Transformers (Studio Series 86): Dinobot Slug by Hasbro

Seems like it’s been a little while since I last visited with Hasbro’s eternal line of convertobotformers, and boy do I have a huge backlog! I’ve got a lot of goodies to choose from, so many so that I’m going to have to do a Backlog Week where I can dig way back into the stack of overlooked bots. But after a quick scan of my shelf, and my attention was immediately drawn to the second Dinobot in the Studio Series line… Let’s check out Slag!

Yeah, yeah. For reasons, he’s now called Dinobot Slug, but I’ll be referring him to Slag for the remainder of this piece. You’ll note that the box also credits the inclusion of Daniel Whitwicky, but I’ll save him for the end. The box has some decent character art and the Transformers movie logo, but man am I tired of this overall box layout. The black background with the red generic lettered Transformers running up the side is so boring and lacks any semblance of creativity. Never in a million years would I have guessed that Hasbro would stick with this crap for so long. But I throw out the box anyway, so who cares! Let’s start with the dino mode!

CHONKS!!! When it comes to Dinobots, big and beefy wins the day… and Slag meets both of those criteria. Slag’s alt form is a Triceratops, or at least that’s what it was called when I was a kid. The scientists have been working overtime deleting my childhood dinosaur names, who knows what’s what these days. Whatever the case, I think Hasbro did a nice job on the alt mode here, although it does have a bit of a patchwork quality about it. That’s mainly from the mix of gray, black, red, gold, and white plastics. He’s got some solid proportions and a tank-like quality about him, despite the hollow hind legs. He’s based on the movie’s animated appearance, but there’s still a lot of great sculpted detail in his metallic hide. You get panel lines, pipes, hatches, vents, and all sorts of technological gizmos on display. I especially dig how his gun is used to fill out his tail.

The head has a nice satiny gold finish, which is repeated for the back ridges and tail, and the blue eyes are quite striking. He’s got white plastic horns protruding from the top of his head and a smaller upturned horn jutting up from his nose. The crest that frames his head is also left bare white plastic, which I’ll confess looks a little cheap, but I suppose it does match the coloring in the cartoon appearance. There’s no articulation in the neck, but the jaw does open, so that’s cool!

So, the dino mode gets my seal of approval, however, I will say that the engineering on this toy is a lot more complex than what I was expecting. As a rule, I always thought the original Dinobot toy transformations didn’t need to be messed with too much to make modern updates. The Studio Series Grimlock more or less holds that to be true. But Hasbro did some crazy stuff here, especially with Slag’s torso. I found it to be a bit frustrating to get him into dino mode the first time, and even after a few more tries it feels a bit more fiddly than it needed to be. Some might argue that a Leader Class should have complex engineering to justify the price, but here it was just a pain to get everything to lock together correctly, especially when compared to Studio Series Grimlock.

And speaking of which, here are the two Studio Series Dinobots together in their alt modes. With that said… on to the robot mode! In terms of scale and styling, I think they look amazing together! And just in case you want to see how much bigger Slug got than when we last saw him…

My opinion on the Power of the Primes Dinobots remains mostly unchanged. These were great looking figures, but woefully undersized. The PotP Dinos were especially small for Deluxe Class toys, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Leader Class is the only way to go for Dinobots! Now let’s check out Slag’s robot mode!

Well, there sure is a lot to love here, but I also have a few nitpicks so let me get them out of the way first. The dino mode’s hind legs would be expected to land on the outside of the robot legs, but here, they fold in to fill in the leg cavities and give Slag a cleaner look. I sure can respect that, but… I think that by taking the legs off the outside and concealing them, it makes his legs look a little scrawny compared to his upper body bulk. Is it a deal-breaker for me? Nah. It is however, my only real gripe with this robot mode. Indeed, I’m impressed by how polished the back looks, with the “wings” and the tail tucked in. It’s just a great looking figure all around.

The portrait is nicely done as well, with a sharp sculpt. It’s worth mentioning here that I love the red plastic used for the head and chest. It’s so bright and vibrant. It also contrasts beautifully with those big blue eyes. The chest piece is obviously faked out, as it’s not really the lower jaw of the dino head, but I think that was the right way to go here and it looks great.

Like Grimlock, Slag comes with a gun but no sword. Yeah, that sucks. The gun is a decent sculpt, but I wish it was cast in black plastic instead of the white. And while on the subject, I really would have loved to get an homage to the missile launcher that came with the original figure. Where did all the plastic they saved from not including a sword or missile launcher go?

It went to this piece of crap… Daniel Witwicky in his Exo-Suit. This is extremely similar to the Wheelie figure that came with Studio Series Grimlock. And while I wasn’t terribly impressed with that Wheelie, I find this inclusion to be a total misfire. There’s articulation at the shoulders and hips, but he’s stuck in a squatting position, as the figure is mainly intended to just sit on top Slag’s dino mode. I think what I hate most about this figure is that they couldn’t even give him a head sculpt or a sticker showing a face inside the open helmet, but nope… we just got a blank, featureless dome.

