"Generations" Titans Return Slugslinger with Caliburst Toy Review

in 2017, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Deluxe, Generation One, Generations, Titans Return, Transmetal

Generations
Titans Return

Slugslinger General Information:
Release Date: October 2017
Price Point: $17.99-19.99 (depending on location)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, Target, Walmart etc.)
Accessories: Caliburst Titan Master figure, Blasters x 2

Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
Transformers Generations Titans Return Deluxe Class figures are 5.5-inch scale figures that come with a Titan Master figure. The Titan Master figure becomes the head of the Deluxe Class figure. It also works with Deluxe Class, Voyager Class, and Leader Class Titans Return figures (each sold separately).

In Titans Return, the Autobots and Decepticons unite with Titan Masters, small bots that carry a power boost. Titan Masters are key to controlling an ancient race of warriors the size of cities: the Titans.

Character Specs:
Slugslinger: Decepticon aerial assault
Caliburst: ultra-high-speed fireblast
Unite and power up for battle.

Figure Specs:
Deluxe Class Slugslinger
Modes: robot, jet
Converts in 9 steps
Works with other Titan Master figures (each sold separately)
2 accessories
Comes with a collector card with tech specs

Titan Master Caliburst
Modes: robot, head
Converts in 1 step

Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

Early on in the life of the Transformers line the toy line began to move away from the sole gimmick of transformation. Once figures like Combiners were introduced it became clear Transformers could be more than just a robot that changed from one form to another. In 1987 Hasbro and Takara took a bold step into a new play pattern by introducing Headmasters. Headmasters were Transformers whose heads detached and became smaller figures that could then pilot or ride the Transformers in beast and vehicle forms (or in a couple cases, their battle station or city forms!). Now almost thirty years after they were originally introduced the Headmaster gimmick has returned in a new form: Titan Masters!

Titan Masters focuses on the return of small robots to Cybertron that can unlock incredible power, and it is up to the Transformers to merge with them and harness those abilities and strengths. In some ways the story resembles "Armada" which had a similar conceit for the Mini-Cons. In true "Generations" fashion, Titans Return gives us characters from the Headmasters era in new forms that pay homage to the originals.

Slugslinger was one of the new Decepticons introduced in 1987 as a Targetmaster: a Transformer who wielded a weapon that could transform into a small figure. The character appeared in many different stories during the G1 era including the US and Japanese cartoons and the Marvel comic books. There was even a bit of a homage to this character in the "Energon" line. However this is the first time there has been a "G1 based" Slugslinger main line figure in a long time. This figure is a hevy retool of the same base design used for "Titans Return" Triggerhappy and Misfire, so check that review out before reading this one as this review will focus on the changes made to the design for this release.

Packaging:
The Titans Return packaging uses the design of the last few years and updates it. The figure is packaged in robot mode with its weapons to the side. An insert shows you the alt mode along with the names of the Titan Master and character along with the "Titans Return" logo. The side of the insert gives you a look at the character's artwork. Most of the backing card is plastered with a close up of the character's package art. While entire bodies were drawn for this line, the packaging zooms in to the chest and head to focus on the Titan Master gimmick, with the head hovering a bit over the body as if it is about to connect. The side has the now familiar "Generations" logo with an Autobot symbol on it and the vertical "Transformers" logo under it.

The back of the packaging shows off the stock photography for the photo but more importantly, it shows off a diagram explaining the way the Titan Master play system works. The heads of the Titan Masters can be swapped from figure to figure, and the diagram helps illustrate this across size classes. These also act as cosells.

