It’s another Transformers Thursday here at FFZ and today I’m checking out the final figure in the first wave of Deluxe Class Titans Return figures, Skullsmasher and his little head-forming buddy, Grax. Yes, somewhere along the way Hasbro must have lost the Skullcruncher trademark, but it’s close enough. Let’s see if I can make it through the whole Feature without calling him Skullcruncher by force of habit! As for Grax, well, apparently they managed to hang on to the name of the original G1 Skullcruncher’s Nebulon, because it remains unchanged.
Here’s a quick look at the package before I tear it open and have to deal with those goddamn plastic wires. I got nothing new to say about the package itself, other than it keeps the figure minty fresh until it gets to me and I guess that’s really all I’m looking for here. Skullsmasher is packaged in his robot mode, but crikey, we’re gonna check out his croc mode first!
So, allow me to go on record, probably not for the first time, by saying how much I love whenever G1 did animal alt modes. They always had that appropriately cybernetic look to them like a machine approximation of an animal form, rather than the creepy and off-putting real animal forms of the Beast Wars era. In a lot of ways Skullsmasher here captures that beloved aesthetic, much like the G1 figure he’s based on. The croc mode is very angular, it’s covered in panel lines, and it features some great spikes and ridges all over. The deco relies almost entirely on colored plastic, from the pleasingly rich and slightly metallic green to the cheaper looking and almost neon red, and the the odd gray pieces. There are some painted panels on the sides and a Decepticon emblem on top of his head. It’s an uncharacteristically garish deco, but one that should satisfy the G1 purists. Overall it works just fine for me.
I really dig Skullsmasher’s croc head. The diamond shaped eyes are reminsicent of Dinobot eyes and I really dig the way some of his teeth mate with the opposite jaws when the mouth is closed. Open up the mouth and you get treated to a full display of teeth and a segmented tongue.
When Skullsmasher is just sitting there in croc mode, I think he’s great, but picking him up and playing around with him reveals a lot of problems. The plastic here feels super cheap to me. Like knock-off cheap. Especially the red stuff. The way the tail pegs onto the body is a tenuous connection. If I try to pose it to the left or right, it usually pulls out. The two halves of the croc’s hind quarters don’t like to stay tabbed together at the top either. The rest of the figure features some decent articulation. The hind legs are attached to the body with ball joints. The front legs swivel where they meet the body and again just below the hinged elbows. Unfortunately, if I swivel the lower part of the leg enough, it’ll pull right off. Finally, the head is ball jointed, and of course the jaws are hinged.
Grax is a pretty cool little dude with a black and green deco and some nice paint on his tiny face. These guys all have the same articulation, which includes hips, knees, shoulders, and head. He’s an expressive little guy and of course he has that ubiquitous exposed screw right in the middle of his chest.
Despite not being a conventional vehicle, Skullsmasher has a compartment inside him for Grax to ride in. The door is made of a weird rubbery plastic and blends into the croc’s back pretty well.
The instructions don’t really outline any other modes, but if you pull off his tail and flip it upside down it forms a little gunner station with a seat. This can be pegged back into the croc’s ass if you want to make Grax a… wait for it… tail gunner! There are also some tiny foot pegs on Scullsmasher’s front legs for the little guys to ride on rather awkwardly.
Transforming Skullsmasher holds few surprises and his robot mode even less… unless you count his legs constantly popping off at the hips a surprise. In keeping with the three figures that preceded him in this wave, he looks pretty damn good. He’s nicely proportioned and very reminiscent of the original G1 version. You even get the hatch on his chest that flipped down on the original figure to show the stats when you plugged in the Headmaster. I do like the way the croc legs on his lower legs serve as heel spurs to stabilize him. The deco doesn’t change much from the croc mode. You just get a little more gray showing and some paint details on his chest. The lack of Decepticon emblem on his chest, however, irks me to no end. I might have to go into my stash of stickers to give him one.
From the back, Skullsmasher includes the expected croc head kibble backpack, which really isn’t too bad. On the downside, the tail is just sort of an extra piece. You can actually peg it into his back, but than the bulk of the kibble becomes ridiculous.
He can hold it as a shield or sword or bludgeon, or whatever you want to call it to pretend it isn’t just a left over tail. Also, if you leave the gun in it, it can serve as an awkwardly large gun tail thing. None of these options are really ideal for me, so I just plan on putting it behind him when I display him. Thankfully, the gun comes out and can be used as a stand alone weapon.
Grax forms a fantastic head and holds his form quite well. Once again, you can plug any of the heads into him. Head swapping isn’t a gimmick I’m fond of and my other little head guys are buried in the other room so pardon me if I don’t actually show it this time.
Now, when I first started playing with him, I thought I was going to be able to make it out of this review without having to comment on my figure being all loosey-goosey like so many others seem to be. In truth everything on mine is actually pretty solid, except for those ball joints in the hips. They’re not completely useless, he can hold himself up, but if you give him too wide a stance, he’s likely to crumble. Also, the red plastic on this guy still feels rather cheap.
There’s no denying it. Skullsmasher is the only disappointing figure in this wave for me. I think it comes across in how brief this Feature is compared to the others. I didn’t have nearly as much fun shooting him as the other offerings of this wave. But, he’s not a terrible figure by any means. It’s just that when compared to the three shining examples that came before him, he’s just weakened from too many nagging little issues. I’m certainly not sorry I bought him, but I am glad I didn’t lose my patience and pay a premium for him, because he wouldn’t have been worth it. And even after ending this assortment on a slightly sour note, I’ll still say that this is one solid wave of figures and I’m really excited to get my hands on some more. Thanks to a nice score at the local Wally World, which typically has the most poorly stocked toy aisles I’ve ever seen, I was able to grab the entire second wave yesterday. So come on back next Thursday as I start digging into those with a look at Chromedome.