Sludge (Transformers Generation 1)

Transformers Power of the Primes Sludge Stomp your enemy, crush him under your feet.

Autobot faction symbol
Name: Sludge
Allegiance: Autobots
Function: Demolitions
Sub-group: Dinobot
Timeline: Generation 1

Toyline: Transformers Power of the Primes

Profile:

Transformers Power of the Primes Sludge robot mode
When most Autobots talk about how the Dinobots are slow-witted, they're thinking of Sludge. The strongest Dinobot after Grimlock, Sludge is also the least subtle, shaking the earth as he stomps everywhere. Everyone within a 3 mile radius can hear - and feel - Sludge's heavy footsteps. But although he's big and loud, Sludge is actually very gentle, and he'd rather spend his time lounging in a cool lake enjoying Earth's nature with Beachcomber. Sludge's benign nature attracts the ire of Dinobot commander Grimlock. Grimlock has seen how Sludge can become a terrifying, unstoppable force when he fully commits to battle. Grimlock has spent mega-cycles trying to beat the gentleness out of Sludge and make him into a fearsome warrior full-time, whether Sludge wants to or not. In Grimlock's opinion, every soldier must make sacrifices for the Autobot cause, and gentleness is what Sludge must give up. Sludge, however, doesn't get why Grimlock is so uptight about fighting. Sludge feels he is strong, and knows his commitment to the Autobot cause is unshakable. Isn't that enough? So what if he doesn't fight all the time like Grimlock or Slag? Maybe they should learn to relax more.

Abilities:

Sludge is enormously strong - his strength is a close second to Grimlock's own. He is also immensely durable, with most conventional firepower bouncing off of his thick armour without leaving so much as a scratch. But Sludge's true strength is in his dinosaur mode. In this mode, Sludge can exert pressure up to 40,000 pounds per square inch in a single stomp - enough force to shatter a steel bridge or even cause the ground to split open. Sludge's powerful stomps are one of the few things that are known to be capable of standing up to Rumble's piledrivers. Sludge's mouth in dinosaur mode contains a plasma cannon which can obliterate solid rock. It has a range of around 50 metres. Much like the other Dinobots, Sludge in dinosaur mode can also smash through buildings with relative ease - a single swipe of his tail is all that is needed to reduce a building to a pile of rubble.

While Sludge prefers to use his dinosaur mode for combat, he possesses an assortment of powerful weapons in his robot form. He wields an energo-sword for close combat, which utilises a power cell to energise the weapon's blade and enhance its cutting power. For ranged combat, Sludge carries an electron cannon, which fires concentrated bursts of electricity capable of short-circuiting most electronic systems. Sludge is also equipped with a rocket pod which fires high explosive shells over ranges of around 1 mile.

Weaknesses:

Being quite dim-witted, Sludge often doesn't fully anticipate the outcome of the destruction he causes. A smarter Autobot might work out that it isn't wise to be stood next to - or inside - a building when you knock out the load-bearing supports. Those smarter Autobots are often the ones helping to dig Sludge out after he accidentally collapses a building on top of himself, assuming they weren't victims of Sludge's carelessness. Sludge is incredibly slow-moving - he's the slowest Dinobot in dinosaur mode. As a result, Sludge is generally too slow-moving to get out the way in time when he does, inevitably, bring a building down on top of himself.

Brontosaurus mode:

Transformers Power of the Primes Sludge Brontosaurus mode

Additional images of Sludge:

Transformers Power of the Primes Sludge robot mode posed 1 Transformers Power of the Primes Sludge robot mode posed 2 Transformers Power of the Primes Sludge robot mode posed 3

More information on Sludge at TFW2005

Author notes:

As Dinobots go, Sludge is one that left an impression on me based entirely on his original appearance in the cartoon. As a kid, watching the original season of Transformers, the Decepticon Rumble was a huge threat - when he turned up and brought out his piledrivers, there weren't many Autobots who could stand up to him. So to see Sludge in his debut completely ignore Rumble's piledrivers and give him a taste of his own medicine with a powerful, ground-splitting stomp was a real treat and stands in my mind as Sludge's defining moment.

And that is about all I actually remember of Sludge in the cartoon series or the comics. I'm aware he went on to appear in other stories - such as the Dinobot Hunt storyline in the Marvel UK comics - but I don't remember Sludge from those stories beyond being one of the Dinobots. So I didn't feel like I had a huge amount of lore to draw on when writing Sludge, but reading his Marvel and Dreamwave bios gave me an interesting conflict between Sludge and Grimlock. A great bit of advice I got from writing classes years past was the advice to always "look for the conflict".

That conflict between what Sludge wants to be and what Grimlock wants him to be gives us some very interesting potential for stories. I remembered a scene of Sludge wallowing in a pool in one of the season 3 episodes of Transformers and worked that into his backstory here - and because the essence of the conflict is Sludge wanting to be peaceful, I figured he might actually hang out with the most chill Autobot of them all - Beachcomber. (I can imagine Grimlock swatting Beachcomber aside when confronting Sludge over his laid back attitude, with Beachcomber's reaction being "Dude, not cool").

I hope that it gives Sludge a bit more depth and also gives a few more personalities on the Dinobot team, given three of the five Dinobots are all about fighting and Swoop enjoys frightening his targets. Sludge isn't a pacifist, just incredibly slow to anger and by implication can be extremely dangerous when he is eventually roused - it just takes a lot to get him to that point, much to Grimlock's disappointment.

Sludge hasn't had a whole lot of toys over the years. In fact, all he had was the original and the modern Power of the Primes version. The original was another thing that stuck with me through my childhood - not only was this a cool looking dinosaur, but the transformation was really clever and gave a nice looking robot. Power of the Primes does a fair job at recreating the original toy, but I feel it misses the mark. I think it's simply too small to be a worthy update of Sludge. I'm not normally too worried about scale, but Power of the Primes Sludge really feels like he loses some presence by being the size that he is. I'd have liked a slightly larger toy, to be honest - the same goes for Slag and Snarl in Power of the Primes. Other than that, Sludge looks excellent. The modern update does go a ways to capturing the look and the feel of the original Sludge, scale notwithstanding, and it was nice to have the full set of Dinobots made available in Power of the Primes.