"Rise of the Beasts" Beast Combiners Optimus Primal with Skullcruncher Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: March 2023
Price Point: $21.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Amazon, Target, Walmart etc.)
Accessories: Tail/Weapon

Official images and text below in italics are from Hasbro via Press Releases:
The battle on Earth is no longer between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons as the new “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” film introduces the Maximals, the Predacons, and the Terrorcons, in an epic 90s globetrotting adventure. Inspired by the new film, Hasbro is launching the new Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Beast Alliance Beast Combiners assortment, with each Beast Combiners set including 2 Beast Alliance figures: a 5” Battle Changer toy and 5” beast armor toy. The Battle Changer toy can convert from robot to alt mode, while the beast armor toy converts from beast to armor mode and can be attached to the smaller robot action figure. Beast Combiner 2-Pack toys are cross compatible with other Beast Alliance figures. The Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Beast Alliance Beast Combiners assortment includes:

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Beast Alliance Beast Combiners 2-Pack Optimus Primal & Skullcruncher armor up for battle in the Beast Alliance Beast Combiners assortment. Optimus Primal can convert from robot to gorilla mode in 7 steps, while Skullcrusher converts from crocodile to armor mode and attaches to Optimus Primal in 6 steps.

Optimus Primal and Skullcruncher are packaged in an open cardboard box. This design is very similar to how Hasbro has packaged Cyberverse Ultra Class figures over the past few years. The packaging uses as little plastic as possible so there is no bubble or window. Optimus Primal and Skullcruncher are attached to the cardboard by a set of flexible ties. In front of them is a part of the box showing off the Rise of the Beasts logo and the Combined form of Optimus Primal and Skullcruncher. Interestingly, Skullcruncher is listed as a Decepticon, making this Skullcruncher consistent with the Battle Master Skullcruncher figure. The artwork on the card is really nice, featuring stones that look like they are out of some ancient ruin and artwork on the walls in the shapes of various Beast Wars related creatures including a cheetah

The back of the packaging shows Optimus Primal in both modes with Skullcruncher both separately and combined. It calls out Optimus Primal's transformation as being 7 steps. Skullcruncher has a "Beast Alliance" logo over him. The "ancient ruin" motif carries over to this side of the box and it looks great.

Optimus Primal will lead the Maximals in the Rise of the Beasts film so it is no surprise he has a big presence in the toy line. Oddly, in this two pack he is paired up with Skullcruncher, who is listed as a Decepticon on the box! As far as we know, there are no Decepticons in the actual movie (who appear on screen anyhow) so this seems to be something purely done for the toy line.

The "Beast Combiners" part of the "Beast Alliance" focuses on a main character from the film paired up with an beast-based partner who can transform into armor for them. This armor largely sits on top of the figure in robot mode, calling back to the "Spark Armor" gimmick in the Cyberverse line.

Optimus Primal

Robot Mode:
Optimus Primal is represented here with a class of figures known as the "Battle Changers". This is a very simplified version of the character. Think less Studio Series and more Authentics (but with better quality plastic and deco). A lot of the details on this figure are inspired by the CG model from the film, but some details also seem to call back to the Beast Wars version of the character including the shape of his torso and the large orb on his chest. His shoulders have the shoulder armor fans are used to seeing on Primal, but they are not separate pieces. Instead they are sculpted right into the shoulder area. Oddly, the sculpt features his robot feet - pointed backwards. However, since the feet are not on a ball joint or even a swivel, they can't be turned around so in both robot and beast mode he winds up featuring his "gorilla feet". While a very simplified version of the character, a lot of the key design elements are present and I appreciate all of them. For those wondering, Optimus is about 5 inches (about 12.7 cm) tall.

This figure is made up of gunmetal grey and brown plastic. Paint colors include two shades of blue, silver, brown and dark blue. I was surprised how much paint there was on the figure's torso and head. A lot of blue is used there and the orb in the center of his chest is red. His eyes are light blue and his mouth area is silver. The chest has dark blue on it and over that on the left side is a silver Maximal symbol. Brown is found on parts like his shoulders. Meanwhile blue is also found on his arms and legs. I like how the blue and red colors really contrast nicely against the darker grey and brown colors.

There are eight points of articulation on this figure including three in each leg and the shoulders. This limited articulation is a feature of the "Battle Changers" figures. Optimus' hands are in a curled, partly open position with a 5mm port. There are two additional 5mm ports on the sides of his arms, allowing you to arm him up with any weapons with a 5mm peg. I really do wish his feet had been designed to be able to turn around. With his gorilla toes facing front it always feels like the transformation from beast to robot did not completely finish (but that could just be me).

