’s a distinct appeal beyond that.

Anyway, twenty-six years later, Cheetor is still just as eye-catching, just as vibrant and, yes, just as downright goofy a toy as he ever was, representing the best of what the early Beast Wars line had to offer and no doubt one of two of the downfalls too. That this reissue steers so close to the vintage version is fantastic to see, although how well it wins over a modern audience remains to be seen.

First things first, the overall cheetah mode looks pretty good, in my opinion. Yes, it seems a little odd from certain angles, mostly because of robot mode kibble hanging off it in various places or simply because the proportions might be unfortunate, but overall, it works. In fact, my only real quibble with this form has always been the absurdly large back feet, which are swollen to the size of preposterousness, presumably as a way to make the robot form more stable.

Then there’s the all-too-apparent rifle hanging down from the bottom of his body, sticking out like he’s attempting an Omnibot-esque attack mode. The weapons being so purposefully integrated into the alternate modes was still a relatively new prospect at this point in Transformers. While I think the early Beast Wars toys performed very well in this arena (see Cheetor’s other gun masquerading as his tail for evidence), this is not the finest outing by far.

Still, there’s an overall charm to the cheetah form that I can’t deny, despite its obvious quirks! Looking at it objectively now, it was probably one of the least anatomically correct beast modes of the line at that time, but still, it presents rather well to this day and has been reproduced with a strong finish for this current release. The paint and plastic on offer are as good as ever.

A large part of that is the moulded detailing on the face, which all looks fantastic and is beautifully highlighted by black stripes and a pair of piercing green eyes. This toy had a few variants back in the day, with very early examples having first blue and then red peepers (before green was also used), but it’s no doubt a strong choice to replicate the more cartoon-accurate option here.

The other thing to note is that it’s a very static form with little to no articulation. There is some movement to be had in the hind legs (as a result of it being engineered for the robot mode equivalent), but honestly, it’s of scarce practical use. Meanwhile, the head and front legs are moulded in place, putting him somewhat at odds with the more poseable end of the line, such as Optimus Primal.

Still, overall I retain a fair degree of affection for this design, as bizarre in several respects as it may be. I think my favourite version may well be Takara’s Shadow Panther repaint from 1997, if only because those hot pink eyes are so awe-inspiring. Still, I am very much looking forward to the upcoming reissue of Tigatron too.

Of course, the other nifty thing about this toy is that it adds another welcome member to the burgeoning Maximal line-up, with Cheetor taking place next to his vintage comrades and looking on fine form as he goes. As I say, it’s just marvellous to see such an event taking place after all these years!

There’s more to say here, though, because it’s once you get Cheetor transformed that the real delight of this figure becomes apparent. Yes, the beast form may be odd in places, but just try telling me that isn’t an instant classic of a robot mode, eh?

In some ways, it’s like the Beast-era equivalent of the Datsun mould from Generation 1, with the animal head flipping onto the chest much as the car bonnet did back in the days of old and the legs hanging off the shoulders in a fashion not entirely unreminiscent of a pair of door wings. It has that instant hero vibe to it as well, as though the proportions and general aesthetic are all meant to immediately appeal to fans of the franchise.

Even the head has a classic appeal, with a face sculpt that wouldn’t have felt out of place back in the earliest years of the Transformers line. There are newer elements to it, including those oversized horns atop the head crest, but the roots are there. It’s also much more straightforward than the more stylised take on-screen.

In fact, what always struck me about this toy is just how little it actually feels like the character from the show. All of the major components of the design are there, and it’s not like the CGI model is entirely unfaithful to what we see here or anything. However, there’s not the same sense of youthful naivety about this Cheetor; he comes across more as a Sideswipe-style warrior jock, by my estimation.

Once again, the colour chosen for the eyes in this mode is of interest. There were also multiple options for this initially, although green has been the most common solution for this mould throughout its many releases over the years. The burnt orange seen here is very vibrant and gives a different appeal, but it’s also not the most cartoon-accurate take, either.