Titans Return figures come with a collector card, similar to last year's "Combiner Wars" series. However these cards are shaped differently, with corners cut out on two sides. The front features the character's artwork, giving you a better look at the full body. The back features something fans have wanted since last year: tech specs! These are not traditional specs with a full motto and so on, but instead there are four qualities reflected here (via icons). The four icons are: A robot flexing arms (strength), a character running (speed), a brain (intelligence) and a missile (firepower). These are laid out on the X axis of a bar chart with lines going across from a scale of one through twenty. Traditional tech specs only go from one to ten, but these tech specs take into account the Titan Master being combined with the Transformer. This extends the line into the zone past the number ten. I'm really glad these were added in as I think it was a missed opportunity not to do so last year. I also appreciate the bright and colorful icons and lines used on the back of the cards.

Accessories:
Slugslinger includes two blasters. These are not reuses of the weapons that came with Triggerhappy or Misfire. These are two new and distinct weapons. One weapon is cast in light grey. This is a single barreled weapon with a design int he back that looks a bit like an engine. The other weapon is teal and has two barrels. When you combine these weapons together, they form a rough approximation of the G1 Caliburst's weapon form, but it is not quite an exact match. The lack of anything resembling arms or legs on the weapon are among the ways the weapons differ a lot from their G1 inspiration. The two weapons can be combined to form a triple barreled weapon with a 5mm peg. There is also a slot for a Titan Master's feet to attach to, making this a "gunnery station" as well.

Caliburst

Caliburst was G1 Slugslinger's Targetmaster partner. This time out he transforms into Slugslinger's head instead of his weapon.

Head Mode:
The head mode highlights interesting design differences between toys and animation models of the G1 era. Often time, the cartoon model sheets provided to Sunbow Productions and Marvel Comics were not exactly what fans had on their toy shelves. Often, the cartoon/comic models were interpretations of the toys (sometimes based on prototypes, explaining some differences). In this case, Slugslinger's G1 action figure head had a large crest and large visor eyes. However, this design is based on the cartoon/comic book model which featured a large "helmet" section instead of the large crest and thin, separate eyes instead of a large, single visor eye. He also has designs on the sides of his head that look almost like small horns sticking up versus the G1 action figure head which had ridged panels on the sides.

This head is mostly cast in teal colored plastic with some light grey parts. The face is painted light grey and his eyes are dark purple.

Transformation to Robot Mode:
In general the Titan Master transformation is fairly simple. Hold on to the back of the head and just unfold it, revealing the robot form.

Robot Mode:
This mode reveals that Caliburst uses the same sculpt as Blowpipe with no retooling. The head, arms and lower legs are teal plastic. The torso and thighs are light grey. Surprisingly, his face is painted light grey while his eyes are painted purple. This looks great and makes a case for why all the Titan Masters in the line should have been painted.

All the joints on my copy of Caliburst are nice and tight.

Robot Mode:
Like Misfire, Slugslinger does more than just slap a new face plate onto Caliburst and call him "Slugslinger". Instead, almost the entire top half of the body has been changed. For the most part, the legs are the same pieces that are used for Triggerhappy and Misfire, but everything else appears to be new and based on G1 Slugslinger's design. These design elements include:

  • The shoulders are shaped like G1 Slugslinger's, complete with a trapezoid section on top with overlapping panel lines sculpted into them.
  • The torso has distinct rectangular sections on either side with two circles inside.
  • The waist/hip area has a raised panel in the middle.
  • The placement of the cockpit now has them sticking up in the back behind the head, similar to the G1 design.
  • The wings are new pieces and their placement has them situated lower on the body than those on Misfire.

Overall this is a spectacular example of how to take a base design and rework it into a different character. Slugslinger is instantly recognizable to any G1 fans familiar with him and he looks distinct from both Triggerhappy and Misfire. Kudos to the designers for a brilliant example of retooling.

Slugslinger is a mix of light grey and teal plastic. His paint deco is largely done in light grey (most notably on the torso). This matches up fairly well with the G1 figure and looks great. However there's more! The shoulders and lower legs both have tampographs on them that are based directly on stickers from G1 Slugslinger. I love these "G1 stickers redone as tampos" approach to adding deco to figures. It not only serves as a great homage to G1, but they also add a complexity of details that would be harder to achieve with paint.

