Monday, June 28, 2010

Robo-gator Review

[The father becomes the son; the son becomes the father]

*Follow-up from 'The Return of the Beasts'.

Inspired by the original Battle Beasts toy line, this Alligator is essentially a Minimates figure with special hands, feet, armor, and a hat. As mentioned in an earlier entry, this nameless figure was given away by Diamond Select Toys at New York Toy Fair, 2010.

This figure is the first (and so far only) release of Art Asylum/Diamond Select Toys' Battle Beasts line, and it's quite slick. The figure is just a basic Minimates body except the hands and feet are uniquely sculpted, the "head" is actually just a hat over a normal Minimates head, and the body is just a piece that fits over a standard torso. This is pretty brilliant toy engineering on the relatively cheap Minimates model frame; and remember, it's a Minimates figure so it will come apart if you touch it funny.

At press time (just following Toy Fair 2010) Diamond Select Toys made no plans known for the development of the Battle Beasts brand past this figure. In other words, if you have this figure, congratulations. You now own the entire line (possibly).

[The new line of flasher, pervert animal Minimates]

Despite being built over a standardized body, the figure itself is surprisingly robust and detailed. Just like the original, there's a ton of detailing on the armor and character skin, but unlike the original there are more than two colors of paint on the thing.

Described by many as a cross between RoboCop and an alligator, this swell figure manages to spin your average expectations for a Minimates figure. For starters, it isn't a flat surface with a face painted on it - there's an actual sculpted head here with quite a bit of paint detail. The interior of the mouth is painted red, the teeth are painted white, and the skin and eyes are also uniquely decorated.

Glad to see that Diamond Select didn't cheap out here, although it is worth noting that the articulation isn't as robust as a standard Minimates figure. The feet are boots that fit over the standard legs, so you can't rotate the ankles. It's quite similar to some of the Iron Man figures, and a huge improvement over vintage Battle Beasts.

Surprisingly, the figure is about the same size as the originals. This new one is just slightly larger than the original 'Gruesome Gator' figure (pictured at the top of the page), and sized just right to be largely compatible with the original vehicles and playsets - which, if you're lucky enough to still have the retro play-set, is a bonus.

The alligator head is actually a hat for the Minimates head. There's a peg inside the alligator cap, and it plugs into a hole in the cylinder head to complete the figure's construction. It should also be noted that the feet have LEGO-peg holes on the bottom, but the feet are so big that you won't be able to get to plug him straight onto a typical brick or plate.

This figure had an issue price of free - which was, of course, the best thing about going to Comic Cons. However, how does it stack up against the 1987 originals? It's totally on personal preference; upon review, this new nameless Robo-gator by Diamond Select is aptly made in the spirit of the original Battle Beasts but whether this progression in good manufacturing will continue - whether the line will even continue at all - is something Classic Articulation will just have to keep an eye out for.