Finally. It’s about damn time that I owned a decent Grimlock figure.
When the Dinobots were first introduced into the Transformers line in the mid-80s it seemed to me like the best idea ever. Sure robots that transformed into cars were cool but robots that transformed into dinosaurs were f**king awesome. It makes me think back to that scene in the Tom Hanks movie BIG. It’s a fantastic flick and an 80s classic; if you haven’t seen it yet go get yourself a copy immediately. In the movie Josh is a young boy who makes a wish to be BIG. The next day he wakes up as an adult (Hanks) and has to flee from his suburban home to the big city until he can figure out a way to reverse the change. In the meantime he has to earn a living so naturally he applies to work at a toy company. In a pitch meeting, a rival toy designer is showing off his robot that turns into a building (pretty cool I suppose). But then Hanks chimes in with “what’s fun about a building? Why not a bug?” which blows everyone’s minds and wins him the bosses favour. I imagine there must have been a similar meeting at Hasbro way back when, with some guy pitching the latest transforming cars and trucks, when some other dude in the room pipes up and says, “How about transforming dinosaurs?” I bet that guy got a promotion.
I loved the Dinobots from day one. They were cool in the comics, cool in the cartoon, and most importantly cool in toy form. So many Transformer toys disappointed me but the Dinobots did not. They were awesome for a number of reasons: they were a good size, they were nicely detailed with plenty of chrome and translucent plastic, they had a decent amount of articulation, and they were frig’n dinosaurs. I’d say they were some of the finest Generation 1 Transformers. My brother Doug owned the leader, Grimlock and the brontosaurus, Sludge. I owned the stegosaurus Snarl and the Triceratops Slag which was my personal favorite. Neither of us ever owned Swoop the pterodactyl for some reason. In those early days the Dinobots were portrayed in the cartoons and comics as very dumb, almost childlike, hot tempered, and clumsy. Grimlock had a very unique speech pattern that made him sound like Tarzan. “Me, Grimlock.” is how he started all of his sentences. I didn’t mind the dumb characterizations when I was a kid and I made my Dinobots just as dumb when playing with my toys.
Now that I’m an adult, still collecting Transformers toys and comics, I’m glad that the Dinobots have shed their stupidity. Grimlock especially is now portrayed as a strong and intelligent leader. I love what IDW (and Dreamwave before them) have done with the character in their comics. In a recent issue Grimlock was captured and tortured by Shockwave. During the torture process Shockwave lifted Grimlock’s “face” off revealing that Grimlock actually has a more humanoid face (eyes, nose, mouth) underneath. It was a surprising reveal but I kinda liked it as it helps to explain why so many characters had faces in the cartoon while their toys had visors and featureless face shields. It opens up the possibility that all non-humanoid looking Transformers actually have real faces but choose to wear protective shielding. Like what they did with Optimus Prime in the live action movies.
When I began collecting Transformers again in the mid-2000s with the introduction of the Classics/Generations line, my hope was to eventually have nice new versions of all of the characters Doug and I owned as kids. The Dinobots were near the top of my want list. It didn’t take long for Hasbro to produce a Classics Grimlock as he is perennially popular. Unfortunately, while it wasn’t a horrible figure, it definitely wasn’t what I was hoping for. It was small in stature, his joints were loose, his legs looked ridiculous in robot mode (like he was wearing high heels), and his dino-mode bared little resemblance to the classic look.
The next Grimlock I bought was from the short lived “animated” line. It was a very cool Grimlock with a much more appealing robot mode than the Classics version. I loved the stylized dinosaur mode with the large underbite but it looked more like the 1998 American Godzilla than an actual T-Rex. While it’s a good figure, the animated aesthetic didn’t blend well with my other Generation 1 inspired Classics figures. I held out hope for a better Grimlock, not to mention the rest of the dinobots.
The Masterpiece version of Grimlock fit the bill…sort of. It looked great but the price point was way too high and the scale was way out of whack with my other figures. I passed on the Masterpiece edition and came to terms with the fact that my high heeled version might have to suffice as my “go to” Grimlock.
But then Hasbro released this guy as part of its “War for Cybertron” collection based on the hit video game. Hell yeah. This Grimlock is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. The size is perfect; not too big and not too small. The design isn’t an exact reproduction of the classic look but all the distinctive key elements are there.
He’s thick, sturdy, posable, and totally awesome. He retains the red, black, silver, and gold color scheme that any respectable dinobot should have. For accessories he’s got a cool translucent shield and an updated version of his Energo Sword which looks totally gnarly .
His dino mode looks really cool and is reminiscent of the original in its design. His jaws open and he has a light up feature on his head as well. I do have a couple issues with it however. The tail is very thick and not very naturalistic. I guess this was a necessity because of the large feet he has in robot mode but it throws off his center of gravity and I wish they could have designed it better. Also I find the dino legs don’t lock into place quite right and it adds to his instability. For these reasons I’ve opted to display my Generations Grimlock in his robot mode. This is a very nice figure and I hope that Hasbro smartens up and finally releases new versions of the other 4 dinobots in a similar format. 9 out of 10.