Today I’m joined by my friend Video Dracula for another teamup review! Drac recently bought the new reissue of the 1997 Cybershark toy, which you can find at Walmart stores and on their website. Cybershark is easily a top 5 Beast Wars toy for me, so I thought this would be a great opportunity for us to join forces and review the figure.
We’ve got a ton of pics, observations, and deeply nerdy fan theories to get through today, so let’s jump right into it.
A Little Background on 1997 Transformers Beast Wars Cybershark
Dustin: Drac, were you aware of Cybershark as a kid? If so, what did you think about the toy? What made you finally decide to pick up the figure?
Drac: Oh, yeah, I was aware of most everything that came out in the U.S. Beast Wars line at the time, or at least everything that Kenner chose to show on the cardbacks or in the catalogs. (I spent a long time wondering when they’d release Grizzly-1.) I’m not sure why I didn’t pick Cybershark over any of the other deluxes I got – I’m sure I liked him well enough. It may be that I didn’t locate the toy at the right time, or that I sometimes preferred land/air beasties over ocean ones. My family was also in poor financial shape during the first year of Beast Wars, so most of the figures I had from that time were the smaller ones. I grabbed the 2022 reissue of the toy because I never had the original, and so far I’ve picked up all the recent Hasbro BW reissues.
Dustin: The reissues are a miracle! Despite some odd pricing. We’ll touch more on that a little later, but Drac’s copy of the toy is the 2022 reissue, so you’ll get to see both that one and the 97 original in this review. Spoiler: They’re nearly identical. Which is good!
My first two Beast Wars toys were Rhinox and Terrorsaur, which I bought at the Payless Drugs by my childhood home. I was obsessed with the cardbacks and catalogs, but I never got Cybershark or many of the other “normal” releases from 96 or 97. By the time the house fire happened, all of those were off the shelves. So most of my childhood Beasties were Fuzors, Transmetals, Transmetal IIs, and Fox Kids repaints.
I did gravitate towards underwater beasties (and GI Joe divers, etc) but I don’t think Cybershark was ever high on my priority list. And, after reading Dave Van Domelen’s review, the Transmetal II version of Cybershark was not on my radar. It sounded like a nightmare.
So I finally grabbed Cybershark for the first time a couple years ago. He was an oddly expensive figure, so it took a while to find one for a decent price. That’s another reason I’m glad the reissues exist. So now anyone can experience Cybershark without paying $80.
Drac, what drew you to the reissue Cybershark aside from “buying all of them?” Do you think you would have liked the toy as a kid?
Drac: I mean, he’s a robot shark! What’s not to love? But honestly, as a kid I think I would have liked him a little less than I do now – back then I really did not like figures with prominent spring-loaded launchers and gimmicks. I wanted my characters to have real-sounding weapons and powers like some of the ones written on the G1 and G2 file cards, and it was easier for me to imprint those on figures who had normal-looking blasters and the like.
Early Beast Wars was also a bit of a desert for character bios. The first-year cards barely went farther than describing how much the Maximal or Predacon loved to fight the opposition. So if a toy had what I saw as gimmicky weapons, an alternate mode that didn’t immediately appeal to me, and very little bio info to springboard off of, I was less likely to enjoy it.
Dustin: We’ll get to Cybershark’s bio information and the character soon enough. But now it’s time for the review!
1997 Transformers Beast Wars Cybershark Review
Dustin: Cybershark was originally released in 1997, the second year of the Beast Wars toy line. BW year 2’s theme was “more of the same, but refined.” The basic class toys no longer had one-step, spring-loaded transformations. Many of the deluxes got more complex, as well. Cybershark was a deluxe release, so he was sold at the second-cheapest price point– which is wild when you consider everything this toy does and the amount of accessories it has.
1997 Transformers Beast Wars Cybershark stands a little bit tall for a deluxe and his cool, mostly-subdued color scheme marks him as an ocean-based warrior. There are some great robot details in this mode, and I especially love the silver on his chest (which also becomes his missile launcher).
The shark flanks are spread out behind him like wings, which is a very cool effect. The front-facing areas of the shark body/wing paenls are also rendered in a reddish color, making them slightly resemble the gory insides of an animal. Beast Wars did that kind of “gross out” thing pretty often in the first couple years and, while it’s a bit subdued on this toy, the figure still leans pretty hard into that idea.
