Let’s all take a moment to bow our heads and mourn the passing of Titans Return. I think it was one of the best modern Transformers lines Hasbro has ever done. Bold statement? Yes. But that’s how I feel. Oh, I’ve still got more reviews coming from that line, but as far as Hasbro is concerned, it’s done and its replacement, Power of the Primes, has arrived. I thought I should at least check some of these new figures out while they’re still fresh, and where else better to start than with the Dinobots, Slug and Swoop!
Behold, the Power of the Primes packaging! The presentation is nearly identical to Titans Return and to Combiner Wars before that, which suggests just how much Hasbro is trying to tie these lines together. This deco has never been my favorite, but then I don’t save the packaging, so it’s not a big sticking point for me. I do, however, really dig the character art on the card, and in case you haven’t guessed, Slug is the new name for Slag. We’ve had some modern Dinobots over the years, and plenty of Grimlocks, but never has Hasbro given us a full on team of G1-inspired Dinobots until now. We’ll see them all released in Power of the Prime, and like it or not, they will be a Combiner Team.
With that said, it’s time for full disclosure: I was thrilled when these Dinobots were first revealed, but a lot of that exaltation burned off when I found out that they were going to be a Combiner Team of Deluxes with Grimlock as the torso/Voyager Class. Now, I’m not inherently against making the Dinobots into Combiners. I respect Hasbro for trying new things. But by making them combiners, they were locked into these size classes, and that’s the root of my disappointment. In my opinion, proper Dinobots should have been Voyager Class figures with Grimlock as a Leader Class. Obviously, I knew this going in, but it’s still going to color my reviews. OK, let’s start with Slug’s dinosaur mode.
Well, this is pretty damn good! Just one look and there’s no doubt who this cybernetic Triceratops is supposed to be. Aesthetically, Hasbro did an admirable job giving us a proper update to G1 Slag. Hell, I’d even go so far as to say that this is one of the best sculpts we’ve seen in a Deluxe Class figure in a while. Just look at how much detail they packed into this little guy. There are panel lines, little hatches and vents, segmented joints in the legs, and the pattern in his collar looks fantastic. I also really dig the sculpted circuitry that can be seen through the translucent plastic discs in the hind legs and in the tail. You even get some pegs to put some Titan Masters or Prime Masters on his back.
The deco is also pretty spot on to what I would want in a modern Slag. Much of Slug’s coloring is derived from his rich gray plastic, but you also get some black and gold paint, as well as the previously mentioned yellow-tinted clear plastic. A little red can be glimpsed from his undercarriage and his horns are red as well. There are even a couple stickers near the base of his tail. The only thing I would have added would be some silver paint to his collar, but I guess you have to leave something for Takara to do in order to tempt the importers.
The articulation here is very basic, but not too bad. The front legs are ball jointed at the top and have ratcheting hinges in the middles. The back legs rotate at the tops and have hinges in the middles as well, but these middle hinges can only work backwards. His mouth can also open thanks to a hinge in the lower jaw that is also part of the transformation. In truth, there’s not a whole lot to work with here, but at the same time, it doesn’t really feel like he’s missing a lot, except for maybe a swivel in the neck.
Slug comes with two accessories: His gun and his Prime Armor. I’ll get to the Prime Armor at the end, because it involves this line’s running gimmick, and is not something I’m going to focus on in any reviews after this one. I mention the rifle now, because you can plug it into his back if you want your Triceratops to have some added firepower. Before moving on to his robot mode, let’s do some size comparisons…
Aaaaand, Yikes! Not only is Slug a Deluxe Class figure, but in his Dino mode, he’s a damn small Deluxe Class figure. He’s barely bigger than Legends Class Bumblebee and Deluxe Class Hot Rod practically dwarfs him. And here’s where the disappointment sets in. Now scale has always been a funny thing when it comes to Transformers, but The Dinobots are supposed to be giants and this scaling just doesn’t work at all for me.
