And now, Scary-Crayon reviews...
by: Wes

You thought we'd forgotten about these guys, didn't you? Yes, it's been a while since we first looked at the Quick Change Transforming System Dino Robots in Part 1, but we're finally back on track (at least for the duration of this article...) in the second installment of what will now most likely be a four-part review!

Yes, you read that right. Whereas originally we'd planned on only having two parts, things have changed since the first part was written -- namely that I've acquired a whole frigging lot of official Transformers transforming dinosaurs since then. This means that we can now perform more thorough comparisons between the QC Dinobots and their Hasbro-produced cousins... such that I figure expanding the review into a four-part piece will serve the function of swallowed stones by making the individual components a bit easier to digest. That was a dinosaur trivia reference, you see! Anyway, just as important new fossil discoveries and updated information can lead us to alter our understanding of the behaviors and even appearances of dinosaurs, new developments and realizations that take place during the writing of these components may lead me to adjust the number of parts accordingly. Eventually, however, all four QC Dinobots will be reviewed and compared to other transforming dinosaurs. Perhaps a mystery dinobot will join the fray as well! Only time will tell, and thankfully you won't have to endure a 65-million year wait for answers. ;)

RAWR (STEGO-BOT) revisited!

Snarl, Rawr, and Saberback in dino mode

So here we have Rawr in his superior mode, flanked by two other transforming stegosaur robots: Snarl from Transformers Generation 1 and Saberback from Beast Wars Neo (who was subsequently repainted into Striker, Dinobots Snarl, and Striker again). Even though there's admittedly no way that he -- or any of the QC Dinobots -- is really going to measure up to his Hasbro counterparts, he looks decent enough here to warrant a comparison. Yes, Rawr's back plates still suck, his tail is too short, and he lacks the extra foreleg joint sported by his cousins (which in truth is fairly negligible on Snarl and Saberback, seeing as how the back legs are more/less fixed in position), but aside from that he makes a decent showing among his fellow robotic stegosaurs. The guns atop his back even give him a small victory, as he's the only one of the group with an apparent long-range attack -- even if it does require you to use your imagination and maybe make some firing laser noises with your mouth. And whereas some may be tempted to point out that the photo doesn't show how much cheaper Rawr's plastic is, it also doesn't show how much time I spent stalking auctions for used Snarl figures on eBay and how much money I paid to finally win one. :P

Snarl, Rawr, and Saberback in robot mode

And here they are transformed, where Rawr's shortcomings -- pun intended, hence the italics -- become truly apparent. In addition to being significantly smaller than his fellow stegobots, Rawr has a lot of dino-mode kibble that just sort of hangs off of him and doesn't really add anything to his visual appearance. I had originally thought that the G1 Dinobots shared this flaw, but it's worth noting that Snarl's front dino legs actually fit into the mechanical panneling on the front half of his dino body (which becomes his boots in robot mode), which tends to minimize their appearance. Similarly, although the lower halves of Snarl's hind dino legs just hang there, they do bend back enough such that they're mostly out of the way in robot mode when the figure is viewed from the front. Also, with both Snarl and Saberback, other unused parts become wings -- and, in Saberback's case, a club and/or flower-power gun as well. Rawr can bend his elbows where Snarl can't (Snarl arguably doesn't even have elbows), but this is largely negligible because his hands lack the necessary holes that would enable him to hold a weapon in robot mode. This means that, unlike Snarl, he'd still go unarmed even if I were willing to pay the $10+ to get a tiny red plastic sword for him.

So although his weaknesses are many and his strengths are few, Rawr does share that great advantage that almost all off-brand and knockoff products boast: his price. Considering that he essentially only cost $1.50 new -- as opposed to $15-ish for a new Saberback/Snarl/Striker and $30-ish for even a used G1 Snarl with no accessories -- it's hard to actively hate him for long. His stegosaur mode looks comparatively decent, and while his robot mode is kind of squat and kibbly, it's decent enough to make him an acceptable background addition to one's basic/scout collection or satisfy a youngTransformers fan. Rawr also would have his simplistic transformation to recommend him in the latter respect, except the excessive force needed to transform the arms renders it way more difficult than it should be. (That said, it's still a lot less involved than Saberback's transformation, which has been known to frustrate even people with PhD degrees.) Rawr also has the benefit of being readily available in stores today -- or at least he was during my last visit to Big Lots -- so he's pretty much the only 'bot in town for folks who want a transforming stegosaur fresh off the shelves.


