Cliffbee.com: K-9 Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: K-9
Series: Beast Wars
Allegiance: Maximal
Function: Guard Duty
Alternate Mode: German Shepherd Dog



WOLF MODE
Height: 10.5cm Length: 16cm Width: 6.5cm

   A black and yellow German Shepherd dog with blue eyes and some blue robot bits visible, mainly the fists under his chest. K-9 is the only Beast Warrior who's alt mode is a domesticated animal, so it's not really surprising that this toy never featured in the pre-historic Beast Wars cartoon. The top of the dog is more or less black, the bottom and most of the head is yellow, with a black snout. There's a nice transition between his two colours - the black plastic fades away a yellow plastic to a bare yellow plastic, and the yellows are well matched. Of course, the blue outbursts hurt the illusion a fair bit, but with a darker colour on his back than Wolfang, K-9's dog mode works a lot better than the timberwolf mode of his predecessor (of which K-9 is a significant retool).

   Being based on the timberwolf, K-9 is fairly stocky, although with beefier lower legs and a bushier tail, he ends up being a little larger than Wolfang, and not as stocky. This is a good thing - while German Shepherds are fairly big dogs, they're not as muscular as the wolf. In fact the only pieces that haven't been retooled here are the side panels - K-9 is a deliberate improvement on and change from Wolfang. The fur is coarser, his tail flicks up rather than to the side. The front paws are fixed in a stalking sort of pose as on Wolfang - with the right in front of the left, which is the opposite of the wolf. The rear paws have hinged ankles and ball jointed hips, and the paws have been resculpted to allow more posing of the hindlegs. The sculpting is pretty good - there is moulded fur all over and teeth in his snarling mouth although he lacks the lines inside the ears that Wolfang had.

   The hindleg articulation and retooled paws give K-9 decent poseability, and the fixed front legs mean a bounding pose is now sort of possible. The head is fixed and the tail cannot move (although it can detach). On the back of his thighs Wolfang has white robot kibble which you tend not to notice much, although the blue fists are very visible. Still, as awful as the blue outburst is, there's less disrupting this canine mode than there is breaking up Wolfang's beast mode.

   The wolf idea was probably a better one - indeed the choice of a domesticated animal is kinda strange - but K-9's dog mode is well executed, save for the visible robot hands. The paint job is done well and the retooling here is extensive, which is in itself impressive.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Detach the tail and backplate, Swing down the legs and fold out the back of the thighs to form the robot boots. Split the head, fold out the side panels to form hipplates, swing the robot arms out to the sides. Rotate the beast-head halves to form shoulderplates, slide down the torso. Lift up the mutant head mask if you like, fold out the handles on his backplate and tail to give K-9 a shield and missile launcher. The two missiles are actually concealed in his torso, and slide out of his back.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 14.5cm Width: 12.5cm

   Now mainly white with blue upper arms, hands and some blue fur patterning on his chest, K-9 has yellow outer thighs and shinplates. black weaponry, feet and shoulderpads. The face is black with green eyes and the mutant face, which swings up and down like a visor, is yellow with pink eyes and doesn't look very good with a white lower jaw. It also looks like a decomposing face, which is inappropriate here and downright grotesque. The colours are an odd mix - on the one hand you have the contrasting and solid blue and bony white, on the other you have the black and yellow with are mixed into each other almost everywhere they appear. It's not a bad colour scheme as such, but it's a strange one that doesn't work all that well.

   K-9 has the same giant-jaw thing that Wolfang suffered from, but the black face reduces the visual impact, so I'd recommend the robot face here. The concave shield is plain black, which makes for a very boring accessory. It's longer than that of Wolfang, and lacks the second joint of that shield also. The missile launcher is a mix of yellow and black, while the missiles are blue.

   K-9's proportions are better than those of Wolfang - the thighs aren't quite as chunky and the chest is taller. The shoulderplates are still around, of course, and the kibbly forepaws hang off his upper arms. Everything except the shoulders has been remoulded, and the colour pattern is different as well. The shinplates don't integrate as nicely into his boots, a result of the changes make to make the beast mode more poseable. That's a pretty minor issue - the paws and head-halves for shoulderpads work well visually, giving K-9 some visible beast parts. The robot-only parts have a fairly organic sculpt, so aside from the rather unnatural blue this mode is quite organic, although not dog-like.

   This is a pretty poseable robot mode - the neck, shoulders and hips are ball jointed while the knees and elbows are hinged, there are rotators in his upper arms complimenting the elbows. The knees and beast ankles are the same joint, so the boots aren't hampered by their clip-together nature. The feet and heelspurs are hinged, giving K-9 great leg poseability. The missile launcher more or less just sits in his hand.

   The blue crossbow bolt missiles look pretty cool and fire around a metre, and now the blue launcher button is on the bottom of the launcher, so while Wolfang's is visible in beast mode K-9's is not. It's also less susceptible to accidental fire, which is nice. The butts of the missile actually stick out of his belly around half a centimetre, which is a little surreal.

   With improvement proportions, the engineering here is an improvement on Wolfang's, although there are some minor regressions, notably on the shield. The colours are nowhere near as nice as those of Wolfang's robot mode, but are distinctive, giving K-9 a distinctly different look - a good thing in a repaint. As with the beast mode, the wholesale retooling is impressive.

VARIATIONS

   None as such, although as mentioned, K-9 is an extensive retooling of Wolfang. Max B from Beast Wars Second is an even more extensive repaint & retool of the same mould.

OVERALL

   It seems the designer wasn't happy with Wolfang, since he came back and fixed a lot of Wolfang's shortcomings on K-9. Even the fur pattern in dog mode is different. The choice of a domestic dog breed is weird, but it works better than the timberwolf mode did. The robot mode also sees a lot of flaws fixed, but the colour changes work against it, making the German Shepherd the better of his modes. While the colours aren't as nice, this is easily the better of the two moulds, so I'd recommend K-9 over his wild predecessor. If you already have Wolfang, there are enough changes to warrant considering K-9, even if his name does suck - 7/10

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