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Transformers: The Movie
by yo go re

Looks like Jazz is getting a friend.

Dinobot Slug excuses himself as he stomps over a crushed Quintesson Prosecutor.

After Masterpiece Grimlock came out, I really wanted a Masterpiece Slag to go with him. Even considered getting that third-party Scoria, even if it would have cost $250. But now that the Studio Series line is effectively doing what Masterpiece used to - ie, complicated Transformers that are as accurate in both robot and altmode as it's possible to be - there's really no point in holding out.

Well, there might be a little point: since this is based on the 1986 movie, it aims to duplicate the old cartoon models; but the old cartoon models weren't based on the released toy, they were based on an early prototype colorscheme that saw Slug with a red head, chromed horns, and white legs. Most of that would be fine, but the head just looks wrong in red instead of black. So now the question is, do we wait for a third-party upgrade kit, or just paint it ourselves?

The robot mode really does look pretty awesome. It copies the major shapes of the old toy, but improves them in paradoxical ways - that is, the proportions look more natural and "organic" than they used to, but the level of mechanical detailing in the sculpt makes it clear we're looking at a robotic being. Just counting to the top of his head, the toy is at least 8¼" tall, and the dino kibble above it adds another inch on top of that! No surprise there's plenty of surface real estate for the designers to mold details onto.

Because of the need for things to be easy to animate, there's less kibble on this than on the actual toy. There's still a bit - the "wing" panels hanging off his back, the big dinosaur tail - but the dino legs are amazingly tucked away into the robot's legs, with barely a hint that they even exist. The little pieces of neck-frill that are stuck to the back of the shoulders are weird, but not something awful. It still feels like there should have been a way to not have those left behind.

Slug moves at the head, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, thighs, knees, and rocker ankles. The panel the head is attached to doesn't lock into place in any way, so it will move up and down when you try to move the head. The tail kibble hangs close to the back, which stops the waist after moving just a little. Still, there's a lot of poseability and his feet are big enough to make him stable even if you want to get a little dynamic. He's armed with his Electro Blaster pistol, but that's not the only accessory he has.

I don't know who decided that all the Studio Series Dinobots needed to come with some barely articulated little turd as a pack-in, but Grimlock had Wheelie and Slug has Daniel Witwicky. He's wearing the exosuit from the movie, though it doesn't change modes like the Masterpiece version. He has some light blue paint on the front of the legs, darker blue hands, yellow lights on the chest, and grey arms and butt. The dome over the head is solid white, so we can't see anyone inside, and the figure only moves at the elbows and hips (balljoints all). It's... a waste. No point, and nothing anybody wanted. The only interesting thing about it is trying to guess what future garbage the other three Dinobots will be saddled with if they're made.

The difficulty of converting Slug is commensurate with a Leader Class Studio Series release. 1) raise the tail, 2) drop the piece the tail is connected to, 3) drop the entire back kibble, 4) lift the tail up, 5) fold the feet to the inside, 6) lift the little panels on the back of the shins so you can 7) rotate the dino legs out then 8) replace the panels and 9) feet; 10) turn the waist 180°, 11) raise the legs at the hip, 12) fold over the upper and 13) lower knee joints, 14) bring the kibble down and 15) tuck it between the legs; 16) raise the arms, 17) rotate the hands and 18) tuck them away, 19) tip the dino snout back, 20) move the shoulder flaps up, 21) lift the head so you can 22) fold down the chest to 23) fold the head inside and 24) raise the jaw, which will leave enough room to 25) hinge the shoulders inward and 26) replace the chest; 27) plug the pieces of the frill together, 28) lock the tail in place, 29) fold the "wings" down, and finally 30) rotate out the back legs and 31) feet before you 32) store the gun under the tail.

The Dinobots spent the majority of their time in their altmodes, because they were more comfortable that way. Of course, if you had the opportunity to be a triceratops, why wouldn't you? Since this is the Generation 1 character, he's very blocky and has legs that are straight instead of being bowed out to the sides. It's a bit weird that the tips of his toes, which could have just been on his back if Hasbro had designed the toy that way, are instead duplicated with faux-kibble, but we have to assume it worked better doing that. The tech detailing is even heavier in this mode than it was as a robot, so he looks totally like a machine.

Here's a personal story I once promised to tell you: back in the day, I went to see Sue the T Rex at the Field Museum, and while I was there I made sure to check out the other dino skeletons. They had a triceratops skeleton that was posed with its head near the railing that separated visitors from the displays - very near. I was leaning over to look at something, and as I turned back to start walking, I managed to crack my head on its horn. And that's why I'm one of the few living people who have been injured by a triceratops. The interior sides of the pale gray horns on this one are hollow, which may have saved plastic, but doesn't look very good. There's no clear plastic here, like there was on the original, and the eyes are blue rather than red, but at least when you move the jaw, it looks right (more than we could say for the "Power of the Primes" version).

The Daniel figure has notches on the inside of the shins that line up with pegs behind Slug's neck, allowing him to ride the dinosaur. Similarly, a peg on the back of Daniel's thigh can plug into the robot's shoulder, allowing him to ride in that mode as well. It still doesn't make the stupid little lump any better. Someone did make an upgrade kit of Wheelie, but when you have to replace 90% of the body, what's the point?

The Studio Series figures have expanded beyond the Michael Bay movies, which is how we're able to get (a good) Slug as part of the line. They still feature the cardboard backdrops, though: Slug's is "Mockery of Justice," according to the back of the box, and depicts the scene where he knocks down a door to save Hot Rod and Kup from Sharkticons. It's a nicely non-specific metal wall backdrop, which could work for all sorts of characters, from Iron Man to Gundam.

Studio Series Grimlock looked good enough to be tempting, but I was content leaving that one for Poe to write about - after all, I already had the Masterpiece release myself. But there is no MP Slag, so this one was on my to-buy list as soon as we learned about it. Getting a great deal on him didn't hurt, either! (He rang up at $49 at Walmart, but was on a shelf marked $38.47 and I convinced them to honor it.) I'd be happier if they'd dropped Daniel and made a swappable head in black, but this is still enough of a masterpiece for my collection.

-- 07/13/21

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