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Snow Cat

Transformers: Energon
by yo go re

Hasbro is king of the '80s resurgence. They hold the rights to two of the three major retro properties, and they combine innovation and reverence in just the right doses to make their toys great. Both their Transformers and GI Joe lines are very well done; what would happen if the two could be combined?

The two factions have met several times in the comics, most recently in the truly great WWII-set series by John Ney Rieber and Jae Lee from Dreamwave Productions, but the toys have remained perpetually apart (other than a few shared names) until now.

Snow Cat is a powerful Decepticon who can overcome any environment. He transforms into an all-terrain vehicle and has given his Decepticon allies a strategic advantage in battle on many occasions. Though unruly at times, Snow Cat has proven to be one of Megatron's most valued warriors. His insane fighting tactics are feared by his enemies, and sometimes, his allies.

Snow Cat is based quite clearly on the old GI Joe vehicle of the same name. 5⅝" long and 2½" wide, Snow Cat's vehicle form features a pair of large high-traction off-road mud/snow tires in the front and a four-wheel half-track drive tread in the back. The cab is covered by an angular canopy, which has a movable dual-blade wiper, just like the original - they even duplicated the wiped/unwiped areas of the glass, which is astounding!

While Snow Cat doesn't have the ski-mounted heat seeker missiles nor the roof turret of the original, he does have a peg designed to fit Mini-Cons, so you can still armor him up nicely. In fact, that's one of my favorite bits about the conversion from Armada to Energon: the weapon pegs are the same size, so that Mini-Cons or Energon Weapons can be freely traded back and forth.

Snow Cat can be converted into "attack mode" while in vehicle form - the fenders can be rotated beneath the tires to function as skis, and the sides of the vehicle fold down to perform the same function for the rear treads. Two large rocket launchers fold out of the body to provide armament.

The transformation to robot form is decent and unexpected, but not great. Snow Cat has a major bit of kibble with the vehicle's cab as his chest, and the armor plating doesn't really line up with his legs as well as it could. It would seem that the decision to leave the cab intact was to help preserve the look of the Joe vehicle, but was there no better way to use it than just have it sticking straight out of the poor guy's chest? Surely they could have come up with some way to tip it down a little flatter.

Other than those small problems, he's he's got a nice look. His head looks like a Transformer wearing ski goggles; for some reason, it reminds me of the old GI Joe Snow Serpent. Again, you can convert him to attack mode, with the rocket launchers aimed over his shoulders and his armor folded out to become skis. His colorscheme - all white, purple and light blue - does a good job of sticking to the "cool" end of the spectrum in order to seem suitable for snow work.

Maybe we could get a repaint "Sand Cat" in oranges and yellows sometime, like when the Joe vehicle was repurposed for Tiger Force.

My only complaint about Snow Cat is his size: he's only about ⅓ the scale of the original vehicle, and could really benefit from a larger size - maybe closer to the boxed figures than the blister carded ones. I'd really love to have been able to put some Joes next to the figure without having them look so wildly out of place.

The concept of this figure - a vehicle from one line turned into a character for another - is great and really captures the spirit of retro toys. It would be great if this type of thing continued; heck, I'd love to see a line of purely GI Joe-inspired Transformers.

-- 02/21/04

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