Name: Shadow Panther
Series: Beast Wars Japan
Alternate Mode: Panther
Thanks to Goktimus Prime for loaning me Shadow Panther for this review.
Height: 10cm Length: 14cm Width: 6cm
A chunky black panther with pink eyes, some silver robot bits showing through on his heels, some yellow joints and almost no other colour. Of course, Jaguars are pretty much entirely black so while it may seem dull it's appropriate. Of course, this does make Shadow Panther looks somewhat unfinished in comparison to Cheetor and Tigatron, who share this mould and have cheetah and tiger patterns respectively. Of course, panthers are little more than jaguars who are completely covered in spots, so in a sense Shadow Panther does have patterning. All the same, the colour scheme here is a little bare - some shading or grey would have helped - the lack of beast mode paint does seem a little lazy.
His hindlegs are quite stocky, which more or less matches the stocky build of panthers. In fact, the bodyshape of this mould is better suited to the panther than it's original incarnation as the cheetah. His body is covered in moulded fur which shows out well if there's a lightsource to reflect off the black plastic, although in shadow it's all but invisible.
The play value in this mode is probably slightly less than you'd expect from a Beast Wars Deluxe. His hindlegs have ball joints at the hips and knees, although the hip ones are really restricted. I suggest swapping the thighs over, since they restrict both modes. The forelegs aren't designed to move at all, so he's pretty much forced to stand upright. He has a water squirter on his underside, if it's loaded pushing on his belly will cause water to squirt out from his chest. It's a little strange, since the illusion is that he's emptying his digestive tract. It'll shoot a stream of water about a foot.
The gut gun is very underwhelming, but the jaguar is a good way to reuse this mould. The colours could have been better laid out - a little shading would go a long way, but the black is in itself quite appropriate. The mould makes for a good panther, making him more believable than Cheetor in beast mode - although not as convincing as Tigatron.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Remove the gut-gun and the tail. Rotate the rear and straighten the legs and flip out the feet. Rotate the tiger front legs down, lift out the tiger back to form the arms, swing them out to the sides and down. Fold down the groinplate, swing around the beast head and fold it down to form the chest. Give him guns if you wish.
Height: 13cm Width: 6cm
Black is again the dominant colour but there's far more colour now. The shoulders, kneejoints and various connections are yellow while his face, forearms groin, shins and feet are painted silver and his eyes are pink. The chest is the black panther head, with the eyes visible but not prominent. This is a far more interesting colour scheme, and it's a pretty well done colour scheme with the silver paint used well.
This is a nice robot mode, not just because of the colours, but the proportions are great also. He's solidly built without being stocky, and looks like a robot with lots of panther bits stuck on - especially with that head on his chest. The mutant head, which is silver, looks very insect-like. It's forgettable, but doesn't get in the way - just forget he has one. If it's possible, this head looks worse than on his predecessors thanks to the shiny silver paint.
The poseability is up to the standard you'd expect of Beast Wars - his neck has two joints, one allows his head to look up and down and the other side to side. His shoulders are ball joints, his elbows are hinged but there are swivels above them, so the elbows have full motion. His waist rotates, although it does so behind the groinplate, so can only rotate so far. His hips are ball joints, his knees are double jointed like his elbows. Out of the box his thigh movement is restricted, but if you've swapped the thighs as I suggest, then he'll have great leg movement. The cat paws form nice big heelspurs, so he's easy to stand in a lot of poses.
Aside from the gut-gun Shadow Panther's tail section also forms a rifle. The rump of the jaguar is sitting on top of the rifle, but it still looks better than the gut-gun, which has his intestines, stomach and even blood vessels moulded onto the bellows. Of course, both are pure black so the beast sculpting is far from prominent. I'll give them points for bothering to mould these details, though. Anyway, he can hold one weapon in each hand, so he's quite well armed.
This is a strong robot mode with good poseability and good proportions. The weapons are lacking, but that's not enough to really hold this mode back. The colours are nice and give Shadow Panther a very different feel to the two Maximal cats - which is important for a repaint. The colours certainly look like those of a bad guy, although the face is clearly heroic.
A repaint of Cheetor and Tigatron, as mentioned. Shadow Panther was only available in Japan, either on his own or as part of a versus set. No actual variations that I'm aware of.
The robot mode is great and the jaguar concept works well for the mould. The lazy colouring of the beast mode holds Shadow Panther back, so I'm not sure I'd advocate hunting down this third version of the mould when Shadow Panther never appeared in the cartoon. Still, fans of the mould (or panthers) will appreciate this toy. What it comes down to his how much you're willing to pay for this somewhat scarce repaint that's not really an improvement on the two previous toys - 7/10