Voyager-class Autobot Grimlock
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
The big but lovable lummox Bulkhead accidentally smashed up some life-sized animatronic dinosaur displays at the drive-through Dino Drive amusement park. Fortunately, Professor Sumdac agreed to take in the damaged robots. As he worked on them in his private lab in Sumdac Tower, his secret alien companion, Megatron, finally made himself known to be functional after 50 Earth years of inactivity, and pledged to help Sumdac by using his superior, um- “Autobot” technology, to help him repair the mechanical animals. Together, they upgraded the animatronic dinosaurs into more independent and sturdy Dinobots. However, Megatron had instead provided the unawares Sumdac with the means to make the Dinobots into powerful drones which then only he could control. For the most part, Megatron’s secret plan worked, and the three rebuilt Dinobots rampaged across Detroit. As expected, the real Autobots intercepted the curiously-autonomous Dinobots. With the help of Sari Sumdac’s All Spark-enhanced key card, they were able to disable the Dinobots, which were then turned back over to Sari’s father. While Prof. Sumdac was out of the lab, Megatron was surprised to find that the three Dinobots were now behaving as if they had living Sparks of their own, which he had not planned for! Convincing the dim-witted Dinobots- now called Grimlock, Snarl, and Swoop- that cars and the Autobots were monsters that had destroyed dinosaurs, the three brand-new Cybertronians challenged the Autobots. Through a hard battle, the Dinobots were finally out maneuvered, and defeated. As their hulks sat waiting to be sent to the scrap yard, the sensitive Autobot ninja Prowl noticed that the Dinobots were giving off signs that they might be more than simple Earthly robots. And so, to help redeem Bulkhead, together they- without Optimus Prime being aware- secretly stole the three Cybertronian dinosaurs to an abandoned island in Lake Erie, and left them there to live in peace with nature using some of Prowl’s holographic technology to shield them. But then, after the two Autobots had departed, Grimlock- who became irritated with a cute bird- suddenly and quite unexpectedly transformed!
. . .
The voice of Dinobot Grimlock is performed by cartoon-veteran actor David Kaye, who also covers Autobot Optimus Prime and Decepticon Lugnut in “Transformers Animated”. While his career spans a wide variety of roles in other cartoon and anime series- including just a few live-action appearances- he is best known in the Transformers franchise for voicing the megalomaniacal Megatron in no less than five separate series; the best, arguably, being his debut performance for the character in the original all-CGI series “Beast Wars: Transformers” (1996-99) and its direct sequel “Beast Machines: Transformers” (1999-2001). Grimlock’s beast mode (back) is based on a Tyrannosaurus rex, just like his G1 predecessor from 1984; though significantly larger and with more options. The original Grimlock figure (and matching anime character) was drawn at the time in an upright position with his tail dragging near/on the ground; as was thought at the time the G1 series was made as to be how the dinosaur walked about 68 million years ago. The “Transformers Animated” character [and his toy forms] now represents the more-accurate horizontal posturing. And as a Voyager-class toy, Grimlock is now easily double the size of his previous appearances (excluding non-dinosaur alternate modes, of course), with a length of 8¼” (21.1cm) and a height [to the top of his thigh armor] of approximately 4” (10.4cm); the latter being more difficult to determine because of his ball-and-socket hip joints. As was the trend in G1, “...Animated” has all of the Autobots with blue eyes [and the Decepticons’ in traditional red]. Thus, Grimlock here uses transparent-blue plastic for his eyes, which glow when you shine light on the top of his head (Now- does this feature actually work the way it’s supposed to...? Hell yeah! Best one I‘ve seen from this series yet!) Now, being stylized in the format of “...Animated”, Grimlock’s lower jaw is very distorted and far larger than the rest of his head. But, there is also something of an implied grin in there- he knows he’s powerful, and like when smaller things run away in his presence. Moving along the body, some new coloring is present in beast mode that wasn’t in his G1 form, notably the dark red/maroon and gold, and the removal of all silver, yellow, and red. His very tiny forearms return, but this time they hang under his chest rather than to the sides, and are molded in gold ABS. His legs have been completely redesigned to contort around a lot more than the G1’s did. There is also the addition of a new, um... round thingie on the outside of his large thighs. (On the left thigh armor only is a printed silver Autobot symbol.) For a T-rex, however, Grimlock’s feet are slightly smaller than thinner, though they still have four gold claws each. His tail- very broad and thick at the base- slims down very quickly, and is smaller proportionately than a T-rex’s. There is one big giveaway in beast mode as to his transformable nature, and that is in his chest. While his robot mode’s chest is located between his legs (as was his G1 counterpart’s), his robot mode’s head is clearly visible in the space between his forearms.
The only real poseability in beast mode is in his legs- specifically the ball-&-socket hips and ankles; though the knees can also pitch around a little though this would distort them beyond what would look ‘right’. However, being a Voyager-class figure, Grimlock forgoes a poseable mouth, and instead features a lever-activated jaw- when you press the button on the back of his neck, his jaw drops down! (If the lever on his neck is released, the jaw immediately springs shut. But don’t worry- it won’t hurt ya in the slightest.) Unlike his G1 counterpart, however, Grimlock’s forearms are not poseable, nor is his neck.
