It's funny to think but there was a time in history where Transformers were a blank-ish slate, where kids bought the character because they liked the vehicle mode or maybe because they saw a cartoon. "I want the fire truck!" "I like the dinosaurs!" It wasn't the nostalgia-property of pre-marketed characters with decades of baggage we see today. It's rare that a new toy like Vertebreak comes out, bringing an existing name to an all-new toy in a continuity that had not previously made use of her.
A Predacon, and a previously-unseen creature in this entire franchise, and probably a sideways tie-in to Jurassic World: Dominion (there are a lot of dinosaur toys across all brands this year), this should probably do adequately. But it wouldn't surprise me if being packaged in robot, rather than dino, mode causes this toy to pile up at retail. It's good, but the beast modes are more compelling for the little skeletons so far.
Packaged in a robot mode, it's a good figure. At 3 3/5-inches tall, she's similar in size - or a bit smaller than - Beast Wars basics, and with similar articulation. Those $5 toys were largely low on paint but nicely jointed auto-transforming toys with nifty weapons and exceptional articulation. This is a $10 toy, with a decent transformation and a tail whip. There's some kibble, as was foretold by scripture, but isn't there always?
Vertebreak has 11 points of articulation and can move pretty nicely. The ball-jointed ankles rotate and hinge forward and back nicely, but aren't as good as real rocker ankles - or the ball-joints in a lot of Beast Wars-era figures. The figure has no problems standing - whoever designed it must be taking notes on how to make a toy not-infuriating. She just stands. I don't even have to think about it. I don't have to carefully find a center of gravity, there's no balancing act - she just stands.
The figure is largely unpainted, making it seem a little lacking for ten bucks. She has a nice painted silver mouth with red eyes, plus a silver chest with a teeny tiny Predacon logo. The rest is largely unpainted, which is what I expect from cheapo figures at the drug store. The 5mm fists have zero problems holding the tail whip weapon, which basically makes this a very expensive cheap robot toy. The quality is there, but long-haul fans might find it about $2 too expensive - especially when compared to similarly complex (but often bigger) Authentics toys.
Transforming to dino mode is a little tricky, only because some parts are rubbery, and some are not. Getting the tabs and panels to align perfectly is tough when some are a little more flexible, as opposed to the metal-and-hard-plastic days of old. The new construction allows for more detail and some nifty ideas that might not have been otherwise safe, but getting one or two panels in place may be a challenge. The toy is pretty easy to figure out, with some clever flipping bits for the heads.
The dinosaur mode is good. It stands well, you can move the legs, the mouth opens, and it's grey. For all intents and purposes it's just as fun as a lot of other small Beast Warsy toys without any sort of action feature, and further, there's no C.O.M.B.A.T. pegs for laser blasts here. It does a really good job concealing most of the robot bits too - you can still see the firsts a bit in the back, but nothing's perfect. It's just very good.
While a departure for what is expected from robots in disguise, this is a good toy. It's fun, the modes are both good, and Hasbro could probably recolor it in "bone" color to sell again, or keep it in circulation at a Big Lots!-only assortment for years and years. The Core class of toys is off to a strong start, but as a mix of small, properly scaled toys and "mini" versions of other characters, I assume this is going to get stale eventually. Rattrap's a gem, Vertebreak's great, but I can't honestly say new flavors of Optimus, Starscream, or Megatron were things I feel like I needed to see. So aging fans of 1990s toys, go get Vertebreak. It's ten bucks. What else were you going to spend that money on, anyway? A night out with your sweetie? A vacation? New pants? Don't kid yourself.
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