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|Beastwars Cybershark||Reviewed by Thunderscream|
|Is that the Theme from "Jaws?"|
Predacons better think twice before entering the water, because that's where the Maximal Cybershark prowls! Released in 1997 in the second wave of the highly successful Beast Wars toy line, Cybershark was one of many "filler" characters that appeared during the series' run. Like many characters in the toy line, he would never make it into the animated series due to the limitations of CGI at the time. He did make an animated appearance in a TV commercial and later appeared in IDW's Beast Wars comic series. This review will focus on the original 1997 release of the character, not the Transmetal Two version that was released two years later.
|Altmode: Hammerhead Shark|
Cybershark's beast mode is that of a hammerhead shark, though what species is somewhat ambiguous. It's possible that he is one of the larger species, though his dorsal fin is smaller and more rounded than the tall, triangular fin that most hammerheads possess. His is a surprising eight and a half inches long from head to tail and likely holds the record as the longest deluxe-sized character released that year. His main colors are gray-blue on his back and fins with white on his belly. His back and fins are covered with blue-green spots and blotches, a coloration that contrasts with the usually dull gray-brown of real hammerhead sharks. This change is understandable as the designers were likely trying to attract the toy to its intended market; a drabber color scheme would have likely caused him to go unnoticed. His eyes have been painted red, his teeth silver, and removing his head reveals a silver colored mechanical head underneath.
Cybershark is a sleek, streamlined and rather convincing looking shark. His robot legs are visible under his tail and midsection, but they're not so obvious that they would be visible when displayed. There are tabs on either side of his tail, which don't totally ruin the illusion, but do seem somewhat extraneous. Also of note, Cybershark's pelvic fins are positioned backwards when compared those found on real sharks. This is most likely because they are sculpted onto parts that will become his legs in robot mode, so it's a rather minor complaint. One will notice that his upper caudal fin is considerably longer than the lower portion, which is an atomically accurate feature of hammerheads.
Cybershark doesn't have a large degree of articulation in this mode; his pectoral fins are set in ball and socket joints and that's it. The manner of his transformation is one reason for his lack of motion, but his beast mode isn't really one that's known for its range of motion. He has been sculpted with a large degree of detail in this form. Several creases, folds, and ridges have been etched into his back, sides and under his jaw. There are a series of four gill slits etched behind and below either side of his mouth. The mechanical head has vent-like structures on either side and a U shaped depression has been molded into top like part of a torpedo tube. At the front of the mech-head and are a pair of triangular indentations, like second set of eyes or sensors. It's a nice addition that explains how Cybershark "sees" when he doesn't have his beast head, but it could have been better if these had been painted. It's a relatively minor complaint as its unlikely collectors would display him "bareheaded."
Transforming Cybershark from beast to robot and back is fairly simple, though I always recommend that you keep the instructions on hand when first starting out. He's essentially what fans have dubbed a "shell former," a Transformers character whose transformation boils down simply to opening certain parts like a set of doors. He does have a few additional steps before he's done, but his transformation is still easy enough to understand after the initial attempt. His tail will need to be detached before you start, and while it's not necessary, it is recommended that his shark head be removed as well.
Cybershark stands slightly over five and a quarter inches in robot mode, over six if you include the wing-like structures in his back. Most of the colors of his beast mode carry over into this form. His forearms, lower legs, feet, shoulders and face are molded in white plastic while his eyes and the inside of his wings have been painted with a shade of dark red one might associate with raw beef - or blood. The inside of his mouth has been painted black with white shark-like teeth while the top of his head is head is painted with the same blue-gray base and green-blue spots that dominates his body of his beast mode.
Cybershark is just as streamlined and dangerous in his robot mode as he does in shark form. He has fifteen points of articulation in this form; four on each leg, three on each arm, and one for his neck. The pectoral fins on his wings would add two more points, but I don't see how they add anything to his playability. He's a bit back heavy, so posing him in any position without him tipping backwards is difficult. This can be offset slightly by attaching the shark head to his chest, but not by much and the hammer gets in the way of his arms and upper legs. His joints are loose enough to move freely but tight enough that they don't flap about with a simple jostle.
