Skullgrin Toy Review

Individual Review

Name: Skullgrin
Series: Generation 1
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Siege Warrior
Alternate Mode: Cybertronian Tank

Height: 4cm Length: 9cm Width: 9cm

   A grey tank with some purple for colour, notable on the dual cannons on top and the window wedged between them. Skullgrin is more of a battlefield assault vehicle than a tank in the traditional sense - there are small treads near the back and no true turret, but there's enough weaponry for Skullgrin to hold his own in a tank battle. About 80% of the toy is grey and about 15% purple, with some red stickers making up the rest, which isn't terribly interesting but normal for a 1988 Pretender. The grey and purple combine fairly well, though, and suits the gloomy mood that his shell sets.

   The base of the tank is a sort of wedge shaped affair with treads towards the back, while the twin grey cannons on top are mounted on twin purple blocks, which substitute for a turret. Skullgrin's side cannons are detachable, since they're the robot's handguns. With a total of four large grey barrels and a rather rugged, armoured, look, this is a pretty good assault vehicle, if not a great tank. Still, he clearly looks like a battlefield vehicle, which is more than most of the 1988 Pretenders manage - and he does so without anything added (the guns are a bonus, really).

   Skullgrin doesn't have much play value but then no Pretenders do in alt mode, really. There's a large purple wheel underneath the cabin and two smaller ones hidden under the treads, and he rolls okay. The side cannons can be lifted up maybe 15 before the back ends hit the table, while the top mounted cannons can swing out to the sides, although this exposes gaps on the insides of their purple mounts. It's more than a lot of his buddies get, even if only the wheels are by design.

   Other than the head sitting fairly obviously on the back, Skullgrin works quite well as a tank - if not a conventional Earthen tank. The colours come together well, the array of weapons work and the vehicle mode doesn't need some random chuck added to work as many Pretenders do. It's not the best tank Transformer by any means, but Skullgrin has one of the best alt modes of the 1988 Pretenders.


   You're meant to remove the sideguns, but it's easy enough to leave them in place if you want to. Anyway, turn the cannons out and fold the barrels away. Fold over the sides (tread) to form the legs and flip up the feet, swing out the cannon mounts to form his arms. Stand up Skullgrin, pose the arms and place one gun in either hand (assuming you've removed them from his legs, which you don't have to).

Height: 12cm Width: 5.5cm (or 8.5cm with guns on his legs)

   Again mainly grey, Skullgrin has purple feet, arms, groin, chestpanels and a purple painted face. There are some red and black stickers on his knees, which are those annoying curling plastic stickers found on most Pretenders. There's also a Decepticon logo sticker on his waist (again, susceptible to curling). The colours aren't as dynamic now - Skullgrin's robot mode isn't awful but a third colour would help here, mainly because the purple is largely on his extremities.

   As with many 1988 Pretenders, the body shape is quite good here, with a well defined waist, separate legs and a well sculpted face. The fists are also quite well done, and are the purple stubs of the cannons (now tucked away inside his arms). The front tips of the tank are the hips, and this looks a little odd if you try to pose the legs, but otherwise the form here is pretty good.

   Play value is about average for a Pretender. The legs swing at the hips, with the discussed problem at hips. The arms can lift up and swing out to the sides (as part of the transformation), and you can easily flip out the tank cannons if you like, which is a nice - if unintended - feature. The guns can clip into each hand or plug into the sides of the knees, and both configurations look good. The guns are large rifles, but aren't awkwardly big in his hands (as on some Pretenders), although the compound gun they can form is best left for the Pretender Shell.

   While it's not quite as good as the tank mode, this is a decent robot mode with some cool weapon options, and it's more cohesive than a lot of the 1988 Pretender robot modes. My main complaint about this mode is regarding the colours - a third colour painted on his torso would have made a big difference.

The Pretender Shell

   A grey shell with purple arms and some purple on his waist and ankles. The head and removable belt are off white, his shoulderplates and fists are light grey while the eyes are purple. The head itself is designed as a ram's skull, a very macabre look. There are curled horns on either side and straight horns on top, and spines on his hands, shoulderpads and knees. The belt actually wraps around and fastens at the back, rather than simply clipping onto the side. I find this a little annoying since you _have_ to open the belt to get the toy in and out, and while it's not difficult it slows things down. Still, the overall look is good - Skullgrin looks evil and gloomy - you have to love the irony of this thing becoming a celebrity (in the Marvel comics).

   The compound gun - which is simply the two handguns clipped side by side - fits this figure very well, it's construction elegantly simple. The shell also wields an off white machete which fits in quite well. The head can rotate a little, while the arms swing right around.

   Thanks to the Marvel comics this is one of the better known Pretender shells, and it's a fairly good one which co-ordinates with the toy inside, has good colours and a distinct theme. I wouldn't say it's the best Pretender Shell from 1988, but it's one of the better ones.


   None that I'm aware of.


   While I'm not really a fan of the 1988 Pretenders as a group, Skullgrin is one of the better toys from this line. The tank mode _looks_ like a battlefield vehicle, the shell has an interesting theme and the robot mode is quite solid. Thanks to the Marvel comic, he's one of the most well known Pretenders, and I'd recommend him if you're a fan of the comics (or Pretenders) - 7/10

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