Sunday, 14 August 2016

Something Something Skull Something Spoo

I always preferred the Decepticon Headmasters over the Autobot ones.  I think it’s because the Autobots all looked like random Space vehicles, a pet hate of mine that I seem to have been ranting on about a lot lately. 

Luckily the Decepticons managed to connect to my love of robot animals (Dinobots are the top baby!) so the weird versions of the Decepticon HMs manage to get off scot-free.  I mean, as a kid, I seriously doubted whether or not Mindwipe was a bat.  How many bats have a big spiked looking tail?

Well, that was a bad introduction for announcing the impending Skull(cruncher) review.  I’m a bit torn, his Japanese name is Skull, but Skullcruncher sounds much cooler (while being quite a bit longer to type as well.).  Hasbro named him Skullsmasher, but luckily I don’t have to deal with that, as his lovely JP box has Katakana Skull and English written Skullcruncher.  Skullcruncher it is. Sometimes.

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Skullcruncher’s box is another delightful looking thing. It explicitly states that he is a Crocodile.  I find it interesting in that his head (In Japan, also called Skull) is in head mode, as opposed to Galvatron, who was in robot mode.

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The back of the box has indications that Batora has a bird mode and a Dino mode (when a restrained HM is in tow).

The blurb says

Presenting Decepticon Headmaster Skull(Cruncher)
The Headmasters Transformers Concept is perfected.
Reborn Transforming Robot figure using modern design processes.

Yay. Opening!
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Once again the instruction sheet has some nice artwork on one side (with a very lippy head) and Bio and toy picture on the other. 

His Bio states:

Function: Swamp Warrior
The one word that sums up Skull(cruncher) is "thug."   There are times when (Mind)Wipe is forced to use his hypnotism to put Skull(cruncher) to sleep as the only way they can stop his rampages.
His strongest weapon of destruction are his steel teeth which are said to be able to carve through all metals.
For his teeth’s maintenance, Skull(Cruncher) is always followed by his partner drone, Batora.
Batora has a unique ability that allows it to capture Headmasters, which then enables it to Transform into a dinosaur.

Tech Specs
Strength  10
Int  8
Speed  3
End.  10
Rank   5
Courage  9
Fireblast 5
Skill  6

His stats are the same as the G1 toy.

The comic has some interesting bits of information in it, such as the hierarchical setup of Terrax Co.  Both the Autobot and Decepticon company names appear to be based on the BW ships (Autobots use Axalon Co.).

SkullCruncher (18)Terrax Co Heirarchy
Founding President - Megatron
Director- Beast Megatron
Office LadLadies   - BA, Slipstream, Nightbird
Information Section - Soundblaster
R&D - Tarantulas & Mindwipe
? - Mysterious (obviously Shockwave)
Sales Dept - WierdWolf, Skull.   “Waspinator is here too!”   - - ----> Sweeps

SkullCruncher (15)SkullCruncher (16)Other bits.  While AI seems to be a patrolling police officer, she seems to get around in a bikini and tie.  Later on, she appears to be naked!!

General gist of the comic:

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Terrax Co is losing sales to Axalon co and the Decepticons joined forces with the  Headmasters.  No mention of where the HM came from though.  Laserbeak was spying on the Autobots, which is how the Decepticons get the tech to make transtectors (HM Bodies).   Tarantulas develops a Crocodile transtector and a maintenance bird for Skull who is always sleepy because Mindwipe’s hypnotism was too effective.

Skull calls Wierdwolf “Aniki” (Older brother) and wakes up to go cause havoc in the city. Then munches on a car and falls asleep.  Hardhead arrives, annoyed his karaoke was interrupted. Chromedome is along for the ride, with Tankette (Hardhead’s drone) who he seems to have a soft spot for.   Weirdwolf grabs Chromedome using Batora who transforms into Dino mode (Batora remains in control in this mode), and bites Skull who wakes up and transforms, Weirdwolf jumps into Skull’s tail gun (which appears to be a vehicle) and things are looking bad for the Autobots, but Hardhead gets Twincast to play some music, and Hardhead sings a lullaby, putting Skull to sleep who uses his tail gun as a pillow.  Tarantulas and Weirdwolf grab Skullcruncher (Still sleeping) and run away.

Meanwhile the Autobots return to work and Chromedome is still stuck in Batora wondering when he can get out, but Airazor is insisting that he answer his phone calls first.

What a cute comic book.

More AI please TT

Looking at the toy.

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Skullcruncher has a great crocodile mode.   It’s long, has pointy bits and is fairly well articulated.  The tail can swish a little and the rear legs are attached at the hips via ball joints.  There are no knees though, but that’s ok.    His front legs have a lot of articulation, but they are used to peg the head in place, so movement is a tad limited, but with the multiple swivels in there, you can pull of appropriately crocodilian poses with him.  The robot mode gun can be plugged into the end of the tail.  It’s very white, but looks all right.  The tail doesn’t look like it can be mounted on the crocodile mode as a weapon outpost.

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He has some Headmaster mounting points on the forelegs of the crocodile, which appear to be the only ones.  Odd positioning, unless your Headmasters are Steve Irwin and are trying to capture him.  You can also have a Headmaster mounted in the tail section, to um, drive or fly it around??

The colours are suitably G1 accurate.  I rather like his colours, they make for an interesting croc mode and a nice looking robot mode.  I know he’d be rather plain with just green all over.  Sculpted throughout his body are many nice robot like details.  Pistons, panels and gears all look very nice.  Not much of a robot in disguise, but a very nice looking robot crocodile. 

