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Tasmania Kid

Transformers Legacy United
by yo go re

Since 2024 is the 40th anniversary of Transformers as a whole, Hasbro is trying to hit as many different franchises as they can in this year's Legacy United line, giving some love to even the overlooked and forgotten sections. Which is how we've now got a modern Tasmania Kid.

A youthful prankster, Tasmania Kid nonetheless desires more than anyone else to be recognized as a full-fledged warrior. The actions that result from his ambitions often end up making a situation worse.

The packaging informs us Tasmania Kid comes to us from the "Beast Wars II Universe," which would have been a lot more impressive before we got two Lio Convoys last year, but is still nice to see. (The packaging also has no bio, so that snippet up above is clipped from the original.) The character's vintage mold originated in 1997 as Beast Wars' "Snarl," but Hasbro just released a toy with that name like two months before this one came out, so they instead opted to call this by his Japanese name, handily adding some representation to one more continuity.

Beast Wars Snarl was a stealthy warrior, sort of like Ravage, but Japan decided to make him the kid-appeal character - you know, the Bumblebee or Cheetor or Hot Shot. Just not yellow. Except he kind of was? The brown used for this update is darker and redder than the '90s toy, which was a whole lot brighter and thus closer to those other examples. I wouldn't be too surprised if "Snarl" turns up in a multi-pack sometime in the future with more retro coloration. If there's one thing Hasbro enjoys, it's making fans buy the same thing multiple times to get it right.

The modern toy is very similar to the old one - it's hard to make substantial improvements when you're trying to be true to the old look. Animal jaw on the chest? Animal face on the feet? Nothing to be done, they were there in 1997 so they need to be there in 2024. Or else. But would he even be recognizable without them? Those are as definitive for Tasmania Kid as a car hood is for Prowl or wings for Starscream. Even the shell of kibble hanging off his back is the same (though I bet if this were something larger than a "Core Class" figure, they'd have worked out something to fix that).

Surprisingly, the Legacy United figure's articulation isn't substantially better than Beast Wars II's: he has hinged ankles, then balljointed knees, hips, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and neck. Those are all the same as before, though many of them do have a larger range of motion today. He includes a weapon, a gun that can plug into the back of his arm, like he wants to be a mini-Megatron or somthing. Technically you could also plug it into his hand like a sword, but due to the way his hands are molded, it would just be sticking straight out of his palm. Weird.

Unsurprisingly, Tasmania Kid turns into a Tasmanian devil. He wanted to be a cool eagle, but a Tassie jumped in front of him just as he turned his scanner on. Converting the toy is not complex - at this size, it couldn't very well be complex, could it? The feet become the head, the arms become the rear legs, the kibble forms the sides and the front legs swivel down from it. It's very intuitive, though getting the back of the neck to sit flush against the head is touchy. And when you're going back to robot, don't forget to un-tab the back legs from the outer shell before trying to reopen it.

According to designer Evan Brooks, Hasbro sculpted the beast form first, then sent that to Kunihiro Takashi at Takara to build the figure inside it. Doing it that way means the animal looks way more realistic than the old one. It definitely helps that the lower jaw doesn't have to be wide enough to cover the entire robot chest, since that's just faux-kibble this time and not actual anatomy (the real jaw helps form the robot feet). The one thing that keeps it from looking like a real Tasmanian devil is the color: they're black with white markings on their chest and butt, not brown with grey stripes. But again, not something they can fix if they're trying to duplicate the old toy. But hey, if they wanted to make a version of him that was scanned by the same machine that made Black Lio Convoy, well...

Usually when a cartoon is based on a successful toyline, the writers have to find ways to work in dozens of new characters every year. Because Beast Wars was one of the first CGI series, and designing new characters for it was super expensive, Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio were spared that onus, and the show only really featured about a dozen characters through most of its run. That does mean that many, many characters from the toyline never appeared in the show, and Snarl was one of them; Tasmania Kid, however, was a prominent part of Beast Wars II, and so it makes sense this toy would get his Japanese name instead of US. Of course, once you buy him and bring him home, it doesn't matter what anyone besides you thinks his name should be.

-- 06/25/24

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