It continues to baffle me that Takara didn’t continue on with the Masterpiece Dinobots, especially with how many different releases they got out of Grimlock. But with a team of MP Dinos being only a pipe dream, Hasbro’s Leader Class offerings are the next best thing to me. Slag puts us at two Dinobots down and I really hope Hasbro keeps this train rolling. Indeed, I’m a little disappointed we haven’t seen a teaser of the next one yet. I’m rooting for Sludge, because if they do cut this run short, I want to make sure we at least get the original three. And since I can’t imagine what lame mini figure they would include with Sludge, how about you just make good on the missing swords instead, eh Hasbro?

Transformers (Studio Series 86) Kup by Hasbro

With so many great toys hitting the shelves these days, it’s really hard for me to decide on what to squeeze into my paltry three reviews (or less) a week. I really wish I had the time and energy to go back to the early days of FFZ and churn out five reviews a week, but honestly I don’t even know how I ever managed that. For now, I’m especially thrilled with Hasbro’s original Transformers movie nostalgia trip, so let’s dig into another one of the Studio Series figures with everyone’s favorite crotchety old Autobot, Kup!

I’ve ignored the Studio Series releases for so long, because they were all based on the Bayformers, but now they’re featuring the old G1 bots and I couldn’t be happier. What makes a Studio Series figure? Hell if I know. There is a little extra effort put into the packaging in the form of a cardboard stand and backdrop, but otherwise, I guess it’s just a sub-series that allows Hasbro to mine characters that don’t fit into the whole Siege-Earthrise-Kingdom narrative. Whatever that is. In the end, I don’t care what they call them, as long as they keep them coming! We’ve had three versions of Kup in modern Transformers lines, including one as part of Generations and the more recent release in Titans Return. Let’s see how the latest one fares, and we’ll start with the alt mode!

In the movie, Kup was a Cybertronian truck and this is a damn fine translation of that design to plastic form. I was never sure whether this was supposed to be a pickup-style truck with a bed for payload, or if it was supposed to hook up to a trailer of some sort, but either way I really dig what we got here. The sculpt features a decent amount of panel lines, and I especially like the canopy that doesn’t show off the interior of the cab, because it’s a Cybertronian vehicle. The design has the front wheels exposed, and the back wheels concealed underneath. Also, both of Kup’s accessories can attach to his vehicle mode giving him some extra firepower, and what looks like it could be a gas tank.

Kup’s truck mode gets by without a whole lot in the way of paint applications and instead making use of gray-blue and off-white plastic for a color scheme that closely matches what he had in the movie. You do, however, get Autobot insignia stamped on the hood and again on the sides. All in all, this is a cool and compact, rugged little space truck. It holds together fairly well, although sometimes I have problems keeping some of the seams closed up all the way. Let’s get him transformed and check out his robot mode!

Transforming Kup is slightly more complex than I had anticipated. The first time it felt a little fiddly, but after a few times, it really isn’t that bad, and it does a few pretty clever things. The result is a great looking robot that certainly captures a lot more of the animated design than the original toy ever did. The 86 animated designs introduced a lot of curves, particularly found int he rounded arms and legs, and that’s exactly what’s on display here. The coloring carries over from the alt mode, with just a little bit of rusty orange paint accents in the forearms and his “belt buckle.” Ironically, the front wheels which were on display in his alt mode are now hidden inside his torso, while the concealed back wheels are now seen in his lower legs. When viewed from the back, he does have some ugly empty compartments in his forearms and lower torso, but all in all, nothing too bad.

I might as well mention now that he’s built to be pulled apart, probably to recreate the underwater squid attack from the movie, where he got an arm and leg ripped off and Hot Rod had to put him back together. This is a cool gimmick, I guess, but his arms tend to pull out when I’m posing him. I fear that the connections may get even more loose over time.

The head sculpt is pretty good, but I’m not sure it’s the slam dunk that we’ve been getting on the other figures. I think the facial sculpt is just a little soft and they kind of flubbed the crest on his “helmet.” But man, I’m really nit-picking, because it sure ain’t bad. It’s just that so many of the other head sculpts have been pitch perfect, I think there’s a little room for criticism here.

As we’ve already seen, Kup comes with a pair of accessories, which include his gun and his energon goodie dispenser. The gun is pretty non-descript but the goodie dispenser was a cool surprise. I honestly wasn’t expecting that!

And before wrapping up, here’s a quick comparison of the recent Titans Return Sergeant Kup & Flintlock with this new Studio Series model. And I’m happy to say that I can comfortably find room for both of these figures in my collection. The Titans Return version is certainly more beholding to the original toy, especially in the deco, while the Studio Series goes for an animated accurate version. And it’s still cool to me to have a Kup with the Headmaster gimmick. Ultimately, I like SS86 Kup’s robot mode a lot better, but I’m still rather fond of Sergeant Kup’s vehicle mode with the driver compartment for Flintlock.