Transforming Slug into his robot mode is pretty easy and mostly involves just folding the back half into the legs. It’s not that dis-similar to the G1 toy, assuming I remember that correctly and the result is that this damn fine little Dino turns into a damn fine little robot. Like the Dino mode, Slug’s robot mode hits almost all the right points that I’m looking for in my updated Slag. The rear Dino legs land on the lower legs, the lower jaw becomes the chestplate, and the top part of the Dino head frames the robot head. It all looks great, and the deco matches almost perfectly. His proportions are fine, although I think he could have used some more bulk. It’s almost like something is missing.
Oh yeah, it’s his wings, and this is my only real sticking point with the robot mode design. The Dino mode’s back actually looks like it’s sculpted with a fake hinge, which is kind of like a big tease. I think if this part did hinge open and press in closer to the back, it would have made this robot mode perfect, instead of just really close to perfect. Maybe that was too much engineering for a Deluxe Class, but considering how relatively simple everything else is, I don’t think that’s really the case. Oh well.
The head sculpt is fantastic and the red painted eyes look especially nice. They’re so bright and vibrant it actually looks better than a lot of the light piping effects I’ve seen int he past. You can actually turn Slug’s head, which is something I wasn’t counting on, but I’ve only been able to get it to turn a bit and I really need to get your fingernail in there to do it.
As already mentioned, Slug comes with a rifle, which e can hold in either hand. Alas, he does not come with a sword, which is a real bummer. I’ve been trying to swear off Third Party Transformers and kits lately, but if someone out there cares to make a weapons pack for these Dinobots, I’d probably pull the trigger on that.
Unfortunately, size is an issue in robot mode as well as in Dino mode. It’s not quite as egregious here, but still an issue nonetheless. At least he’s bigger than a Legends Class now, but as you can see, he’s roughly the same size as Deluxe Class Hot Rod. If he were a little bulkier, I might have been a bit more forgiving, but he still seems really puny for a Dinobot. OK, our last stop is going to be a quick look at the Power Armor, because it’s the key to unlocking the entire gimmick behind Power of the Primes…
And as gimmicks go, it kinda sucks. This giant plastic albatross plugs into the chest and yes, it is as unwieldy in person as it looks in this picture, if not more so. The idea is that you take the clear plastic cover off and plug one of the Prime Masters into it. That’s supposed to give him enhanced powers based on whichever Power Master he bonds with. The powers are outlined on a card that comes with the figure. Unfortunately, this is more of a pretend kind of thing, whereas the Titan Master gimmick was a practical part of the design. Yes, these are toys for kids, and that’s great, but I’m not getting anything out of it. It’s worth noting that the Power Armor will double as Combiner parts as well. The other bummer is that unlike the Titans Returns figures, which each came with a Titan Master, here the Prime Masters are sold separately. I haven’t picked up any of those yet, but in a fine example of Transformers Body Horror, the Titan Masters are also compatible with the Power Armor.
And holy shit! It’s like, hey “Hot Rod, let me borrow Firedrive, so I can get some of his powers. Also, I’m going to use your face to deflect laser blasts aimed at my chest! Sound good?” Oh wait. This is supposed to be Slug talking. “Me, Slug use your face as shield!” OK, this isn’t really the intended use, because Prime Masters turn into chips and not heads, but I’ll still happily choose to ignore this gimmick. On the plus side, it doesn’t really effect the toy itself if you just choose not to use it. Also, the Prime Masters come in G1-style Pretender Shells, and that makes this nonsense all worthwhile!
Wow, that seemed like a really long write-up for a Deluxe Class Transformer, but I had a lot to say. And in the end, Slug turns out to be quite the mixed bag for me. Taken on his own, he’s a great figure and a superb homage to G1 Slag re-imagined as a Deluxe Class release. And that’s what makes the downside all the more of a bummer, because his size really is a deal-breaker for me. No, I’m not sorry I bought him, because it’s going to be cool to have a cohesive G1-style team of Dinobots, but they just don’t interact all that well with the other figures. It’s a case of Hasbro coming sooooo close, but not quite. Next Thursday, I’m going to double down and check out not only Swoop, but we’ll also see that the Power of the Primes Dinobots can get even smaller with Legends Class Slash!