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His teeth are nicely painted silver and in a VERY pleasant surprise, the croc head has been endowed with LIGHT PIPING!!  When you crack open his mouth, you’ll notice the teeth are painted and slightly gummy, as it uses the same plastic as his tongue, which is a nice soft red, segmented rubber.  It looks very nice. 

On top of that
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Is the top of his mouth, which uses the same gum-like plastic and has gum(as in the ones in your mouth that hold your teeth in place) ridges moulded in.  This plastic is the same plastic that  provides his CrocoLight eyes!  It’s wonderful!

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Articulation as previously mentioned is good in this mode.  It uses the robot waist so you can get the old croc roll of death up and running if that takes your fancy.  The tail has a tiny bit of Left and right swing on it due to the connection, the back legs are ball jointed and the front ones have a couple of swivels which initially seem a bit useless, but actually manage to keep them looking like crocodile legs.

The croc head is great.

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It’s attached via a ball joint in the neck which allows nice twisting and turning making it look very natural.  Admittedly it can look a bit gappy, but for the range of motion that it possible, it’s a good trade off.

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The Headmaster version of Skull now sits in the back of his Transtector (that's the main robot body) as opposed to his olde toy that had him in the MOUTH.  Oddly the hatch for the cockpit is the same gummy plastic as used in the mouth.  Why?  I do not know. 

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All  I know is that closing it can be a bit troublesome, you’ll have to give the sides of the hatch a little squeeze or else it’ll get stuck on the back spikes.  On the plus side, the fact that it is red plastic with a bit of green paint manages to allow it to blend in well with the  rest of the colours as well as  giving little Skull a small red window to peer out of.

That’s about it for that mode.  It’s the best crocodile mode ever made for a Transformer!!

-Ation is pretty much exactly the same as his G1toy. Flip the head, flip the legs with an extra step of wiggle-awagglin the shoulders around.

You can leave the HM in the cockpit the whole time and he’ll just sit in the small of the Transtector’s back. 

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Give the robot some Head(master) action.

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You’ll see a very nice head sculpt.  Wonderful crest and nice face with a defined nose sitting underneath his visor.  He has some sort of grin on his face that seems character appropriate and I rather like that the HM’s arms are actually black now, as opposed to be being green like on his G1 version as it adds to a more uniform look in the side of the head.

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Paint wise he’s a bit lacking, but he does have all the right colours in all the right places.  His chest has a very convincing section that makes me think it’s covering up a little tech spec meter in there…(sadly it’s not).  The sculpting is still pretty nice as well on the body.  I like his robo-abs, as they still carry across the scale feeling. 

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You can plug the tail into his shoulder, or into the bottom jaw of the croc, which is now sitting on his back, but either way it’s a HUGE piece of kibble floating around.  The little gun can also plug into those two spot.  OR you can plug the gun into the table and have him hold the tail gun as a big ass gun.  Many many options.

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The main problem with my preferred option of plugging the tail into the shoulders is that the croc claws, which are now folded on the side of the wrists  get in the way somewhat.  They remind me of Elizabethan style cuffs, which for whatever reason, I seem to like on Skullcruncher here.

Articulation is just amazing.  He has double jointed knees, ball hips (often very loose, I tightened mine) swivel thighs. Swivel waist, wrists and biceps, single hinged elbow and ball jointed shoulders which are also on a hinge for transformation.  Oh and hinged toes.  Long story short.  A LOT of joints baby.  Initially, I thought he lacked heels and was falling over backwards a lot and he does.  This can be overcome though by fiddling around with the croc legs on his legs and using them as extra support when needed.

Headmaster checkout time!

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Looking at the HM alone, in robot mode, he has a nice amount of sculpted detail.  No paint on the body but the body doesn’t need any paint, as the green plastic is a really nice colour, but some paint on the face, picking out the sculpting.  What is really good, you can see his separate eyes, big chin and grumpy mouth.  Wonderful!  Articulation looks to be standard HM with ball jointed shoulders which are hindered by the panelling on the side, hinged hips and knees with the legs being stuck together.  It’s adequate for an accessory.

Speaking of accessories.

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Batora is a maintenance drone.  According to the comic, Batora likes to clean Skullcruncher’s teeth for him.  Nice.

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You can mount a HM on the back of the bird mode if you wish.  Batora also seems to be able to capture other HMs and change into a dinosaur mode, apparently a unique ability (unique means one of a kind, so grammatically, you can’t have levels of uniqueness such as “very unique”.  Something is unique, or it’s not.  If there is more than one of it, then it should be declared as rare. English lesson over) so it will be interesting to see how they justify this ability when Mindwipe comes along with the same drone.

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The Dinosaur mode is cute and the Headmaster integration is cleverly done. 

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Batora can also transform into a ‘gun’

Okay.  I think this is pretty weak.  The instructions just have it as the dinosaur with the tail folded away, but with a HM inside.  I’ve made one I prefer and it looks a bit more alien, a bit more crossbow like, less like half a dinosaur.

Like this:

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While cute, I don’t really care for the drones so far.  I’ve got Tankette from Hardhead as well and while being better than terrible, they don’t really tickle my fancy.

Finishing up.

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I think this is a fantastic update to the Headmaster known as Skull(Cruncher).  It’s simple, fun, looks just as he should and I really dig him.  Glad I opened him up after I opened Galvatron, because then Galvs would have been awful I suspect.  My only real complaint would be about the floppy leg joints, but a bit of nail polish on the joints has managed to fix that up nicely.


Base challenge time.

I’m actually pretty happy on the base mode I made for this guy.  It’s small and a bit derpy looking, but I’m rather proud of what I’ve done  Smileys all round.

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