Energon Toy Reviews: Snow Cat

in 2004, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Energon, Superlink

Energon

General Information:
Release Year: February 2004
Retailer: General Release (Toys 'R' Us, Kay Bee, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $9.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3
Accessories: Missiles x 2

Images:

Energon is a line that has been full of homages to classic Transformers going back to the 80's. Another hit phenomenon that stood side by side with Transformers in the 80's was G.I. Joe. Both lines had toys, comics and shows all produced by the same studios/companies. The two lines even intersected in the comics and TV Show of the 80's, firmly tying the two lines together to the point where recently Devil's Due and Dreamwave both put out alternate takes on a G.I. Joe/Transformers cross over. With Snow Cat, Energon pays homage to G.I. Joe with a new Decepticon.

This review will feature links to Yo Joe.com.

Vehicle Mode:
Way back in 1985, Hasbro released the Snow Cat vehicle as part of their G.I. Joe toy line. This vehicle would go on to be redeco'd a few times, most recently for the 2003 G.I. Joe "Spy Troops" line. It is this vehicle that Snow Cat lifts his design from, with some modifications.

The similarities between Energon Snow Cat and the G.I. Joe Snow Cat are easy to see, but here's a quick list:

  • The general outline of the toys is similar, from the angled front section to the triangular parts on the sides near the front wheels. The major difference is that Energon Snow Cat does not have a missile launcher on the back section.
  • In a beautiful piece of detail work, the windshield has a "frosted" appearance on it. The windshield wiper on Snow Cat can move along an arc where this "frost" has been cleared, showing smooth plastic. This is identical to a feature on the G.I. Joe Snow Cat.
  • Both vehicles feature a regular round tire in the front, and then a tread unit on the back.
  • Both toys feature square, "sunken in" headlights.

This is not to say that Snow Cat does not have some unique design features. On the front he has the standard port to attach Energon Stars too, which also contains his Decepticon Symbol Crystal. The cockpit window is a light, translucent blue, so it's really easy to see inside the vehicle. There, the designers did a really nice job of sculpting seats and a control panel. The seats inside are even painted black, which is a nice extra touch.

While Snow Cat does have treads in the rear like his G.I. Joe namesake, his treads are powered by seven small wheels/gears rather than two large wheels as the G.I. Joe one was. The rear is also different, with the hinges that several parts swing on doubling as thruster type parts.

While Snow Cat does not have a missile launcher on top like his G.I. Joe counterpart does, there is a Mini-Con Powerlinx peg there, so you can easily find any Mini-Con and plug it in to add the extra firepower. My only complaint here is that the Mini-Con peg is on a piece of plastic that is attached to the toy only by a small peg, and the connection is not very secure. More than a few times I would pull the Mini-Con off only to have the small panel go with it. It would have been nice if the panel had been held down more securely, or if the peg had just been molded into the arm. The way it looks here, it's almost like an afterthought.

Snow Cat is a mixture of white, blue gray and a reddish purple color. Translucent blue plastic is used for several parts including his windshield, headlights and missile launchers. Brown is used for the treads, with metallic blue paint on the wheels/gears.

Snow Cat's vehicle mode is an interesting homage and only serves to solidify the bonds between G.I. Joe and Transformers even more.

Transformation to Vehicle "Hyper Mode"

  1. Swing the white panels on the sides down so they go under the treads.
  2. Swing down the red-purple skis above the front wheels down.
  3. Swing the missile launchers up.

