Transformers Prime Skullcruncher: G1 Nostalgia

Grax transforms into Skullcrucher's head... it's complicated.

Character-model images of Skullcruncher and his Headmaster Partner Grax. (Images From Transformers Generations)

Skullcruncher was a Decepticon in Transformers Generation one. He transformed into a pinkish-red and dark-green robot alligator – not a crocodile, his upper jaw is wider than the lower one, and the lower jaw’s teeth are obscured when his mouth is closed… Herpetological concerns aside, he was a brutish and feral (although not stupid), Decepticon, used as muscle and cannon fodder by various post-Megatron Decepticon leaders like Scorponok and Bludgeon. His human-sized partner Grax transforms into Skullcruncher’s robot-mode head.

Seperated at Birth construction? Pandemic From transformers universe and Beast Hunters Knock-Out.

Seperated at birth construction? Facial close-ups of Pandemic from Transformers Universe and Beast Hunters Knock Out.

I obtained the reptilian Beast Hunters Knock Out very cheaply, and had in mind using him as the base for a custom figure of the Transformers Universe character Pandemic. However, I changed my mind, and found a new inspiration when discussing the Headmasters from Generations 1.

In Transformers: Prime (at least until the Robots In Disguise subfranchise), Decepticons don’t have beast modes per se, so the alligator-ish warrior Skullcruncher would be likely to look more like a reptilian car in his alt-mode than like an actual reptile. With that train of thought in my head, I began to work on a simple customisation for Knock Out.

So, here’s what I started with:

Alligator leather is fabulous, darling!

Hasbro Stock Photography of Beast Hunters Knock Out, nicknamed Krok Out by some fans.

As Beast Hunters paint-jobs go, that’s surprisingly un-garish. The yellow marbling in the green bits, and the weird golden codpiece are pretty awful, though.

I wasn’t sure that my digital sculpting skills were up to creating an actual “Headmaster” mini-figure for Skullcruncher, and the storyline that resulted in the existence of the Headmasters coming into being in Generation 1 presumably never happened in the Transformers: Prime timeline, so I aimed at making a solid head for Skullcruncher inspired by his G1 head. So that the figure would fit in nicely among a shelf of Prime Decepticons, I decided to keep the nose-less aesthetic that Prime ‘cons (and Autobots) have, and give him a rounded face with a goatee, with visor-eyes and a squarer helmet-like head design.

The cartoon Skullcruncher is experiencing dull surprise.

A trimmed screencap from netfabb of my head model (note the ball-joint to connect with the neck). Inset, images of Skullcruncher’s face from the Headmasters cartoon (top) and the Marvel comic (bottom).

There were two other things I wanted to print-up to equip my custom Skullcruncher with, however – the original Skullcruncher brandished a sword/club thing that transformed into his tail, and a blocky G1-looking gun.

A montage of netfabb screencaptures of the two weapons i designed for Skullcruncher. I don't have my own photos of the G1 originals, but you can see some decent photos of them on TFU.info.

A montage of screen-captures from netfabb, showing the two weapons I designed for Skullcruncher. I don’t have my own photos of the G1 originals, but you can see some decent photos of them on TFU.info. (Click image for larger & clearer one.)

I really liked the original sword design, which calls to mind a macuahuitl – a Mesoamerican sword made by adding obsidian razors to a wooden core. Of course, a Mesoamerican theme is pretty apt for a robot alligator, since alligators mostly live in the Americas, and I was tempted to carry that on in the gun, but opted instead to slavishly homage G1 Skullcruncher’s weapon. The sword has a short 5mm peg mounted sideways on the hilt, so that I can use the pegs on Knock-Out’s rear to mount the sword as a tail.


So, how does the result look printed and painted? Let’s start with a mugshot:

No officer, I don;t know how that car ended-up covered in tooth-marks...

No officer, I don’t know how that other car ended-up covered in tooth-marks…

I’m not sure how clear it is the photo, but his visor has a much more reflective chrome-looking finish than his gun-metal face. The ball-joint I’d made to fit in his neck-socket was slightly smaller than I’d expected, so it needed a little bit of stiffening with an old trick I happened to know – clear nail varnish over the ball, in thin layers until the joint is good.

So, the head is good. Let’s take a look at the weapons.

The weapons look a lot more G1 than the figure, but they do suit him.

The weapons look a lot more G1 than the figure, but they do suit him.

I modelled this gun after the "Softening Ray" used by Skullcruncher in G1.

I modelled this gun after the “Softening Ray” used by Skullcruncher in G1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hilt can be pulled off - this allows the sword to be equipped onto robots with tubular fists (like the Generations/FOC Toyline), as well as those with open fists (like its intended recipient).

The hilt can be pulled off – this allows the sword to be equipped onto robots with tubular fists (like the Generations/FOC Toyline), as well as those with open fists (like its intended recipient, Knock Out Skullcruncher).

I added a couple of extra pegs into the design of the weapons. Firstly, this was to make the sword-hilt detachable, so that it could be used with other transformers with different fists: although there’s obviously not much I can do about the requirement for 5mm-post system hands, having a removable hilt makes the sword compatible with both open-handed (common in Transformers: Prime) and tubular-fisted (common in older figures) figures. My sword is flatter than the G1 original – less of a club and more of a sword.

Skullcruncher's weapons mount on his back like so.

Skullcruncher’s weapons mount on his back like so.

Secondly, the extra pegs made it possible to mount both the weapons on Skullcruncher’s back to form a “tail” – with the sword’s serrations making the tail look scaly and crocodilian. The sword can be mounted as a tail by itself, or the gun can mount with the tail, from one of the two pegholes on the figure’s back. Note that the detachable hilt from the sword mounts on the gun’s scope  – I had no desire to make this tiny component any easier to lose.

In the photo to the right, the red on the weapons looks a lot brighter than the figure, which isn’t the case under natural light. We’re yet to master our new camera here at AddAltMode – we’re working on it.

Once the tail is in place, it looks like the large image below:

One reptilian/robotic tail!

One reptilian/robotic tail!

I’m reasonably happy with my work on Skullcruncher – all his additions evoke the G1 character quite nicely. The only decision left to make is whether or not to repaint the figure himself: his red-and-green scheme evokes the G1 character’s pink and dark green quite well, but maybe it’d look better repainted to perfectly match the older character. Opinions in the comments box, please.

 

The modelling is complete. But is the paintjob? You tell me, internet.

The modelling is complete. But is the paintjob? You tell me, internet.

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