Height: 18.5cm (robot mode)
Articulation: 23 total points - Ball joint neck; 7 points each arm: multi-jointed shoulder, bicep swivel, hinge elbow, swivel wrist; 4 points each leg: Universal hip, thigh swivel, hinge knee.
Colors: Molded silver, gold, clear red, light grey, gunmetal grey; Painted gunmetal grey, gold, red, silver.
Accessories: Sword, Shield
Release Data: Released in the United States in February of 2013 at a suggested retail price of US$19.99
There was a time when the rage that boils inside Grimlock would have driven him straight to the ranks of the Decepticons. But while his flawed manner of speaking may make him sound strange, he's smart enough to recognize a bully when he sees one - and Grimlock doesn't like bullies. It's this that fuels his dedication to the fight against the Decepticons.
Most everyone was excited to have Dinobots brought in to the War For
Cybertron storyline in Fall of Cybertron. And naturally it followed that toys
based on the designs were also desired. At Botcon 2012, Hasbro surprised
everyone at their brand panel by announcing a Voyager Grimlock based on the
game design to come as part of the Generations relaunch. And so, months of
anticipation began. But at the same time, the Prime Robots in Disguise Voyagers
stirred concerns about how Grimlock might fare. At least, until Soundwave hit
and gave everyone a dose of reassurance about the Voyager pricepoint.
There's a fair resemblance to the game model, though a little more simple and proportion tweaked, the latter being pretty consistent with toys based on Fall of Cybertron's CG models. By "simple", I mainly mean that the visible detailing is on the low end. While areas are sculpted with high concentrations of surface detail and meant to look like visible mechanical elements, the "armor" surfaces that make up the majority of the visible robot mode are far removed from that level of sculpt. The gold of the torso is only sparsely marked by molded panel lines, and being the most eye-catching part of the figure in this mode, what you most notice is how undetailed it appears. It both helps and harms the look of the robot to have the dark grey paint on the more intricate details, because at the same time it makes them stand out more plainly, it serves to emphasize the lack of such sculpt elsewhere. It's not just the torso, although it has the easiest to spot contrast between levels of molded detailing. The arms and legs also appear overly smooth and despite some minor, generic attempts like sculpted venting, they just lack a visual complexity and make everything look much more simple than it ought to at this size. That may be the best way to explain the problem: on a Deluxe toy, this sculpt would probably not seem lacking at all, as it would fit the size of the figure better. But as a Voyager Grimlock almost looks like he was doubled in size with no thought to the level of detail dropping at it got scaled up. Even the head, while unmistakably Grimlock, is very simplistic and smooth, reminding me of the old cartoon or comic book models. Certainly not what I would expect of an adapted design from a modern video game.
But yet, the size is probably the biggest point of appeal on this specific Grimlock. As a Voyager figure, Grimlock is much in the line of the Soundwave and company being quite tall and with a satisfying bulk. It's much more of volume occupied than mass consumed, Grimlock is a bit light weight for the size of the toy. But Grimlock absolutely towers over almost everything else in the Fall of Cybertron branding. Even among older Classics, Etc. toys Grimlock has the edge in size that a Dinobot really ought to, right up to the older Voyagers. In terms of relative scale to other toys you may own, Fall of Cybertron Grimlock sits in a really nice place and accomplishes an effect only otherwise seen at the Masterpiece level in modern Grimlock toys. When I can stand this next to Classics Voyager Optimus Prime and Grimlock is solidly a head taller, that is my total ideal in how these two toys would interact, and it's so satisfying to see that be realized.
The articulation is... odd. The legs are basically normal. The hips are even connected at an angle so the forward range is extensive; the thighs always deflect away from the torso, so they have to swing almost straight up before the body gets in the way. It's a nice way to do this that doesn't otherwise affect the function or even the looks of the figure. The knees look like they ought to double joint, but they don't. The knees are ratcheted, and start out extremely stiff. I had to run them back and forth through their range several times before they started to relax a little and could be usefully posed. The knees will bend to about 90 degrees, which is more than adequate for the absence of meaningful ankle articulation. Getting Grimlock standing level with both legs in equal positions might be a little difficult because of the unusually complex nature of the knee and shin structure. The lower end of the knee is part of the transformation jointing, and while not useful for robot posing, it will still move around and can upset the positioning of the legs if you're not quite paying attention to how the functional parts are arranged.
