Review: Sentinels fans rejoice!
Packaging & Extras: (2/5)
Usually, I’m reviewing high-end collectibles (or toys pretending to be high end collectibles) so I (thankfully) don’t come across too many toys on a blister card. Blister cards are synonymous with single-use plastic. You get the toy home, you rip the plastic off the cardboard, and you toss everything but the toy in the rubbish bin. Fortunately, the MEPToys blister cards are a more deluxe experiences. The plastic shell wraps around and tapes behind the cardboard. If you’re classier than I am, you can cut the tape that holds the tray, slide the card out, and when you’re done put the toy back in the tray and slide the card back on. The card is 16.5 x 23 cm and available in to variations, a Robotech version or a Robotech 2 version. I don’t know any shops you can buy from where you can pick which version you’ll receive. There are no extras included, you only receive the Hellcat.
Charm & Collectability: (2/5)
History tells us that the ingredients to collectability include perfect transformation, a cool or heroic factor, metal, and scarcity. The only box this toy might check is the last one as the toy manufacturer is out of business and it feels unlikely anyone is going to buy the mold to do another run. The Hellcat is obscure, limited to an unfinished leg of Robotech that most aren’t familiar with, so it will probably take a long while (if ever), before the secondary market will come to appreciate it. The toy is roughly 13cm long from horn to tip of tail (the body is about 9 cm) and weighs a scant 30 grams. Scale is always tough in Robotech but there are a few scenes with Hellcats attacking Tirolians where they appear to be the size of lions. If that’s correct, it seems that these toys will be most comfortable with your 1/18 (CM’s) or 1/15 (MegaHouse) Ride Armors. The looked a little too large with my 1/24 B2Five figures. They were released in August 2022 and originally retailed for $24.99 but, as of the writing of this review, they are currently on clearance at Meptoys.com for $14.99.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (6/10)
While there isn’t a lot of paint on these toys, the paint on my samples Is well done. The light blue accents are sharp and don’t spill over to the darker body parts. On a more expensive or larger toy, you would want the eyes to be translucent parts rather than a touch of metallic red paint. The small mouth obscures the fact that there’s no interior mouth paint or detail. The metallic gold accents are done well enough. I don’t have access to much of the line art but the mold feels right in line with what I saw recently when rewatching the show.
The design section is always cruel to cheaper toys because this is where I reward gimmicks… and this toy has none. My only surprise was that the toy has a functional mouth. That said, what gimmicks could we want from a toy robot cat? It was never intended to transform. There are no extra features shown in the animation… it’s a mechanical saber tooth tiger of doom that pounces around killing Tirolian soldiers. Sometimes it shatters, other times it seems indestructible, but it never does anything other than pouncing people or mecha. The only thing you would expect from a $99.99 Hellcat would be light up eyes and a button that would make it do the growl we heard occasionally but you don’t get much at this price point and that’s okay.
Durability & Build: (8/10)
The benefit of a gimmick free design is much higher durability. Since the toy doesn’t do much, there aren’t many weak spots. The only thing holding me back from giving it a perfect score are the numerous thin plastic parts like the teeth, horns, and claws. A child might easily destroy parts of this toy but an adult can handle it with minimal concern.
Again, this is a simple toy, and the articulation reflects that. Cats are amazingly pliant creatures, so there are going to be lots of poses that will be out of reach for this toy. There’s the opening jaw. The head is on a ball joint that allows it to spin a full 360 degrees but there’s limited left/right or up/down motion The shoulders are also ball joints allowing the legs to spin 360 degrees and also pivot the feet in to touch each other or out for a more aggressive look. You can also angle the leg in or out about 10-15 degrees at the shoulder. Unfortunately, the elbow joints are very limited, allowing about 20 degrees of natural movement and a slight ability to hyperextend. Given the limited elbows, the ball joint at the wrist (on both the front and back legs) gives enough articulation to handle whatever you can do with the leg. The claw will pivot left/right and move up and down enough to look natural. On a bigger toy, we would hope to see an articulated foot/claws, but everything is one solid piece there. Lack of other articulation points in the body of the toy are the biggest shortcoming here. If the center abdomen section (with the gold accent) attached to the torso and the waist via ball joints that allowed both a twist and a pivot, this toy would have been much more cat-like. Instead, the next point of articulation is the hip joints, which are the same as the shoulders but with greater clearance from the body allowing more angling and tilting at the joint. Cats have what is essentially a knee right below their back hip, but this Hellcat does not. The Hellcat has an ankle joint but it only allows about 45 degrees of forward sweep. The gold standard for toy cats is the ability to assume a natural sitting pose and the Hellcat falls well short there. Fortunately, the Hellcat can assume good prowling poses, which is the primary desire for displays where it will be interacting with ride armors.
Overall Score: (25/50)
Remember that my scoring paradigm is pitting a $24.99 toy against toys that cost $249.99 and more so the score here needs to be viewed in light of your goals. Diehard fans of the Invid Hellcat, or even The Sentinels, are in short supply. The target audience here are people looking to make their ride armor displays more dynamic. For that purpose, you don’t need gimmicks. While more articulation would always be nice, this toy offers just enough to give you a few options on how to arrange it in the best way to show off the much better articulation of the toys it would be fighting. It looks good enough to highlight the great looks of the other toys without distracting from them in any way and it’s not going to break as you handle it. So, though the score is low, this is another MEPToys creation that feels like it did exactly what it set out to do. If your Cyclone ride armors are feeling lonely, and you dig the look of the Hellcat, then this is an easy toy to recommend to liven things up. If you’re not familiar with the Sentinels or not a fan of the Hellcat, you can safely pass on this toy without fear of FOMO later.