I think Cybershark hits the “robot covered in organic parts and patches” aesthetic better than almost any other Beast Wars toy. You know this is a Cybertronian robot, but you also know he transforms into a real flesh-and-blood animal. It’s basically perfect.
The color scheme is fantastic. It’s not flashy or busy, but it’s interesting enough that it catches your eye and you can pick out each individual part.
The head sculpt also deserves special mention. There’s no getting around it– Cybershark looks like an Unhinged Maniac. This is a truly menacing head sculpt that you’d expect to see on a Predacon or another baddie, not on a heroic Maximal. I love little subversions like that.
Drac, what do you think of Cybershark’s robot mode appearance?
Drac: You’re right about that head sculpt! Even Transformers weren’t immune to what I’ll call the TMNT Effect, where that wild Playmates style splattered like mutagen over nearly every boys’ toyline in the 90s.
But beyond his extreme grimace, Cybershark is symmetrical and has that clean Japanese robot feel about him. You mentioned how the outer shells of his shark mode are painted red on the inside, and it’s maybe worth noting too that most of his limbs are molded in a bone-white plastic that almost makes it feel like his beast mode skeleton reconfigures into some of his robot mode.
I also like his shark fin hat.
Nearly every figure in Beast Wars had excellent articulation with occasional hindrance from large gimmick pieces or chunks of beast mode kibble. Cybershark is exemplary in this regard. He has near fully double-jointed elbows, bicep swivels, thigh swivels, a pretty deep knee bend, and the typical ball joints at the shoulders, hips, and neck, and he can point his toes. If you remove the shark mode head from the launcher, nothing gets in the way and he can assume some super dynamic action poses very easily.
His shark fins are on ball joints, and this lets you angle them up over his shoulders like little robot mode wingalings if you want (and I do).
A modern collector might wish for ankle tilts or a waist swivel, but these are the only areas where a theoretical Generations version might improve on the original’s articulation. It’s worth noting that ball joints can easily wear down over time, and indeed some even come loose in the package. It is pretty easy to fix this with some floor polish or superglue if necessary. I have had looseness in some of the recent Beast Wars reissues, but not this one.
Dustin: I agree that Cybershark’s articulation is pretty much flawless, and nothing really impedes his movement. I don’t miss the ankle tilts or waist swivel at all. Also, my copy of this toy was pre-owned and has been around for about 25 years, but all of the joints are still stiff and work perfectly. This toy was owned by a kid, too– check out the red marker dot on its left thigh. I assume the kid who owned it put that marking there so they knew which Cybershark was theirs when they were playing with friends or siblings. I love it when an old toy has a little artifact like that from a previous owner.
Drac: Oh, same!
Dustin: Let’s move onto accessories and features, where we’re bound to spend a good amount of time.
1997 Transformers Beast Wars Cybershark comes with four accessories, which is a decent amount for a deluxe Transformer from any year. He includes two missiles (with sculpted-on shark faces and gills), a shark head/hammer weapon, and shark tail/sword weapon.
The hammer is his beast mode’s head and the sword is his beast mode tail. The hammer itself doesn’t have any features, but can fit in either hand. The bladed weapon, sometimes referred to as a “switchblade tail,” has a spring loaded feature. If you press the trigger on the shark tail, a silver blade pops out and aligns itself parallel to the tail. The peg on the tail weapon can swivel into different positions, allowing Cybershark to hold the weapon in several different ways.
Next, we have the two missiles, which store in two cavities along the figure’s back.
They sit in there quite securely, and there’s no danger of them falling out. The figure can hold the missiles in each hand like clubs or swords, or you can place them both in one hand to form a sort of quarterstaff weapon.
Finally, we come to the missile launcher. In shark mode, the launcher is where the shark head attaches. The launcher can also store the shark head in robot mode, but it does look a little bit awkward.
The launcher swivels up into position in robot mode, allowing you to fire off either the shark head or the two included missiles with the push of a button. The launcher is accessible in beast mode, as well, but more on that later.
Drac, what do you think of the accessories? What’s your favorite thing to do with them? What’s your favorite configuration?