Despite being the third iteration of this base design, all the joints on my copy of Slugslinger are nice and tight. Compared to some of the earlier waves of "Titans Return", it really feels like the factories are getting better at quality control with respect to the joints on these figures. Each of his fists can hold a half of his weapon or you can combine them for him to hold in one hand. You can store the weapons on his wings using the 5mm ports.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach Caliburst and convert him into robot mode.
  2. Detach the blasters and set them aside for now.
  3. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  4. Swing the fists into the forearms.
  5. Pull the arms out to the sides and swing them down.
  6. Swing the cockpit section up on the back and over to where the head was attached.
  7. Swing the heel pieces back into the lower legs.
  8. Swing the front of the feet back.
  9. Push the lower legs together.
  10. Swing the waist section back.
  11. Swing the robot legs up to form the rear of the vehicle.
  12. Swing the arms fully back, attaching the tabs on the forearms to the corresponding slots on the legs and under the back of each wing.
  13. Attach each of the weapons to the underside of a wing.
  14. Caliburst can sit in the cockpit under the translucent blue panel.

Vehicle Mode:
Much to its credit, this sculpt looks almost exactly like the G1 Slugslinger figure in vehicle mode. The biggest differences are the big blue translucent panel in the middle and the shape of the vertical stabilizers in the back. However the vehicle also has a lot of the key features of G1 Slugslinger's vehicle form. This includes having two cockpits in front (though the cockpits are too small to fit Titan Masters), wings that angle down wards the sides and thrusters attached to the back of the wings. Even though the vertical stabilizers are not the same shape as the G1 version, they are set at angles like the G1 figure. Overall the sculpt on this figure looks spectacular for a retool.

This mode has teal and light grey plastic like the robot mode, but it also has two shades of translucent blue plastic. A lighter shade is used on the two cockpits in front, allowing you to see the cool sculpted details inside which include a seat in each cockpit. A darker translucent blue is used for a panel in the center covering up where Caliburst (or any Titan Master) can sit. Like the robot mode, this form has several tampographs which are meant to emulate the stickers on G1 Slugslinger. This includes purple Decepticon symbols on the wings, a red/grey/silver sticker on the wings in front of the thrusters and a silver/yellow/lavender tampograph on the top towards the back. For the most part the details on these tampographs emulate the G1 Slugslinger's stickers and they add a lot of nice detail to the vehicle.

Slugslinger is made to interact with Titan Master mini-figures. Lift the dark blue panel up in the middle and you can have a Titan Master "pilot" the vehicle. Look behind that section and there are two Titan Master pegs so you can attach a couple of passengers. His weapons attach to the underside of the wings but sadly there is nowhere to attach them in the middle for a more "G1" appearance. That said, the upcoming Takara Tomy version of this figure will have this capability based on promotional images.

Final Thoughts:
Slugslinger is (yet another) brilliant example of how to retool a figure into a different character. He has a ton of G1 inspired detailing and deco and he has fun play value to boot! He is a great figure that definitely belongs on your "Generations" shelf. Unfortunately he shipped out during the end of the "Titans Return" line so he has been fairly difficult to find. As of this writing, Amazon only has a handful at about $4-6 above regular retail (depending on which store you go to). As a substitute, you could order the more pricey "Legends" version that comes with a Targetmaster and a port to connect the weapon in vehicle mode. The deco is different than the "Generations" version however and he does not come with the weapons included with the "Titans Return" version.

Pros:

  • A fantastic example of heavy retooling.
  • Sculpt pays homage to the original character very well.
  • Based on the G1 design instead of being a "reimagining" into a more realistic form.
  • Nice, tight joints.

Cons:

  • Some people will still long for Slugslinger to be a Targetmaster.
  • Lacks the ability to attach the weapon combined as a gunnery station in vehicle mode.
  • Limited availability due to release being so close to the end of the year.