Cliffbee.com: Howlback Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Howlback
Series: e-Hobby exclusives
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Enforcer
Alternate Mode: Microcassette



CASSETTE MODE
Height: 3cm Length: 5cm Width: 0.5cm

   A cobalt microcassette with die cast metal along the bottom edge which is painted in a gunmetal colour, Howlback is a slight repaint of Ravage based on the bright blue Microchange cassette that was the original inspiration for Ravage. Her painted details are gold and include aspects like side "A" and "MC60" on the top right "Metal Position" on the left, a tape spool indicator and the word "Japan". The tape window is features a schematic sticker like than on reissue Ravage. The blue and gold works quite well, as good as the black and white on Ravage which makes me wonder why they changed the colours back in 1984.

   The spools have moulded teeth which are painted gold and holes in the middle and there are some other gaps in the cassette itself, notably a largish one underneath one spool. The holes don't blend into her blue plastic like they do on Ravage's black, which is something of a shame (and perhaps explains the choice of black). Her rubsign is on the backside of the cassette, on the corner that will become her shoulder.

   While the colours used are certainly distinct from those of Ravage, they're not really better, and perhaps slightly worse thanks to the more obvious gaps. It's a solid cassette mode which is really there to support the panther mode. Unlike later cassette Transformer moulds, the flaws she does have are necessary to make the robot mode work, rather than simply being due to sloppiness.

TRANSFORMATION TO JAGUAR MODE

   Fold the die cast metal down to form the legs, fold the tail out from the top left corner, fold the head of from the right side. Attach the rockets into either side of her rear hole with the sights at the top. Stand her up and pose.

PANTHER MODE
Height: 5cm Length: 10cm Width: 4.5cm

   Yes, Ravage is a jaguar and Howlback is not. In case you're wondering how I figure that, a jaguar is simply a panther with an entirely black coat. So while Howlback isn't orange and black, she's still a panther but not a jaguar (whereas it could be argued that Ravage is both). Anyway, she's a cobalt blue panther gold eyes, die cast gunmetal legs with black feet and chrome silver weapons on either flank. The blue works as well as Ravage's black although in a different way since Howlback doesn't have that whole warrior of the shadows thing going for her.

   I really like this cat. The rockets do a great job of bulking up the otherwise slender toy without being overly awkward of bulky while the pointed tips give her weapons. The die cast legs look really good while the feet, head and back are all well shaped. The head is well sculpted with a lower jaw, ears, a nose, ears and a neck. The left side is covered in simple mech sculpting - even the die cast legs. The left shoulder sports her rubsign, and the rubsign blends perfectly with the toy and its colour scheme.

   For some reason it seems all Howlback toys shipped with either two left or two right side weapons - mine has a right side pair but I've also ordered a set for a friend and his Howlback has left weapons so we're lucky in that we'll be able to swap this problem away. Still, considering the relative scarcity of the set this is a pretty major quality control issue.

   Howlback's head lifts up and down, all four ankles are hinged, while the true ankles of the hindlegs, front "elbows" and all four hips are hinged, allowing for a lot of poseability. The ankle joints allow for a lot of _stable_ posing while the front edges of the rear paws are flat so she can stand on her toes for walking poses. This is easily the most playable of the cassette beast/robot modes.

   Considering the age of this mould, this is a really poseable quadrupedal Transformer - she holds her own with today's basics, despite being smaller and partially die cast metal. The blue works very well (better than on Garboil in fact). The mispacked weapons drag this mode down quite a bit, assuming you're not able to swap with a friend.

VARIATIONS

   A darker repaint of the Microchange cassette as mentioned, with a sticker change. Howlback comes with either two right side or two left side weapons, which I suppose counts as a variant of sorts. Released only in Japan in limited quantities.

OVERALL

   A good panther mode with excellent poseability and a decent tape mode make Howlback a good toy, but the missile error really tampers my enthusiasm. If you can find someone to swap with then she's a really good toy, and along with Garboil is worth getting for cassette Transformer fans - 7/10

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