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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Clay's review: Grimlock

Name: Grimlock
Function: Dinobot Commander

Grimlock is a popular fellow. After much pining for a reissue of the original Dinobots (or at least Grimlock), Takara popped out a Masterpiece version instead. While neat, it more or less confirms two things: first that the Dinobots are actually popular in Japan, and second that Takaraís back catalog is handled by monkeys and the original molds are probably lost or destroyed. But thatís OK because they kept Star Convoy in top shapeÖ

Grimlockís masterpiece figure is nice substitute for a reissue with interest included, although it came along at a bad time. Grimlock was probably being planned in late 2007 or early 2008 when the price of oil was rather absurd. Crude oil is a key component in the making of plastic, so that price influences manufacturing quotes on production runs for toys and the like. Takara were probably contractually obligated for an amount reflective to that time, so even though the price of oil has since fallen, Grimlockís retail price was already set in stone. Or maybe Takara are just the greedy kind. Both theories have weight, honestly.

Thankfully, some online stores such as the BBTS allow you to trade toys you donít want for cash or store credit, so there are ways around Grimlockís nearly $150 price tag. Ways that I highly recommend people to pursue.

MASTERPIECE PACKAGING, OR HOW TAKARA IS TOTALLY RIPPING YOU OFF

Takara packages their Masterpiece figures in sleek, black boxes with high quality prints of the toy in action poses on the front. Inside, the figure is packed neatly into a plastic tomb, with all the accessories laid out around it, such as is typical with book-style packaging.

This is all just a trick to make you think the figure is bigger than it really is.

The thing is that the packaging actually makes it a blind buy. You canít see the figure in the box: just a high resolution image of it. When you open the box, the extra bits arenít stowed behind the figure, as it would make sense to economize space since you canít even see that junk before you buy it anyway. The net effect is packaging the toy in a box much larger than it really needs so that youíll already be at home before you realize the $100 figure you just bought is about half the size you thought it would be.

ROBOT MODE

The brute comes out of the box in this mode, and itís an excellent introduction. He stands about the same height as the Masterpiece Starscream mold, or about 9Ē. For considerations of display, heís the right height to look down on Alternators without seeming gargantuan.

Grimlock has great balance and articulation as a robot, thanks in large part to making part of the waist out of metal, giving him a relatively low center of gravity. Also, his feet have jointed toes which allow a great deal of control over balancing the figure. Basically, this Grimlock is larger version of the original with the extra benefits of movement and detail but without any new problems. Ace!

The figure has a few gimmicks and accessories for this mode; namely an electronic light pipe in the right fist which illuminates the sword or gun. This is relatively neat, and is especially acceptable as the electronics largely donít mess with anything else (the right hand cannot open as the left can, but thatís of no great concern), but Takara completely screwed up the accessories. The gun barrels are clear, as is the sword, and as such look completely stupid for all the lifetime that it will spend after you press the light button twice and are bored with it forever afterward. The smart thing to have done would have been to enclose the clear parts totally so that only the ends of the barrels light up, and cast the sword in translucent red instead of clear plastic. On the bright side, the weapons come apart easily enough so that you can paint them and fix this oversight, but for a figure that costs $150, this effort should be wholly unnecessary.

The other gimmick is that the visor can change colors. The head has a switch on the back that can rotate an interior piece so that visor is either red or blue chrome, the former for the original toyís color and the latter for the cartoon. (The dinosaur head also does this.) This is actually a great idea, and a nifty way to appeal to fans that may have prejudice toward one incarnation or the other. Itís also a fun way to display good and bad moods.

Finally, Grimlock has the almost unnoticeable gimmick of his Autobot sigil disappearing from the robot chest when you transform it. However, this is pretty dumb considering the giant faction symbol blazing across the dinosaur chest. The disappearing sigil hides no loyalties!

DINO MODE

Changing Grimlock to the dinosaur mode is almost identical to the original toy. The robotís legs are a bit more involved due to streamlining and facilitating a tail-wagging gimmick, but itís nothing so complicated so that the instructions are actually required.

The tyrannosaur mode takes its proportions a bit more from the cartoon than the original toy, and so much the better. The dino arms are fully articulated, even though they have the wrong number of fingers for a tyrannosaur. The robotís waist and chest end up just above the dinosaurís hips and as such, along with the claws being made of metal as well, it has a low center of gravity and terrific balance.

The head has a hidden gear that causes it to shake back and forth when you wag the tail or press down on the legs, although the latter doesnít really work. The tail is jointed in two places: behind the hips and at the base of the chrome parts. Yes, the masterpiece Grimlock is perhaps the first animal transformer than can move something other than its legs (and especially so for dinosaur transformers!).

The molded detail is perhaps more prevalent in this mode. Grimlock has a complete range of bolts, vents, gears and whatnot. The level of care and detail is nice, but for the extortionist retail price, it comes off as quite cheap on Takaraís part for not putting a bit more paint on these little touches. To be fair, this is less of issue when you have the thing in front of you and can play with it, but the toy still looks rather bare for the cost.

The dino modeís accessories are my favorite of any masterpiece figure so far. He has a brain transfer hat or some nonsense, but more importantly he has an apron, bow tie, and a tray with a pitcher and some glasses. This is adorable, and has won the affection of everyone thatís been introduced to him so far. Oddly enough, the apron strings attach via Velcro. I guess Takara assumes that potential buyers have a sufficient mechanical aptitude to tackle a transforming robot toy, but are hopelessly outmatched to try and tie a knot. Or maybe lazy. Or both. Whatever.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 10. Great design, and nothing is overly complicated for no reason. The robot legs are more intricate than the original figureís, but theyíre intuitive and not frustrating.
Durability: 7. Robust enough, although the dino arms seem like they would break before popping out of their ball/socket joints. Also, he has lots of chrome. Takara didnít put any sealant on Megatronís shiny bits, so that toyís entire production run got all gunky a few months later. Time will tell if Takara cut corners with GrimlockÖ
Fun: 10. Itís a giant robot dinosaur with a bowtie that serves drinks. This is so the kind of junk I buy.
Price: 3. Far and away overpriced. Heís smaller and less complicated (read: has fewer parts) than either Convoy/Optimus Prime or Megatron, and yet he costs 50% more. Hopefully Hasbro will come to the rescue internationallyÖ $75 would seem reasonable, but certainly not double that.
Overall: 10 for the mold, 5 for the mold at retail price. Grimlock is a major upswing for the Masterpiece line. Quick to transform, great balance, fun to play with, the spitting image of the character... Grimlock's everything that the fucking mess called Megatron isnít. Highly recommended if you can barter for one like I did, and highly cautioned if youíre considering paying cash monies.
 
 
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