There are times when, as a quasi-adult, you'll just see something new and freak out over it. Beast Wars Neo was hugely exciting to me because of Big Convoy, a smattering of dinosaurs, and the penguin named Break. Sold auctions on eBay have him at $20 or less out of the box, but hey - there's a good reason for that. Despite it being one of very few penguins - possibly the only one in Transformers - it's basically a big penguin shell with a super-articulated robot inside. I still love it.
Break's penguin mode is about as articulated as you can get out of a penguin toy - ball-jointed feet and flippers? Yes! Most of the toy penguins I had as a little kid did nothing. There's a rotating head, and a rocket that can be fired out of his butt. There's a "cannon mode" as well, but it's basically just a fractured penguin firing a rocket out of his aft section. The penguin itself stands around nicely and won't fall over unless you hit it with a rock or really slam on a shelf. Even for his era, the sculpting is pretty good - there are lots of feathers, with black paint on his back giving it a chilly, glossy finish. The flippers and feet are molded in black plastic and the end result is a relatively cute toy with red robot eyes that should appeal to anyone who digs this kind of beast aesthetic. For a line that came out after TransMetals 2 and Fuzors, it feels like a bit of an engineering throwback but I don't know how else you'd transform a penguin well.
The robot is similar in size to basic toys of the day, and has a range of movement very similar to Terragator - 12 points of articulation plus a bonus moving part for the non-removable right arm cannon make for a decent Cybertronian. If the shell bits could be removed, this toy would've made a great Pretender since you see none of the robot parts in beast mode. Getting him to stand isn't too tricky, and I like how the cold bird motif carries over to the robot with a "beak" on his head and an icy blue and white chest. The spark crystal on the arm cannon is cool and the bright orange looks great. If you can get past the "shellformer" aspect of the toy, it's actually pretty cute. I don't think I'd have liked it as a child, but as someone old enough to know better I quite enjoy it..
Transformation is pretty easy - you just pop open the penguin hood on the belly, and explode it all out. I know it's not exactly great - nor is it fun or satisfying - but both modes are neat and it's painless enough to not be annoying.
Nowadays many new toy Transformers are a new take on an existing character or type - the new Dinobots and all of the Generations toys (with few exceptions) are nifty new versions of things we knew and/or loved. Beast Wars Neo was a line of toys where the bulk of the releases didn't hit US shelves, and they were pretty much entirely new characters - sure, you'll never sit through the carton, but it was absolutely fun and I miss seeing a huge chunk of brand-new toys that aren't upgrades or updates. I like those too... but are we ever going to see penguins and turtles and rabbits again? Do yourself a favor and scrape up any cheap Neo toys that you can afford.
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