Vehicle "Hyper Mode":
Snow Cat's Hyper Mode basically gives him offensive capability in vehicle mode, and presumably, the skis add to his ability to move in snowy terrain. Clearly, this is a minor variation on the vehicle mode in appearance, but it adds play value. Not only does Snow Cat have these missile launchers now, but each launcher has four holes to fit other Energon weapons, so you can really arm this bad boy to the teeth. Snow Cat's Hyper Mode is a small "alternate" vehicle mode, but a welcome one.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing the lower section with the treads forward, these become the robot legs.
  2. Swing the "ski" panels on the legs so they cover the underside of the treads.
  3. Rotate the waist piece around so the robot feet point in the same direction as the front of the vehicle.
  4. Split the halves of the vehicle's remaining rear section and swing them forward.
  5. Swing the robot arms down and slide the fists out from the lower arms.
  6. Rotate the arms on the upper arm so the screws face inside.
  7. Swing the robot head up and snap it into place, the missile launchers face up for this form.

Robot Mode:
I'll start the review for the robot mode by thanking and complimenting fellow fan Brian Shell for his keen eye. The homage to G.I. Joe did not end with the vehicle mode it would seem! For those curious just where the rather interesting head design for Snow Cat came from, look no further than
the G.I. Joe Viper figure from 1994. His head shares the same large visor and breathing apparatus near the mouth. Considering the similarity of the vehicle mode to the G.I. Joe Snow Cat, this would seem to be more than mere coincidence.

The head sculpt is not a replica of the Viper's however. Other details were added on to give it a more robotic/Transformers-like appearance. On the sides are circles with "ears" that protrude upwards. The top of the head has crest on it and the mouth is a mouthplate.

Sadly, Snow Cat joints the ranks of Optimus Prime as being somewhat "tubby" looking in robot mode. The front part of his vehicle mode sticks out quite a bit in front of him, so much so that with his arms outstretched straight ahead, they barely clear the upper body. The funny thing is, this really doesn't bother me. It's hardly a horrible design, and it still looks good. It really helps if you put a weapon in Snow Cat's hand, which them gives the illusion of his arm being longer. Which brings me to the next point.

While Snow Cat has two big, honkin' missile launchers on his back, that's all he has in terms of weaponry. Personally, I would have liked to see him get at least one hand held weapon, or maybe make the missile launchers detachable from their base so they could be held in his hand. Technically, without going to "Hyper Mode" (more on that in a bit), Snow Cat is unarmed. I say technically since you could swing the missiles forward at any time, but with the missile launchers up, I think another weapon would have given him a better appearance. Of course, with all Energon weapons being interchangeable, he can just borrow a Terrorcon's gun any time. Also, with the Mini-Con peg on his left arm, you can attach a Mini-Con for a power up as well.

Snow Cat has fourteen points of articulation in this form. Most of those points are focused on the arms. Thanks to the transform scheme, this also includes the waist.

Very few new parts show up in this form, so most of the colors can be seen from the vehicle mode. The robot head combines several colors used in the vehicle mode. The head is white with purple eyes and black detailing. The legs have black "U" shaped designs on them and the fists are brown. A small, sculpted Decepticon symbol is painted purple on the right shoulder.

While he's part of the "tubby" club, Snow Cat is by no means a bad toy. He has a cool look about him (even without being a G.I. Joe homage) and he has great poseability.

Transformation to Robot "Hyper Mode":

  1. Move the missile launchers up, and then point them forward.
  2. Swing down the white pieces on the front and back of the legs.

Robot "Hyper Mode":
Snow Cat's Hyper Mode is, for lack of a better term, perfect. I mean, here you have this Decepticon who is obviously made to deal with a snow like environment, but in robot mode he may have trouble getting around - so what do we do? Put skis on him! At first, the word goofy comes to mind. Picture the design meeting: "And then guys, we put skis on him! On a Transformer!" But it totally makes sense. With the skis, he can rapidly move by enemies as he blasts them with his missile launchers! It's something I hope we see in the Energon show.

The skis are made up of the white panels from the vehicle mode. The rear ones have a cross hatch pattern and the front ones have tech patterns painted metallic blue. It's really nice to see so much detail worked into these parts since
they're virtually hidden in every other mode.

Snow Cat is one fun toy. He's a fun homage and a fun toy in itself. Recommended.