Titans Return may be over as a line but that isn’t stopping the odd toy from trickling out under it’s banner. First we had Arcee and second was the surprising release of this guy – Grotusque. No heads up from Hasbro, just one day it was announced that it exists and you could buy it – if you happen to live in America. Fortunately we in the UK are lucky enough to have great import stores so after getting drunk one night and seeing it was available at a local online retailer, drunk me decided to surprise regular me with a Paypal notification in the morning.
Grotusque is one of the Monsterbots. A 1987 Autobot subgroup from that period were spinning the random toy wheel of fortune to come up with as many bonkers concepts as possible. AKA the most interesting era of G1 Transformers. It’s so weird. We’ve had the other two Monsterbots sort of. Twinferno was a deluxe version of a brand new Doublecross, and Repugness squeaked out in the form of a non correctly scaling Titan Master release. In 2017 Hasbro have bought back Grotusque, just in time for Halloween, so get set for a bunch of spooky references whilst I drink copious amounts of Lemsip (or Wilkos cheaper “Hot Lemon) to combat a haunting case of man flu. There’s going to be a lot of this….
Continue below to the review.
As part of an exclusive mini box set Grotusque comes with two Titan Masters. His Headmaster partner Fengul is a retool of Daburu who was included with Twinferno (or Doublecross if you are old school like moi) and features the same body but a brand new saber-tooth tiger head. This is probably a reference to Platinum Tiger from Battle Beasts, which would also explain the lovely teal paint. The TF wiki says that is what it is, which renders the ten minutes I spent googling “Battle Beasts saber tooth tiger” a waste of time. Using so much paint on a Titan Master is usually Takara’s jam but with this being an exclusive someone at Hasbro was obviously drunk enough at the thought of exclusive pricing to green light more paint.
Doesn’t he look like he’s wearing an 80’s tracksuit though? Perhaps he was an extra on Brookside. There are not enough Transformers with mullets.
Far more interesting is the other Titan Master in the package – Scorponok. No longer named Zarak, his robot mode is a reuse of various bits of other Titan Masters but in Zarak’s traditional purple and beige. Unlike Fengul, Scorpy doesn’t get the new head treatment so he still has the Home Alone basement furnace face that was present on the Fangry Titan Master figure. The chest is from the Rodimus Prime Titan Master that was packaged in the Chaos on Velocitron boxset that I still have not been able to buy. Damn you Hasbro.
Switch him to head mode and there is a brand new G1 inspired face staring back at you. No not the vintage toy, which ended up looking comically undersized on that large body, but like every other appearance of G1 Scorponok ever which merged all the toy head and helmet elements into one awesome orange visored geezer. Hasbro have covered the diecast faceplate with generous helpings of grey, silver and lovely burnt orange paint. Channeling their inner Takara has never looked so good.
Grotusque himself is some kind of monster which as a member of the Monsterbots that is not unexpected.He’s a mish mash, robot meme of a thing with a head that is likely the result of a horrific experimental merging of a sabre tooth tiger with Mecha Godzilla and a body that landed him the title role in the Cybertronian adaptation of Pete’s Dragon. It’s got that Hanna Barbera silliness to it.
Almost every thing about this mode is ridiculous. It’s a mad dragon tiger, it’s a robot but has hairy lower legs, half of it is covered in hot pink, it’s wearing white slippers. It shouldn’t work but it does as an homage to the vintage toy which itself was the plastic personification of Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult.
Due to the uniqueness of each Monsterbot Hasbro have wisely rebuilt much of the upper torso adding new arms and retooling the upper chest. Place the toy side by side with Twinferno and despite many of the parts being remolded you’ll notice plenty of the details carry over to those new parts. You still get the decorative, Mortal Kombat spinal cord which is fitting with us being in the Halloween season as I type this. I will be dusting off the Thriller outfit ready for Saturday night…and Sunday, Monday, Tuesday…it doesn’t even have to be Halloween.
The new arms are part of a larger functional change that involves the transformation. It would have been a shame had Hasbro returned to 2012 era laziness and just plonked a new head and a dollop of paint on the original mold. But now we have the awesome 2017 Hasbro where they make more of an effort to get things right. So you get fully unique arms specifically for Grotusque with big. blunt claws. It’s the thought that counts….Von Count.
Fake Lemsip is making me delirious.
Almost everything from the waist down (oh matron!) is the same as Twinferno, with the legs and feet being the same pieces right down to the creepy furry beast legs. Genuinely, I don’t get it. It’s like someone is cosplaying as a robot in an early 90’s variety show like Noel’s House Party, where they’d still leave some obvious bits of human clothing or limbs. Socks and normal shoes when dressed up in one of those two people horse costumes or something. Before you shout at the screen, I know it is accurate to the vintage Doublecross (Twinferno’s real name) but it’s another piece they could have changed especially as it appears the monster feet are actually new parts. They look the same at first glance but if you are writing a review you tend to examine every minor detail so someone doesn’t need to correct you in the comments. Fake Lemsip may have addled my brain whilst I sit here singing Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” but to me they look different, slightly bigger too.