Transformation to Beast Mode:

  1. Swing the head and front torso piece down. Rotate it around, then push it back into place.
  2. Bring the lower legs up over the thighs a bit. Push the legs up and bend them at the knees, then tilt the feet.
  3. Swing the robot arms up.

Beast Mode:
For a relatively simple figure, Optimus Primal's beast mode looks pretty good! First, unlike his Beast Weaponizer counterpart, he is able to achieve the "hunched over" position seen in the movie trailer. The only real newly revealed areas are the head and torso sections. The head sculpt is really intricate and looks like a rather friendly expression compared to how he looked in the trailer. The other newly revealed area is the torso, which looks almost like an organic gorilla's torso but the edges and some of the seams have mechanical detailing which does look pretty cool.

The piece that makes up the head and torso are one and the same, so the whole thing is made up of gunmetal grey. The head has some silver paint on the brow area and light blue eyes. Meanwhile the torso has some blue on it (the same shade used on the robot mode chest). I really appreciate all the blue and silver deco. I wish the Beast Weaponizer Optimus Primal had been painted in a similar fashion.

Like the robot mode there are eight points of articulation in this mode. You can still use the 5mm ports on his arms as well.


Skullcruncher appears twice in this initial wave of Rise of the Beasts figures. I previously reviewed the Battle Master version and this version transforms into armor for Battle Changer figures.

Beast Mode:
Like his Battle Master incarnation, Skullcruncher is a mechanical crocodile in beast mode. The design is a bit different than the Battle Master. Sure he still looks like a crocodile with a long head, scales running from nose to tail and raised spikes running along the back down to the tail but this version of the character looks a lot more mechanical than the Battle Master. The Battle Master had a lot of curved shapes with organic looking skin textures. This Skullcruncher features some of that, but there is a lot more armor plating and mechanical bits in the design and it looks very cool.

This figure features two shades of green plastic. A darker one makes up the head, legs, tail and some side panels. A lighter green is mostly found on the top. Metallic green is used to paint armor plates on the top of the head and the tip of the tail. The eyes are painted yellow.

There are four points of articulation in this mode: the legs. However there's not a whole lot of positions to put them in. The mouth is partly opened and inside you can see a blaster where the tongue would be! You can squeeze certain Blast Effects in there but not all fit so I'm sure this is more coincidence than design.

Transformation to Armor Mode:

  1. Detach the tail and set it aside for now.
  2. Move the rear legs out to the sides, then rotate them up and push them in.
  3. Lift up the middle panel on the back of the beast mode and swing it down then lock it into place. This will move both the front and back sections down.
  4. Position the beast mode legs so they are pointing up.
  5. Use the pegs on the underside of the armor to attach to the ports on any Battle Master's shoulders.
  6. The tail can be held in Optimus Primal's fist.

Armor Mode:
Skullcruncher's armor mode reveals an interesting helmet design that looks like a condensed version of his beast mode head, complete with a snout like nose area and sharp looking teeth! The chest panel revealed in this form looks like the back of the beast mode, with raised sections on top of armor that looks like it is meant to be metal. The beast mode head sits next to the right arm and can be moved up and down, basically giving any Battle Changer he is paired with a blaster weapon. The helmet section has yellow, silver and metallic green paint details which add some nice (and needed) color to that section.

I do wish this mode had some 5mm ports on it so you could attach Battle Masters and other weapons. This is a surprising omission given the focus on play value in this line.

Final Thoughts:
This figure set is definitely not for those who are primarily Generations and Masterpiece collectors. This is definitely aimed at younger fans with a focus on play value. That said, I think this is a fun set and the pairing of Optimus Primal with a crocodile is fun as it is an oblique reference to the bat Optimus Primal and alligator Megatron 2-Pack originally released as part of Beast Wars in 1996. Recommended for fans looking for a simpler, fun figure to play with.


  • Very nice sculpting on both figures.
  • It is nice to see splashes of color on Primal as opposed to the more monotone Weaponizer version.
  • Fun play pattern.
  • Skullcruncher can connect to other Beast Changer Class figures such as Arcee.


  • Very limited articulation.
  • There's a certain goofy aesthetic to the armor mode that some fans may not enjoy.

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