Drac: Like I alluded to earlier, I think I appreciate Cybershark’s loadout more now than I would have as a kid. And now I think it’s great. I love when a toy is designed to use all of its pieces in multiple ways. Everything Cybershark comes with can be used in more than one way, like you said. I prefer to mount the switchblade tail under his fist, which makes it look more menacing to me somehow.
I was surprised most by the missiles and how they can also be held in the hands. I found I liked the “quarterstaff” configuration the most out of all of these, although whacking your enemies with a pair of explosive warheads does seem unwise.
The position of the launcher in the middle of his chest and the characteristic design of the missiles gives this weapon the attitude of a “finishing move” type of thing, like Cybershark would need to call out “FIN MISSILE!” or something like that before firing it point blank into Snapper’s face.
The hammerhead is probably the weakest “accessory” here – it looks goofy if you leave it mounted in the launcher and not especially convincing as anything in his hand. I buy it most as a shield of some sort. If I’d had this toy as a kid, I probably would have pretended the shark eyes could generate some sort of barrier.
Dustin: Yeah, as you said earlier, as a kid I was also more into Transformers who had conventional swords or guns. That’s what G1 and G2 did to us. But because of Beast Wars’ design philosophy, every figure’s weapons had to integrate into both modes somehow. I wouldn’t have loved Cybershark’s weapons as much when I was a kid, but now I think they’re brilliant– especially within those constraints.
I’m about to nerd out hard. So let’s start with the hammer/shark’s head.
I imagine that when the hammerhead is fired from the missile launcher, in either beast mode or robot mode, it acts as sort of a powerful blunt force instrument. I also imagine that when Cybershark is underwater, the head/hammer returns to him, much like Thor’s hammer does. It is self propelled underwater, and can either affix itself back in the launcher or fly back into his hand. You’re right in that it’s not the most convincing weapon, but I still think having a handheld hammer weapon is pretty cool and unique for a Transformer. Even if it’s not perfect.
I think the switchblade tail is quite cool, honestly. I like having Cybershark using it underhand, as you described, but I like him using it configured like a traditional sword even more, as he’s sometimes described as a swashbuckling hero. It’s a cool weapon– it works as a sword, a weapon breaker, a capture claw, or a pincer that does crushing damage. So I think holding it either underhand or as a regular sword are both equally valid. Holding it overhand though, as I’ve seen many people do, is ridiculous. How is he going to slash anyone when the blade is only facing upwards?
Now we come to the missile launcher. Underwater, I imagine it fires the shark head as described above, and it can load the missiles as torpedoes in either beast mode or robot mode. The torpedoes are very effective underwater and, due to their shark faces, I think they might have some kind of built-in, AI-powered guidance system. On land, it can fire both the missiles and the shark head, but they’re not as effective. So I imagine that on land, the missile launcher is just a traditional sort of energy cannon.
I have more misgivings about the missiles as handheld weapons. I love that the toy can do it, but how does it work? Do the warheads go inert when he’s using them like that? Maybe. Or maybe he can either whack people with them or throw them at enemies, just like Silverbolt did in the Beast Wars cartoon. Options are always good, but I haven’t quite wrapped my head around the “missiles as melee weapons” thing in this case, even if they do look cool.
Now, onto Beast Mode!
Drac: First off, just want to say I love your idea of the shark head as a flying hammer. It reminds me of how the Beast Wars II animators repurposed Claw Jaw/Scuba’s weird little accessory thing into a boomerang.
As for Cybershark’s beast mode, it’s gorgeously deco’d with a pearlescent blue finish that fades to bone white on the shark’s underside, all topped off with some aquamarine mottling. The shark eyes are picked out in red which adds a little pop of contrast. There’s not much this mode does beyond “look like a good shark,” as its articulation is limited to the fins. I’d have liked if the jaws could move, maybe, but that’s clearly not possible with how the transformation works.
Speaking of the transformation, Cybershark is essentially what the fandom calls a shellformer, with most of the robot mode folding up inside the shark exterior. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s fun to transform Cybershark. The whole torso is on a hinged contraption that’s satisfying to swing up or down for each mode. The arms and legs are a little tougher to get right – the feet have pegs on them that I believe are meant to secure to the fists, and you have to rotate the arms just right to get them in the correct position. I tend to have a bit of difficulty with this when I transform mine.
