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numbat's review: World's Smallest Sludge

Name: Sludge [Jungle Warrior] (World’s Smallest Transformers – Justitoys 2008)
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Jungle Warrior, Demolitions
Sub-Group: Dinobot

Quote: “Stomp your enemy, crush him under your feet.”

Likes to make presence known – a footstep can be heard and felt in a 3-mile radius. Gentle and shy, but terrifying and unstoppable in battle. Like other Dinobots, dislikes Optimus. Can exert 40,000 psi via feet – enough to shatter a bridge. Immense strength and endurance. Adept at fighting in water, swamp, and jungle. Slow, not too clever – often victim of the calamities he causes.

[Bio lifted from US G1 release. Tech specs on box identical, although presented in an unusual order.]

The World’s Smallest Transformers (WST) line by Takara offered one of the greatest lines of small Transformers that had ever been produced. Miniature reproductions of the original G1 toys, replicating the original details, colours and even transformations (a real achievement in the case of such complex figures as Megatron, not so outstanding for, say, Bumblebee!). Unfortunately, this line was discontinued in 2005, apparently ending this fantastic series of tiny G1 Transformers.

Roll on 2006 and Justitoys – a new company – picked up the WST idea, making WST Dinobots! Technically knock-offs, these WST figures are made to a higher standard than Takara’s line. They are as near as possible exact reproductions of the G1 Dinobots, and include the very same die-cast parts as their larger and older counterparts.

The first release, Snarl, showed great promise, while having a few quality issues (notably the stickers – which have improved with subsequent releases, but are still rather poor – and loose parts, such as the tail halves and waist), and the quality only improved with the subsequent dual release of Slag and Grimlock (although my Grimmer’s leg has since broken in a minor way at the hip…).

The final Dinobots – Sludge and Swoop (the ‘mystery’ figure for which tokens could be redeemed to reduce the cost through select retailers such as TFSource, and included the missile launchers for all five WST Dinobots) – were set to be released in September 2007, and there was much anticipation. Alas, as time rolled by, delays were announced, and the figures did not actually see distribution until late March 2008!

However, it has been worth the wait so as to complete the set of tiny Dinobots! (A group I am very fond of, in a size class I love!)

Alternate Mode:

Sludge transforms in to a diplodocus or apatosaurus (sometimes incorrectly called Brontosaurus – the two great palaeontologists of the Great Bone Wars named this genus around the same time, but Edward Drinker Cope beat Othniel Marsh to the punch, and so by scientific procedure, the first name was taken) type dinosaur (some form of generic sauropod anyway). He is quite bulky, although not quite as bulky as Slag, and measures 4 7/8” (12.5cm) from snout to tail – in anime scale with Takara’s WST figures (more or less). Indeed, the anime accurate approach has been central to Justitoys WST Dinobots (taken to it’s height with WST Swoop), although to go the full hog you’ll need to buy sticker sets from Reprolabels… Compared with the other Dinobots, he does look a little diminutive given he should be really rather huge, but this is true of the G1 figure as well!

Moulded detail is excellent, and matches the G1 original. However, this is also, to some degree, the figure’s downfall, as Sludge lacks any eyes whatsoever – moulded or painted. Still, we have largely grey plastic, with chromed silver front body and tail, chromed gold protrusion on his back (robot mode feet), chromed gold jaw, and transparent plastic head and neck – which reveals all the beautiful intricate moulded mechanical workings beneath.

Articulation isn’t great, but it is given this is a replica of a G1 figure (at miniature scale to boot). He shares the level of articulation of the G1 figure – with hind legs swiveling at the hip and knee, front legs at the shoulder only (which also brings the hands folded beneath the chest forward, just like the original…), and a moving jaw – which is not on a hinge per se, but rather lodged in to the skull, with a degree of freedom of movement.

Now, it is a real shame this guy lacks eyes – as an eyeless dinosaur is just freaky! (I realised this as a child with the G1 figure even…) That said, the stickers provided by Justitoys are fairly poor quality to begin with, and badly cut. However, Reprolabels offers an answer to both quality and eyes for only $4.50 [£2.25] including postage to anywhere. Although the eyes are rather small (and include a patch of gold which makes Sludge look like he’s some glam-rocker in the wrong light), tweezers and a steady hand can restore the sight of this long ignored visually impaired Autobot (although I find it strange Reprolabels provided an extra set of eyes per sheet for Slag, when Sludge’s are far more fiddly!). The other benefit of stickers is that you can decorate the figure as much or as little as you like – have him plain, like the cartoon (which I favour), or the full cluttered hog of the G1 figure! The choice is yours!

Robot Mode:

Sludge’s transformation is fairly simple – the only tricky part is getting the robot mode wings over the arms, but this can be achieved by leaving the arms in the dinosaur mode position and pulling the wings ever so slightly out from the body while you rotate. I did find the tail halves to be almost impossible to separate the first time, but they have become easier since. On a huge positive, the fists unfold in the same manner as the G1 original – meaning Sludge does not require tiny fists to be added after transformation as with WST Snarl and Slag.

Sludge stands a bulky 3” (7.5cm) tall in robot mode, and is still the spitting miniature image of his G1 figure. Unfortunately, this means he still has huge screws in the front of his arms, but they had to be either there or in the front in dinosaur mode, and I’m happy for this decision.

The diplodocid alternate mode did not allow for many interesting robot mode opportunities, when compared to Slag’s Triceratops or Snarl’s Stegosaurus, but the designers achieved a relatively interesting bruiser of a mode, with cool hallmark chromed wings.

The colours are the same as the dinosaur, with additional black for the hands and upper legs / waist, and red die-cast metal for the body.

The head is wonderfully detailed, and has a superb paint job of silver (detail) and blue (eyes), without a single splash or misapplication (on mine at least).

Articulation is as with the original – legs swivel at the hips and knees (which are very close to one another), arms swivel at the shoulders and the head rotates. This allows for plenty of rigid power-pose display possibilities, but not any chance of a dynamic stance – but, hey, these are Dinobots man!

Sludge comes complete with his gun and sword, but, unfortunately, the sword handle is too chunky to fit in either fist. But, if you were to drill a fist out, it would become too large for the gun, so you will have to choose one hand for each, or no sword at all.

All in all, I would say Sludge has been worth the wait. Unfortunately, Justitoys production quality seems to have slipped slightly since Slag and Grimlock – it would be nice if the sword did fit in Sludge’s hand! Still, a great wee Transformer, of higher quality than Takara’s official WST figures, who displays excellently.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 8 – Fairly straightforward, but the fists unfold as with the original G1 figure! At such a small scale, and given other WST Dinobots have separate fists, this is a huge bonus!
Durability: 7 – He feels solid. However, so did WST Grimlock, and mine recently suffered an injury to his hip during gentle and normal transformation, so I think I’ll play on the safe side here… These are display pieces, and not toys, and so durability may be reduced.
Fun: 8 – While Sludge is great fun at a miniature scale, the fact that he can’t hold his sword is a disappointment.
Price: 8 - At $15.95 (~£8) from TFSource, WST Sludge is a bargain for what you get. Of course, postage puts the price up a bit, so I’d recommend ordering with other figures. There are good bundle deals for the WST Dinobots just now, so if you need a few (or all five) now’s the time to order!
Overall: 6 – The Justitoys WST Dinobots series is a real gem for wee Transformers collectors. However, Sludge is not the most interesting of the Dinobots (although I’m sure he has his fans out there!), and this offering is not quite as well produced as WST Grimlock and WST Slag, while being an improvement on WST Snarl.
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