|Snow Cat Review Capsule
|Snow Cat is a snow cat. Basically, some sort of fancy shmancy snow vehicle/plow which will probably be best recognized as the basis for a G.I. Joe vehicle from the 1980s that has also been reissued (and is available) at Toys "R" Us. The toy has two firing rockets and "hyper" modes for both the robot and vehicle. If you have $9.99 to blow, worth getting.
After years of G.I. Joe vs. TransFormers being desired as a toy property, Hasbro finally did something about it. Kinda, sorta. Snow Cat rings a lot of visual bells if you've walked by the Joes at Toys "R" Us recently, and the robot mode also is pretty slick. There are a few great details here, and it appears this is the first Cybertronian biathelete, which as you known combines the sports of cross-country skiing and firing a gun.
He turns from snow-based vehicle to snow-based robot. He includes two nicely painted projectiles. In the Japanese Super Link series, his name is presently unknown.
The mask takes visual cues from a scuba diver and someone that likes to ski, this toy seems to be a nice, chunky robot. He's quite posable, and his head looks a little like Hoist or Optimus Prime, a bit anyway.
As Snow Cat appears to be a completely new character, there's really no way to say "hey, this is an upgraded so-and-so." There are a lot of details that make this both an entirely new toy while also seeming similar to an item or items stowed in the back of your closet. The quantity of sculpted details is quite commendable, from a tiny Decepticon logo to tons of panel lines and grooves all over the toy.
Easily the most notable detail is that of the windshield. As you can, see, a wiper is in mid-wipe, but depending on the lighting in pictures you may have seen, you can tell that it's actually wiping the window. The area outside the wiper's reach is frosted, and the purple blade has helped to increase the driver's visibility.
The toy is fairly well jointed. There are joints at the shoulders, elbows, hips, neck, biceps, knees (sort of) and also the waist. Since he's a little chunky, it's not like he has the range of movement of the Masterpiece Convoy or Optimus Prime, or even of some great smaller toys like Armada Hoist or Energon Starscream.
From the front, there's a lot of detail to be seen, some of which was painted in and soem etched in. From the sides, you can see more paint added to the wheels of the toy. However, from behind, this toy may as well be an early unpainted sample, as there's absolutely no visible decoration aside from the tips of the green rockets which have been painted with a sort of metallic flake gold which is also used on the crest of his forehead as well as for some of the headlights. It's very sparkly and quite distinctive.
Like other Energon toys, Snow Cat has a place to stick an Energon Chip as well as hands sculpted to hold Energon Weapons. The green energon chips really don't seem to fit well with the baby blue, white, green, and pink coloring of this vehicle, but hey, not every toy needs to interact perfectly with all the rest.
Lastly, the toy has one Mini-Con hardpoint and in robot mode, it appears on his left arm. It's on a small panel that rotates on a very small peg and pops off disgustingly easy. It seems this piece was included for no reason other than to get lost. Since Prowl has no hardpoints and other toys have few to none, it seems Hasbro might be making a conscious decision to phase them out. Still, when you buy this toy, this is the piece you're going to lose. Be careful, as when you look at the toy without it, it's hard to tell anything is missing.
Now for you people that actually play with your toys, there's Hyper Mode. Here, Snow Cat deploys skis and shoulder-mounted rocket-firing cannons, just like they do in the Winter Olympics.
The rockets can be a little awkward to pose, as Hasbro put them on a screw that allows them to rotate. While we appreciate the sentiment, it makes it hard to properly figure out which angle they should be at when going from one mode to the other. They're also non-removable, but have the Mini-Con style connectors on them so they could, theoretically, be connected to a hardpoint. As these weapons aren't meant to be removed, one has to wonder if it was worth including them here just so you can stick other energon weapons in the side. We tried it, it looks adequate, but certainly not too exciting.
Check it out, a snow cat! Like from G.I. Joe! How nifty is that?
The transformation sequence is a pretty simple one, with fists that slide in the forearms and feet that, well, are kind of lackluster. Also, the fold-down legs don't stay put very well so if you lift the toy by its top, a piece comes loose. You may have noted that Battle Ravage had a few problems as well which were later corrected on the Japanese release with a few extra pegs. Here's hoping they spot the error in time to fix this one.
The vehicle has retractable skis, rolling wheels, and of course, a delightful Hyper Mode.
In the vehicle's Hyper Mode, the toy deploys skis and guns. Again, making this a vehicle contender for the biathalon.
There one Mini-Con hardpoints sits on the back, somewhat awkwardly, and can be spun around for whatever purposes you may have. Again, it should be emphasized this is easily popped off.
The vehicle itself is a little too pastel for my liking, but as snow and ski-wear tends to be colored like this, it isn't all that bad. The coloring and stripes are pretty excellent, although the blue/grey color used on the tires and in a few other places feels a little lackluster, like a bad preproduction sample. Plus who has blue or grey wheels? It's a little odd, but likable. It's doubtful this will make many "best vehicle ever" lists, but as it's such a departure it's hard not to smile when you see it.
Accessories & Gimmicks
Like Rapid Run, Snow Cat is armed only with his firing projectiles. While they do look pretty slick, it leaves his hands empty and wanting for something. A small energon pistol, even a tiny one piece gun, would really be nice to have here.
As far as action features go, all he has aside from the spring-loaded weapons are his rolling wheels which aren't as free-rolling as one could hope for, but are still quite good. Also, while the toy looks like it does have or should have an opening seating area for smaller Action Fleet-sized figures, this is not the case. Also, he's not big enough to house standard 3 3/4" G.I. Joe figures, which you may have guessed.
Packaging, Tech Specs, & Co-Sells
This toy came packaged in regular TransFormers Energon packaging with a couple of twist ties and a comic book. Actually, it's the same comic as the first wave.
The packaging itself is typical trilingual fare. The card art is fairly striking, although not striking to the point where you might feel bad about opening the toy.
As can be seen on the back of his trading card, his stats are a little weak. Low endurance, low rank, low speed, low courage... just what good is this guy, anyway? Can't Megatron get better recruits? Doesn't Unicron have better powers to infuse in his minions? Sheesh. At least the people at Hasbro have moved away from hugely inflated stats.
Snow Cat shipped as part of the wave 2 of Energon toys in late January of 2004 alongside Rodimus and Prowl. Most reports say that these toys shipped in a case of 8, with two Snow Cat toys, four Rodimus, and two Prowls.
While it's a real shame Hasbro didn't make this the same size as the full-size Snow Cat toy from G.I. Joe, this isn't a bad toy. It's just be a million times more incredibly cool if you could stick figures inside of it.
The appeal from the toy will come from that and the fact that it's an all-new character with an all-new name. Sure, it pays tribute to something from our rich plastic past, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sure, the fact he has a huge gut and a breathing device is a little odd, but who are we to judge him? It's a solid toy, but more solid as a robot than as a snow truck. Since the variety of the Decepticon ranks against Autobots seems a little low (six versus 11) this might be a worthy addition to your toy shelves if for no reason other than to balance things out.
It's a quality piece, and a great "Deluxe" sized toy. Even though it was mentioned above, it's worth repeating that this would have made an incredible toy at twice the size, three times the price, and with the capacity to carry action figures. Hey Hasbro, since Takara's doing that Kicker action figure (the new human in Energon) how about a vehicle he can pilot and/or ride?
Reviewed and photographed by Adam Pawlus
Sample purchased at a Scottsdale, AZ Wal-Mart on January 27, 2004 for $9.76
Reviewed on January 29, 2004.