Like a lot of folks it seems, I pretty much avoided the Transformers Robots in Disguise line early on in it’s release. Most of the toys seemed, and were, pretty mediocre. There also was an extremely one sided assortment of mostly Autobots. In fact, Steeljaw was the only Decepticon until something like wave 4, which is really annoying on a lot of levels. One thing that Transformers always felt like it had going for it above other lines was a pretty good balance of heroes and villains. What good is a hero with no one to fight after all?
Even more annoying, the Decepticon designs on the show itself are all super interesting and unique. There’s a neat animal theme running in the robot modes, which gives them fun heads and little design queues related to their respective animals. Steeljaw, for example, is very obviously wolf themed. From his wold head to his wolf tail, he’s one of the more obvious animal designs. The vehicle itself is also somewhat wolf-like in it’s styling.
While his design is pretty neat, Steeljaw is also one of the weaker toys in the line. The main issue is the “This should have been a Voyager” problem that pops up occasionally. The larger size would have allowed a bit better balance and a few more joints while also stopping the robot from being so small and stocky. As he is, because of his weird joints in his legs he pretty much needs the tail as balance to keep him upright, which is a shame because it’s nicely jointed and would be great used for more dynamic poses.
He also has some weird sliding arm/elbow joints that feel a little fragile and leave his arm movement options a little stiff. I guess the point is, the robot mode is cool looking, but it’s really only usable in one or two poses, due to the awkwardness of the toy.
Steeljaw is basically the physical embodiment of the early problems with the Robots in Disguise line, all wrapped up in a nice package. The design is ambitious but suffers for it. He should have been a larger price point, but RiD had no Voyager price point. He was the only Decepticon for a while, and while he looks nice in a group assortment with the eventual, later, Decepticons (which are mostly pretty stellar), he’s probably not worth putting a ton of effort into tracking one down.