Cybershark's bears a decent level of details sculpted into this form. His arms and legs have been molded with lines and panels that evoke the appearance of the teeth, gills, and scales of a shark. His legs have been cast with a shark fin in the center of his shins. Mechanical paneling, ports, and rivets have been etched into the inside of his wings. A set of raised grooves have been sculpted into the upper portion of his wings, like a rib cage that's been split down the center. Cybershark's mouth is probably his most eye catching feature. The mouths on most Transformers figures, past and present, are usually sculpted as either tight lipped or a tooth grinding snarl. Cybershark's mouth is painted in an open-mouthed grimace, with his shark-like teeth spaced apart, making it look like he's trying to psych out his foe. This is an unusual but welcomed attribute the designers have given him. He also bears a shark-like crest running down the center of his head, further adding to his fierce, shark-like appearance.
Cybershark is armed with a chest mounted cannon in robot mode, whose use will be covered in the next section. The cannon can be tucked neatly against his abdomen or raised so it's pointing outward at an imaginary foe. The location of this weapon strikes me as a little awkward and might have worked better as a handheld weapon. Of course, doing so would have left a large hole in the middle of his chest. Cybershark also features a rub-sign sticker, dubbed an "Energon chip" during Beast Wars' run, located on the lower section of his inner left wing. To activate, rub a finger against the sticker for a few seconds and his Maximal insignia will reveal itself.
Most Transformers, past and present, usually come with their accessories packed separate from the actual toy. The early Beast Wars figures were unique in that their accessories were packed attached to them, as these parts usually formed sections of their beast modes. Cybershark is no exception; aside from his tail, most of his accessories were attached to him in the package. He came with three accessories; the head of his shark mode, a switchblade-like tail and a pair of missiles.
The most distinctive feature of hammerhead sharks is, of course, their uniquely shaped head. The designers for Cybershark decided to take this prominent feature and turn it into a weapon. If you've been following this review, you've probably already come to realize that Cybershark's beast head is detachable. It's perhaps more accurate to say that his head can be launched as it is a missile onto itself. The shark head has a post behind and below the hammer that fits into a spring-loaded located into the center of his mechanical head. To launch, simply press the white trigger in the center of the launcher and the head will be sent flying a fair distance. This missile can be fired in either beast or robot modes, making him one of the few pre-Transmetal figures that can utilize a projectile weapon while in beast form. You will have to raise the launcher so that it's aimed out in front of him to use this feature effectively in robot mode.
Cybershark's beast head can also be wielded as a handheld weapon in robot mode. Simply stick the rounded end of the post into either of his fists and now he's armed with a large battle-ax. The ax doesn't affect his overall stability so you can position his arm in any posture you wish. This "Easter egg" is not mentioned in the instructions printed on the back on his packaging, probably due to a lack of space, but it's worth mentioning.
Cybershark's main handheld weapon involves his tail. Press a triangular white colored trigger in the nook of his tail and a spring causes a curved, silver colored serrated blade to snap out like a switchblade. This turns the tail into a crab-claw looking weapon that could be used to grab or crush his foes. The switchblade can be activated in either mode, though just how effective it would be in beast mode is questionable. There's a peg at the base of the weapon which set on a pivot that rotates ninety degrees upward, making it possible to position the claw away from him or pointing upward like a sword. The peg fits into holes at the top and bottom of his fists, though the instructions show him holding it "underhanded." I recommend having him hold it as the instructions display, as it looks a little better. It also would have been nice to have the peg rotated into the weapon itself so that at least appeared like Cybershark was holding it from the inside.
If Cybershark still doesn't have enough weapons for your tastes, he comes packaged with a pair of missiles or torpedoes, depending on your preference. Cast is bone-white plastic; the tips of these projectiles have little shark-like faces and gills sculpted into them. Various sources have referred to these as "smiley faces," though they look more angry than happy. The missiles utilize the same launcher as the hammerhead projectile and can be used in either form, so long as his beast head is out of the way. Because of their length, they do make a weapon that's already rather awkward looking in robot mode even more so and can affect his rather touchy stability. He can also hold the missiles in his fists like a pair of clubs, another "Easter egg" that goes unmentioned in his instructions. When he has no use of them, they can be stored in a pair of holes located behind his head. Just be certain to insert them with the shark faces pointing up or they won't slide in all the way.
For a toy that was developed a little over eleven years ago, Cybershark is a wonderfully engineered figure that exceeds the standards for Beast Wars characters. He sports a sleek and convincing beast mode, a superb robot mode and an arsenal of imaginative accessories. If the tools and casts for this figure haven't been lost or modified too extensively, he could probably be successfully reissued today with little to no modification. He could use a little improvement, but he's still an excellent addition to any collection.
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