Beast Wars was great. As the first true re-imagining of Transformers, it holds a very special place in many Transfans’ hearts. Debuting in 1996, it introduced us to a new era where the Robots in Disguise are still disguised, but now as organic animals instead of vehicles and other mechanical devices. It’s also the show where the phrase “BEAST MODE” originates.
Today’s subject, Tigatron, was part of the second wave of Beast Wars toys, and was a redeco of Cheetor. While you’d never really confuse the silhouette of a cheetah and a tiger in real life, for the sake of toys and a CGI cartoon series, their body types are similar enough that, eh, “close enough” applies.
In about 2010, I was contacted by someone on social media to make a variant Tigatron custom toy commission. It turns out that the original prototype of Tigatron wasn’t a WHITE tiger, but a standard orange one! I actually had no idea about this at the time, but thought it was pretty cool, nonetheless. The gentlemen commissioning me was even kind enough to provide a Cheetor toy to use as a base.
Fortunately, I already had a metallic turquoise-y color that was really close to Tigatron’s show model for the Bot Mode parts, so that was easy enough. And then I used photo references of tigers to paint the fur for the Beast Mode parts. Fewer stripes than the original toy, but more accurate to the actual feline.
I’ve only got these few photos of the finished product, but the client was happy, especially since I gave him the white belly and face markings not present on the original prototype.
I think I did a pretty decent job, and this may have been my only positive experience ever doing a custom figure commission, which is why I don’t do them anymore.
Years later, I posted the above collage photo on my Instagram, and was contacted by the guy for whom I painted the toy. He said he still had and loved it, and it inspired him to start customizing toys himself. And I think that’s great.