Transformers Legacy Evolution Deluxe
Item No.: Asst. F2990 No. F3029 Manufacturer:Hasbro Includes:2 blasters, 2 sword/blasters Action Feature:Transforms from robot to tank Retail:$24.99 Availability: January 2023 Other: A remake of a remake!
They're not all great. Skullgrin takes the 1988 Pretenders toy - which was updated in 2010 and 2018 - and gives you, well, more of the same but different? In 2018 we got a tiny little "shell" and in 2010, we got no Pretender shell. This time, we also get no pretender shell - but we do get a bigger version of the inner vehicle, with a robot that's more or less like the inner robot meshed with the pretender shell's skull head. It's OK - but there are problems. Do not store the weapons in the silver treads of the vehicle. If you do, silver paint will molt off on the white plastic within days. I shot this toy, and when I came back to it I was surprised to see some paint merely from leaving it alone overnight.
Since he's neither the Pretender shell nor the inner robot, you might be left asking "why?" Iguanus [FOTD #2,431] seemed to do the merging thing just a bit better than Skullgrin, and at a lower price with fewer problems with paint.
The robot mode is a similar to the original robot mode, with the head, shoulders, and belt of the Pretender monster. You don't get his jaw, but you do get a nice new joint with a hinge so he can look up as well as swivel around. That's pretty nice. The skull belt looks cool, and you get four accessories to go with him. The head as the most detail, and it's on some pretty soft plastic that just doesn't feel particularly good. The joints to tuck the horns in for transformation are visible and kind of ugly, and in the era of the $25 deluxe the bar to disappointment is a little lower. When deluxes were simpler and at $10, it was easier to have lower standards and get excited for things that, as a $20 Voyager, might be eye-rolling. Heck, even back in the 1990s and 2000s, a lot of reviewers criticized the toys of not being worth it given some of the gimmicks were kind of uninteresting or the toy being not any better than the lower price points. That's sort of how I feel about Skullgrin. He's got rocker ankles, and his horns get knocked sideways if you ever touch them. And this is twice the price of the 2010 Deluxe Skullgrin [FOTD #117] which lacked some bells and whistles, but also, it was cheap. And I can forgive a lot at a lower price point, Skullgrin just doesn't bring any real sense of delight once you really start digging in with what he has to offer.
Transformation is an interesting puzzle - more complex than he needs to be, but in some case you see toys being designed to justify the budget. He doesn't need to have multiple rotating panels and parts to get the tank treads tucked into the back of the legs, but that's what he has. The legs are incredibly complex and the arms are not, with wrists that flip out of the forearms, but aren't easy to get out without a tool or better fingernails.
The vehicle mode is bigger than the original, with the legs jutting out forward and giving him a totally different silhouette. As stated above I do not recommend stowing the blade weapons or any weapons in the tank treads since I experienced some paint coming off, but you do you. Who am I to stop you from making a mistake? The designers did a good job, but that pairing of paint and plastic make it hard to be excited. Any time you pick up a toy and need some sort of "well be careful because playing with it as intended may cause problems" really irks me and puts me off buying more of this kind of stuff, which I admit is funny given how many I've reviewed. But hey, times change - if something's not great, you don't have to keep going. The vehicle has no working wheels, but the turret on top turns and I like that a lot. I would not recommend putting anything in those tank barrels either, as that paint looks like it might be similar to what was used on the treads. At least the sculpting is good, and a repaint of this toy might give you fewer problems.
If I had a time machine I'd skip this one, and I assume he'll be going over to a trade pile or eBay at some point soon. With some lost detail from the publicity photo, like missing purple paint on his chest, I can't say I'm thrilled about the results. The jointed horns are soft and unsatisfying, and there's no lower jaw on the head either. As "classic" remakes continue, we're getting duplicates or triplicates or even more remakes of some of these guys. Do you need another Skullgrin? Maybe - but he doesn't have the Pretender shell and from where I sit, that means any remake we get from now until he gets shelled is going to be a lateral move at best. He's not terrible, but for $25 I don't think I'm any better off than I was with the previous Deluxe model from over a decade ago. This one also sat unopened for a while and I didn't really feel like I was missing out. If I were you I'd save the money and buy something like Buzzworthy Scorponok [FOTD #2,589]. It doesn't aspire to be a toy for collectors, and is all the more fun for it.
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