But it’s nothing like the later Beast Wars Neo shellformer transformations where you have a half-dozen beast mode bits on ball joints that need to swing just so to allow clearance of all the inner parts. It’s a quick, easy transformation that I enjoy doing every time.
Dustin: I like his transformation, too! And yeah, there are pegs on the robot feet that are supposed to plug into the robot fists in beast mode, but the whole thing works just as well if you ignore those pegs. You can just keep the robot arms in their normal, natural position and transform the rest of the toy as normal and it will hold together just as well.
Cybershark is a shellformer, but he cleans up really nicely in both modes. There is a little bit of robot junk on the bottom of the shark mode (his robot legs) but they actually kind of look like extra fins and keep him very stable when he’s resting on the ground.
As you mentioned, Drac, the shark mode deco is gorgeous. That’s probably the first thing you’ll notice when you see Cybershark. The second thing you’ll notice is that HE THICC. Cybershark is very chubby/stocky for a hammerhead shark, who are thin and graceful creatures. But Cybershark has to fit a bunch of robot parts inside of his shark body, so I think the chonk is pretty forgivable. Right?
Also, if you fire off his hammerhead in beast mode, there is some detail underneath, which kind of looks like a metal skull. That’s kind of cool, as the toy wouldn’t be totally useless to a kid who lost the accessory.
I think Cybershark was the first realistic shark in all of Transformers. Before that you had Rippersnapper and Overbite, who both had arms and legs in their beast modes. You also had Gnaw, a Sharkticon, but he looks more like a piranha or a lightless angler fish than a shark. So Cybershark was quite novel at the time.
There still aren’t many hammerhead Transformers. As far as I’m aware, we just have Cybershark, Beast Wars Air Hammer, Beast Machines Hammerstrike, and Cyberverse Hammerbyte. RID 2015 also had a character named Hammerstrike, but he never got a proper transforming toy.
Anyway, Cybershark was retooled into two other different toys, only one of which I have. In 1998, Cybershark was given a gigantic makeover and released as the cybernetic beast known as Hellscream. I don’t own that toy because I’m not a billionaire, so I can’t show it to you here.
I can show you the other toy Cybershark was retooled into, though. Takara yet again remolded and repainted Cybershark for the Beast Wars Neo toy line, this time as a sawshark known as Sharp Edge.
Sharp Edge’s beast mode head and tail sections are entirely new, as is his robot mode head. Other than those three parts and his color scheme, he is the same toy as Cybershark and works the same way.
But the two toys look very different, which shows that Takara got some impressive mileage out of just a few new parts. I particularly like Sharp Edge’s head, which looks like an Ultraman design. It’s a nice contrast to Cybershark’s low-budget slasher movie head sculpt. The two toys look really good together and they make a great team.
Drac: I’ve never owned any of the BWII cyborg retools, but I’ve loved them ever since I unfolded the pamphlet that came with the Lioconvoy I bought off of Hasbro Collector Shop in the 90s (you can decide if I’m flexing here or just demonstrating my age).
Sharp Edge I don’t have either. However I can still appreciate how both of these toys effectively replace Cybershark’s only weak point – the hammerhead accessory – with a piece that feels far more like a functional accessory.
As Beast Wars rolled into its latter period with the Transmetals and Fuzors, Cybershark was surprisingly one of only a few non-show characters to get an update in the “Transmetal 2” subline imprint. TM2 brought back that TMNT Energy big time with heavily asymmetrical sculpts loaded with gnarly biomechanical detail, outsized accessories, and angry facial expressions. This version of Cybershark is larger and reads as a more XTREME version of himself. He’s got a taller fin hat, a handheld launcher that now fires two rockets at once, and his tail blade now has four blades and is merged with his arm. He’s also very green.
I would wager most people know TM2 Cybershark as a different character, though. The mold was reused in the Japanese Car Robots line as a new character, Gelshark, who was later renamed as Sky-Byte in the American version (the TM2 figures were not released over there, so this would have been the figure’s first appearance overseas). Sky-Byte’s got a much better deco than Cybershark overall, with new paint applications on a lot of the exposed mechanical detail. And the blue/yellow/silver scheme is way nicer than TM2 Cybershark’s sickly green.
