Hello and welcome back. Today we’re looking at a Beast Wars toy.
Beast Wars is one of my favorite toy lines ever, so it’s funny that this is only the third proper BW figure I’ve reviewed on this site, alongside some Happy Meal toys. I guess GI Joes are just easier for me to photograph. I am pretty pleased with how most of the photos in the post turned out, though. Some of them were maybe overly ambitious, but I’d rather try something cool and not quite pull it off than always do the same old thing.
So let’s look at 1997 Transformers Beast Wars Claw Jaw, a Basic Class Maximal that Hasbro released under the Kenner brand.
My Childhood Affection for 1997 Transformers Beast Wars Claw Jaw
My earliest Beast Wars toys were the original Rhinox and Terrorsaur, and I got them before I ever saw the excellent CGI cartoon produced by Mainframe. As soon as I did see the show, Rhinox became my favorite character and I saw some appeal in Terrorsaur’s cowardly schemer, as well.
When I was tasked with rebuilding my Transformers collection after the house fire, I could only get what was available on store shelves. There were no eBay, Amazon, or overpriced e-tailer websites with ‘TF’ in the name. It was 1998, so that meant the original versions of the cartoon cast were no longer on shelves. But there were still some good ones.
Claw Jaw was one of the first Beast Wars toys I grabbed during this time. Basic class figures were cheap (around $5), but were still brilliantly designed and executed. I remember getting Claw Jaw, Bantor, Transmetal Rhinox, Terragator, Quickstrike, and Tripredacus all around the same time and having a blast with them.
Claw Jaw was a 1997 toy, but luckily he was still on store shelves in 1998. Ever since I checked out a book on sea creatures from the library in 6th grade, the giant squid has been my favorite animal. There’s just something otherworldly about it– it should not exist in our mundane world, but it looks cool as hell. It’s like an alien creature from the far realms that somehow slipped into our plane of existence.
Although Claw Jaw isn’t giant by any means, he is a squid. And that was good enough for me in 1998. I think it’s still good enough for me today.
Claw Jaw was also kind of an anomaly among the heroic Maximals. Most Maximals are mammals or birds, with the occasional fish padding out the ranks. Claw Jaw is neither of those things. Usually, the ‘creepy,’ many-legged creatures fall on the Predacon side. Other than some notable dinosaurs, almost every Predacon is either an arthropod or a crustacean. Claw Jaw is a cephalopod, but he is more closely aligned with a King Crab or a Tarantula than he is with an Elephant or a Falcon.
So that naturally means there’s something slightly sinister about him, even setting his looks aside. I always appreciate a menacing hero who might not be on the exact same page as everyone else on his team, so that made me like Claw Jaw even more.
As you can tell from my numerous GI Joe diver reviews, I also love undersea adventures, so that was another great thing Claw Jaw had going for him.
Claw Jaw was a stalwart member of my late 90s Maximal crew. He was involved in almost every battle or mission, even if he was never the main character that Rhinox or Optimus Primal were.
Some amount of nostalgia and childhood affection are definitely looming over this review like a neon storm cloud, but I’ll still try to be as objective as possible. But I think if you take one look at this toy, you’ll also say “hot damn, that’s pretty cool” just like I did 23 long years ago.
1997 Transformers Beast Wars Claw Jaw Review
Claw Jaw was released by “Kenner” (under the Hasbro umbrella) in 1997, as a Basic Class figure. Basics were the smallest Transformers in the Beast Wars line, and usually cost around $5. 1997 was the second year of Beast Wars, which was pulling out all the stops to revitalize the Transformers brand. 97 was the last year of “regular” beasts– in 1998, BW figures were either Fuzors or Transmetals.
So while Claw Jaw is a weirdo orange and red squid, he is also just a regular squid and not a dragonfly-lizard chimera with slashing energy wings. Beast Wars got weird as hell and I loved every second of it. Claw Jaw, though, was released when Beast Wars was still pretty normal.
Let’s start with Claw Jaw’s beast mode.
