THE VINTAGE VIEW #3: Dinobots (part 2)

A little while back I started a journey of looking at a set of mint-in-box vintage Dinobots, and for one reason or another it’s taken me far too long to make it to the next chapter! But fear not, because we’re back on track now and ready to resume our tour of this magnificent set of specimens. If you haven’t read the previous part yet then take a look first, because I definitely have something special in store for you.

That’s a very minty set of robo-dinos, alright. I had great fun picking this lot up from various sources, but I was determined to wait until I had a complete set in similar condition (boxed but not sealed, mint with stickers unapplied) before documenting the whole lot bit by bit. Last time we looked at Slag and Sludge which means we’re going to tackle another two team members today.

Yep, it’s time to take a look at under-appreciated team member, Snarl and the leader of the pack, Grimlock! I’ve been itching to crack these two open and take a proper look at the contents, so let’s start with the surly Stegosaurus, shall we?

Unlike a number of vintage collectors I’m not overly fussed about needing pristine boxes. In fact, whilst I love the idea of keeping it all, space often dictates that I move packaging  on. That doesn’t stop me appreciating them whilst I have them though, and in the case of these Dinobots the condition of the boxes is just about perfect for my tastes – dinged & damaged enough to keep the cost down (despite the toy itself being nicely preserved on the inside), but still good enough to admire.

Snarl’s packaging follows suit with the rest of the team and proudly displays that glorious red and orange sunburst pattern that so many of us associate with our childhood, as well as that gorgeous 1985 battle scene on the back.

In Snarl’s case the photography on the box is a bit of an oddity, in that it features a version of the toy with a red head and red arms (instead of the actual black). Unlike Slag, who as we discussed last time had an alternate version with a red head released in Canada, this colour scheme was never seen at retail and so remains a curio from the mock-up stage. Fortunately, the toy we got is special enough!

Gorgeous! I’m a big fan of that stegosaurus mode, and it was a tough job trying to find a copy in such pristine condition, especially with all that chrome! My copy also came with all of his usual accessories, including the missiles still intact on the sprue (which is always nice!), along with his sword, his handheld gun and a shoulder-mounted missile launcher.

Let’s take a closer look at Snarl. As with my other Dinobots the stickers have yet to be applied here, apart from the factory decals. In Snarl’s case those are either applied a little bit wonky (such as the ones behind the front legs), or they’re highly prone to wear. You can see that on my copy the very edges have been worn a tiny bit, but this is about as pristine as I’ve seen them on an unboxed copy of this toy, so I can live with it!

The chrome spikes and tail on this guy are also highly susceptible to scratches and wear and the red paint on the torso section is extremely prone to chipping, so without a doubt Snarl became the hardest member of the team to find in a condition that fit the brief. This was actually my second attempt, as the other I picked up previously just didn’t quite hit the target. I couldn’t be more pleased with this copy though.

Here we can take a look at how the toy compares to its packaging art as well as his portrayal in the Marvel comic and the original cartoon. They’re fairly consistent, although it’s interesting to note an evolution of sorts with how the proportions of his head change in each depiction!

Now time to look at Grimlock, who I’m sure will be many people’s fondest memory of the bunch! Not only is he the leader, but he’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex and is the most recognisable. He looks fantastic in his packaging, with that wonderful box artwork on display for all to see. I think it’s one of my personal favourite pieces of character art.

Grimlock’s box is consistent in standard with Snarl’s, in that it’s in mostly decent shape but features a fair few dings and creases. It also has the all-too-common flap crease which you will find on many a Generation 1 box.

It’s funny seeing how much space there is inside these old G1 boxes, and especially knowing that the Generation 2 release of this toy was presented on a card instead. I’ve no doubt if they were released today then the packaging would be very different!

So here’s Grimlock in all his glory, and he’s looking mighty fine! I’m very familiar with this toy already, but it’s rare to find one with joints as tight as this – phew! He’s also completely immaculate, with blinging chrome and fresh factory emblems.

As with Snarl and the others, Grimlock’s missiles are still on the sprue and looking pristine, alongside his sword, missile launcher and blaster.

Like many Transformers fans, I have hugely fond memories of this toy from my childhood. It’s one of those designs that everyone seems to remember, both for how cool the toy itself is but also for how iconic the design became through other media. Whilst I’ve known it well all these years it’s still a thrill to see it here in such nice nick.

I have to admit to being slightly nervous on first transformation with this guy. I’m so used to the way in which the dino-head flips back that I was unprepared for a bit of resistance on this copy, so strong are the clips holding it in place. Can’t argue with the results though!

