REVIEW: Hasbro Transformers Prime Beast Hunters Predacons
New Season Brings Monstrous Beasts Across TF Toy Lines...
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The latest Transformers animation to entertain fans young and old is Transformers: Prime. Debuting back in 2010 as part of Hasbro’s Hub Channel launch, Prime got a new look, name, and theme for season three: Beast Hunters! The end of season two saw the Autobots scattered across the Earth, in hiding from the overwhelming forces of the Decepticons. In season three, Megatron recruits assistance from the best hunters in the universe, Predaking and the Predacons. To coincide with the appearances of these new characters in the show (as well as other media) Hasbro has unleashed a huge new wave of toys featuring Beast Hunters that extends throughout the standard Transformers toys, Bot Shots, Kre-O, and more. Today we’ll be taking a look at three of the first Predacon toys: Voyager Class Predaking, Deluxe Class Ripclaw, and the Kre-O Ripclaw Strike set!
To go along with the new title the show’s logo added an intimidating “Beast Hunters” tag, and that’s the easiest way to tell which are the new Transformers toys in the aisle at your local store. Other than that, the packaging has pretty much stayed the same. In this group you can see the standard window box design for Voyager Class figures, blister and card for Deluxe Class, and the “briefcase” box for medium-sized Kre-O sets. All of them feature Hasbro’s usual glossy graphics, slick text, and kid-grabbing feature shout outs (like “Tail Becomes a Sword!” and “Snapping Siphon Claw!”). Both Predaking’s box and Ripclaw’s bubble also include brief descriptions of the characters as well as their Technical Data numbers.
So just what are Predacons? Though they’ve had different incarnations before in Beast Hunters they were ancient creatures from Cybertron. Shockwave used fossilized remains to clone and re-create Predaking, a fearsome dragon Transformer with exceptional tracking and fighting abilities. In the toy lines, Predacons are generally Cybertronian dragons (and some other mythological-inspired creatures as well). While they all feature bestial alt modes, some have unique aspects like multiple heads or extra limbs. Hasbro has also brought back through the Predacons a number of characters and names (Predaking, Hun-Gurrr, Rippersnapper, etc.) that will be familiar to longtime Transformers fans.
The main line of Transformers Prime toys features various “classes” to denote sizes and prices, from the smallest Legion and Commander Class “Cyberverse” toys to the larger Deluxe and Voyager lines, and even bigger with the Weaponizer, Ultimate, and other special classes. In the new Predacon lineup is Ripclaw, a blue and red Deluxe-sized dragon that stands about 5 inches tall in robot mode. A female Cybertronian (read her bio on the cardback), Ripclaw is a really fun toy with a lot of personality. The dragon mode has a small body, long thick neck, blocky reptilian head, long forelegs, short reverse-articulated hind legs, bat wings, and a lengthy tail. This mode also features a ton of articulation (ball joints in the limbs, articulated wings and mouth, etc.), and there’s actually a lot of grace in the poses you can create. Ripclaw’s trademark Snapping Siphon Claw is removable from the tip of her tail, but I’m not sure why you’d want to since it looks so good there. The sculpt has a nice mix of organic and technological elements with armor plating on the body, paneling on the wings like veins, teeth, claws, tail segments, and wicked barbs on the forelegs. Color-wise Ripclaw is a nice mix of blue and red with accents in tan and yellow.
As an “intermediate” difficulty level Transformer Ripclaw is not too complicated or hard to convert between dragon and robot. Straighten out the legs, open the chest and neck, rearrange the arms, and hide the dragon head and you’re pretty much there. Her robot mode reveals powerful limbs, a carapace-like collar over a reinforced torso, and a very unique head design with a predatory look and gaping maw. The wings and tail remain as is, connecting her visually to her Predacon origin. Ripclaw is highly poseable in robot mode as well, and the tail here is a double-edged sword sometimes getting in the way but sometimes assisting with balance; note that you can also release the tail from its locked position and have it rest on the ground. This mode continues the same color scheme but adds more yellow, while the chest is emblazoned with the Predacon symbol. Ripclaw is probably my favorite Predacon design thus far and this toy is highly recommended. As an added bonus, this is the same design used in the awesome Transformers: Prime - Rage of the Dinobots comic book (by Mike Johnson, Mairghread Scott, and Agustin Padilla) for the creepy villain Ser-Ket; a repaint in green and yellow will bring that character to life!
