The very presence of the Pretender Monsters is an ill omen. These dystopian robots tend to show up in hopeless alternate futures and bizarre hidden corners of the universe where mortals have tempted forbidden knowledge. They conceal their monstrous robot forms within even more monstrous outer shells. The team consists of:
- Birdbrain, a talented warrior constantly foiled by a malfunctioning shell;
- Bristleback, a foul-mouthed malcontent rendered sluggish by his shell;
- Icepick, the fervent preacher of planned obsolescence;
- Scowl, whose deafening volume is made worse by his shell;
- Slog, the contemplative artist whose work centers on wild destruction;
- Wildfly, a psychotic and violent "jokester".
Marvel Comics continuity
In a post-apocalyptic alternate future set in 2009, where one version of Galvatron killed Rodimus Prime and devastated North America, the Pretender Monsters were led by to the remains of New York City. After Galvatron reminded them that they were all disposable cannon fodder to him, he ordered them to search Manhattan in an attempt to root out the last remaining vestiges of Autobot and human resistance. All they managed to find, however, was a human-made booby trap that buried Icepick under tons of debris.
Not long after, the team rejoined the other Decepticons to defend the Decepticon Powerbase against an Autobot attack. The battle's final outcome is unknown.
Devil's Due G.I. Joe vs. the Transformers continuity
Some time prior to 1978, in the Himalayan Mountain region of Tibet, Bludgeon led the soon-to-be Pretender Monsters to meet with the underground kingdom of Cobra-La, seeking power and a ringside seat at the death of a planet. En route, they were shot down and damaged by the Chinese Air Force, however, forcing Bludgeon to make a deal with Cobra-La: in exchange for defending Cobra-La's subterranean domain, Cobra-La provided them with life-supporting organic Pretender shells.
At the behest of Golobulus, the Pretender Monsters used their shells to slip past the sensors of the submerged Autobot ship Ark II, where they made quick work of Skids, Sideswipe and Prowl.
Later, when GI Joe sent an invasion force against Cobra-La, they merged into Monstructor to repel the invaders. Monstructor wreaked havoc on the Joes but was defeated when the laser squad blew up his head, leaving his component members in an unconscious heap.
IDW comics continuity
Long millennia ago, Monstructor was the first gestalt, constructed out of the individual Pretender Monsters. Created by Jhiaxus under the direction of Nova Prime, they were intended to be the ultimate fusion of mind and body: a vast amount of intellect combined with unparalleled strength. Unfortunately, the combined form instead turned out to be an unstoppable, rampaging monster. After Nova Prime and Jhiaxus departed Cybertron in the first Ark, Omega Supreme locked the six away in a dimensionally-displaced prison to live out the rest of their horrid existence. Eventually they escaped; aboard a starship, they tracked down Omega Supreme's hidden asteroid base. They attacked the base as Monstructor, handily defeating Omega Supreme, but were defeated by Optimus Prime, using Omega's knowledge of Monstructor's built-in weakness. Despite Omega Supreme's protestations about the dangers of gestalt technology falling into Decepticon hands, Prime had the six taken into custody in an attempt to repair their shattered minds.
The attempt was failing, despite Jetfire's best attempts, when the Decepticons launched an assault on the Garrus-9 penal facility to capture the combiners. Despite the release of the nucking futz Arcee, the Combaticons successfully captured the Monsters — Arcee is now tracking them.
The breakout of the "Monstructor Six" eventually made its way to the Autobot Orbital Command Hub, and from there to Optimus Prime. Although Earth was currently facing the threat of |Megatron and Sixhot, Prime decided that they couldn't risk allowing the Decepticons to gain gestalt technology, and ordered Prowl's team to abandon Earth and head to Garrus-9.
The Pretender Monsters were each sold separately in cardback packages. Each came with the inner robot, the outer shell, a shell backing plate, a small hand gun, and a Monstructor component. Slog additionally came with a large gun for Monstructor.
The inner robots are tiny, standing only slightly taller than the Micromasters dominating the G1 toyline at the time, though they were not marketed as such (and their fictional appearances have treated them as normal-sized Transformers). All six transform into stylized robotic monsters, though their small size means that the transformation schemes are simplified to the point that it's difficult to tell exactly what some of them are supposed to be. Most of the robotic beast modes share some thematic similarities with the corresponding outer Pretender shell. Icepick and Scowl share a transformation scheme (and Slog's is similar to theirs), as do Bristleback and Birdbrain.
Their outer shells are unique in several regards. Instead of splitting in half like most other Pretenders, the shells have a small backing plate that is removed to allow the inner robot to be inserted. This plate can also hold all of the accessories for each robot, including the kibble for Monstructor—a unique feature among the combiner teams.
The monstrous outer shells are completely without articulation. They are composed of a malleable rubbery substance. This material does not tend to age well, unfortunately, and there have been reports of Pretender Monster shells showing mold-like spotting or secreting an oily residue, likely plasticizer escaping the PVC. Um, ew.
The inner robots are not without their own problems, as Slog and Bristleback are largely composed of very GPS-prone gold plastic. As one might imagine, this is a very unfortunate problem for a combiner team.
- The Pretender Monsters were given animated appearances in a commercial. Pretender Classics Starscream is seen lowering their robot forms into a vat of chemicals, from which they emerge as monsters. The commercial advertised their "rubbery skin." Monstructor is not named in the commercial, but it's said that the Pretenders' inner robot forms a "monster Transformer".