"Generations" War for Cybertron: Kingdom Shadow Panther Toy Review

12/02/21

General Information:
Release Date: September 2021
Price Point: $19.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Amazon, Target, Walmart etc.)
Accessories: Tail/Whip Weapon

Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:

  • DISCOVER KINGDOM: Worlds collide when the Maximals and Predacons join the fight, coming together with the Autobots and Decepticons in an epic battle that will alter their destiny forever
  • BEASTIFY THE BATTLEFIELD: Unleash the primal power of the beasts with this Shadow Panther collectible figure, featuring detailed beast mode with intricate molded fur detail.
  • UNLEASH THE BEAST MODE: Shadow Panther toy converts to Beast Wars-inspired black panther mode in 20 steps and features an articulated lower jaw and detailed claws for more realistic black panther poses
  • TAIL BECOMES TAIL WHIP: Tail detaches from black panther mode during conversion and becomes tail whip that can be held by figure in robot mode
  • GOLDEN DISK CARDS REVEAL POSSIBLE DESTINIES: Includes a Golden Disk card that reveals a possible destiny of a key character. Collect other Kingdom figures to reveal all 3 alternate destiny variants for each character!

Beastify the battlefield! Worlds collide when the Maximals and Predacons join the fight, coming together with the Autobots and Decepticons in an epic battle that will alter their destiny forever. Primal power floods the battlefield as the fierce beast modes of the Maximals and Predacons are unleashed! Unleash the primal power of the beasts with this Shadow Panther collectible figure, featuring a detailed beast mode with intricate molded fur detail. Toy converts to Beast Wars-inspired black panther mode in 20 steps and features articulated lower jaw and detailed claws to allow for more realistic black panther poses. Tail detaches from black panther mode during conversion and becomes tail whip that can be held by figure in robot mode. Includes a Golden Disk card that reveals a possible destiny of a key character. Collect other Kingdom figures to reveal all 3 alternate destiny variants for each character! (Each sold separately. Subject to availability.) Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

Packaging:
A new style of packaging has been introduced with Kingdom. The shape is very similar to what has been seen with Siege and Earthrise, with a rectangular box that has an angled panel on the left. This time however the box does not have a window in front that shows off the entire figure. Instead, the window is much smaller and basically shows the figure from the mid-body up. This small window has plastic over it, but what this allows for is artwork featuring the character in both modes, something that is extremely uncommon for the Transformers line. Like previous Generations packaging the Transformers logo is set vertically on the right side with the Generations and Takara Tomy logos above it. On the lower part (under the window) is the Kingdom logo. On this box, Shadow Panther is shown in running in beast mode and in a fighting pose in robot mode. This is reworked art from Cheetor featuring Shadow Panther's "Mutant Head". Behind him is a volcano with the Ark on top.

The back of the box shows Shadow Panther in both modes calling out a twenty step transformation. Above him is a modified Predacon symbol which appears to incorporate elements of the Decepticon symbol. In the corner is a nice, classic callback featuring the Transformers logo with the "More than Meets the Eye" tag line under it. Overall this packaging is beautiful and I think it is really going to pop on store shelves.

Shadow Panther himself is attached to a cardboard insert inside the box.  The insert itself is covered in patterns based on the Golden Disk, which played a large part in the cartoon.  On the back is a small slot where the accessory is stowed away, so always be sure to check the entire insert before tossing it out!  Also included is a collector card/sticker.  Be sure to peel the sticker off to reveal the "alternate fate" of whatever character you get!  These are randomly inserted so you can get just about anyone.

Shadow Panther is not one of the most well known Beast Wars characters but he was part of the line towards the beginning. In 1997, Takara released a black, silver and yellow redeco of the Cheetor sculpt as a Japanese exclusive character they named "Shadow Panther". In time this would be sold via Hasbro's online shop as Shadow Panther at first, then later "Tripredacus Agent", linking the character to Covert Agent Ravage. In more recent years the character even got the Masterpiece treatment! Now in Kingdom he appears again in the Transformers toy line as a redeco of Cheetor. This same sculpt was also released as Netflix Cheetor and more recently was retooled and given a new deco as "Decepticons Forever" Ravage. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

Robot Mode:
Shadow Panther features a new head sculpt unique to this release (so far at least). The head is based on the "Mutant Head" found on the original Cheetor, Shadow Panther and Tigatron figures. The head features two large insect like eyes with "ears" swept back at the top and a row of "teeth" at the bottom. In a fun touch the designers actually sculpted the hinge pieces on the sides from the original figures that were used to swing the head up and down to switch it between "regular" and "Mutant" heads. Here however it is just a design embellishment. This head is "locked" into the "Mutant" head design. I absolutely love this sculpt and I appreciate the callback to one of the earliest features of the 90's Beast Wars toys.

The rest of the figure features the same sculpt as Cheetor. This time out however he is mostly black plastic with some yellow parts on the upper body. This is in contrast to the official product photography which features no yellow parts (though oddly on the back of the box it does). Silver paint is used on several parts for detailing including the head, forearms, waist area and legs. Even his weapon is painted, which is a nice touch. He has a small purple Predacon symbol on the right forearm, a nic etouch.  You'll also see a bit of red on the beast mode head that forms his chest. I love the way the colors contrast against one another. This figure looks beautiful.

All the joints on my copy of this figure are nice and tight. His weapon also fits into his hand with no problem. I do wish the designers had taken the opportunity to retool the tail/weapon a bit so it didn't sit so close to the shoulder when he holds it, but that's redecos for you.

Transformation to Beast Mode:

  1. Detach the tail weapon and set it aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  3. Rotate the beast mode arms on the back out to the sides.
  4. Swing the panels on the sides of the mid-body out.
  5. Angle the robot head up, then rotate it around.
  6. Pull the beast mode head up from the chest, swing it up and over the robot head and then swing the lower jaw up.
  7. Move the robot arms down, then swing them against the armor behind the shoulders. Adjust the beast mode "fur" panels so they line up.
  8. Swing each of the front halves of the beast mode in and connect them in the middle.
  9. Swing the mid-body side panels in. They may "snap", but they should be okay.
  10. Straighten out the front legs and point the paws forward.
  11. Swing the robot feet up into the back of the thighs.
  12. Swing the rear beast mode legs down.
  13. Attach the tail to the back.

It is important to note that this sculpt shares a flaw with the two previous Cheetor figures it is based on. All three figures have a tab on the back of the beast mode neck that is prone to snapping off during transformation. At least one crafty fan has come up with a modification for this if you're interested.

Beast Mode:
While his name is "Shadow Panther", the beast mode is still very much a cheetah in black and well, I'm honestly not that bothered by it. Sure he should be more bulky in this mode, but I can live with it given the economics involved. In a weird way this also acts as a callback to Beast Wars Shadow Panther whose beast mode was just Cheetor's in black. Bits of yellow and silver show in this mode, mostly on the rear legs and the beast mode eyes are red.

All the beast mode joints are nice and tight on my copy of this figure. From that perspective there are no quality control issues.

Final Thoughts:
Shadow Panther is a really nice redeco and retool of Cheetor. I really appreciate the new head sculpt and the colors work nicely together. I honestly would have never expected a Generations version of Shadow Panther yet here we are! Recommended if you're really into the Beast Wars aspect of Kingdom.

Pros:

  • Excellent robot mode and beast mode sculpts (weapon issue aside).
  • Fantastic articulation.
  • Fun transformation that is intuitive to boot.

Cons:

  • The weapon this is just odd.
  • The tab breaking at the neck is very unfortunate.
  • Lack of beast mode head articulation restricts one taking full advantage of the articulation points in beast mode.