Review: Transformers Titans Return Skullsmasher

I’m loving the Titans Return line so far. With a few exceptions, the figures and the Headmaster gimmick are excellently-engineered, look great, and are fun to play with. My only issue with the line is that so many of the toys are characters I just don’t care about. The focus of Titans Return is primarily on the ’86-’87 cast, and aside from the big names from the movie, most of those guys were a bunch of nobodies. The IDW comic continuity has thankfully stepped in to shine some light on these characters, either by crafting interesting personalities and storylines for them or giving them at least one memorable scene. The latter is what made me excited Titans Return Skullsmasher (or Skullcruncher), who in the comics is basically Cybertronian Louis CK.

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Beast Mode

Skullsmasher, like all of the first wave Decepticon Headmasters, is one of those weird pre-Beast Wars beast Transformers who turn into robotic animals; in Skullcruncher’s case, he’s an alligator a crocodile. And what a robotic crocodile this is. The bright pink and lovely dark green make for an excellent color combo, and the length of his tail gives Skullsmasher a deceptively impressive size. As is the trend with Titans Return, the sculpted detail game is strong here, even on the inside of his crocodile mouth.

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Another surprise in crocodile mode is how articulate it manages to be. While his rear legs are merely ball-jointed at the hip, his front legs use the robot mode’s bicep swivel and elbow joints to great effect, letting him crawl low to the ground or slightly elevated. The croc’s head is on a very expressive ball joint as well, giving you way more posing options than you ever thought you’d need from a robot crocodile.

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Now, this isn’t just any robot crocodile; it’s a robot crocodile with a little robot man sitting inside. The Titan Master seat on Skullsmasher is probably the least impressive of all the deluxes thus far, seeing as it’s less of a cockpit and more of a secret compartment. The original Skullcruncher actually had a proper translucent window for its cockpit, and the Takara release at least molds the flap in translucent orange. It’s really not much of a complaint, and it makes for a nicer-looking beast mode, but it’s an odd case of Titans Return ignoring the Titan Master gimmick in vehicle mode rather than embracing it.

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Titan Master

Concealed as he may be in altmode, Grax the Titan Master is quite the sharp-looking tiny robot man. It’s hard to tell in my photo, but the gold paint on his face is very neatly applied, which is impressive for his size. Other than the lovely colors and G1-accurate sculpted detail, Grax is pretty much every other Titan Master in the line.

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Robot Mode

In full robot man form, Skullsmasher strikes a surprisingly clean profile for a beast former. Other than the alligator head on his back (which is kind of a bummer), the claws on his arms (which can be pushed back further to lock into place, as I realized after taking the pictures), and the fact that you have to remove his tail, his robot mode is pretty clean… and thus a little boring. At least he’s got some pretty loud colors, which make me very happy. 

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Skullsmasher has a pretty impressive suite of articulation: ball-jointed neck and hips (more on the latter later), swivel waist, biceps, forearms, and thighs, universal shoulders, and hinged elbows and knees. The removable tail can serve as a shield weapon (if you can fudge it), but Skullsmasher also comes with a little grey pistol for more traditional weaponry. You can also leave the gun pegged into the tail and have him hold it as a bigger, weirder-looking rifle.

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Skullsmasher does have a few problems, with the main one being a near-universal issue in which his ball-jointed hips are incredibly loose right out of the package. I’ve tightened mine up a little with floor polish so he can at least hold poses, but it’s a serious problem that took a bit of the fun out of the figure for me. His oddly-shaped feet also make him difficult to stand, a problem which I feel like could have been solved by having his alligator legs fold into his hollow inner calves. Also, I think the color layout on his visor looks really stupid, toy-accurate or not. 

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Overall

I wish I could say Skullcrunchsmasher is the best figure of wave 1, because he almost is. If it weren’t for the loose hips and better integration of his beast mode rear legs and tail, I’d be all over this guy. Even with his flaws, Skullsmasher is a pretty sweet Transformer and a great update of the character. If nothing else, he’s the best robot alligator toy you’ll ever find.

Where to Buy:

 

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