With a franchise as big as Transformers it's easy for things to get lost. When most people say they're a fan of Generation One, what they mean is they love the guys on the cartoon - a lot of neat toys like Catilla were never given any love on the cartoon or much to do in the comics, so if you didn't have the toy or see it in a toy catalog you'd likely have no memory of it existing. This big yellow kitty is about 10-inches long from snout to tail, making it about the right size for He-Man to ride into battle. The silver helmet pops off and acts as a fastener to keep the two halves of the toy from splitting apart.
We're looking at this toy now because BotCon is going on right now, where they're selling Oilmaster - the first new Pretenders toy in decades with an all-new shell over an existing toy. So why not look at one of the originals? I've had this one since he hit the Lionel PlayWorld sales racks, in a magical era where you could actually buy original Transformers and Battle Beasts a few aisles over from unsold toys from the previous generation.
The cat shell is a great way to cheat at giving kids visibly more toy in a big box. It's similar to the current Titan Hero Series 12-inch figures from Hasbro in that there's not much articulation in this hard plastic toy, but it certainly looked impressive in the box on the toy shelves. There's a pretty good fur sculpt as well as a nice armor pattern, with an oddly silver tail and a decent paintjob on its head. Not only did they paint his teeth, but also his gums - I'm impressed. It doesn't take much. He's got black eyes, a couple of stripes on his face... and that's about it. You can look at it, take off his hat, mount a gun in a 5mm port on his side, and split him down the middle to reveal a little robo kitty. In other words, the perfect toy for me as a small child.
When you pop open the cat, the inner robot is packed with his legs tucked in and seems more like a kitty spaceship. You can fold out each of the four legs and pull out the claws and tail, and blammo - kitty cat. With the tail he measures about 4 1/2-inches long and has articulated claws - but all of the joints also serve the bonus purpose of being used in the transformation process. He is covered in transparent stickers that stick fairly well, but the one on the top of his head never really stayed on well for me. His blue eyes are cute, but that's the only visible paint on the robot mode. Other than the yellow and grey, it's all stickers.
Transformation is so simple it doesn't warrant discussion other than to say "intuitive" and "easy," and I like it. After you stand him upright, you'll see he's about 4.2-inches tall - just about a head taller than other recent Legends toys like Swerve. This makes the decision to use a Legends toy as a new Pretenders Botcon exclusive make all the more sense, because it really is an appropriate size. Catilla the robot has no fist holes, but the gun can be plugged in a 3mm hole on his wrists. The neck doesn't turn and the feet really don't move, but the shoulders are articulated and the head sculpt looks like a lot of toys from this era. The entire face is basically a reddish orange, with separate eyes and a face that looks like about 90% of the other toys from the early days of the line.
I have absolutely no reason to recommend this figure to you unless it's cheap - I haven't played with it much in over a decade, certainly never taking the time to compare it to any post-G1 toys. Now that I see the size of the inner robot compared to current toys, it's pretty amazing to see some things like this cycle in and out - Hasbro was looking to add value to its toys with a relatively cheap hollow shell figure, rather than metal or spring-loaded features. And for many of us, it totally worked - I'm super-excited to see if I can get me an Oilmaster now, and I hope to see some more stuff like this in the future. It's both dumb and clever, and it looks nice on the shelf.
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