That was a pretty easy hunt.
I didn't really take to Beast Hunters as much as I did to the first two seasons of Transformers: Prime. It was too long before I'd got a copy and by that time some of the high had disappeared. This new story about the return of the Predacons just didn't feel as huge as the whole dark energon and Unicron thing.
But after seeing optibotimus' review of the Ultimate Class (which means "big" in the Transformese) Beast Fire Predaking, I just knew I had to have him. All that beautiful black and the humongous wings and the slap-you-silly day glow orange... Delicious!
Thankfully, the Beast Hunters line recently went on sale here in the Philippines, dropping about 30% in price or so. And even with the price cut, they're not really all that sought after seeing as the cartoon never really made it to network TV in this country. That meant I didn't really have to really dig in with this one and run him down.
The box he comes in is pretty huge, but it's mostly to make sure his wings don't get damaged. The box has the same white look as the rest of the line with the same huge window that allows you to get a look at the toy and make sure there aren't any defects before you buy it. As far as I could tell from the samples they had at Toy Kingdom, Megamall, there isn't a lot of trouble with quality control on this one.
Most of these "electronic light and sound!" toys come with a "try me!" window on the box somewhere, but this one doesn't do that. There aren't even any batteries in this thing, but if you look up the aforementioned optibotimus review, you'll see that it isn't very impressive. The batteries go under his wings, but they only light up his dragon's eyes and mouth when you pull his head down with the action feature.
Meh. I'll leave him empty. At least I won't need to worry about acid leaks.
He does come mis-transformed in the box, with his hind legs not all the way converted and plugged into the proper sockets, but you really wouldn't notice unless it was pointed out to you.
He does end up looking up due to the way his head is constructed, and because of the action gimmick (where you pull his head down and his eyes and mouth light up) it always springs back to that default position. I don't really mind and I love playing with the gimmick. If it really bugs you, there's probably a fix on YouTube or something. Or just put some balled up paper in the back of his neck to hold his head down.
Transformation is pretty simple. His hind legs are his legs, his front legs are his arms, and his head is under his his head. You can't get any more intuitive than that.
The robot mode is pretty great, with all his spiky hair and spiky hands, and spiky sword. You'll need a lot of space on your shelf to display him because his wings measures 21" across which is insanity. He's not as big as you'd expect from his box (he stands just under 9" tall), but that wing span is really what sells him.
The tail doubles as his Infernum Sword, and it is a pretty wicked looking weapon. I wouldn't really call it a sword though. It's more like a bludgeon with some sharp bits for good measure. It fits nicely into the 5mm peg holes at the joint of his claws.
He does have a few problems, but they're ones I can live with. His wrist joints are too loose to carry the weight of the sword and it will droop if left alone. The beast fire rockets that he comes with are pretty blah as well. I'll probably just save them in my leftovers box. Plus his face is so expressionless. I kind of wish they'd given him an angry face.
But none of that really even dents my enjoyment of the figure. In fact, I was so impressed by it, I decided to try out the other Beast Hunters Predaking figures that were available to me.
The second one I bought was the Predaking from the 2014 Voyagers (Series 3).
I found this one in TRU Express in on of the Robinsons Department Stores, one of my go to places to hunt since they get fewer walk ins and tend to keep stock around a bit longer. Good thing too, because he quickly beat out Beast Fire as my favorite Predaking.
They made a weird decision to go with a smokey, translucent plastic with this one instead of the flat black that the Beast Fire version sported, but with the transparent orange wings and the fiery yellow paint applications, the color just works. He's much more photogenic than the other toys and you can pick out details even with my cluttered background.
And the funny thing is, even if he's just a Voyager Class, compared to Beast Fire's Ultimate Class figure, he still stands about the same height in both dragon and robot modes. The only significant measure where Beast Fire has a significant advantage is that insane wing span and a few points of extra articulation.
And really, those two points do nothing to really add to the poseability of the Ultimate version. 2014 Predaking is the winner in that department with his ratchet-y joints and the excellent knee joints. His wings aren't as poseable, but their two joints give him very good range, and you don't need as much space to display him.
And his weapons are the most bad-ass of the bunch!
The excellence of these two figures convinced me to pick up the other two orange Predakings from the line, both already on sale for quite a long time. When I first saw them last year, I was unimpressed, thinking that they looked really goofy and un-fun, but the success of the previous purchases changed my mind.
The Twin Hydrafire Predaking, or the Series 2 (2013) Voyager Class model, is the worst of the lot, so I probably should have listened to my first impressions in this case. Although he is classified as the same class as the 2014 version, this guy is tiny. He stands barely 7" in robot mode and in dragon mode he's dwarfed by the other two figures.
Both of his modes are not particularly pretty. Due to the way he transforms, with his feet becoming his belly and lower spine, rather than just folding up to become his butt cheeks, he ends up looking sort of like a snake coming out of an ice cream cone. Spiky or not, it doesn't look good.
Once you transform him to robot mode, it doesn't really improve. He ends up kind of looking like a hunchback and his wings end up down by his butt, instead of his shoulders. It looks as if to accommodate those hideous looking twin hydrafire heads in the dragon mode, they simply moved his wings' anchor points down his body. This was not a good decision since it leaves this odd looking lizard and even odder looking robot.
In addition, the weapons are awful. The aforementioned heads aren't actually part of his body, they're guns with the standard 5mm post. You can assemble them if you want to have a double-barreled dragon blaster action, but the thing just looks ridiculous in his hand.
His tail also transforms into a sword, and while it looks good by itself, the fit on his hand is awful. Couldn't they have just mad this a standard 5mm peg? Was it that much harder to include a nice 5mm peg than it was to add this useless rectangular one? It's supposed to plug into o rectangular hole in his "palm" but the sword has that rectangle on either side of the hilt, while the toy has the hole only on one side of the hand. It tends to fall right out if you do what it says in the instructions and have him grip it properly.
The only way to get it to stay is to place it outside his fist.
Really, as soon as I got this figure open, buyer's remorse set in immediately. I kind of understand why he's been hanging around so long.
Still, now that I have him, I might as well keep it around for the occasional group display.
The other figure, though, the Cyberverse Commander, turned out to be more fun than I'd thought. Though his dragon mode looks sort of like a mutated dachshund with bird wings, the transformation sequence is every bit as fun as the up-sized version that the 2014 Voyager used.
Poseability in the dragon form is nil, but the robot mode is all ball joints, so you have a great deal there. His cybervenom rocket launcher is a bad fit for the scale, but really most of the Cyberverse weapons are. He's just a great figure to have on your desk at work. Come to think of it, so far I haven't been disappointed with any of the Cyberverse Commanders. Maybe I should pick up the rest while they're on sale and before they're all gone.
A 75% hit rate for Hasbro this run, and I haven't really included the repaints that have been released as exclusives. I'd love to have the SDCC Shockwave lab or the Ultimate Class Gurren Dragontron redeco. Those would be pretty awesome, but these four make for a pretty solid shelf display. The deep orange and black theme is almost as compelling as Skywarp's signature purple and black.
The fact that all four of these figures is currently marked down is just gravy. Seeing how many 2013 Beast Hunters toys are still around, I wouldn't be surprised if there was another mark down before the end of the year.
If so, I might be tempted to get the rest of the Predacon Deluxe dragons and add them to the roster.