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Leading in the front line on Cybertron, Grimlock sustained massive physical damage and the loss of his alt-mode, victim of an enemy action that caused the Dinobots to turn feral and forced the Autobots to destroy their comrades.
Triage forced Wheeljack to press forward with a plan to revive Grimlock in an Autobot body not susceptible to a similar repeat attack by the Decepticons. His new body builds upon the strengths of earlier Binaltech designs, placing him back in the thick of action.
(Bio a loose summary of translations of the character card and booklet by LagunaL8 and Fan2Fan. Thanks to them!)
This may be old news to those who import a lot, but Takara packaging offers a ton of nice detail without losing compactness. What was particularly weird, though, was seeing the blue Ford oval on a Transformers box—just doesn't scan, y' know? As well as returning as a car, Grimlock has also been redeployed as a 'Lieutenant Commander' because, according to the Binaltech backstory, the other Dinobots are out of commission.
The booklet inside looks like a vehicle catalogue or manual, which is a very slick touch. A collector's card rounds the package off and all of the photo captions are in English if for some odd reason you're bothered by katakana.
Even lacking much interest in or awareness of cars I can tell this is unusually wide and solid. Unlike some I'm not really bothered by the reassignation of characters to other vehicle modes, particularly when model choices are this appropriate. The car suits silver rather well, and I've no intention of displaying Grimmy in this mode anyhow. However, as a general comment, probably in line with anyone discovering Binaltech for the first time: Alternators look more noticeably plastic side-by-side with metal, and there's a significant difference in weight.
One aspect of die-cast is that paint on it scratches very easily, but it's not like a big bruiser such that Grimlock is is going to pay attention to that. You almost have to wonder how he feels about the reduced mobility—a Mustang GT may be fine for cruising on roads but you aren't going far in the sort of terrain a hulking great metal T-Rex can cover. Still, if it means there's a chance of a new movie appearance...
I'm afraid I've just borrowed a photo from the review of the Alternators version for the vehicle mode, because no sodding way am I going to do the transformation in either direction again, not for a good while. Which we'll come to...
Because I haven't read a set of Transformer instructions in a very long time (and then only because it's hard not to when they're printed on the back of cards) I wasn't about to break with that tradition. And honestly, everything apart from the waistband (which rotates independently of both upper and lower body) is fairly intuitive—working out what goes where isn't the problem. Within thirty seconds I was holding a leg.
This quickly became a theme, as a door, arm, and the same door again joined the dismemberment pile. (I stuck the door back on as it came off, but left the limbs until everything else was in better positions. I recommend this approach if you want to minimise frustration.) Rather surprisingly, the head stayed on the counterswung pole it's attached by—a lot of reviews I've seen have involved temporary decapitation. Expecting it not to hold probably helped somewhat, though it's spectacularly non-intuitive (as well as being one of the less dignified transformations out there) so I'm patting myself on the back anyway.
Still on the subject of dignity, I'm really unimpressed with the ball joints. It's great that they go back on with little fuss, but the leg one in particular looks as if it's moulded in too open a position. I can't picture Binaltechs ever being played with by children, unless it's to laugh at intimidating characters reduced to component limbs. The air was turning a bright shade of azure by the time I finished.
In my opinion the end result more than makes up for what's involved to get it there. Bulky and imposing, just like the original next to the Autobot cars, and stylistically very similar. Other homages include shoulder 'wings' formed from the doors, a sword (not massive but not laughably out-of-proportion; it's a Roman gladius rather than being kite-shaped) and a correctly double-barrelled gun.
Photos I've seen, including the back-of-box one, have tended to emphasise the large expanse of car hood or positioned the neck further out than I would. Happily neither is in evidence unless you're looking down on him or pull the head out as far as it goes. I also haven't kept the wheels at the side of the arms, which limits poseability a little but I think looks much better. You can actually twist the entire lower body 180 degrees so that there's no kibble where knees would be, although this does make the car seats look like clown feet. I've quickly gotten used to the rear headlights being there, to be honest.
Admittedly I don't expect figures to do much more than stand on a shelf (apart from Actionmasters, which had the flexibility and resistance to damage I especially valued when I was younger, and consequently they got more dinged-up than anything else)—but I'm impressed. Whoever designed this is as much a geek in their appreciation of the Dinosaur Robo mould as anyone, it shows and they deserve the recognition. They also apparently have small fingers and are minded towards torturous complexity, but nobody's perfect.
Transformation: (10) F*** f*** f*** f***.
Durability: (8) Less than an Alternator, as it'll scratch more easily and that may or may not bother you.
Fun: (9) This number is usually pretty random being as I don't play much in the classic sense of the term...
Price: (9) Considering what original toys of popular characters can fetch. I also got this at a knock-down price from someone I think was even less enamoured by the transformation than me, so many thanks to him.
Summary: (10) Nie, the scores don't add up. I weigh robot modes above everything else.