Sludge, Ultra Gunk, and Generic Roaring Brontosaur in dino mode

On to Ultra Gunk, here flanked by Sludge from Transformers G1 and a generic roaring brontosaurus toy I picked up at Dollar Tree. Sludge is easily the more attractive robotic dinosaur owing to his gold and silver parts, but it's worth noting that Ultra Gunk probably looks more like an actual long-necked dinosaur given his lack of crazy pointy teeth, stumpy balloon-shaped legs, and weird claw feet. Owing to his proportionally longer legs and hinged neck, he also has far more useful articulation than Sludge -- whereas Sludge just kind of sits there, Gunk can drink water and headbutt enemies and even play dead if he so chooses. Like Rawr, he can also fire at enemies (again using the power of imagination; he has no spring-loaded missiles) via the laser cannon mounted on his back. So really, aesthetics aside, Ultra Gunk is superior to Sludge in almost every way in dino mode. He's hardly as sturdy a toy -- I doubt he could survive the years of play that Sludge has seen (though admittedly I combined parts from two vintage Sludge figures to make this more attractive one) -- but his play value as a robotic long-necked dinosaur will certainly prove respectable for as long as he lasts.

Sludge and Ultra Gunk in robot mode... and Generic Roaring Brontosaur in dino mode

Even though Ultra Gunk doesn't fare quite as well in his robot form, he's still packing enough play value to make him a worthy second-tier toy. He suffers from the same kibble problems as Rawr, but the ability to configure it into a relatively attractive "battle station" actually boosts his play value. Sludge's comparatively stiff pose doesn't lend itself to particularly creative play (though the wings could make for some fun flying scenes), but one can easily imagine Ultra Gunk barking out orders and gesturing with his articulated elbows as he fires lasers from his dino mouth and advances in his mobile command center in the thick of battle. The robot mode colors still pop, too -- so even though he makes for an inferior robot, his bold appearance still enables him to draw the eye away from Sludge's comparatively dull color scheme.

Another big plus for Ultra Gunk is suggested by my inclusion of the generic brontosaurus toy. The little guy doesn't transform, but he's here because I actually don't have another transforming brontosaur -- which is one advantage that Ultra Gunk has over his fellow QC Dinobots. There are a handful of transforming stegosaurs and triceratopses and more tyrannosaurs than actual T-Rex fossils on record, but long-necked dinosaurs are a rarity in the transforming robot toy world. In fact, in 20+ years of Transformers -- unless you count the pretender Rairyu, and even he was only released in Japan in 1988 -- Sludge is pretty much it. There are a handful of transforming long-necked robotic dinosaurs scattered throughout other less popular toy lines (for example, Dinozaurs), but they're arguably even harder to find than vintage Sludge figures on the online secondary market. They do tend to be a bit less costly than Sludge, but their shipping costs alone approach the $6 you'd pay to own Ultra Gunk and his three QC Dinobot companions.

So that does it for this quick comparison of Rawr and Ultra Gunk to their transforming dinosaur cousins from Cybertron. As noted and expected, the QC Dinobots are largely inferior to official Transformers merchandise, but their offbeat charm (especially where Ultra Gunk is concerned), availability, and low price make them easy enough to recommend to collectors of transforming dinosaur robots and especially younger fans. I wouldn't suggest hunting for them at length or buying them online -- they wouldn't be worth the time and/or shipping costs it would take to secure a set -- but as a casual purchase during a visit to Big Lots (which is the only place that I've seen the Dino Robots, though I've seen other Quick Change sets at Family Dollar) they're neat enough. If you really want transforming dinosaurs, though, take a moment to check out these guys. I can't vouch for them yet, and I've heard that they're a bit brickish, but my eye is totally on that brachiosaurus. Anyway, we'll see you next time (whenever that is!) in the third part of the Quick Change Dinobots review. ;)

Grimlock versus Gravelatch... coming soon?


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