THE VINTAGE VIEW #2: Dinobots (part 1)

In our last Vintage View article I provided a rundown of tips on assembling a vintage G1 Transformers collection before teasing a mint-in-box set of Dinobots. Well, we’re ready to get cracking so let’s remind ourselves of the full picture before we dig in and take a close-up look at each of these toys.

Wowsers. I mentioned last time that I take delight in collecting by subline, meaning I typically look to complete a smaller team before giving each toy a proper examination. It’s by no means a rule but I’ve found it brings a particular joy to experience a full line-up in one hit, particularly as many G1 toys feel distinct to their sublines. Add that giant robot dinosaurs are basically the coolest thing ever and this examination is one I’ve been excited about for some time.

The Dinobots are also special because these toys have never been officially reissued, which is surprising given the popularity of the characters. Some of them popped up in Generation 2 (a story for another day!) and there are knock offs out there, but if you want a decent set for your collection then you’re going to have to go all the way back to the 1980s’ originals.

So I’ve decided to savour the fun and take a look at each Dino in detail. Today we kick off with Slag and Sludge, who were the back-up singers of the original Dinobot three-piece in the cartoon. Let’s examine Slag first of all.

I’m not a stickler for needing boxes myself (unlike some vintage collectors), but it has to be acknowledged how much nostalgia the original packaging evokes. If space allowed I’d love to pick up every G1 toy with a box as nice as this one but sadly it’s just not practical. Still, I’m glad I made a priority for the Dinobots because that 1985 style is just glorious, with the sunburst grid being one of the most distinctive memories from my childhood toy shop visits!

In fact there’s plenty to pour over here before cracking out the toy, with the tech specs being another highlight. You’ll note that my copy has had the robot points coupon cut out of the back, that being the promotional tie-in found on G1 packaging used to redeem mailaway offers on other toys.

Interestingly the toy pictured on the box looks different to the version we’re examining today… more on that shortly! Now it’s time to examine the figure itself, and what a glorious specimen this is! He’s in superb condition, just as good as he was when brand new in 1985. It’s a treat to see chrome this shiny.

His missiles are still intact on the sprue, often a sure sign that a particular toy has been well-looked-after. He also comes complete with his other accessories, including a sword, his handheld gun and a shoulder-mounted missile launcher.

Here’s a closer look at this minty specimen. The stickers have yet to be applied, which is something I often look for with vintage items as I find it typically means the toy itself is in very good condition (though not always!). I’m not against picking up copies with used decals but they’re frequently worn or not very well applied so that can mean they need replacing. Finding a top quality figure with an unused stickersheet is definitely a great way to guarantee a good-looking addition to your collection!

Here he is in robot mode, showing just how perfect the condition on this toy really is. I recently sold on my childhood Slag and he was nowhere near as nice as this! For starters he had a nasty break on one of the legs, which is a common weak area on this toy, and the chrome was quite worn. Despite being very familiar with the toy it’s still a real treat to see it in such a spotless state.

Here you can see how the toy compares with Slag’s depiction on his packaging art, his comic portrayal and his cartoon character model. Worth noting it that whilst the box art and his comic depiction both feature a black head similar to the toy I have in hand, the cartoon design is more reminiscent of the version we saw before on the packaging photos (again, more on that later!).

Now let’s check out Sludge.  The box on my copy has a bit of a tear in the front as you’ll see, but that really doesn’t bother me. Whilst it’s a bonus to have a pristine box, I’ve also found you can save a few quid on top condition vintage toys by finding them in beaten up packaging!

Again, I decided that mint-in-box was the standard I was going for with this set of Dinobots, but it’s not something I would personally prioritise for every subline of G1. Ultimately it’s all about your own collecting parameters, but if you’re after perfect condition boxes for every toy then it’s going to be an expensive hobby!

My box also has the all-too-familiar “flap crease” along the top too, although at least the robot points are still intact in the bottom right corner! Thinking about it, it’s quite rare to see them cut out, in my experience.

So, let’s unpack this wonderful specimen, shall we? Just like Slag he’s in pristine condition, with perfect chrome and absolutely no wear. Boy, I love this toy!

Similarly we can see that the missiles are still on the sprue, and his sword, handheld blaster and missile launcher are all present and correct.

This was definitely one of my favourite childhood figures, so it’s just wonderful to have picked him up again in immaculate condition. I love the design, especially that gold head sculpt with the translucent plastic above the moulded robotic detail. Stunning.

Moving into robot mode you can see just how perfect Sludge is. I’ll also credit this toy with having one of the very best G1 robot head designs – what a beautiful lad he is!