Which is good because I always feel like, Grotusque has got big feet. Tell me is it just a dream?
Grotusques alt mode is pretty fly. It doesn’t look like it should be able to fly but it’s sporting Twinferno’s wings so it probably can. Twinferno’s chest cockpit also makes its way to Grotusque affording Fengul somewhere to sit if you want to display the toy in monster mode. Any other Titan Master can ride on his back via the standard Titan Master pegs and that’s about it for features – if you can call them that. Groteusque’s combined guns peg onto his back in the same manner as Twinferno and also so true (“funny how it seems”) to the original Grotusque toy. If you are looking for more, then he does have an opening and closing mouth to give you gruesome chomping options.
Due to the heavy nature of the retooling the transformation is a little different from Twinferno. Grotusque’s lower half transforms the same way as Twinferno but the upper body works in a different way. Instead of the chest flipping up and the arms swivelling in to form demonic heads, Grotusque’s arms simply rotate at the shoulder, the barely concealed hands flip out of the forearms, the jaw and neck flips and folds onto the chest, whilst the head moves onto the back like a cute hood. There are even flaps on the shoulders to hide the joint. Flaps to cover things.
Who is this imposter Hasbro? Has Vigo the Carpathian possessed Hasbro’s designers and deleted Higher and Higher from their iTunes accounts?
Out of the two modes it’s the robot form where Grotusquestuns. A different colour palette along with a new chest, arms, waist and head do a good job of divorcing him from Twinferno. Just like with Triggerhappy, Misfire and Slugslinger where parts are shared they have different paint details applied to mask it a bit. For Grotusque that means his knee caps are only half painted whilst his feet lack the silver vents found on Twinferno. Very subtle and minor differences but it’s a clever way to visually make those shared parts not look so similar across figures. His new shoulders feature their own paint apps and I love the broken up Autobot badge there. Sod making a flat space, just spray it on baby.
It’s impressive how he looks so unique and is another fine demonstration of how good Titans Return has been when it comes to repaints and retools.
Eat. Sleep. Retool. Repeat.
One of the most important changes is the brand new face sculpt. Hasbro and Takara have been riding a wave of excellent head sculpts since the days of Combiner Wars and Grotusque is right up there. It’s not far removed from his original toy but features a more stylised, comic like shape. The helmet looks chunky and squashes the face into an unimpressed grumpy expression. He’s got the same look on his face as Farooq did when he first showed up in the WWF in that daft space gladiator gear.
As it’s an exclusive it has a lot of paint daubed upon it. In fact the face is completely lathered in paint with nice application of white,blue and grey. It’s always struck me as odd that despite being called the Monsterbots they all have very normal heads. It’s the same with the likes of the Terrorcons, would it kill someone to give them blood soaked vampire teeth, or robotic pumpkins for faces?
Articulation is good and superior to Twinferno by virtue of having actual functional hands. You can bend the elbows without looking like he is doing a Dragon Punch (quite literally with those Dragon heads) as poor Twinferno does. Must be a nightmare logging into Facebook for Twinferno. Imagine what his text messages must like and how auto correct must struggle with it. Every other point of articulation is the same and whilst he can’t convincingly pull off the Thriller dance (you know I tried) because there is no waist swivel, he’s still pretty decent for a deluxe toy.
If I was making these toys the acid test would definitely be can they do the key poses from Thriller. But then I’m not like other guys….(insert flutey music and full moon).
We’ve already covered that as part of an exclusive box set he comes with a bonus Scorponok shaped Headmaster, but did you also know he comes with two guns? Course you did because you saw them in the pictures above. Each gun is swiped from Twinferno but the white paint works wonders for them. The cut out “detailing” isn’t drowned by the black and the unpainted pink pegs have the unintended side effect of adding subtle extra energon like detailing.
As before they combine and a Titan Master can sit within them, but that’s as useless as politely asking the creature from the upside down if it doesn’t want to eat 1980’s kids.
It’s tough to find much to grumble about with Grotusque. It wasn’t a toy I was expecting so it’s a happy surprise. Just like a Bisto advert, Hasbro went and saved the best for last. Whilst it shares DNA with another toy Hasbro have done such a great job on this that I had to double-check it wasn’t a stealthy Takara release. The amount of paint and extra retooling are all hallmarks of Takara so it’s nice to see Hasbro slowly catching up. Course, it’s easier to do that with a higher priced exclusive and it will be very interesting to see how Grotusque looks if he gets a mass retail release, or Takara take a crack at him.
That brings us to probably the most important factor in deciding whether you are going to buy this figure – the price. If you happen to be in North America then rejoice because you lucky gits get it at a great price from Hasbro toy shop. The rest of the world ain’t so lucky so we have to rely on importers who have to spend fortunes sourcing them, getting them into the country and then sorting the import taxes that follow. So if you are in the UK, like I am (tally ho), it’s a much bigger decision to make. If Hasbro do sort out their own collector club in future I would hope they acknowledge that there are Transformers fans outside of America and that we too would like to be conveniently buy their toys.
“We are here, we are waiting.”