The arms are a bit more odd though. The shoulder has what could be a really interesting build that gives multiple axes of movement (that is, the plural of axis, not utilizing an axe array to accomplish articulation of the limbs). There are four separate points of movement in each shoulder. One is part of the transformation, but I'm still counting it because it does usefully contribute to how the arm may be posed. Beyond the base hinge that lets the arm pitch backward, there's an up/down swivel, another at a 90 degree angle to the first to allow the arm to angle front and back, and then a ratchet to permit the arms to raise out to the sides. It is seriously one of the most complicated shoulder set ups I've seen on an action figure. And much of it actually works decently. That last ratchet though... it's stiff like the knees start out, but so far I haven't been able to work it to a more comfortable point. And this is a little more than it just being difficult to move. The arm will raise out easily enough, that's not really a problem. Getting it back down is what'll kill you. The ratchet is the most stiff coming back down. Like, the plastic tries to flex before the ratchet will kick over the first tooth. Every time I've tried, I've had to use the block that forms the base of the shoulder assembly to brace against so I can pull the arm down with a minimum strain on the plastic. It feels like the nylon kind of plastic that is known to be used for high-stress applications in Transformers, and in fact this color of plastic only appears here in the shoulders and in the dinosaur arms, which I think further lends to the idea it's a special bit of plastic that is probably suited to the use. But man, it is a frightening experience trying to use that ratchet. I really dig the engineering ideas in this shoulder build, because it does do a lot to compensate for the huge shoulder discs that would very likely cripple more than the most basic shoulder movement otherwise. It is possible to ignore the ratchets up there. They are stiff enough that you probably wouldn't move them accidentally, and even if so only by a single click. But I still hate that there's a part of this neat design that I'm legitimately afraid to do anything with.
Beyond that, the arms behave normally. The elbow is allowed a 90 degree bend, there's a swivel in the bicep, which when used together with the safe-feeling parts of the shoulder does allow the toy to begin to reach partway across its chest. The wrist has a smooth swivel as well which can be useful if you end up encountering any posing difficulty with the sword and the claws around the forearms. Grimlock's head is on a ball joint, which is itself a little bit stiff, and has only the tiniest range of movement beyond simply swiveling to either side. The tightness of the joint will make it feel at first like the head doesn't even turn, but it'll give in without much fuss.
Grimlock has some pretty nice clear plastic for lightpiping. It's not quite as amazing as Starscream's that seems to actively suck in any surrounding light, but this will glow a nice, bright red with just a little back lighting. That's just the head, though. The torso has bits of it peeking through too, from a panel inside the torso cavity. This one isn't waiting for room lighting, though. Grimlock's rather large backpack finally meets its purpose. Carefully pulling the switch on the bottom makes the whole torso glow with red light, and shine through brightly across several points. It's meant to emulate the way most characters in the game have glowing elements in their bodies, and the inclusion here (seemingly in absence of a partner robot like the Soundwave family of recolors has) is a nice, but ultimately forgettable feature. Since the backpack doesn't exactly lock in place, just where the light will focus varies from use to use, but my experience usually finds it brightest in the abdomen, and sometimes missing the chest bar entirely. Either way, the intended focal point almost always lights up. In the middle of the chest, Grimlock has his special variant Autobot insignia, representing his Lightning Strike Coalition subgroup. Though, I think the light behind it just makes it harder to see.
Fairly standard Grimlock stuff here. The compression of the legs in to the tail is a little exacting and you won't get it pegged together unless the large panels are in just the right spot. Not everything the transformation wants you to do is necessarily to the benefit of the alt mode, but I'll talk a little more about that. It's an easy to do transformation though in either direction, and I like that ability to quickly go between them.
The good things the robot was, the dinosaur mode largely is not. And it's so much the fault of having the robot legs become entirely the tail. A disproportionate amount of the toy's mass goes in to it, which causes two main problems. First, the rest of the body has to be very small. As great as the robot is built with its fantastic size and well distributed bulk, the dinosaur is comparatively very undersized feeling. The other problem is the tail is far oversized for the body shape, looking at least twice as wide as it should and thicker based on its length, though the thickness could at least be dismissed as having some kind of armor attached over the top of the tail, as seems to be the intent. Along the sides, gold strips are painted, and coincide with sculpt work to make it look like segmented panels. This is probably trying to simulate the look of the segmented tail of the game model and imply where the "actual" tail exists within this structure. It really doesn't work that well. And if the majority of the legs just needed some place to go, they could have been used to fill in all of the exposed hollow space on the dinosaur's underbody. The entire hollow back of the robot torso is plainly visible as empty space in the body now, and the legs would have made a great cover for that. Instead, we get a small dinosaur with a beaver tail and an empty body.
The head has a rather more cartoonish look than what the CG model (on the boxart, even) would present. I think it's a problem of the size of the eyes in relation to the length and width of the head. But whatever the cause, it falls short of the powerful and threatening appearance of the original media. Thankfully Grimlock has a better balance of sculpted surface detailing visible, helped to some degree by the gold parts no longer being where you'll immediately focus as the distribution of gold and silver is much more even in this mode. It manages to look more involved that way than the robot did, so there is at least a small positive to an aesthetic choice for this mode.
