Series: Generation 1
Function: Ground Assault
Alternate Mode: Monster
Height: 4cm Width: 3cm Length: 6.5cm
A jade and gold winged quadrupedal monster, Bristleback is clearly meant to be a mythical creature rather than any real animal. His front half, wings and head are jade while the rear half and and all four legs are gold. The gold plastic used is the brittle, badly mixed, gold that Hasbro were so fond of between 1989 and 1994, and both rear legs on mine have cracks on the hinges - although thankfully this just makes them loose, rather than things falling off. Bristleback shares his colours with Slog (gold) and Icepick (jade), and the gold works better on Bristleback than on Slog - even if it is cracked. Bristleback has white eyes and extensive stickering, especially on his back and wings, the sticker on his back sports a Decepticon logo.
Bristleback is better for not trying to be a real animal - Scowl fails for precisely that reason. The wings are an interesting touch, and they sport guns on the tips, which is cool. I suppose the wings make Bristleback a griffin or something similar, and his legs look like dog legs.
The play value is limited to his legs swinging, and considering how brittle the plastic is I wouldn't recommend play with the legs anyway.
This is a decent animal mode, mainly because the wings make him interesting. Of course the use of the gold plastic limits Bristleback, to the point where I'm hesitant to touch the toy.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Flip the back half up to form his robot boots and swing the hindlegs back to form heelspurs. Fold back the griffin head to reveal the robot head. The forelegs simply become his arms without any manipulation, but you might like to swing them down from pointing forward. You can't swing them right down to his sides since they're moulded with bent elbows. Lastly, give Bristleback his lilac handgun.
Height: 7cm Width: 3cm
Again jade and gold, Bristleback's torso, head and thighs are jade while his arms and boots are gold. There's a fairly noticeable hole on his waist - where he attaches to Slog as Monstructor's arm. The colour scheme is for the most part a decent one, the hole is really the only incongruous aspect. Of course you have to contend with the brittle plastic.
Bristleback's body shape is for the most part well defined, but because the wings sit on his back, the griffin head sits behind his robot head, in plain view, rather than being tucked away on his back. Of course he has wings on his back, which is a nice upside. Like Birdbrain, this is a fairly blocky robot, but Bristleback has more detail and isn't quite as blocky. His face is painted white and he has an eyevisor and moulded mouth, which is somewhat lost in the white paint.
The only poseability here is the swinging shoulders, which would have been great if not for the fear of breaking him. I prefer to leave the arms up - in the animal mode position - they look pretty good there and there's less chance of something snapping.
Despite the gaping hole on his waist and the kibble behind his head, this robot mode looks fairly good. Of course thanks to the choice of plastic there's no play value - I had to be careful just transforming him for this review.
The Pretender Shell
As with all the Pretender Monster shells, Bristleback's shell is a soft plastic case with a hard lilac plate on the back, and he fits inside underneath this plate. Unlike his teammates, Bristleback's shell is on all fours and the backplate is on top. The shell is beige with extensive green paint, silver wings and orange eyes, as well as the lilac backplate.
This shell is quite obviously a turtle - the green section is the shell, and he has a stub tail, turtle's beak and turtle's claws on his feet. Not that turtles have wings, but then this is a monster. There are holes in the backplate allowing the griffin's wings to project, so if you have the robot inside this turtle will have four wings but if you don't it'll have to fairly obvious holes in it, which is a bummer. The sculpt is decent, with a somewhat rocky shell and fleshy underside, as well as ridges on top of the head.
The most distinctive shell of this set, and one of the more detailed. Having said that I really don't like the holes on top, or the purple plate which breaks up the green turtle shell too much. On balance it's a decent shell, but not really anything special.
None I'm aware of. Gairyu of the Japanese Dinoforce is a repaint (with a different shell).
A decent shell, an interesting monster mode and a reasonable robot mode should have made Bristleback one of the better toys in this set, but it all falls apart (literally) thanks to the brittle gold plastic. In the end, the potential is obvious but not quite realised, since you have to be so gentle and hope for the best - 4.5/10