Tuesday, September 10, 2019

KO Korner: Poison Dragon - Transformers G1 Skullcruncher KO

To kick off the 11th year of Random Toy Reviews, let's take a trip back to the KO Korner. Ever since I created an Instagram account I've seen a lot of great vintage G1 KO toys posted. Most of these come from countries in the east. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone as copyright laws are more lax outside of the U.S., especially 30 years ago.

Everytime I'd see one of these awesome G1 KO toys I'd always wonder just where that person found them. Was it a recent acquisition from a store in some other country? Was it old stock that was recently found? Or has this been sitting on someone's shelf for the last 20-30 years? Whatever the case, most of the oddly colored KOs I've never seen for sale. If I would happen to come across one on eBay, usually the asking price was far outside my comfort zone.

Luck would finally be on my side as I ran across a listing on eBay for Poison Dragon, an obvious KO of the G1 Transformers Headmaster Skullcruncher. The price was much more reasonable than I thought so I bit the bullet and made the purchase. Then the waiting game had to be played as the toy was coming from Malaysia I believe. Man, I think the last time I bought a Transformer from Malaysia was when I bought a complete, MIB Transformers Blue Bacchus for $50. True story, I swear...but that'll be for another time.

When Poison Dragon finally arrived at my doorstep, he was crammed in a small box with a little bit of newspaper padding inside. The backing card is cheap cardboard and had already shown some wear. However what I didn't fully realize before I made the purchase was that the bubble (which was very close to cracking apart) had started to lift from the backing board. At some point someone stapled a portion of the bubble back down, but not before the gun must have slipped out. Bummer.

The back of the blister card seems to have been lifted straight from the actual instruction booklet that was included with the legit Skullcruncher toy. The back of the packaging even refers to Poison Dragon as "Skullcruncher" and the Headmaster "Grax". Best that I can tell there was never a label sheet or tech spec decoder included.

Once I was able to carefully fish Poison Dragon out of his flimsy packaging, I could immediately tell that the quality of this KO was rather good. That's the thing with KOs, especially toys as old as this. You never know what the build quality is. Will it be shampoo bottle quality plastic or the good stuff? 

Poison Dragon features a similar color scheme to his G1 counterpart, however where Skullcruncher had green this one features blue. The pink sections are similar and even the shade of pink used is very close to the G1 toy. As far as I can tell, there are no differences in the mold. Even the factory applied stickers (minus the rub symbol on the gator's head) are the same as it's G1 counterpart. One of the main differences that you can easily spot is the addition of some gold (or is it copper?) paint applied to the ridges and notches alongside Poison Dragon's gator back. Being as old as this toy is, I was surprised to see that some of this paint has already started to wear off.

Where as Skullcruncher came with his Headmaster trainer, Grax, Poison Dragon comes with this "Headmaster" figure. He's not named and he's not a 1:1 KO of Grax or any other Headmaster figure that I recognize. 

This nameless Headmaster figure still retains the ability to ride inside the mouth of Poison Dragon if you so choose to. The figure seems to be just a smidge taller than Grax so I had to slide him down a little bit to get the gator mouth to close all the way.

Once I really started to inspect the Headmaster figure I could tell the same quality that went into the main figure was not used here. This plastic felt cheaper, almost slick to the touch. I had to shave off a few plastic spurs on the feet just to get him to stand up in robot mode. If you look at the right knee joint, you can see that it's bulging out a bit. I was worried when I transformed into head mode that the lower leg may pop off. Since I don't plan on transforming him much (if at all) I guess I shouldn't be too worried.

I gotta say this has to be the happiest looking Deception Headmaster I've ever seen! The facial expression really doesn't match the toy, let alone the red and yellow used. Ah, gotta love KOs is all I can say!

The transformation is spot on to the vintage G1 toy. Transforming Poison Dragon from gator to robot was one of the scariest things I've done in awhile. He was far tighter than my original Skullcruncher. The hinges of the tail section that splits apart were so tight I didn't think I was going to get them to split and fold down. Once I got them moving, I just knew something was going to break. I noticed what appeared to be small, flat excess pieces of plastic just above and below the hinge. I thought these were adding to the resistance so I took my pocket knife and carefully jimmied them out. I don't think it really helped loosen up the hinges, but it couldn't have hurt to remove them. The upper half of the toy seemed to transform just fine. I did find that the arms were a little loose, but nothing too bad.

If you remember both the Autobot and Decepticon (large) Headmaster toys had a gimmick where you could see partial stats of the robot once the head was plugged into the body. Not surprisingly this play feature was removed on the KO. The flip down chest plate is still there, but as you can see where the meter once was is now a solid piece of plastic.

As I mentioned earlier, the gun was missing from the packaging however he can wield the tip of his tail as a sword just like his authentic counterpart. I did notice the holes in the fist were a little tight. This made it a minor challenge to fit the peg on the underside of the tail piece into the fist hole.

On it's own this is a great KO. I love the colors (minus the Headmaster) and it reminded me of just how awesome this mold is. Now it's time to get the KO alongside the authentic toy for some comparison shots.

As great as Poison Dragon is, I love seeing these two side by side. They compliment each other so well. I may eventually try and pick up another Skullcruncher gun just to complete the look.

Last, but not least I was curious if Poison Dragon was compatible with his G1 self. Without any issues I was able to swap the heads just fine.

With the notches on the bottom of the KO Headmaster being different lengths than on Grax, when you plug him into Skullcruncher's body you get different ratings in the Speed/Strength/Intelligence categories. 

If you are a big G1 Transformers fan such as I and you enjoy a good quality KO TF then I highly recommend this bootleg toy. While I've seen several packaged and loose pictures of this toy before, I've never seen one for sale until I ran across this one a few weeks ago. I know Chromedome was KO'd in a similar fashion, as well as Highbrow (in an awesome Sprite "lemon & lime" color scheme!), but I don't know if any of the other larger Headmasters received KOs. I know for one I'll be on the search. Pictures will probably surface on Instagram at some point!


  1. Wow. Gotta give props to this particular KO. Normally when I think of KO's... I'm thinking cheap toys that don't even come close to resembling the original toy.

    1. That is the great thing about some of these 80's KOs from other countries. There was always a good chance that they wouldn't be crap!

  2. I absolutely love this! Although if I'm being honest, I think I like the packaging the most, knock-off's always have such wonderful packaging.

    1. It's rare that I find these old KOs in their packaging. I would have bought Poison Dragon regardless of whether his packaging was included or not. The fact that it was just the cherry on top!

  3. That is one high quality KO you got there!