"Transformers Universe 2.0" Cheetor Toy Review

General Information:
Release Date: November 2008
Price Point: $10.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Tail/club weapon, Throwing stars x 2

Text from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
CHEETOR has always been fast. Other robots move at speeds that seem agonizingly slow to him, as if they were trapped in tar. Unfortunately, a lot of the time he moves a lot faster than he thinks, and finds himself in situations that, in retrospect, could have been avoided. Still, his speed has gotten him out of a lot more jams than it's gotten him into, and when speed isn't enough he can always break out his blades.

Convert this advanced conversion figure from robot to beast mode- and back again! Complete with triple-bladed battle discs, a battle club in robot mode and eyes that change color in cheetah beast mode, this is one awesome figure for your collection!

The Classics line started out as reimagining G1 characters. However, with its transition into 2008's Universe line (aka Universe 2.0) the line was made into a far reaching line that celebrated the entire whole of Transformers, not just G1. With the introduction of a reimagined Cheetor into the 2008 Universe line, Beast Wars now joins G1, G2, Armada and Cybertron as those series celebrated by this line. Beast Wars is (of course) a line very near and dear to my heart, so it is great to see it acknowledged in both "Animated" as well as "Universe".

Beast Mode:
It's sort of a sad statement on my part, but when I first saw preview pictures of Cheetor's "new" beast mode, the first thoughts that went through my head were "At last!". Specifically I (internally) meant "At last! A cheetah mode that looks like, well...a cheetah!". In the early days of Beast Wars, the first Cheetor was one of the most sought after figures, netting at least six separate releases over time. The only problem was that, well...it wasn't really a cheetah. The beast mode was sort of a large, all purpose feline that was later used for Tigatron. At the time, Beast Wars was impressive in its sculpts and show accuracy, so such issues were set aside to fully enjoy the happy experience that was "Beast Wars". However, as the years wore on and Cheetor was repainted again and again, even I began to wonder "Couldn't we do something better?" and apparently someone at Hasbro was wondering this too.

A cheetah has a very lithe, thin body, part of the reason it is able to move at such tremendous speeds. Its bulkiest section is towards the front and then the body curves up to a very small rear section. The head is also fairly small and sleek looking as well. This is the general design scheme that Cheetor follows. His head is much smaller than the width of his shoulders in the front and connects to the chest via a long neck. His chest hangs down a bit on the body and then curves up around the abdominal area and then leads to the rear section. His tail is also a good length as opposed to the much shorter tail (proportionally speaking) used on the original Cheetor figure.

Overall proportions are not the only place Cheetor wins in design. He has fur line details all over his body including the puffs of hair on the cheeks that flare out to the sides and back a bit. His paws are also designed intricately with each digit sculpted with fur detail and claws. Pulling on a switch on his back opens his mouth, revealing even more detail in the form of four fangs. When you do this, his eyes switch from the default color of green to red, a homage to two of Cheetor's releases in the original Beast Wars line which had different color eyes. It's also kind of amusing to see how muscular they made Cheetor since a real life Cheetor isn't that ripped. They're muscular and fast, but they don't look like they hit the gym 5x a week either! It's a fun touch that really adds to the overall powerful appearance of the character.

Cheetor is primarily cast in yellow plastic, with some dark blue showing through on his neck joint and the rear of the body. Black paint is used for his spot detailing as well as the nose, lines around his eyes and ears. An off white color is used for the paws. The way this paint is applied gives it a really nice fade from the yellow plastic to the off white color, looking quite realistic. It's a simple paint job, but one that looks really good. If we were to pine for more show accuracy (which is not really the goal of this figure), some of this off white paint should have been used on the face and chest, but I didn't even miss it until I began to write this review.

Cheetor has eighteen points of articulation in this form, beating out most other Cheetor figures. I am counting the mouth being able to open. The Each rear leg has five points of articulation while the front legs have three. It is cool to see that along with a nice sculpt, this guy can pose as well.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the tail.
  2. Swing open the spotted panels on the rear legs and remove the star weapons and close the panels.
  3. Straighten out the rear legs to form the robot legs.
  4. Straighten out the front paws and swing the lower beast mode arms out to the sides.
  5. Swing the panels on the hips out to the sides.
  6. Lift the robot chest section up and then fold it down to form the robot chest.
  7. Open up the panel behind the beast mode head to reveal the robot head.
  8. Swing open the panel behind the robot head and swing out the robot arms, then swing them forward and attach them to the clips on the beast mode neck. Close the panel behind the robot head back up.
  9. Swing the panel from the middle of the beast mode back up to form the abdominal area and swing the side panels back.
  10. Swing the waist piece up.
  11. Place the weapons in his hands.

Robot Mode:
Just as I said "At last!" with the beast mode, I said "Oh no!" with the robot mode. Talk about a disappointment. The beast mode is so well done that when I finished transforming him the first time I kept thinking I missed a step and went back to the directions - nope. My follow up thought was akin to "They were so close!".

Overall, Cheetor is not a bad figure. He has a lot of the elements I would expect of a Universe homage figure. His overall form is very much like the animated version from the CGI TV show including the pointed head design, the tube like arms, the waist and leg armor pieces over techno-organic pieces and the cheetah head on his chest. He even has a very lithe center on the body which makes him look more like the young Maximal he was in the original show.

Where this figure fails is in two design decisions where the designers needed to do less reimagining and more homage. First, I'm not fond of Cheetor's weapons. Sure the stars are nice with their "auto transform" of having three blades extend at the same time - except he never wielded any such weapon in any incarnation. The tail as a club is weird since it just looks like a furry stick (a whip would have perhaps been a better description). I understand the designers were probably trying to emphasize the "savage" aspect of Beast Wars and give him all melee weapons, but one looks dippy and the other two have already been done in a nicer form with Animated Prowl. Why not just give Cheetor a Quasar cannon formed from the armr on the rump and the tail? Or perhaps a piece of the chest since most of it winds up on his back? It just seems like a lazy design decision.

The other aspect that drives me insane are the feet. Cheetor's rear beast mode feet become his robot feet, and quite simply it was a bad design decision. While typing this review, it took me about three minutes to get the feet into a position where the ankles angled back just right to allow him to stand. This was on a nice, flat desk too. Would it have really been that hard to just let the ankles turn around and flip out two foot pieces? The underside of the paws are even hollow. This could have worked. But either cost cutting or bad design just make this guy hard to stand up, and that's just sad for any modern day Transformer (except maybe Mini-Cons, who can get quite funky in design).

Okay, so is this figure all trash? Hardly. He does carry over a lot of nice design elements from the animation model including the shape of his arms, the shape of the armor on his waist (including the fang like designs) and the armor designs on this thighs and knees. He also carries over all his articulation from the beast mode - if only he wasn't so hard to pose and get to stand. His color scheme is also very much in line with the animated model thanks to metallic blue armor pieces and the green eyes on a feline-like robot face (also painted metallic blue).

Final Thoughts:
This figure had such potential. I can't help but look at it and feel that the design was 90% done and then they rushed it out the door without the last bits of refinement it would have needed to become a truly great figure. I love the beast mode and I like elements of the robot mode, but overall I cannot recommend this over say, Sideswipe or Silverstreak. Only mildly recommended for the hardcore Beast Wars fandom who finally wants a Maximal with a good looking cheetah mode.

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