Variations: The REAL Dinobots

Everything Else is Just a Copy!

Photo courtesy of Dan the Art Guy!

| Grimlock | Slag | Sludge | Snarl | Swoop | Bonus: Diaclones, Fakes, and More |

A brief note before we start: Dinobots, like various combiners, appear to have been released in 86, and possibly as late as 87 (in addition to their original 85 release). The reasoning behind this is that the between 86/87, Combiners switched from a Japan to a Macau stamping. As we now have Dinobots with Macau stampings as, it doesn't take much to connect the dots. :-)


Tab on head, smooth head. Grimlock couldn't decide what he wanted on his dino head. He sports smooth, and tabbed heads. (Note that the tabbed-head is also the version used in the G2 line.) Along with each head version comes a locktab (tabbed-head version) versus no locktab (smooth-head) version on his dino-chest pieces:

Dino Head, Tabbed vs Smooth | Dino Chest, Pegged with Hole

Dino Chest, No Peg with No Hole | G1 Gold Chrome Chests

In addition, we've stumbled upon Grimlocks with either gold, or silver missles. :-) The color-change is subtle, not like gold Sludge missles (some people tend to put Sludge missles with Grimlocks), or the bright gold knockoff Grimlock missles. The gold Grimlock missle is a subtle change. No word yet which specific version the gold missle belongs with (we have no presumtions at this time). It's also interesting to note the difference between light-gold, and dark-gold chest pieces on the G1 units. For that matter, it is interesting to note how the pale-gold on the G2 line differs from the G1 gold chrome colors. :-)

And what would a missle variant be without a launcher variant? Have a look at the tip of the launch peg, one with a triancular indent, and one without. And we would be remiss if we didn't mention the gun variant...flat vs beveled tip, had a deeper handle than the other, so if would fit into the hand further:

Grimlock Missle Launcher, Indented vs Non-Indented

Grimlock Guns, G1 vs G2 | Gold Chrome, G1 vs G2

In the G2 line, he changes his color THREE times! From standard gray, to turquoise, to dark blue. Talk about a fashion emergency. :-) Primus help us.

G2 Grimlock, 3 Versions (Silver, Turquoise, Blue)

Patent for Grimlock

To wrap up:

Type 1: G1, smooth head, no locktab on chest (Japan).
Type 2: G1, tabbed head, tabbed-chestpieces (Japan).
Type 3: G1, tabbed head, tabbed-chestpieces (Macau).
Type 4: G2, silver, turquoise, or blue (China).

Please note that there is also a variation on Pretender Grimlock, which is covered in the Autobot section of the site.


Slag is fast becoming an enigma. There were several changes between the G1 and G2 versions. However, with the other Dinobots, a number of those changes were transitioned between multiple G1 units first. Slag appears to be the exception. While there *should* be a transitional G1 Macau version (as there are with Grimlock and Snarl), we have been unable to find one in the USA...and we've been looking for years. :-) So it could be that a Macau Slag has never existed, that the transitions noted below can be solely acocunted for between the Euro Classic release and American G2. It does make a kind of sense. But as always, take with a grain of salt. ;-)

Have a look at what they altered between G1 and G2: everything! The silver guns are different (look at the extention, and the chrome knobbins). Also of note is a change in the hands and legs on Slag from G1 to G2. The G2 fist-tabs, and corresponding leg slots, were made wider, presumably to make them more durable and easier to use:

G1 vs G2 Slag Hands | G1 vs G2 Slag Guns

There is also a change in the tail section between the generations. G1 tail is hinged to the point where you can make the tip of his tail touch the top of his head. G2 tail has a plastic 'block' at the first hinge point to prevent this (presumably this lets Slag stay standing better in robot-mode, as the tail is a brace):

G1 Slag Tail, No-Tab | G2 Slag Tail, Tabbed

And of course, if we didn't mention it before, the G2 Slag comes in 3 versions: silver (mirroring G1, but with a G2 tampo on the leg, and a China copyright, as well as the previously mentioned mold-changes) red, and green (same scheme as G2 Snarl).

G2 Slag, 3 Versions (Silver, Red, Green)

To wrap up:

Type 1: G1 (Japan), hinged tail, small fist-tabs, indented flat gun (Japan).
Type 2: G1 (Macau) (Unconfirmed Existence).
Type 3: G2 (China), (silver, red, green), large fistabs, short-rounded gun (China).


Sludge came in two versions in the US: Japan, and Macau. There were some mold-changes between the two, most notably on the underside of the dino; Japan had a square sunk indent, while Macau has a round one. In addition, on the chrome pieces (and inside the round circle on the side), Sludge changes from a tall inner spike to a wide flat one. Finally, on the upper black leg parts, near the waist; Sludge goes from wide squares, to shorter almost rectangular ones:

Underside Mold Indents | Chrome Nubs | Waist Squares

To wrap up:

Type 1: Japan, square indent on bottom, tall chrome nubs, square waist squares.
Type 2: Macau, round indent on bottom, short chrome nubs, rectangle waist nubs.


Snarl actually came in two versions for G1; the later mold was used for G2.

