I wrote this review of Universe Razorclaw, and thought I'd share it. As the first decade of the new millennium rolls on to the second, and children raised during the 80’s gain disposable incomes, more and more people have started collecting toy icons from the halcyon days of the “Me Decade.” Where ratty old Masters of the Universe action figures used to sell at garage sales for a couple of nickels, they now command prices on eBay ranging $50 or more. The entertainment industry has caught on and invested heavily in movies—with accompanying toylines—featuring popular kids’ franchises from such 80’s icons as Transformers, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and The Smurfs. If you’re one of the many looking to start an 80’s nostalgia toy collection, the options—and prices—can seem overwhelming at first; that’s why I would recommend Transformers Universe Razorclaw to anyone considering a jump into this realm of toy collecting. Although the Transformers Universe toyline ran from 2003 onward, and the toy itself harks from the controversial Beast Wars incarnation of Transformers, Razorclaw manages to capture the spirit of 80’s action figures across multiple storylines like few other toys can do. For one thing, many of those figures featured ridiculously monstrous designs, such as the Inhumanoids, Sectaurs, or 87% of the Masters of the Universe. Flamboyant robot designs like Voltron, Go-Bots, and of course the Transformers themselves likewise commanded kids’ imaginations. Universe Razorclaw captures elements from both of these groups: As a Transformer, it changes from a suitably well-armed and flashy robot warrior to a monstrous alternate mode—in this case a cyborg amalgamation of black panther and hawk. In the process it manages to reference an array of popular 80’s figures. Its front half resembles a black big cat with reddish bird wings; couple that with a small spherical cockpit in its chest and it presents a reasonable facsimile of the Black Lion from Voltron. A hawk-like robotic mask can fold out from behind the cat head to resemble Battle Cat from He-Man (though the black and purple color scheme makes it look more like Panthor stole Battle Cat’s armor). Razorclaw even manages a somewhat oblique Thundercat reference with a partially abandoned third mode that was originally meant to be a tank. Although the instructions never mention how to transform it into this tank mode, the toy still has functional wheels on its back. With the application of a little creativity it can assume a passable armored vehicle form with feline features and big guns. Overall, Razorclaw packs a huge dose of nostalgia for single toy, even though it doesn’t represent one specific icon. The fact that Razorclaw’s character comes from somewhat obscure origins actually helps the figure when it comes to price. Vintage Transformers like the original Optimus Prime can command huge aftermarket prices—anywhere from $35 for an incomplete figure in poor condition to Mint-In-Sealed-Box for $600. A loose but complete Universe Razorclaw in good condition, on the other hand, often costs only $30 after shipping. Even an MISB Razorclaw nets a (comparatively) reasonable $100. Its low price for a higher-end large figure makes it a great starter piece for most collections. Moreover, with fans of Beast Wars Transformers wielding more clout and buying power in the aftermarket in the near future, its resale value will most likely increase. So Universe Razorclaw offers not only a great deal of fun for the cost, it also represents a pretty safe purchase in case your first foray into action figure collecting doesn’t become a permanent hobby. That safety factor extends to the toy’s durability as well. As a recolor, Universe Razorclaw shares its mold with an earlier toy—in this case, Beast Wars Tigerhawk. Unlike Tigerhawk, however, Razorclaw uses no chrome plating, which tends to flake off over time. It has no white plastic either, which means that it will not turn noticeably yellow with age, as Tigerhawk will likely do. Factors like durability and purchase price don’t really describe what a toy represents, however. If Universe Razorclaw failed to capture the imagination in its own right with either design or playability, it wouldn’t be worth recommending. Fortunately, it does a pretty good job in both respects. Razorclaw features the high number of joints typical of modern action figures, so it can assume a number of dynamic poses in both robot and beast modes. Those joints generally have good durability and stiffness as well, so the figure is less likely to sag than toys of comparable weight. Unfortunately, the toy’s wings do create some balance issues in robot mode, and elements of the transformation scheme limit the range of some of those joints in both modes. The toy features a number of spring-loaded gimmicks without compromising transformation or poseability excessively. In beast mode, the wings can partially fold up over the back with its wing-mounted missile launchers tucked away underneath. Activating a switch on the back unfurls the wings and deploys two of the missile launchers. Razorclaw’s wing deployment does not automatically fire the missiles like the earlier Tigerhawk version—a helpful feature since the switch doesn’t always hold the heavy wings up reliably well and they often deploy unintentionally, which in Tigerhawk’s case, results in lost missiles. Switches near the wingtips trigger the dramatic deployment of two additional missile launchers. Although the main wing deployment gimmick cannot be used in robot mode, two of the missile launchers detach for the robot’s use, and the wingtip launchers retain full functionality. All in all, these missile launcher gimmicks do a decent job of presenting an intimidating, powerful character. The most novel gimmick on the toy, in my opinion, deals with the beast mode’s hind feet. Shaped like hawk talons, they sport little switches on the soles of the feet which cause the talons to clutch small objects. With a little practice, you can cause Razorclaw to actually swoop down and carry away smaller toys. As impressive as four auto-deploying missile launchers can be, this simple gimmick delights me even more: I think it captures a little of the storytelling element that helps truly great action figures spark the imagination. If you’re looking to recapture some of that spark yourself by collecting 80’s action figures, give Transformers Universe Razorclaw a try. Even though it comes from a fairly recent toyline, it packages so much of the fun those old toys had in so many similar ways, it will fit right in with most of the vintage collections out there. I would even recommend it whether you’re a fan of Transformers or not. So, whaddya think?