Ripclaw is a neat dragon, but against the big Autobots like Optimus she’s a little small. That’s why you need the big gun, Predacon leader Predaking! Standing 7 inches in robot mode, this guy is immediately recognizable as a brutish bad guy. He’s all claws, spines, and horns with an intricately sculpted “Y” shaped torso, massive shoulders, long arms, and huge legs. There’s a lot of detail to enjoy on this guy, from the claws on his feet and hands to his spiky head, wings, and more. Predaking utilizes the character’s classic color scheme with black, orange, and silver with gold eyes and Predacon logo on his chest. Articulation is solid, with an added bonus of heel claws (from his dragon feet) for stability. You have plenty of display options too with articulated wings and shoulder spikes (I prefer mine deployed rather than folded back). Predaking has three weapons, an axe he can hold in either hand and twin projectile-firing Hydrafire missile launchers that he can dual wield or combine into one massive weapon!
While he’s bigger, Predaking clocks in with the same “intermediate” transformation difficulty as his smaller sister Ripclaw. The arms become the forelegs, one head rotates the other into place, waist swivels and dragon legs emerge from robot legs, and the sword plugs into the back of the body to become the creature’s tail. Predaking as dragon is heavy and bulky, if not particularly agile or articulated. His body is thick and stubby, resting on longer forelegs and shorter hind legs while showing off his large wings. This mode reveals a body covered in spikes and points, notably on the tail, legs, neck, and head.
The latter has a very cool sculpt with a mandibular snout and lots of swept-back horns. As noted articulation isn’t this mode’s strong suit, though there is movement in the limbs, wings, and head including a hinged jaw. The same colors appear on this mode, with a bigger emphasis on black. Finally, the Hydrafire weapons can attach to Predaking’s shoulders to form additional heads (as well as projectile launchers).
Lastly we’ve got one of the first Beast Hunters Kre-O sets, Ripclaw Strike! This medium sized kit comes with two Kreon mini-figures, the evil-looking winged Ripclaw and militant Colonel Daniel Witwicky armed with a projectile-firing bazooka. At just under 200 pieces, this kit builds a sizeable Ripclaw in either dragon or robot mode (7 inches tall). Instructions are comprehensive if a little hard to follow at times, but once completed you’ll end up with a pretty sweet construct in either mode.
Remember that Kre-O creations do NOT transform, so to go from one mode to the other you need to disassemble (don’t tell Johnny 5), and rebuild. The kit has some unique pieces that really bring Ripclaw to life like horns and articulated clawed fingers (in both modes). The robot is tall and lanky, and thanks to its many ball joints can be posed like an action figure. The dragon, my preferred mode, works best hunched forward and has a really nice head design with buggy eyes and articulated jaw. Both modes share two special features; the long arcing tail is studded with barbs and ends in an articulated claw while the massive wings are plugged into a special module that flaps them at the press of a button! Kids especially are going to love this big, beefy dragon with its fun features.
All three of these Beast Hunters toys are available in stores now, and you can catch new episodes of the show each week on the Hub. Predaking runs about $20, Ripclaw $15, and the Kre-O Ripclaw Strike set $17. Each one is a solid example of the new Predacon threat in its respective toy line/class, but there are plenty of others as well as heroic Autobots for them to hunt. The Beat Hunters theme also extends to the smaller scale Cyberverse and Bot Shots toys if those are more your (or your kids’) style.
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
Review Samples Courtesy of Hasbro