And that’s Transformers for ya! A few of years ago I was perfectly happy with my Kup figure and now he’s being overshadowed by a new one. This is an excellent figure all around and I’ve been having a blast playing with him at my desk during my down time. The next Studio Series figure I check out will probably be Blurr, and my Hot Rod just shipped out, so I’m excited for him to arrive!

Transformers (Studio Series 86): Scourge by Hasbro

About five years ago I reviewed Scourge from the Titans Return line, comparing him to the previous Scourge figure from Generations. It’s funny to look back on that one, as I pointed out that while I had nothing but good things to say about Generations Scourge, Titans Return Scourge completely blew him away as an update. And that’s one of the problems with collecting Transformers. Because here I am to say that Studio Series Scourge is so damn good, that he will now be replacing my Titans Return version. Dammit!

Hasbro has been pushing the Studio Series as something of a premium line, and it shows with the packaging. Sure, it’s still a window box with the figure on a plastic tray, but inside the box is a pretty cool tri-fold backdrop and a cardboard pedistal for him to stand on. I’m not sure I’ll be using these for display, but I will at least be saving them while I think about it. Either way, it’s a nice option to have! This is my first dip into this sub-line because previously they have been all about the Bayverse Transformers, and I have no interest in them. But now they’re focusing on the 86 Movie and all bets are off! Scourge comes packaged in his robot mode, but we’re starting with his alt mode.

Scourge’s alt mode is a flying space boat pulled straight from the movie and for the most part it looks great! He’s mostly smooth with organic curves and just the right amount of panel lining to straddle that line between sufficient detail and an animated style. I had no qualms with Titans Return Scourge’s alt-mode, but it was really a different take on this design, while this one is shooting more for accuracy. Things do turn a bit ugly when this space-boat is viewed from behind. Unfortunately, Scourge’s backside looks unfinished and you can see the bottoms of his filthy feet, but I suppose there was only so much they could do with this price point. As for coloring, Scourge gets by mostly with just the two-tone plastic and a big Decepticon emblem stamped on the top. There is a tiny red paint hit on the front point of the middle engine cannon, but he didn’t really need any more coloring in this mode to make him look complete.

If you’re a fan of Scourge being able to pop his head out while still in vehicle mode, this toy has you covered. You just flip down the panel that’s covering his face and there he is! I’ll confess, this isn’t a big selling point for me, but different strokes for different space-boats!

Scourge does have ports on the sides if you want to mount his rifle and further weaponize him while in his alt mode. Again, it doesn’t do much for me, but it’s always nice to have options. Also, you get an effect part that can plug into his cannon or rifle, creating a purple energy blast.

Transforming this guy isn’t exactly a chore, but it isn’t terribly fun either. There’s no grace or clever engineering at work, as a crunched down version of the bot mode is pretty much hiding under the panels that make up the alt-modes hull. But I’m not going to complain about how we get there, when this robot mode is as spectacular as it is! Scourge cuts quite a presence on the shelf with his organic curves, bold chest, and majestic wings. He’s perfectly proportioned and they even included his fingernail polish, which Titans Return Scourge was sadly missing. Like his alt-mode, the robot mode is a little unsightly when viewed from behind. It would have been cool if those two hanging panels could have been locked together to form some kind of backpack, but it’s nothing that comes close to ruining the figure for me.

The wings and panels do make Scourge more than a little back-heavy, but he does have hinged heel spurs, which can be angled to give him a little extra support. And that’s a good thing, because this figure is loads of fun to play with and pose.

The head sculpt is also a huge improvement over little Fracas that served as the head for the Titans Return Scourge. Not that that one was in any way bad, but this one just takes it to the next level. I suppose the larger scale helped, as did not having the head be a tiny robot. It’s funny, but at first I was never a fan of giving Transformers “facial hair” but it’s become so iconic for Scourge that I wouldn’t have it any other way. His mustache and beard have a nice purple coat of paint and his eyes are painted red with a bold black border.

As we’ve already seen, Scourge comes with a rifle, which he can only hold in his right hand. It’s kind of weird to see a relaxed hand on a Transformers figure, but I kind of dig it. It adds some possibilities for poses and gesturing.

And so Studio Series Scourge is a bittersweet addition to my collection. I’m not really ready to start retiring most of my Titans Return figures, but putting them side-by-side it’s incredible to me how much difference five years can make. Sure, this one is a higher price point, bigger size, and isn’t confined to the Headmaster gimmick, but it’s undeniably a huge improvement on all fronts. I’ll likely be keeping most of the Titans Return figures as their own thing, but if Scourge is any indication, it looks like many of them will be getting superior replacements soon.