Unlike all of the figures I’ve reviewed so far from “Transformers Animated”, Grimlock is the only one that does not have an assisting Auto-conversion feature. Not to spoil anything here-- “Spoil what exactly...?”, you ask. --but the only ‘special feature’ he has is in his beast mode’s head, and the robot mode’s weapon. Beyond that, you do it all yourself. One thing about his transformation I will comment on, though, is that it is very similar- though not identical- to his G1 counterpart’s: the tail splits to become his legs, his belly is the robot mode’s chest, his legs become his robot mode’s arms, and his head & forearms end up on his back (though the robot mode arms change differently.)
Grimlock’s robot mode (back) is strongly representative of his on-screen counterpart, but still carries signatures of his G1 predecessor. While his head is all black, the mono eye visor has been switched from the original red to transparent-light blue. (So, dose lightning strike the same place twice- does his visor light up correctly...? Absolutely! Give yourselves a nice big hand over there at Takara!) His torso has been significantly simplified to fit the “...Animated” style, but there are still techy details on his chest underneath a clear-ABS cover with another printed silver Autobot logo. The sides of his beast mode’s chest and head rest on his robot mode’s upper back just like the G1 ver, though they’re oriented differently. His arms, however, are a little too long- with his hands extending to just below his knees! This is the only contrary thing I can find compared to his “...Animated” counterpart, which strikes me as very odd. His legs are always spaced apart a ways due to how he transforms. (Notice the split tip of his tail on the outside of either lower leg, just like the G1 ver.) For poseability, it’s actually pretty poor compared to all of the other “...Animated” toys I’ve covered thus far. While he has ball-&-socket joints in his shoulders, his arms cannot be spread very outwards away from his body. (Indeed, getting his hands past his lower legs is something you need to remind yourself of since his arms are unusually long.) His elbows can pitch forward 90°, but they cannot turn side-to-side. Because of how he transforms, Grimlock’s clawed hands can open and close, and he has wrist joints which can twist all the way around- a motion which will be used later with his weapon. Because of those long shoulder armor parts, they always bump into the pointed ‘wing’ armor on his back, so I always default the wings to a full-back position rather than spread out as the instructions and animation indicate. The head can twist easily to either side, as can the new swivel waist joint, so those help a little bit later on. The hips, while able to bend side-to-side easily enough, can’t bend forward beyond 45°! But the knees have a full range of motion.
. . .
Grimlock carries a large sword of flames, though it cannot be stored on him in either beast or robot mode. While it can easily be placed in either hand, it is best when put in the right. This is because the sword contains a special pop-out flame feature which can only be activated when the right hand is holding it! This is accomplished by a very small tab in his right palm extending forward into [that large protrusion in] the hilt of the sword when the wrist is turned 90° either left or right. Early rumors before Grimlock's release said that putting the flaming sowrd into his mouth to replicate his fire-breath was going to be another special feature, but that was abandoned in early prototype stages as too complicated. However, you can still kinda hang it in there loosely if you like... (Online blogs & forums are offering up suggestions as to how to make the black elbows of his robot mode retract further into the shoulder armor sections so that the hands would eventually properly hang above his knees. This is accomplished by removing the screws on the shoulder armor parts, and then doing some careful sanding/carving to get rid of excess ABS material. This, I’ve read, is one of the more complicated and involved repair jobs that needs to be performed on a “Transformers Animated” figure. Kids- your parents really should do this if you want it changed that badly; don’t go and be idiots and try to do it yourself.)
Many people and longtime Trans-fans were once more greatly disturbed by the newest incarnation of those famous shape-shifting alien robots in disguise; for example, turning the famous Optimus Prime into a measly wannabe with no ambitions and trust issues, or the overall design style of merging & graceful lines/curves matching that of other recent cartoons such as Disney’s hugely-popular “Kim Possible” (2002-2007). And yet after a rocky start in trying to win back the minds of the fans, the show has become a hit on its own as much as it is a tribute to the original G1 series from 1984. Plus, “Transformers: Animated” is an original American series like “Beast Wars: Transformers” (1996-99) and “Beast Machines: Transformers” (1999-2001) before it, rather than being a dubbed anime production from Japan. The same can be said of the toys thus far in their initial releases. But as word has spread across the Internet, the toys have come to shine on their own- not just for their functionality, but for their absolute and striking similarities to their on-screen counterparts, which has never been as fully successful before- where proportions were usually off, colors were wrong, and functions were off or not mentioned. In other words, after 23 years, we are finally getting in our hands what we see on the screen in a way never seen before in Transformers history. He looks awesome; again- just as if he jumped out of the TV. Beast mode is fantastic, even if a little limited in playability/posing, but I have no problem with what is there. Again, fantastic work on successfully making his eyes glow in both forms! My biggest complaints are both the poor range of motion and extra long arms in robot mode. (I’ve also heard of poor friction in the shoulder ball-&-socket joints, but I haven’t experienced that... yet.) This guy actually makes for a good nostalgic shelf display more that a really awesome toy. I also thought the spring-powered flame feature on his sword was really cool too. So, I still like it, but those two things above really hamper me giving this Voyager-class Autobot Grimlock figure a full five stars. Instead, I’ll give him an even four stars, and say he’s still worth getting. In the words of the famed Dinobot leader-
“Me Grimlock li-i-i-ike...”
|Posted 14 August, 2008 - 02:52 by EVA_Unit_4A|