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

Name: Grimlock (Pretender)
Generation: 1
Faction: Autobot
Function: Lieutenant Commander

"Among the winners, there is no room for the weak."
A raging, reckless robot. The most fearsome and powerful Dinobot ever. Particularly nasty when he's reminded that he now resembles a human. Outer shell equipped with jet pack and atom smashing submachine gun that pierces all forms of armor and eats away enemy fortifications. Inner robot armed with double-barreled, self-propelled rocket launcher. In dinosaur mode, serrated steel jaws can tear through solid rock. Jet boosters in legs also provide flight capabilities.

Towards the end of the G1 line we started seeing "recycled" characters, and the second wave of Pretenders featured revamps of Grimlock, Bumblebee, Jazz and Starscream in Pretender format. The inner robots were also available at K-Mart stores as "Legends" figures with slightly different Tech Specs. Since the Dinobots themselves were no longer in production, Grimlock's function has been bumped up to "Lieutenant Commander", although looking at his Tech Spec indicates that his Intelligence has dropped a few points and his skill has gone down by one point. Its hard to stay effective. Still, the attempt at boosting the rather odd Pretenders line by bringing out old characters in the new styling was interesting...

Grimlock's shell, like most of the Autobot Pretenders, resembles a human wearing armor. This particular shell's design seems to stem from a confused influence. It looks like a middle-aged man (note the slight lining in the face) with bushy eyebrows wearing brightly patterned armor and the old NASA Manned Maneuvering Unit backpack. The armor features a strange stylized flower-like logo appearing in multiple places, and apparently consists of a blue undersuit with grey plates colored in with a sort of pinky-red on the smooth surfaces. He is also wearing squarish boots and odd shoulder pads that are the color of dark wood, and with their "scroll" designs at the peaks look like something from a furniture store. I guess the aim was to make him look somewhat barbaric, but the fact that the face is clean-shaven kind of ruins the effect. Capping all of this is a crested helmet. The crest offsets the furniture-store shoulder pads a little, but it also makes his head look even fatter. Each of his fists has a hole - the right arm has the standard weapon-hole for carrying his submachine gun, the left has a slanted one for carrying the inner robot's "rocket launcher". The submachine gun is nicely molded, and if you look closely at the over sized "bayonet" blade along its underside you may realize it doubles as Grimlock's energo-sword. The shell can move at the shoulders, but doesn't feature any snap-on belt like most of the Pretenders did. Overall, I really don't like it... I don't have anything specifically against Pretenders, but I don't like this particular shell. It's too bland and funny-looking, doesn't do anything for the character and doesn't really stand out well against the others in the line.

Robot Mode:
Opening the shell, you should normally find Grimlock snuggled inside in a sort of casket-like manner (I'm not going to comment on the implications of this). This is a sort of "pocket Grimlock", featuring at a glance most of the normal appearance we're familiar with. Gold chest with the triangular plate in front, masked face, big arms with the dinosaur claws hanging off, black groin and upper legs, grey lower legs. There are a few differences in color - Grimlock's faceplate as well as his visor is now orange, the plate on his chest is now black-on-gold. This incarnation doesn't have wings, and the dinosaur arms are attached to the sides of his knees now. The dinosaur head is still on his back, but its now staring down his back instead of folded over backwards. Grimlock can bend at the knees and rotate his shoulders, and he has the aforementioned "rocket launcher" (actually the dinosaur's tail) to carry - which, because it bends at a 45-degree angle halfway through, looks kind of funny, but tail/lasers have never been a big hit with me anyway. With a little cramming you can put the tail in the shell with him if you arrange it carefully. Still, as a mini-Grimlock this isn't half bad, and the stickers bring out a lot of nice highlights.

Alternate Mode:
The transformation for Pretender Grimlock is almost reversed from the original. Although his arms still form the legs of the T-rex, now his lower legs fold backwards to become the dinosaur's upper body and the head pivots down to meet them at the tops of his knee joints. This means that robot-mode Grimlock is now basically doing a headstand, and a hole is on the back of his head to attach his tail. Because of the length of the tail, this incarnation of Grimlock's dino mode is easy to stand and display. He now has rounded front limbs and fingers instead of the original's robotic limbs, his head has a lot of detailing and etching (there's a Mechagodzilla quality to him, almost), but he still has orange eyes and plenty of teeth. This version's jaw does not open, and he's pretty short (head-butting Ultra Magnus' shins, perhaps). The now smooth and lithe arms can move and the head has some upward movement available, and there's also a little room for his legs to move. Not a lot in terms of poseability here, but his display value isn't too bad. The way in which his robot legs form his upper body cuts back on his "armored" look a little, as the backs of the robot legs are visible right through the front of his chest. There's also no chroming on this version - everything is solid plastic.

Transformation: You don't need instructions.
Durability: He's actually quite sturdy given the materials being used by this point. I've never run across a broken one. The joint that allows his dinosaur head to move during transformation is a little questionable, but it seems strong enough.
Fun: I think I described it best as a "Pocket Grimlock". That's essentially what he is. The Pretender gimmick doesn't really seem to work for his character (maybe its punishment?), but having a Pocket Grimlock around to threaten Throttlebots is relatively funny. Its no substitute for the original or any other incarnations, but it is a neat novelty. Reprolabels now offers a sticker set for it, so you can restore a lonely one if you enjoy that.
Price: I picked this one up cheap because a comic shop had its shell and inner robot in a case mixed in with a bunch of others and didn't realize the two pieces went with each other. It usually seems to go for less than $30, and if you just want the inner robot you can often pick it up for $10.
Overall: Is your pocket feeling empty? Me Grimlock want to munch metal!
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