THE VINTAGE VIEW #17: Generation 1 Terrorcon Rippersnapper

We’re back for the second part of our tour through the vintage G1 Terrorcon roster, having kicked things off with Blot last time.

Given that I never grew up knowing these toys, my knowledge of the Terrorcons was limited to their brief but often memorable appearances in the media. As far as the comics went, they were relative no-names, only cropping up in a handful of issues outside of their debut in the Headmasters miniseries. However, their sole UK feature at the beginning of Time Wars also firmly sticks in the memory!

In which case, it’s no great surprise that I often think of their cartoon portrayal first and foremost when considering these toys, even if they were little more than snarling, gnashing brutes for the most part. I’ll also add that given how the team comprises two double-headed dragons, one non-descript bird monster and another altogether inexplicable critter besides him, it equally shouldn’t be a shock that Rippersnapper here was arguably the most identifiable of the bunch.

After all, the lad turns into a land shark, which, I grant thee, is not a legitimate beast form of any real kind, but it’s still a concept capable of wedging itself in your brain without too much resistance. Before we get to all that, though, the robot mode is a slice of boxy G1 combiner limb goodness of the highest order, looking every bit as typical of this type of toy as you would expect.

Moreover, besides Rippersnapper’s unique alternate form, a lot about this figure’s design is surprisingly paint-by-numbers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but a lot here will feel instantly familiar if you’re already acquainted with previous Scramble City-type toys of the year prior, despite this being a new design not directly inherited from Diaclone.

All the typical template cues are present and correct, including the sliding single-moulded legs, the boxy head atop a long fold-down chest piece for combined form, and barely a faint whiff of poseability in those supremely stumpy arms. Like Blot, it’s unclear if this lone example of articulation is intended as shoulder or elbows, but one suspects it doesn’t matter either way.

If anything, the only deviation from Rippersnapper being a bare box is some readily apparent kibble, as a bi-product of his transformation is beast bits hanging off him anywhere the eyes care to look. Although it might have been preferable to see some of this fold away a tad more discreetly, it’s not as egregious as you might imagine and does add a little something to the overall silhouette in a way. For one thing, the shark head looks quite distinctive, mounted on his back like an elaborate predatory-themed hood.

The stickers also add a welcome pop to an otherwise uniformly grey and blue colour scheme, with eye-catching dashes of yellow, red and purple. As on Blot, I’ve opted for a set of fresh Toyhax decals for my copy, which I appreciate is not how everyone would choose to go, but in this case, I think it worked out exceptionally well, especially as the existing examples were a little worn in places.

The head design feels notably understated for a bot with such a nightmarish alternate form. These days, it’s almost the norm to see beastly characteristics of this kind brought through into the humanoid guise of any particular toy, but there’s a restraint here, which I quite appreciate. He may turn into a hideous creature, but that’s no reason his robot face should follow suit, which was also an approach adopted by the Monsterbots and other equally grisly examples from the time.

Finally, like most combiner limb lads, Rippersnapper can wield a solitary pistol secured in his hand using a worryingly small peg. He also features a second accessory, which pegs onto his back in beast mode, but unlike Blot, he cannot use it in his robot form.

In terms of transformation, Rippersnapper is as simple as they come. I still chuckle when I read people expressing hollow opinions about how Transformers toys are seemingly so much easier to convert these days and how, by comparison, the kids of the ’80s had to ‘work for it’ when flipping between modes. Sure, there are even easier examples than this, but if evidence were needed for how supremely straightforward vast swathes of vintage G1 are when it comes to the line’s signature feature, look no further.

You’ve probably already worked it out: slide the legs up, flip down the beast head and (assuming it counts as a legitimate step) reposition the various limbs. Done! It’s so effortless that you don’t even need to worry about hiding away the robot feet or arms – just let your imagination take care of those!

Joking aside, I can’t be too critical of this toy because I love it. Sure, it’s all a bit basic, but that is equally the level of complexity we’ve come to expect of G1 combiner teams, and besides, as with Blot, there’s an inherent charm to this guy that I cannot deny. It’s goofy as all hell but adorable nonetheless! I know he’s supposed to be this imposing gnarly brute, but dare I say, he’s actually quite cute.

Anyway, as I mentioned, he’s a land shark, which is supremely quirky and, I think, a unique offering amongst the G1 roster, and looks great with the twin cannons mounted in pride of place on his back. As I said, I never experienced this toy as a kid, but I also know that I would have cherished it if I had.

Anyway, we’re two team members deep into the Terrorcons now, and despite being far from perfect Transformers toys, you’d never catch me saying they aren’t enjoyable. Though I have far more nostalgia for the likes of the Stunticons or Combaticons and despite their comparative lack of attention in fiction, these gruesome miscreants always seemed desirable to me, which perhaps explains the impetus for focusing on them now.

I also feel they frequently receive short shrift in terms of fan focus, oft-forgotten in favour of more prominent franchise names. That’s a shame because these original toys are actually quite creative, as simple as they may be.

They also helped to set a trend towards increasingly more animalistic alternate modes as time passed. True, the Decepticons had plenty of beast-like baddies on their side before this, including the Insecticons and Predacons to name but a few. Still, 1987 put matters into overdrive with Trypticon, the Headmasters, and the Clones alongside these guys, all of whom felt like a significant shift from anything we’d seen before.

Even then, the Terrorcons stand apart for being the most unearthly of the lot, truly looking like the kind of ghastly horrors that could keep you up at night. Although perhaps it might be because you’re trying to discern just what it is that Blot turns into.

In any case, Rippersnapper adds to the now burgeoning ranks of smaller Scramble City-esque bots, looking equally at home next to the likes of his 1986 forebears as much as he so obviously stands apart from them. Though they all work off the same original template, the Terrorcon can’t help but feel slightly separate in some regards.

Ultimately, these toys represent a turning point in the original Transformers line-up, and one with many diehard fans tuning out at the time as the evolution from the Diaclone-era hand-me-downs of the first few years was becoming more apparent. Still, I can’t refute their appeal, especially not regarding the eventual Abominus combined mode.

Before we get to the Big Man another day, all that remains is to point out how it was only surprisingly recently (2019, according to Twitter!) when it finally dawned on me how ‘Rippersnapper’ is a pun on the word ‘whippersnapper’. Mind blown. The fact I got to later point this nugget out to James Roberts is also worth a mention!

Anyway, join us again for the next part, when we’ll put the third team member through their paces. It would be a sin not to!


About Sixo

Transformers collector from the UK, collecting vintage G1/G2, CR/RID, UT & Masterpiece/3P. Find me at or on YouTube at


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