Grimlock is still looking a bit bare without his stickers! In the meantime here’s a comparison of the toy’s box art alongside his comic and cartoon appearance, showing you how the people responsible evolved the design of the character over time. I was particularly interested to note the placement of the Autobot symbol on the box art, where you can see it adorning the top of his chest section just in front of his face, as opposed to on the front of his chest which is where the instructions would have you place it (also slightly more in keeping with his fictional portrayals, although a bit lower down). We’ll take more of a look at that in a moment.

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. Firstly here’s Snarl, looking glorious all stickered up!

Beautiful, just beautiful. I adore the translucent head on this guy, and that chrome just looks beyond perfect. The decals make a huge difference here too, bringing a welcome splash of colour that just elevates him quite a bit. Oh, and then there’s that adorable face!

Now let’s take a look at Big Grim! I must admit I didn’t find the stickering process as much fun with this guy, as a couple of his decals were a definite pain to apply. The most obvious candidates are the stripey silver & red emblems on the front of his legs, which are required to be placed over a moulded section with pertruding ridges. It’s not uncommon for this to happen on early G1 toys but it always annoys me a bit to be honest, as it’s almost impossible to get the end result looking perfect! I did find that a couple of Grimlock’s stickers didn’t hold very well either, in common with Slag and Sludge, so they will need some attention to keep them gripped.

Still, there’s no denying the results really, is there? The finished toy looks exceptionally good, maxed out with shiny chrome and chock full of interesting details. The Tyrannosaurus neck has always been one of my favourite elements on any G1 toy, just for how wonderful that intricate detailing looks underneath the translucent plastic. Of course I remember as a kid being fascinated by the pop-up cockpit section on Grimlock’s back, unaware as I was at the time of the toy’s origins in the pre-Transformers Diaclone line.

Incredible stuff. Sticker issues aside, it’s been a tremendous joy to check out both these fabulous toys in their dino modes. It makes me extremely excited to line up the completed team for the first time!

Right, time to check out those robot modes! No surprise that the added stickers make the world of difference.

Now that’s done it’s time to add some weapons and see what they’re all about. First up is Snarl, who if I’m honest is probably my least favourite Dinobot in this form. I still like him a lot, but there’s just something about those slightly awkward proportions that holds him back a little for me. No denying he looks exceptional with all of his weapons in place though.

Conversely though, Snarl’s stickers are some of my favourite in the group, adding a real sense of colour and visual intrigue. The split Autobot logo on the dino head is a bit of a pain, as the decal itself comes on the sheet in one piece. Nevertheless, they really elevate the look of this guy, for me.

Next up is Grimlock! I absolutely adore this robot mode, and if anything the sheer wave of nostalgia this toy brings me is enough for me to look past any faults it might have. As far as the stickers go, I decided to break with the instruction manual and I’ve placed his Autobot symbol on the top of his chest the same as it’s displayed in his box art. I initially thought to be a good boy and do as I’m told, but the spot on the front of the chest where they tell you to put it features a series of moulded grooves, and so it’s impossible to have the sticker looking good here.

Besides, it turns out that this particular decal is actually way too big to go in the instructed spot, but instead fits perfectly where I’ve chosen to place it. I’d actually lay money on this being the original intent when the stickers were designed before someone changed it for the instructions. I think it looks much better as I’ve done it, either way.

So, there we go – two wonderful robot modes ably complemented by a factory fresh set of decals. I’ve often talked about what a joy it is to see toys you’re already familiar with decked out in mint condition, and these Dinobots are just the perfect example of that.

Time for a couple of comparisons, and as before I’ve lined up these vintage lads next to their modern 3PMP equivalents from FansToys. I still think of the FT “Iron Dibots” as some of the best unofficial toys on the market, or certainly the ones that I’ve personally had the most fun with, and it’s a treat to see how they stack up against their ‘ancestors’. They’re huge by comparison!

Of course, Grimlock is the only Dinobot to have currently been given the official Masterpiece treatment with MP-8, even if a lot of people have kinda forgotten about that toy now due to it not really scaling with the modern MP line. It’s still a fab figure though and does a great job at representing the character. It’s notable how much of the design pays homage to the original toy, blending it with a lot of inspiration from Grimlock’s cartoon appearance.

And just for fun, here are the G1 toys versus the unofficial “World’s Smallest Transformers” Dinobots, by Justitoys. I still haven’t found the time to put decals on these tiny dudes, but they look great all the same and do a brilliant job at recreating the original figures on a smaller scale.

So, two more of the team done, meaning that we’ve got just one Dinobot left. Fortunately, I’ve saved the best until last, so join us for next time when I’ll taking a look at Swoop for the very first time! I cannot wait to see the full team assembled.

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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