If you prefer, you can instead opt for the mutant mask, a feature found on all first-year Beast Wars toys. In Cheetor’s case, you simply flip the face forward and reveal a more ferocious option moulded on the back of the head. It looks fabulous with a lovely sparkly blue finish, although it will always be the second option in my book.

The other gimmick on offer here is those weapons, both of which are revealed through transformation. The so-called ‘gut gun’ has no doubt become the character’s signature weapon over the years, primarily because of how commonly it was seen in the cartoon, although here it boasts a rather strange water-squirting feature, too!

I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever used water in any versions I’ve ever owned of this mould, and I’m certainly not about to start now! As fun as it sounds, water and toys of this kind aren’t my favourite mix, but it’s there for those that want such a thing.

Some may say it’s a shame there’s no paint to be seen on the entrails moulded into the top of the gut gun (yes, its name is well deserved!). Still, equally, this isn’t something even the premium finish of the much-celebrated 2007 Telemocha version achieved, so I’m not too surprised. Besides, bar a few tweaks, I appreciate these reissues capturing the originals’ spirit more than anything.

Then we have the second gun, which can be formed simply by flipping over the tail to reveal a moulded blaster underneath. Like the gut gun, it pegs securely into Cheetor’s palm, although it arguably fits better on account of not impeding the elbow bending at the joint. For this reason, it’s my preferred option of the two.

Really though, it’s fun to arm him up with both, especially as there’s no shortage of awesome poses you can crank out of the articulation. It may not be quite up there with some modern toys in terms of nuances like ab crunches and ankle tilts, but there’s no doubt that the original Cheetor design contains more than enough poseability to get you going.

Overall then, it’s hard for me to think of reasons to not recommend this version of Cheetor if you’re after such a thing for your shelf. Perhaps my only real grumble here is that they’ve kept the running change that Takara made to the moulding, whereby the beast head cannot be positioned closer to the main body, sitting more flush with the chest. I’ve always felt it was a bizarre choice considering it means the character now struggles to see, but at least you can adjust everything to make it work. Still, given a choice, I would have preferred this to have been ‘corrected’.

That said, the design remains as fun as ever and most certainly scratches my itch in terms of needing a vintage Cheetor for my collection. I mentioned as much reviewing Scorponok, but these reissues have arrived at the right time for me, in terms of collecting.

It’s so well done that it stacks up surprisingly well versus old releases such as Shadow Panther, meaning that I’m sure he and Tigatron will prove sufficient to fill a space on the shelf. They may be slightly tweaked in terms of paint, but in every other regard, these reissues really do feel like stepping back in time to the nineties!

It leaves me hopeful that we might see Rhinox and Dinobot revealed for the treatment before too long, and whoever else besides. Hasbro is doing such a fantastic job of these so far that it’s hard not to start wondering where it might go.

Ultimately, I think my biggest hope might be to see some of the classic Transmetals toys brought back with more durable chrome than we experienced at the time, as even though I own a lot of those original releases, there’s still a nervousness around handling them at times. It would be fascinating to see what colour tweaks they might make along the way, too.

Then again, maybe they’ll stick to the pre-Transmetal era and surprise us with a few quirky choices, such as Blackarachnia in her original green and purple paint job. Stranger things have happened.

Or maybe, just maybe, they’ll really push the boat out and start bringing back some of the Japanese exclusive colour schemes from back in the day… odds are not but hey, one can dream, no?

For today, it’s all good news as far as Cheetor goes, as whilst this design retains its quirks, it remains a classic entry in Beast Wars history, looking as great today as it ever did.

WHAT’S HOT? The robot mode is top-notch, with some great gimmicks. Also, the quality on offer here is very good. 

WHAT’S NOT? The beast mode is still a bit bizarre and may not convince modern fans of the character. 


About Sixo

Transformers collector from the UK, collecting vintage G1/G2, CR/RID, UT & Masterpiece/3P. Find me at or on YouTube at


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