Sky-Byte also has Cybershark beat in the character department. Everyone remembers Sky-Byte’s tendency to recite haiku about his sad life, but Cybershark barely made a splash in any Beast Wars fiction. His original bio card says precious little about who he is. The TM2 card does at least offer a few fun morsels, mentioning that he’s a former bounty hunter, that he reports to Depth Charge, and that he tends to go his own way on missions.
His tech specs offer a little bit more to munch on. His first card gives him extremely high courage (9) but pretty low intelligence (5) and surprisingly low skill (4), and his second card improves on each of these stats a little bit. With all this in mind, I’m getting a mental picture of an overconfident warrior who thinks he’s the king of the seas, but tends to find himself in very deep water, and maybe has to be bailed out by the other ocean-bound Maximals.
If I’d had this figure as a kid, I’d have probably cast him as a rogue who wasn’t often at the base with the rest of the Maximals, always out patrolling the deep, and he’d probably have a bad attitude when the force asked him to cooperate on a mission. Basically like Tigatron but a punk.
Dustin: So, if you look at Cybershark’s TFWiki entry, it describes him as a swashbuckling hero who has “fought for freedom across a thousand alien seas.” Even though that’s not on his bio card, I love that idea. I assume it comes from some fiction somewhere. It also plays into the idea you put front and center– he’s a lone hero and an adventurer, so it’s a little harder for him to work well on a dedicated team.
That TFWiki writeup also paints him as kind, generous, and good-natured. I think that’s a beautiful contrast to his frankly monstrous-looking head sculpt. So that’s how I tend to see the character. He travels the galaxy and fights for oppressed people everywhere, but he sort of rankles when he has to work closely alongside Depth Charge, Air Hammer, Sharp Edge, Claw Jaw, and the others for a meticulously-planned mission. But he values life and freedom so much that he sucks up his pride and does it, even though it makes him miserable.
But you’re right that Sky-Byte is a much more fleshed out character, due to both the original RID and the newer Cyberverse TV shows. I think Sky-Byte is how Cybershark will be remembered, and that’s just fine!
Luckily, this toy is very distinct from Transmetal 2 Cybershark and can easily represent a much different character than Sky-Byte.
Overall, 1997 Cybershark is a top 5 Beast Wars toy for me. Sharp Edge ended up being my favorite Beast Wars toy ever, but Cybershark is so good that he’s not far behind. I love this toy and think it belongs in any Transformers collection.
Drac: Yeah, I’m with you on that assessment. I was frankly blown away with how great the toy is compared to the other early BW figures I’ve handled, and most of those are great toys too. I’m glad Hasbro is choosing to reissue some of the non-show characters in their line. I probably wouldn’t have gotten this toy otherwise!
Drac’s Verdict: Cybershark hits all of the highest watermarks of the Beast era – great articulation, fun beast mode, good transformation, functional gimmicks, and a lot of personality. Hopefully the reissue will be fairly easy to find for a while longer. Per Dustin’s official Dragon Rating System, I give 1997 Cybershark a Highly Recommended.
Dustin’s Verdict: As Drac said, this toy represents everything good about Beast Wars– great and useful articulation, sturdy construction, good (and interesting!) looks, and fun features. Cybershark is a joy to transform and play with, and he displays nicely in either mode. With the recent reissue, there’s no excuse to not buy this toy. If you like Beast Wars or early Transformers at all, it’s a must-have. And even though the toy is 25 years old at this point, it still holds up by modern standards. Highly Recommended.
Closing Thoughts on 1997 Transformers Beast Wars Cybershark
Thanks for joining us! And thanks again to my pal Drac for helping me out this week.
TFWiki was down for most of the week, and you don’t realize how much you miss it until it’s gone. I’m very glad that, as of today, it’s back up and running. Thanks for everything, TFWiki.
It all hinged on an unfortunate (but inevitable) event, but I should be back to my regular posting schedule soon enough. Thanks for your patience and support. And thanks to everyone who reached out to me and offered kind words– it means more than I can properly express.
Anyway, who’s your favorite Underwater Beastie? What do you think of Cybershark? Let us know in the comments!