A Snarl head-mold change: Initial-versions have the rivet exposed, and a notched hinge. Later versions, including G2 are smooth; the rivet is not visable. This 'exposed versus non-exposed' rivet is applicable both to the head and tail sections, and because of these (and other) mold differences you cannot switch random parts around. :-) These include chest-halves as well (though I suppose in some rare cases, you could make G2 parts fit a late G1. But the letter-stampings and pins are not identical, so I advise against it):

Dino-Head Halves | Snarl Heads (Top View) | Snarl Tails | Snarl Chests 1 | Snarl Chests 2

There is also a difference in the rear dino-legs between the versions. On early G1, there is a gold tab opposite from the plastic one (that locks the leg closed, holds fist in). On later-releases and G2, this gold tab is absent:

Snarl Legs/Hands, G1 vs G2 | G2 Snarl, 3 Versions (Silver, Green, Red)

Patent for Snarl

To wrap up:

Type 1: G1, exposed rivets, NON-tabbed chest, gold-tabbed rear legs (Japan).
Type 2: G1, covered rivets, tabbed chest, NO gold tabs on rear legs (Macau).
Type 3: G2, covered rivets, tabbed chest, NO gold tabs on rear legs; silver, red, green versions (China).


On the count of three...

Originally only two different variations (straight vs angled wings), we now make note of two 'transitional' variants, based on the change in manufacturer stamping on the wings (as well as a gradual shift in the vartiations themselves across the run of the figure).

Swoop Long vs Recessed Wing Tabs | Swoop Straight vs Bent-Wing

Type 1 and 2 Wing, Takara-Only Stamping | Type 1 (Other Wing) Blank

Type 2, Hasbro/Takara Shared | Type 3 (Other Aide, Indented Wingtip)

Type 2 (Other Side), Hasbro-Stamping

Between straight-wing and bent-wing: The tabs on the small end piece wing component came in two sizes: recessed (on bent-wing), and extended (straight-wing). Best seen in a forward profile in dino-mode. Also of note is the change in the circle-moldings on the wings, and the post-hole sizes between the straight and bent-wing versions:

Bent-Wing/Small Dot vs Straight Wing/Large Dot | Bent-Wing/Narrow-Peg vs Straight-Wing/Wide-Peg

And a note on the weapons-change: Smooth versus indented launchers (indented launchers go with the large-post-hole, straight-wing version, if you were wondering). :-) Also of interest is the color-change on the chest of Swoop. It comes in dark red, and light red. I've stumbled across a few units that split the difference, but have no proof that they originally came that way. It simply have been parts cobbled together. :-)

Smooth vs Indented Swoop Launchers | Swoop Chest, Light vs Dark Red

To wrap up:

Type 1: Indented launchers, straight wings, smooth wingtips, Takara-only stamping on one wing.
Type 2: Indented launchers, straight wings, smooth wingtips, Takara on one wing, Hasbro on the other.
Type 3: Smooth launchers, angled wings, intented wingtips, Hasbro/Takara shared stamping on one wing (Japan).
Type 4: Smooth launchers, angled wings, intented wingtips, Hasbro/Takara shared stamping on one wing (Macau).

Bonus: Diaclones, Fakes, and More

Here's where to find dinobot-related information that I find relatively interesting. Call it variant, call it cool, just don't call me late for dinner! Er, ahem...

Bonus #1: The 'I Wanna be a Dinosword' Catagory

I put this here in order to highlight the difference between G1 and G2 red on the swords for the Dinobots...that, and to poke fun at gray and chrome (knockoff, Diaclone) swords, respectively. If the color difference isn't helpful, then take note of the quality of the plastic making up the swords. G1 swords are bendable and flexible, while G2 are hard and rigid. This applies not only to the swords, but also to Slag's horns. :-) And possibly his brain too, but we won't go there...however, is it any wonder his name is a swear-word in the future?

4 Different Swords

Bonus #2: I Wanna Be A Diaclone Dinobot

Pre-TF Dinobots (also known as Dinosaur Robo) are absolutely awsome. Swoop with a sharp beak (and in show colors!), Slag with chrome horns...their enemy in Diaclone wasn't so hot, but the rest are a hoot. ;-) More...

Dinosaur Robo

Bonus #3: I Wanna Be A Fake Dinobot

The Dinobots have been knocked off, both badly...and sometimes, too-well. Prehistory animals are remolded, and look very cool in their own right. However, there were knockoffs of the Dinobots, unfortunatly in some cases called Dinosaur Robo (the name of the Diaclone ones). These are fake; this is where a lot of people get ripped off on the fake blue-waisted Grimlock, thinking it is the real deal. More...

My Favorite Fake Dinobots!

Bonus #4: I Wanna Be A Silver-Chrome Dinobot

Well, as usual, we have no proof. I was convinced they were fake, initially. Basically, we're looking at Dinobots that, for whatever reason, have no gold chrome overlay on them. It's all pure chrome silver, apparently. Fake? Production sample? Other country? You tell me. All I know for sure is that they're not Diaclone Dinobots. :-) Hehe. I presume that these slipped out before the gold chrome was applied properly to the parts. Or that someone took acetone and wiped the gold chrome off. More...

Silver-Chromed Dinobots?