1997 Transformers Beast Wars Claw Jaw is a squid, cast primarily in orange and red plastic. The toy also features some yellow and black paint for the squid eyes, and some very cool purple paint applications to represent the squid’s natural markings. I don’t think there’s a real squid in the ocean that looks like this, but it’s a pretty convincing animal mode.
Overall, the robot parts are nicely tucked away in Claw Jaw’s beast mode. If you scrutinize it too much, you can see some screws, hinges, and a robot head peeking out. But if you’re spending that much time scrutinizing a Transformer from the year mumble rap icon Lil Yachty was born, you may want to find a healthier hobby.
The squid mode features 10 limbs, just like a real squid. There are six non-moveable orange arms molded on the bottom of the toy, two arms near its jaws (more on those in a moment) that hinge up and down, and two fully articulated tentacles with two ball joints each on the sides of the beast.
The jaws of the beast are painted in a nice silvery plastic. As far as I know, squid have beaks and not claw-like jaws, but a beak doesn’t make for the best action feature. If you press a little outcropping on the back of the beast mode, the jaws spring out and open. When you release the level, the jaws spring shut. It’s simple and effective. You do need to get the two orange arms near the mouth raised up a bit before you use the feature, though.
The lever/outcropping itself is kind of genius. It’s a small little thing, but it adds some versatility to the toy. It features a vertical hinge that lets you angle it up against the squid’s head, where it looks like a natural part of the beast mode. You can also angle it down, where it acts as a nice support if you want the squid mode to actually stand up for display, posing, or just when it’s not swimming around.
This is a cool looking, threatening beast mode. It’s also completely unique. There was one squid before Claw Jaw in the Transformers line, but that was Tentakil, who had humanoid legs even in animal mode. Claw Jaw and his repaints are still the only “realistic,” organic squid in all of Transformers.
Beyond looking good, this is just a fun beast mode. It’s solid enough to play around with, and nothing is going to come untabbed or undone when you’re moving it around. The bottom arms might swing out on their hinges just a bit, but that’s not a big deal. The action feature is also very fun and doesn’t hinder the toy whatsoever.
Plus, he has a completely gnarly robot mode, which you’ll see in just a second.
The transformation is pretty simple. I’m bad at describing these things in detail (I have the soul of a poet and the brain of an ostrich, I’m not an engineer or a mathemagician), so bear with me. Basically, you swing the bottom arms out on their hinges and pop the head up. The you split the squid’s head into the robot legs, turn the waist around, and position the articulated tentacles so they look like robot arms. Then you’re done!
Here’s the robot mode:
Just look at it!
The head sculpt is brilliantly painted and detailed. It looks both suitably squiddy and horrifyingly Lovecraftian. Someone on the Kenner team had a blast when they were sculpting this creepy undersea Maximal. The yellow eyes and purple paint details just make it completely pop. This is exactly what Claw Jaw’s robot mode should look like.
Inverting the squid’s head and body for robot mode was also a good call. The torso looks appropriately lithe and heroic, and I love that you see all of the little “sucker” details from the squid mode come together into a creepy, cohesive whole. The jaws look absolutely fearsome on the chest, and the squid eyes poking out from the robot mode’s abdomen is another nice and spooky touch.
The only real “kibble” in this mode comes in the form of the six orange arms now extending from its shoulders. They’re actually a good thing, though. These extra appendages make for a fierce silhouette, and you can position them as you please on their hinges. You can sweep them back dramatically, angle them out to the sides, or even place them in front of the toy for extra shielding or weaponry. They add a lot of emotion, expression, and variety for all kinds of poses.
Speaking of poses, Claw Jaw has decent articulation, as most Beast Wars toys do. His head is on a ball joint with a cutout at the back, so it can rotate 360 degrees or look up for swimming or flying poses. His arms have ball joints at the shoulders and elbows, which also adds a good range of motion. His legs have ball joints at the hips and knees, and his ankles also hinge upwards and downwards. There’s a waist swivel, too. So while he’s not an SH Figuarts Mango Saiyan Super Vegeta, he moves very well for a $5 toy from 1997. I’d say this is just about the perfect amount of articulation for a toy of this size.