If transformed as instructed, Grimlock ends up with almost no poseability. The hips are meant to collapse in to the body cavity and then tab in to specially shaped holes in the sides that completely lock the hips in position. From here, the knees can still bend, giving you the option to have Grimlock as a scientifically accurate straight-backed dinosaur, or a classic tail-dragger. These positions lie one click apart on the ratcheted knees, so you are fully locked in to one or the other. While the dinosaur arms can move around a shoulder ball joint, this positioning of the legs is the real extent of how the toy can be posed as the tail is fully locked in place and the head taken up with an action feature. Now, if you ignore the design intent, the hips can be left outside the body. This makes it noticeably wider, but you now have full freedom to pose the hips and lose no real stability in the process. Not as clean looking, but I'm more than willing to take that sacrifice in favor of better function.
Carrying on from the feature in robot mode, Grimlock has a super bright red LED in the mouth. Pulling the switch in this mode pulls the jaws open and lights the LED. Without all the obstruction of the robot parts, the light casts visibly to a far distance from the head, showing on any even vaguely reflective surface in front of the toy. It also makes the entire dinosaur head glow red. That can be good or bad depending how you want to look at it. Some really like the idea of the entire head radiating with energy, but others just see it as bleed through thin plastic. I'm kind of in the middle, where I want the light able to glow through the panel lines on the head but not the smooth surfaces. Grimlock also uses the light for glowing dinosaur eyes, a normal Autobot insignia on top of the head, and to light up the red circles at the upper jaw hinge. It's a pretty cool effect overall, and has a better result than the robot mode application. Whether you want to imagine Grimlock is going to breathe fire or is just really angry, it's fun to be able to make the elements on the head glow so powerfully. I have heard of cases where the switch can get messed up in some way, and the light may stop working, the jaws stop moving, or both. As there are rivets and pins involved, nobody I know of has been able to open the mechanism up and figure out what the problem might be. Which also means that if this happens to you and the light is very important to your enjoyment of the toy, you don't really have an option but complete replacement. Thanks to the jaw action feature, the head can't be manually posed in any way. But you can adjust the neck at the base of the first segment, which is helpful if you want to set Grimlock up as an old-style tail-dragging T. rex. There's just enough space before the neck bumps the robot head to keep Grimlock looking forward in either style.
Grimlock comes armed with sword and shield. Pretty cool looking ones, at that. Both are single pieces of clear plastic that use paint applications to great effect in looking like complex pieces. I'm particularly taken with the shield, which appears to have a solid core around which the clear shield radiates. It's probably not meant to be an energy shield, but the way it's designed would definitely support that interpretation: the painted block is the "emitter" which is actually clamped to the arm, and the shield is projected around it. There's panel lines sculpted in the shield to keep it interesting looking, and the shape is fairly simple. There's a cut out at one corner which helps leave room for Grimlock's shoulder when the shield is attached to the left arm. One peg on the back of the shield lets it attach to either left or right shoulder or forearm. If pegged to the forearm, it will limit poseability a bit, but looks a little more useful than when it's left on the shoulder. If pegged to the right arm it hinders articulation a bit more because the cutout is on the wrong side.
The sword is less interesting than the shield in terms of how the sculpt is executed, but does the same trick of painted grip and hand guard over clear plastic. It's a big sword with a wide, single-edged blade. The hand guard is thick, and looks generically mechanical, in a way that it seems like something should swivel around that point though it does not and I can't figure out what use such a thing would serve anyway. The sword has short pegs projecting out either side of the guard so that it can peg in to the same holes the shield can attach to.
The weapons can be stored out of the hands in robot mode by placing them both in to the shoulder ports. They also store in dinosaur mode, but only in the sense that they don't have to be left aside. The shield is almost passable, but the sword looks pretty goofy just pegged on one hip. I'm happy that they can be kept together with the figure in both modes, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish it was more elegant.
I was pretty excited at Botcon 2012 when Hasbro revealed Grimlock for the first time at the brand panel, and maintained high hopes for it over the following months waiting for it to be released. I don't feel I built it up unfairly in my mind in the anticipation. I think that the toy just fails to deliver in several areas of execution. Despite the disappointments I find in it, I still like that I have a big Grimlock whose robot mode scales well with the toys I want to use it with. I could even get past the relative smallness of the dinosaur mode if it had just been designed a little bit better.
I don't hate Fall of Cybertron Grimlock, but it really Could Have Been Better (click here for more information about the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Rating system) and I think it could have been so without more than very minor changes to the transformation engineering. I don't hate the toy - I just hate that it wasn't made to what I think its potential could have been. That to me is as bad, if not worse than just being a bad toy.
"Well, you not leader-- I AM!"
|Date||February 28th 2013|
|Score||(5 out of 10)|
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