The Beast Wars reissue line is already heading to places I could have only dreamt of.
Not content with pumping out the core cartoon cast in quick succession (despite a few obvious names still left on the roster to be realised), Hasbro has now started turning their attention to the lesser-known B-list Beast ‘bots that we only ever knew in toy form back in the day. Which is my convoluted way of asking if you, like me, can scarcely believe there’s a reissue Retrax on the horizon?
Anyway, for today, it’s the Maximal known as Wolfang that we’re here to assess, and frankly, I couldn’t be happier to see this one made real. You see, whilst I managed to assemble a decent majority of Beast Wars toys at their time of release, there were a few that I failed to pick up for one reason or another, and this lad was on that list.
Not that he didn’t appeal, mind, but as I recall, I opted for the K-9 retool because the German Shepard alternate form seemed like a fun oddity in the context of the cartoon’s prehistoric setting. Since then, I’ve also acquired Beast Wars II’s Max-B remould, so this reissue has brought things full circle in terms of my collection. How lucky!
Anyway, now that he’s here, does the current release live up to over two decades’ worth of anticipation? Thus far, the slate of toys brought back has proven to be pretty good in terms of execution, with the quality generally holding up and some examples, such as Scorponok, showcasing tighter ball joints than I might expect on a vintage specimen, even. That leaves me very excited for my first ever experience of Wolfang, then.
The early signs are good, as the beast mode presents beautifully right out of the package. In a strange turn, Hasbro has opted to display him inside the bubble with his harpoon-like missiles prominently displayed, but you can quickly and easily stow them away inside his feral form, should you prefer. There’s no denying that he looks very swish once you have him unpackaged and ready for inspection!
First things first, it’s worth noting that there is some obvious robot mode kibble going on here, with a fair chunk of cheeky blue poking through the wolf bits to break up the illusion of a cohesive beast mode just a tad. Perhaps the worst bit is the arms dangling off the undercarriage, although at least the black shoulders and hands help to hide them away, visually-speaking.
It’s ultimately not something that bothers me greatly, especially as I was well aware of these kinds of quirks going in, and hey, it’s far from the most egregious example seen in the vintage Beast Wars line-up. Yet if you’re unfamiliar with toys like this, it’s perhaps worth noting for fear of later disappointment.
Honestly, though, there’s enough beast stuff going on to give this lad a proper wolfy coating, and with a smidge of suspension of disbelief, I believe it makes for a very handsome alternate form, all considered. It’s admittedly not the most articulated, though, with the head, tail and front legs moulded in place and the movement in the hind legs arguably restricted by them having to stand in line with the front set.
He may not be a mover, but he is a looker! Despite being such a static prospect, the beast mode is easy on the eye. The body is covered in attractively-detailed fur, and the head design is one for the ages! I love the attention on areas such as his ears and especially that terrific scowl, to say nothing of the zinging painted green eyes. I noted slight scuffing on the nose and chin, but overall, he looks fantastic.
Finally, I’m a big fan of the slight touch of asymmetry seen here, which is something that would come into its own throughout the latter years of Beast Wars. It adds a touch of dynamism to this mode, meaning that even if it’s not poseable, you get a palpable sense of movement somehow.
On balance, I think he stacks up nicely versus any of the reissues we’ve seen thus far and arguably does a better job at bringing this particular animal to life than the likes of some of the show characters. Either way, he’s a welcome addition to the line-up here.
Of course, that’s just half the story, but a few reasonably simple twists and turns later, it’s time to check out the robot mode, too. As Beast Wars conversions go, this one has a few unique steps, including how the wolf’s head splits in two and rotates down to become a pair of shoulder pads and the slider mechanism to bring his robot form pelvis into proportion. There’s nothing complicated here, but it is somewhat inventive.
As for the result, it’s an equally interesting affair. On the one hand, there’s something almost quite traditional about Wolfang’s robot mode appearance, as you could imagine some of the animal bits being car parts adorning him like armour in a manner not unfamiliar from G1. Yet it features more than enough bombastic beast flair to make this unmistakably a product of the 1990s line, all the same.
As a Deluxe class release, Wolfang is precisely the size you’d expect to fit alongside Cheetor and Tigatron, yet he somehow appears squatter because of his bulky proportions. I think a lot of that is thanks to his fairly muscular-looking chest and thick legs, but either way, it’s working for him.
There’s also a fair amount of kibble to be observed here, with bits of animal hanging off him everywhere you care to look. Yet I think it works well enough to convince as being semi-purposeful and, again, plays into the overall aesthetic of the robot mode. Some of those parts, especially the hip flaps, prove to be reasonably cumbersome when it comes to posing and articulation, but still, they don’t look inherently bad in any way.
Moreover, I really appreciate some of the robotic detailing on the chest area, especially how you can plug the two harpoon missiles into his back to form part of a ribcage-of-sorts. Sadly they don’t sit flush at all on my copy, so I permanently feel like they’re about to fall out of his back, which I don’t recall ever being a concern on my vintage K-9. It’s pretty annoying and has hampered my first impression of this toy at least a bit.
If you prefer, then the harpoons can be loaded into the handheld rifle, itself made up of the beast mode tail. It’s a fab result and speaks to a great amount of play value, despite the storage feature not working very well. Additionally, the entire back of the alternate mode can be used as a shield, with a small flip-out handle pegging into Wolfang’s other palm.
It makes for considerable weaponry and means that you have various options for how Wolfang is displayed. Some may quibble the partsforming nature of the shield solution, but I think it works a treat, even if the obvious pegs on the front of it make it feel ever-so-slightly unfinished.
The other major feature on offer here is the mutant mask, a gimmick found on most early Beast Wars toys. In Wolfang’s case, it’s a flip-down visor that covers much of his face and makes him look like some sort of demonic Batman or something. You may have noticed, but it’s the option I’ve chosen for his default look, if only because it’s also featured on the box art and as I prefer the main head for K-9.
Should you want to go the other way, simply flip the mask up and take in that ridiculously massive chiiiiin! Few Transformers can claim to have such ample protruding facial features as this, yet Wolfang pulls it off somehow. I really like the green eyes here, too.
So, there’s plenty of fun to be had, but sadly, it’s not all good going on here, as I’ve noted a distinct lack of tightness in a number of the joints. That’s most obvious in the right arm, which fails to hold up the gun and harpoon missile when they’re both connected, although the left struggles a bit with the shield, too. Considering the problems with storing the missiles in the chest, it all adds to making this reissue effort feel a little subpar.
That’s disappointing, considering how great the run has been up until this point, but here’s hoping it’s just a tiny glitch versus some of the epic stuff we have confirmed to be on the way. The reissue Beast Wars toys have built up a lot of good faith with me so far, so I am willing to overlook this one not being spot on, but I’d hate to see the loose joints become indicative of where we might be heading.
Anyway, it doesn’t stop Wolfang from still being a lot of fun overall, as he ably takes his place alongside his beastly buddies. It may have taken me several decades, and the result may have its faults, but I’ve still hugely enjoyed adding him to my ranks at very long last.
Besides, as ever, I’m left feeling hopeful for the potential future of the line. It’s so exciting I could practically howl with glee!
WHAT’S HOT? Great beast mode, interesting transformation and a fairly nifty robot mode with some neat gimmicks.