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Name: Icebird
Series: Beast Wars
Allegiance: Mutant Beast
Function: Mutant Beast Commander
Alternate Mode: Transforms from Polar Bear to Owl; no robot mode



POLAR BEAR MODE
Height: 8cm Length: 11cm Width: 7.5cm

   An off white polar bear with slightly darker sides (it's a very light brown), red claws and eyes, a black snout and metallic blue teeth. The eyes, along with the tongue inside his mouth, are a lighter red that almost verges on pink. There are some bengal tiger like stripes on the underside (the chest), which are tucked away but don't seem to belong here. I fail to see why the claws need to be red in either mode, and quite frankly it looks like he's wearing nail polish. The off white works well - polar bears have colourless fur which reflects light over black skin. It's a shame that the paint applied to this toy really doesn't compliment the plastic used.

   The front legs are a tad beefier than they should be, which I can deal with. The claws are giant talons - with red nail polish- and look really bad. The rear claws are a more realistic size but are also red. Icebird has moulded fur all over and a detailed face, along with a stubbly tail at the back. There's a chrome silver Mutant Beast logo on his right shoulder, which looks like a diagram of an atom. There are footpads and toepads underneath the paws, proving that the designer put some effort into the mould.

   The articulation is pretty good here - better than that of Polarclaw, despite being a smaller toy. The hips and shoulders are ball jointed, along with the ankles, which also have hinges. The elbows are hinges and both the elbows and wrists can rotate. The lower jaw opens to reveal a well sculpted tongue and the tail can lift up. While many of these joints are restricted the range of motion is good - polar bears aren't all that limber. There are a couple of extra aspects to the play value here. Firstly, the right shoulder panel lifts up to reveal some metallic blue mechanical endoskeleton. The backplate lifts up to reveal a gunmetal robotic head with green eyes and silver teeth. You can fold away the bear head and replace it with the robotic head. While the latter is small and will look down at the ground, this is a nifty little bonus. While you have to hold most of the Mutant Beast vestigial robot heads out, Icebird is a better toy for this head being able to stay out on its own.

   This bear had the makings of a good beast mode, since mouldwise it's pretty good. The play value and poseability is as good as you'd realistically get at this size and the sculpt is good. The claws are my only real complaint mouldwise, but the red paint on his claws takes a strong beast mode and makes it mediocre.

TRANSFORMATION TO OWL MODE

   Fold out the side panels, unfold the panels underneath to form wings. Split the chest, swing the halves out to the sides, rotate the rump to form the owl's head, swing out the owl's tail and swing in the bear head. Rotate and stow the hindlegs, close the chest again. Swing down the forelegs, which are now the bird's legs, split the claws into talons with two talons at the front and two at the back.

OWL MODE
Height: 14cm Depth: 6.5cm Width: 23cm

   Again mainly off white, with that very light brown now on his wings and face. The talons are red, which still looks crap, but there's more colour now in general, which helps offset the bright red. The beak is black while the wings have black paint on the edges of moulded feathers. There are also black eyelashes on his face, while the black and orange bengal tiger stripes are on the belly. I'm not sure if there is indeed an owl with these colours, but they're not as ridiculous as those of the polar bear mode, and the black helps offset the red, making this a much better colour scheme.

   This is a fairly good owl considering it was a bear not so long ago. The wings are designed to stay outstretched, while the talons are in a perched position (owls fly with three talons forward, one swings back when they perch), so I guess he's either coming in to land or about to take flight. There are hints of the alternate mode, such as red claws peeking out the sides of the body and a lot of fur sculpting, but this is very obviously an owl, so I'm generally happy. The fur is close enough to non-flight feathers, anyway - only the wings and tail are clearly sculpted as feathers.

   There's some poseability here but most isn't really functional. The legs can move, with ball jointed hips and hinges and rotators on the knees, but since the tail springs forward, you need at least one leg holding it back. I'm not sure why they put a spring into the tail - there's no gimmick attached to it. The wings have three hinges each and you can draw the wings into a mid-stowing position, but it doesn't look that dynamic and since the hinges are for the transformation, the folds aren't in the right places. There is a gimmick in the head - the crown (which is the bear tail) can press down on a lever, which is meant to cause the beak to lift up and down. Things don't quite line up and the spring attached to the beak is really strong, so this gimmick fails.

   This is Icebird's better mode, mainly because the red doesn't cause as much trouble. The sculpting isn't as good and there's less poseability than the bear mode, but he still looks a lot better. Bird beast modes are unusual as it is - this is only the second owl Transformer that I can think of, and it's a pretty good attempt.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of.

OVERALL

   Both beasts used here are unusual for the Transformers line, which is enough to make Icebird an interesting idea. The bear mode _should_ have been a lot better than it is - but some idiot decided a polar bear should have red claws. The play value of the bear mode is pretty good, and the owl mode is quite solid without being spectacular. While Posion Bite is more ambitious, Icebird works and is proof that the Mutant Beast concept could work - 6.5/10

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