This is a question I've been trying to work out since Toy Fair, when I immediately knew I didn't like the face for the retail release of Titan Class Devastator. But for as much as I knew I didn't like it, I had the worst time working out exactly why that was. Much later when the SDCC version was first revealed, my problem was compounded when I liked its head much better but still couldn't say just why. That is, until now. Keep reading!
It was recently brought in to focus for me what issue I took with Devastator, and why the SDCC version seemed to be so much better despite the difference between them only being separate eyes versus a visor. While the eyes themselves do change the way the face reads, the difference they bring is ultimately minor. It was when long time fan LiquidVelcro noted that SDCC Devastator lacked the silver paint on the forehead that I finally got what was wrong. Until then it had escaped me entirely that the exclusive Devastator was missing that element, but as I started examining the two versions of the combiner, it all settled in for me. Okay, let's take a look back to when we first saw Devastator, at Toy Fair this year.
Admittedly, it's not the most flattering light, but it would turn out very soon after to not have been a big part of making the face look bad. But having the giant silver forehead with only the visor strip to delineate it from the face makes Devastator look like... well, like it has a high forehead and receding hairline. The thing is? This is kind of cartoon accurate. I say kind of because Devastator had a lot of different looks in the old cartoon, most of them also bad. But one consistent element was a big silver plate on the forehead. Where this originated I can't say - it's certainly not an aspect of the toy. Likewise with the visor. That was a hallmark of some of the "better" instances of Devastator, including the movie, which is probably Devatstaor's most iconic appearance anymore. From this, we can establish at least that Hasbro's retail Devastator has a head meant to evoke the cartoon, not the original toy. Meanwhile, the SDCC version is more toy-leaning with the forehead color the same as the surrounding helmet and the separate eyes. Plus the individual Constructicons have new paint imitating sticker detail from the original toys which the retail Constructicons lack.
Thing is, even with the specific intent to make the retail one a cartoon-derived look, what they did isn't the only option. In investigating this issue, I digitally recolored Devastator's head. First taking cues from the toy just to see if the forehead really was the major problem. That satisfied me, but then I got to looking at cartoon shots and realized something: The forehead and face weren't always the same color. Going back to the "better" looking Devastators I mentioned before, a common trait in them was the face being a dark grey while the forehead was light. I was actually surprised when I went back to give that a try how much it helped the look of the retail head.
Of course for the purposes of science, I wanted to try going in the opposite direction. What would happen if I made the SDCC Devastator look like the separate-eyed cartoon model? While the result I would up with I feel like isn't as off-putting as the unmodified retail toy is, it's certainly not something I would call appealing.
I suppose in the end the good news for me is that I don't need to pursue SDCC Devastator and deal with extraneous chrome I don't want just to get a head sculpt I can tolerate. As it turns out, all I need to do is get some dark grey paint on the face and it seems like it'll solve my biggest aesthetic gripe with this huge, expensive toy. Maybe you've also been dealing with an unclear dislike for Devastator's face. If so, maybe this will help you to pin down what offends you and give you a minor redeco plan for when you bring a Devastator in to your home. Of course the final option is that Devastator's face just photographs terribly and in person it'll look just fine and I won't feel like I need to do anything with it at all. But man, that dark cartoon face is really speaking to me now.