The day after HasCon, I went into one of my old toy boxes and pulled out my original Sludge that I got shortly after his release 30 years ago. This was the first Dinobot I ever got - Slag would follow, and I bought a friend's Grimlock off him during his "too old for toys" period (missing parts, natch) because I had a dollar or two. Sludge was my favorite, Sludge still is my favorite. He's getting an update in 2018 as a combiner limb, and while some were lamenting the size of the new toy as being too small... buckle up.
In robot mode, Sludge is basically a deluxe toy. Selling for about $10 in 1985, Sludge is a hair shorter than the average Titans Return deluxe toy. I've heard fans complain he's not a Voyager (or larger), but a deluxe would put him in line with the original 1985 toy. A toy, I should add, that would cost $23.18 when adjusted for inflation. There's a reason the new one doesn't give you as much in the way of stickers, or accessories, or chrome, or metal.
The dinosaur modes of these toys are deliciously antiquated, relics of science not quite fully cooked. This was an era of tail-dragging dinosaurs, when dinosaur toys rarely had jointed parts. They were cheap, non-articulated figures - so Sludge's ability to move its head, open his jaw, and move the back legs a bit was actually pretty exciting. He has no painted eyes, and the gold head is covered in a strange gold shell. He has an exaggerated chin that reminded me a lot of ancient Egyptian artwork beards, and a chrome tail and back. He doesn't do much, but he's a dinosaur and kids love dinosaurs. I did - this is why I'm doing cartwheels over a new Dinobots team.
To transform him, you fold down the neck and crack it open - the silver bits become wings, the tail folds over the haunches to become the legs, and the forelimbs become arms. It's pretty easy, although the hips seem to stick when folding them down now - the bit was tricky back then, and it's a little creakier 32 years later. The figure has decent detail, a then-confusing cockpit that opens up for nobody in particular, and a die-cast metal red chest. For some reason. Why? It looks cool, but why? It just added to the strange mystique of the figure, which only grew and stoked your imagination in a pre-Internet world. We didn't know about the chest being there for Diaclone drivers - after that first Transformers movie in 1986, it just as easily could have been a chamber for the Matrix of Leadership. Obviously, it wasn't - but this is where fan theories come from. Ignorance.
The robot mode, as stated above, isn't particularly large - but it felt that way if you weren't yet four feet tall. He's about 5 1/2-inches tall, a reasonable height for a figure. There are no elbow joints - but he can hold a sword, a rifle, or a rocket launcher in either of his two fists. He can't do much other than stand there, as these early toys were often referred to as being "bricks." The toy's purpose was mostly to be transformed, a kinetic puzzle whose character may have delighted you on The Transformers cartoon. He can hold his weapons, and quite nicely. The stiffer toy allows you to actually have him launch rockets from his gun, and they're small choke-hazard sized things that will probably never see a reissue. They work well, they've got a nice kick to them. Most modern toys have large rockets and launchers, plus mechanisms that don't fire easily - you may knock the figure over trying to have a little fight.
Like most original Transformers toys, it is hard to say that it will be fun for anyone but those who had an original. It's squeaky, it's clunky, it's old and the sticker/chrome wear is largely inevitable. But it's mine, it's from when I was a tiny kid, and I still love it. I really do wish there were ways to store his weapons in his dinosaur mode, or his extra weapons while in robot mode, but that wasn't something we saw a lot of in that era. Heck, we don't see it all that much now. Sludge is a beloved classic - but he's not going to win a Toy of the Year award these days.
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