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Series: Generation 1
Year: 1988
Allegiance: Decepticon
Class: Pretender 
Function: Hunter / Tracker
A cunning smile is more devastating than the fiercest weapon.
A growling, howling, mad dog destroyer. Commits abominable acts with unrelenting glee. Always smiling, even in battle. Outer shell has built-in hydrolic lifters that enable him to jump over 50 feet in any direction. High-intensity laser beams in eyes incinerate targets in seconds. In robot Mode, armed with anti-thermal cannon with infrared scope that freezes targets on impact.
Prelude: Starting in 1988 Hasbro really pushed the Pretender gimmick in the Transformers line and apart from human Pretenders, Vehicle Pretenders, Mega Pretenders, Ultra Pretenders, and God knows what else, we also had the Pretender Beasts. Robots that transform into robot beasts, only to hide inside shells resembling organic beasts. So here we have Carnivac, a dude that becomes a wolf and disguises himself as a bigger wolf. Makes sense? Probably not, but we are talking about robots from outer space that transform into stuff. So here is Carnivac, Decepticon Pretender Beast. Let’s say go!

Many thanks to fellow TF-Fan Jörg “the Carpenter” Zimmerman for loaning me Carnivac for this review.

Robot Mode: Let us start with the robot. Carnivac is a relatively small robot but, unlike many other Pretenders, he is not a thin, generic looking bot, but rather resembles other G1 beast-mode figures from that time such as the Seacons. It’s readily apparent that he transforms into some kind of animal due to the jaw on his chest and the beast legs attached to his robot legs. He is mostly purple and a dark, nearly brown gold color.

Side note: despite being made from gold plastic in large parts, Carnivac does not suffer from the dreaded Gold Plastic Syndrome (GPS), as his plastic contains no swirls or reflective parts. So he is not due to break apart by looking at him too hard.

Carnivac has average articulation for a G1 figure from that time, meaning… not much. He can swivel his arms at the shoulders and bend his (connected) knees due to his transformation design, that’s it. For a weapon he comes with a golden rifle that is maybe a bit too large for him and I would worry a lot about the tiny little peg it has for a handle, but again: thankfully no GPS problems here. So bottom line: a pretty average G1 robot from the late 1980s with no real surprises and no flaws that weren’t common during that time.

Alternate Mode: Carnivac transforms into something that is somewhat recognizable as a robotic wolf (mostly due to the shape of the snout). The transformation is easy, he goes down on all fours, unfolding the beast legs from his robot legs and shoulders, and folds up the lower jaw of the wolf that was on his chest in robot mode. Done. The resulting wolf is still mostly purple and golden, but adds a dark teal color in his forelegs and tail to the mix.

I have to say Carnivac’s wolf mode beats out the robot mode in several ways. Mostly because he is far better articulated. He has joints in all four legs, is capable of pulling of something resembling a running pose, and he can even wiggle his tail. You can attach his golden rifle on top to give the wolf firepower, too, which looks surprisingly cool. So bottom line for the robot wolf: pretty cool for the time and much better than the robot mode.

As a Pretender Carnivac comes with a shell he can close up around his actual body. In his case it is a grey wolf with some armor pieces and he can only fit inside it in wolf mode (with the legs tucked in). While most Pretender shells at least had swiveling arms, the wolf shell is completely immobile. It does look pretty cool with its tech-rucksack and the (removable) armor pieces on its shoulders. The golden rifle can attach to the side of the rucksack, ensuring that the wolf has firepower in this mode, too. It is possible for Carnivac’s robot mode to sort of ride on his shell, but you need to unfold his beast mode legs in order to give him some stability.

Much like with most Pretenders I have had in hand, I really like the looks of Carnivac’s Pretender shell, but that’s really where the fun stops, as you can do nothing else with it but gaze at it adoringly. Still, it does look very cool.

Remarks: Carnivac never appeared in any cartoon, but he has quite the number of comic book appearances under his belt. In the Marvel Comics he was a member of the Mayhem Attack Squad and later joined the Autobots in the aftermath of the Time Wars. In the IDW comics he deserted from the Decepticons and joined a faction called Mayhem, which attempted to destroy both warring factions with the help of mad scientist Tarantulas. He also had smaller appearances in the Regeneration One series, the Dreamwave comics, and even scored a cameo in the Timeline stories. Carnivac is a definite Comic-Con (see what I did there, eh?)

Carnivac is one of two Decepticon Pretender Beasts and by far the better-known one. I have to say, though, that Snarler is the better toy between the two of them. Not by much, but still. So while Carnivac gets some props for his cool look and comic book history, the actual toy itself is little more than an average G1 Pretender figure from that time. Recommended to nostalgic G1 fans who don’t mind the Pretender gimmick.

Rating: C+
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