I have just one question for you: what could possibly be cooler than a tanuki transformer? And just what exactly is a tanuki, you ask? It’s a little forest creature native to Japan, sometimes called a “raccoon-dog” in English because, well, it looks like a cross between a raccoon and a dog. It’s a common symbol of good luck in Japan, and you can see chubby little tanuki statues all over the place, with their little sake bottles and shopping bags. It’s not surprising, then, given Beast Wars Neo’s habit of weird beast modes, that transformers fandom is blessed with Heinrad, the tanuki transformer.
His main beast mode is a culturally accurate, friendly-looking little tanuki with a yellow watch imbedded in its belly. When I say culturally accurate, I mean that he comes fully equipped, if you catch my drift. Go look up “tanuki” in a cultural dictionary or something and you will see what I mean. Even so, he’s an unusually modest tanuki, and I think Hasbro could even sneak him past American censors if they really wanted to (I doubt we’ll ever see a stateside release of this bad boy, though). He also has a sake bottle and a shopping bag which are attached to little loops of string so you can hang them from his hands. The sculpt is excellent, with fur details and a few mechanical bits, like the clock, showing up in this mode. His face was sculpted to be realistic, not anthropomorphized like most tanuki statues. That’s because Heinrad’s beast mode doubles as a realistic tanuki as well. Just take away his sake (Alcoholics Anonymous can help :} ) and his bag and set him down on all fours. His robot mode has a classic feel to it that I can’t put my finger on. Maybe it’s the lower legs, but Heinrad seems to borrow somewhat from Gundam in terms of style. In any case, he cuts quite the dashing figure. His robotic parts are mostly light blue and white, with some yellow thrown in for good measure. He also has a green visor, which I suspect may have reference to the eyepatch markings his tanuki mode has.
It’s simple and effective, which is unusual for a Beast Wars Neo toy. Heinrad probably has the least amount of extraneous beast parts hanging off of him for the whole series, and what little there is keeps out of the way quite nicely indeed.
Heinrad hits about par in the poseability department, which, since he’s a BWN release, is quite good indeed, though it has its limits. His arms feature ball joints for both the elbow and the wrist, and his thumbs are actually operational, like Magmatron’s are. His shoulder joints are weird in robot mode. They don’t move where they connect to the body, they move only at his beast mode’s shoulders, which are located just below his robot mode shoulder pads. These joints are somewhat limited and set on a ratcheted swivel joint that’s so strong I’m afraid sometimes I’ll snap his whole arm off where it connects to the body. It’s a sturdy enough toy that I doubt that would happen, but I wonder why they didn’t articulate the shoulders where they connect to the torso. His beast mode poseability is pretty good too, though of course more limited than his robot mode. His hind legs articulate only at the hips, but his arms retain full motion, and his head and tail can bob up and down. That’s almost all you’d need for a pudgy tanuki, right?
Heinrad’s main gimmick is his belly clock. It’s a working alarm clock, so it actually has some practical application. The alarm toggles on and off by means of his robot head. Yes, when he screams at you in the morning, just whap him upside the head and knock him out. He has a pretty good set of pipes, too, so he WILL wake you up at the appointed hour as well as any alarm clock. The clock mechanisms are easiest to access in robot mode, but he also works in tanuki mode-you just have to flip up the tanuki’s head before you can shut him up. Heinrad’s sake bottle plays a part in robot mode as well: it connects with his bag to become a missile launcher. I’m sure he’s quite popular at college parties. Anyhoo, his missiles are stowed away on his legs so you don’t have to worry about losing them. Well, they fit kinda loosely, so you can still worry if you so desire. I guess his visor would count as a gimmick since it’s advertised as such on the box, but it does nothing more than flip up and down. I guess the trick to it is in the imagination, which is the best kind of gimmick there is. It reminds me of those mutant head tricks in the old BW Deluxes. Also, his angolmois-or-whatever-you-call-it spark jewel . . . er, crystal, is located in one of his hip-mounted holsters, or jump-jets, or whatever you want to interpret them as. Whatever.
As if you couldn’t tell from the first paragraph, I think it’s just cool that Heinrad is a TANUKI! This is so uniquely Japanese that it’s almost a gimmick in and of itself, and the best gimmick the toy has, IMHO.
Even despite my heavy bias in favor of Heinrad, I can still recommend this critter on terms of its quality. It may not be as flashy as Big Convoy or as complex as Magmatron, but it is easily the best toy of the entire line. It doesn’t have nearly as many flaws as his shellmaster brethren, while retaining the same kind of quality all their gimmicks, poseablity, and design had. If you are a fan of Japanese culture or Japanese transformers, this toy is a must have and easily worth as much as thirty dollars American, though you can find him for as low as fifteen, which is an absolute steal. Even if you have no interest in Japan whatever, Heinrad is still a worthwhile purchase. Go get him!!
|Date||July 23rd 2002 |
|Score|| (10 out of 10) |