How about we start the week with some Transformers, eh? Seems like a little while since I checked back in with Hasbro’s Change-o-Bots! With Hasbro’s reveal that Snarl is coming, it has occurred to me that I am not current on reviewing the previous giant metal dinosaur convertobots. I have checked out Grimlock and Slag (SLAG, I SAYS!), so let’s get caught up with the last of the original Dinobot trio and have a look at Sludge!
The packaging has changed a bit since Slag’s release. The window is gone and Sludge comes in a fully enclosed box with some fantastic character art on the front showing Sludge battling it out with some Sharkticons in his dinosaur mode. It’s kind of interesting that they went with the dino mode on the front, seeing as how the window boxes used to show off the figure in the robot mode. Either way, this works fine. Also worth mentioning is that Sludge does not come with a companion figure. Grimlock came with a semi-articulated Wheelie and Slag came with Daniel in his Exo-Suit. And that’s fine, because I didn’t particularly care for either of those figures and they quickly got pitched into the dreaded Tote of Forgotten Accessories. But naturally Hasbro used the plastic saved here to include swords for everybody, right? No! No, they didn’t. Let’s start with Sludge’s dino mode.
Naturally, Sludge’s alt mode is still a Brontosaurus, or whatever they call this type of dinosaur nowadays. Them science types have been up to a lot of revisionist history since I was in school. Straightaway, I’m going to say that I think Sludge has the best looking alt mode of any of the Studio Series Dinobots so far. They’ve all been good, but Grimlock had some proportion issues and Slag had a bit of a patchwork look to him, but Sludge here is mostly comprised of a really nice and well-rounded shell. He’s got a lot of dark gray with some silver panels making up his hump and tail, a little red showing near his hind legs, and some beautiful satin gold paint on his back, undercarriage and finally his head. Slag let me down a bit with that cream colored plastic they used for his cowl, but all the coloring on Sludge just looks fantastic. The panel lining on Sludge’s hide is especially nice, with all sorts of cybernetic bits and bobs. Almost every inch of this guy has some detail to take in.
The head sculpt is also superb. There’s so much personality in that snap-dragon of a head! I dig the narrow blue eyes, and the nasty looking serrated teeth. With the past Dinobots, I have lamented Hasbro abandoning the translucent yellow plastic of the G1 toys, but I honestly don’t miss it here. I think the satin gold used for the head and upper neck just looks so beautiful in its place. You also get a decent amount of articulation here with not only the hinged jaw and side to side rotation, but the ability for the head to look down. The legs rotate where they connect to the body and have hinges midway down, giving him just enough poseability that I would expect.
I guess if I had to nitpick something with Sludge’s dino mode, it would be the seam on his back can be a bit tough to keep closed, and even when it is closed up, it’s designed to still look like there’s a bit of a gap there. His belly hangs really low to the ground too because of his golden bot-mode toes being down there. But that’s not a big deal. There’s a compartment under there to store his weapon, since unlike Slag, it isn’t incorporated into his dino mode. And while I’m still nitpicking, last time I commented about how I thought Slag’s transformation was a bit needlessly complex. The original Dinobot designs had some elegant engineering, which I would argue could be modernized without messing with them all that much. Sludge here still feels like they went out of their way to make his transformation more complex. Now, I know that some people expect more complex engineering with the bigger and more expensive figures, so that’s not necessarily going to be a sticking point for a lot of people. And to be fair it isn’t really that big of one for me either. After a few goes, I was able to do the transformation without any difficulty.
Getting Sludge converted, reveals a robot mode that is as faithful as the previous two Studio Series Dinobot releases. Sludge is an absolute tank of a robot, very befitting of the original design. In fact, I’d say this one cleans up the best as far as modernizations go. The proportions are all smoothed out, and his wings are a more full and robust than the G1 toy. There’s some impressive packing going on in the lower legs, but I am glad they left the tail sections on the outside of the legs, as it beefs them up. Unfortunately, Sludge does still have the weird elbow hinges, where the hinges are all the way to the front. There’s something about that design that doesn’t sit right with me, but it’s certainly not a deal-breaker. The backside is just a solid slab of robot, with the dino head and neck hanging straight down. It looks very nice and finished, making for a solid and highly playable figure. As for the coloring, it’s all most of what we saw in the dinosaur mode, only with more red revealed in the torso. This is just a fantastic looking figure all the way around!
The portraits have been great in this group so far, and Sludge is no exception His “helmet” is black with the two little angled slats on each side and a large silver coffin-shaped plate on his forehead. The silver paint looks good, but mine has some wear on the forehead plate, giving him an unintentionally weathered look. His blue eyes came out really nice, and makes me wish there was some light piping on these. I also love the bold and crisp Autobot emblem stamped on his chest.
I’ve already established that there’s no sword, which continues to be a huge oversight by Hasbro, leaving third parties to pick up the slack. Sludge does, however, come with a gun and it’s pretty damn nice. It’s cast in black plastic with some gold paint on the barrel and ont he scope.
I’m pretty sure I said this last time, but it still confounds me that Takara never produced a full set of Masterpiece Dinobots. Grimlock’s MP figure went through a whole bunch of releases and seemed like he was always in demand. I can’t imagine that Slag and Sludge would have done any worse. Then Power of the Primes came along and gave us some nice looking versions, which were way too small and sacrificed way too much for what I thought was a terrible and unnecessary combiner mode. So, thank Primus for these Studio Series releases. Sludge marks the first time since G2 that we got a solid set of this trio from Hasbro based on the original designs, and I am extremely pleased with how they all came out. They are appropriately sized, look great in both modes, and having all three together on the shelf makes for an absolutely awesome display! Now bring on Snarl and Swoop!