You can activate the action feature in this mode, too, and the lever sits fairly neatly against his back when you’re not using it.
1997 Transformers Beast Wars Claw Jaw does come with one accessory, but it’s kind of a hidden one. I didn’t know about it until at least a year after I’d bought the toy, as the instructions make no mention of it. I think I read about it either on BWTF.com or Dave Van Domelen’s website.
Basically, the action feature activation lever cleverly houses a little orange claw/boomerang weapon, which you have to pry out at an angle. It’s easier than I made it sound just then. The little claw has some pretty neat details, and it features a little peg that plugs into the most prominent ‘sucker’ on either of the figure’s arms.
The weapon itself is maybe a bit of an afterthought, but I always like Beast Wars toys that come with weapons that aren’t just built into their bodies. A Beast Wars figure having an actual weapon was always the deciding factor on whether I’d purchase it or not when I was a kid. The claw weapon does make some amount of sense, since it looks streamlined enough for underwater combat, and light enough for a lithe and nimble fighter like Claw Jaw to make good use of.
But I didn’t discover this weapon for a long time because I made up other weapons for Claw Jaw, based on both his tech specs and his anatomy. His bio says his tentacle arms can siphon the energy from other Transformers, which I thought was a cool idea. I also pretended his chest, when the jaws opened, could produce a charged energy blast of some sort, coming out as either an arcing beam or a bolt of lightning. The energy he stole from his enemies powered this blast, of course. He could also use the jaws in either mode, crush enemies with his tentacles, and use the very sharp looking ends of each tentacle arm as spear weapons.
Neither the Maximals nor the Predacons have a ton of underwater operatives, so I appreciate the ones they do have. When I was a kid, Claw Jaw usually fought Terragator in undersea conflicts, or attacked any curious Predacon who came upon his underwater lair. He also participated in many land battles, where he was still valuable but not quite as effective.
Now I can team Claw Jaw up with Cybershark, Sharp Edge, and Depth Charge for a formidable underwater battle force. It’s nice to have a few options.
As far as the character of Claw Jaw, and not just the toy, goes– well, he didn’t do a bunch in any media. He was barely featured in the Beast Wars: The Gathering comic, and that’s about it. His Japanese counterpart, Scuba, was featured somewhat prominently in the Beast Wars II anime, where he mostly ran away from Scylla, the Pirate Seacon squid’s romantic advances.
So, yeah, this is a great robot mode. It’s dynamic, it’s poseable, and it looks great. The toy’s built in parts and features gives you a ton of options and will give your imagination a huge boost if you let them.
I’m glad that my favorite animal got the Transformers toy it deserves.
Verdict: 1997 Transformers Beast Wars Claw Jaw is fantastic. He has a great, unique beast mode and a well-articulated, compelling robot mode. It’s a small toy that’s fun and easy to play with. If you like Transformers, you need this one in your collection. Hell, even if you just want a sea creature to fight your GI Joes or other toys, this is a good choice. Claw Jaw is Highly Recommended.
Closing Thoughts on 1997 Transformers Beast Wars Claw Jaw
I do have a pretty large Beast Wars collection, but I try to keep it manageable. That means my end goal is generally owning one of every mold. I don’t need the Japanese version of every Hasbro toy, as often the color and paint differences are minimal and I’d drive myself crazy hunting for all of them. I also don’t try to buy every single repaint.
Claw Jaw is an exception, though. If I have one holy grail toy, it’s the Claw Jaw repaint named Ikard, who came with an ex-Microman octopus vehicle called the Tako Tank. It looks amazing and I’ve wanted it for 20 years now. There’s also a “Transmetal” repaint of Claw Jaw that came with a VHS tape, who also looks excellent. These are repaints I definitely would not mind having. I’m a real sicko, is what I’m saying.
Anyway, what do you think of Claw Jaw? Do you think squid are cool or terrifying abominations? What’s your favorite Beast Wars Basic figure? Let me know in the comments!