Alternate Mode: Half-Track
Thanks to Goktimus Prime for loaning me Skullgrin for this review
Height: 6.5cm Length: 14.5cm Width: 8cm
A light grey half-track tank with gold and brick red elements, Skullgrin has a white main cannon and black weaponry. He's a repaint of Straxus (aka Darkmount) in far more sedate colours. His wheels and treads are black while there's a gold Decepticon logo stamped on the front. On the front right side is a small driver's cab which has glossy black windows. It's a decent colour scheme although it's not one which really speaks of the dark grey and purple Pretender.
Tis half track bears little resemblance to the Cybertronian tank we saw in G1 - which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The tribute is tenuous already, thanks to the colours, this only further removes this Skullgrin from G1. Still, this halftrack is far more convincing and easily to identify as such than the G1 tank mode (or many Pretender alt modes, for that matter). This is a fairly convincing half-track with a single white cannon sporting a black tip. There are also three black weapons which can plug into various locations on the sides and top of the vehicle. There's a lot of sculpted detail here, from the intricate treads to hatches & panels all over this vehicle.
The play value is above what you'd expect of a deluxe, even considering the lack of a missile launcher. The turret rotates through 360° and the cannon lifts up to 45°. The three black guns are all on ball joints, allowing them to be aimed. There are a total of 7 places where they can be attached - one on either side of the base of the vehicle, two on the edges of the top of the turret, two on the sides of the turret towards the back and one on the top of the turret, on the right side. One of the grey guns is a missilerack, one a rifle-like gun and one a three barrelled cannon. The tyres at the front roll, as do small hidden wheels under the treads.
Well, it's got pretty much nothing in common with the G1 toy's alt mode, so you could be mistaken for thinking it's just a name reuse, but this toy is meant to be tributing that character. On that count, this alt mode fails. But in terms of the colours & mould itself, this _is_ a good vehicle mode, with excellent detailing and play value.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
There's a lot of contorting and twisting, so I won't go through every step. The turret unfolds to become his legs while the cannon becomes a battle axe (the blade anchors inside the turret). The front becomes his chest with the "fenders" (if you will) become the shoulderpads. His treads end up on his back while the arms are stowed within the treads. The head simply folds out from within the chest.
Height: 16.5cm Width: 12cm
A grey and brick red robot with some black highlights along with white on his head and feet. Compared to Straxus, the head has been completely redone - as Skullgrin, but it doesn't look much like his G1 head, in truth. He has bright red eyes which don't quite match the brick red on top of his head. There's a gold Decepticon logo stamped on his chest some silver painted details on his chest and feet. The colours still aren't those of Skullgrin, and the resculpted head doesn't really help.
This robot form is quite different to the bulky pretender shell (and its comic portayal), but the robot mode itself is well constructed. There's a high level of detail overall, which carries over from the vehicle mode to a fair extent. There's kibble in the form of the treads on his back, and while they can pop off during transformation, they basically stay out of the way here - making this an appealing robot mode. It's a poor tribute, and not just because the mould was created with someone else in mind. The head and colours really fail to capture the character here.
Play value is pretty good, thanks to the poseability and weaponry. Skullgrin's neck and waist rotate - the latter is actually the same joint around which the turret turns. His shoulders, hips and ankles are ball jointed while the elbows and knees are hinged with rotators above them. His feet and heelspurs both have hinges, allowing for a pretty good range of leg poses. The shoulders are somewhat restricted by his shoulderpads, but overall he's very poseable. The battle axe has icepicks on either side of the blade and a grey handle at the base, and can be grasped in either hand - his fingers open to grasp the shaft. The three grey guns can plug into his boots of backpack, depending on your whim.
Well it's a good mould and the poseability is only by the shoulder movement. The weaponry is fun and the colours look nice enough in themselves. But the tribute misses the mark by a long way - and the resculpted head is a wasted effort which looks silly anyway.
None that I'm aware of although as mentioned he is a repaint of Straxus.
While this is a great mould, it's not one that works well for this co-opted retool. Considerable work has gone into the new head here, and it's not worthwhile in the end. The colours work well enough in themselves and the play value in both modes is good with nice weaponry. The tribute utterly fails, and while I could live with Skullgrin being simply a name reuse, the resculpted head tells us that this _is_ more than that - and so the awkward looking new head makes the robot mode look rather poor, despite all the strengths of this mould. Avoid and track down Straxus instead - 6/10