Sludge’s portrayal across his box art, comic appearance and cartoon character model are all surprisingly consistent, which probably comes from the toy not having any significant variants. I was always a big fan of Sludge, especially as he’s just so adorably stupid!

Right, now that we’ve given these two a cursory evaluation it’s time to get those decals on and take some studio-style photos of them. First up, here’s a fully-stickered Slag in all his glory!

Oh yeah, that’s the stuff. That translucent plastic head is just beautiful, isn’t it? It really makes this toy feel unique. Those stickers make quite the difference too, and I’m particularly fond of the Autobot logo inside the mouth even though it doesn’t fit entirely perfectly! Of course this toy would not have originally sported those emblems in its pre-Transformers days as a Diaclone Dinosaur Robo, and for this reason it’s not uncommon to find some slightly ill-fitting decals on early G1 moulds.

Lovely stuff. Now let’s take a look at Sludge with his emblems all applied.

Glorious. My only real gripe here is that the stickers on both toys will not adhere properly, which is very frustrating! If you look closely you’ll see a bit of lifting going on in a couple of the photos. It’s weird how much the quality of vintage G1 stickers seems to vary between different sublines. Often they’re absolutely fine, but just sometimes they prove to be real duds as I’m experiencing here. Fortunately I’ve fixed the problem with a few dabs of my trusty Toyhax stickerfixer! I’d recommend it for anyone looking to get into vintage collecting.

Sticker issues aside there’s absolutely nothing not to love here. These two are the very definition of flawless G1 samples, and perfectly represent why collecting in this way makes for such a fun hobby.

Seriously, how much fun will it be to see the full team lined up, eh? For now, let’s take a look at the finished lads in their robot forms.

Oh yeah, this is what it’s all about. Let’s get those weapons on the go, shall we?

Slag is pretty special for being able to sport all of his weaponry at once, given that the missile launcher attaches at the shoulder. I always thought that was a neat trick and it definitely adds something to the final look.

Just wonderful, and really popping thanks to those stickers. I will say that the decals inside the wings can jog on though, as placing those over the moulded plastic detailing is a hateful experience. Fortunately the finished look more than makes up for it!

Whilst he can’t utilise all of his armaments at once, Sludge still looks great whether dual wielding his guns or opting for his trademark sword. As with Slag the stickers add so much to the finished look, and with plenty of blue, green and orange accents on the go he ends up being surprisingly colourful.

I’d honestly say that if I ever had to pare my collection back to its bare bones these G1 Dinos would be some of the last things to go. They’re such wonderfully distinctive toys and look so cohesive as a set. I’m now more excited than ever to inspect the remaining three characters in this subline and to see the whole lot lined up together.

So, comparison time! I’ve mentioned a couple of times about the different version of Slag’s toy from the packaging photos, and now here it is! It’s an early-run Canadian variant featuring a red and silver head and white thighs, much more similar to the animation model. I was lucky to be loaned this copy by a good friend specifically for this article. I’d very much like to pick one up myself one day, but for now it’s just fun to be able to compare with the more common version in my own collection. You can expect this variant to run up some pretty high prices these days!

For another comparison, let’s have a look at a more modern take on these characters. As some of you may know, my collection is a split of vintage G1 and more recent Masterpiece-style toys, including a dose of third party stuff, so it’s interesting to compare these different interpretations of the same characters. For my money, the best 3PMP Dinobots are still the FansToys Iron Dibots, as they capture the look and feel of the on-screen characters superbly. It’s fun to line-up these modern takes versus their vintage counterparts if not only because of the notable size difference! These characters were always supposed to be huge and imposing, so it’s great to see the new toys achieve this.

And from the very big to the very small, here are the “World’s Smallest Transformers” Dinobots, made by Justitoys to fit in with the official WST line. These chaps are absolutely tiny but are also surprisingly faithful recreations of the regular size toys. Other than a few obvious tells like the colour of Slag’s horns it would be very easy to look at photos of them and think you were seeing the official versions. Very handy for the space-conscious collector!

So there we go – the first two Dinobots down and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s truly a thrill to be exploring these wonderful toys again and especially in such mint condition. I’m itching to get the remainder of the line opened and stickered up now, so I hope you’ll join me next time when we’ll be exploring the next two characters… including the big lad himself!

Thanks for reading!

TTFN

About Sixo

Transformers photographer & blogger from the UK with quite a well-known carpet. Collects both vintage G1/G2 and Masterpiece/3P.

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