Height: 19cm overall robot mode height.
Articulation: 21 total points - Swivel neck; 5 points each arm: Insert joint shoulder (comprising 2 articulation points), bicep swivel, hinge elbow, wrist swivel; 4 points each leg: Insert joint hip (comprising 2 articulation points), thigh swivel, hinge knee; Ball jointed dinosaur arms.
Colors: Molded bronze, grey, black; Painted silver, black, bronze, metallic green, red.
Accessories: Tail mace
Release Data: Officially released on May 17th to all retailers.
Grimlock is the ultimate wildcard. The Dinobot leader has the power to decide the fate of Earth almost singlehandedly. His ferocious strength makes him a devastating force in battle. If that strength can be focused and harnessed for good, it could be enough to turn the tide. If not, it might be what seals the Earth's doom.
I remember many movies ago when the idea of Dinobots was not exactly met
with favor by Michael Bay. But hey, you get to your fourth and maybe you wanna
change things up a little. Dinobots are not the only thing that's changed, but
it's the bigger thing everybody points at for this movie and probably rightly
so. I mean, you have a semi truck riding a dinosaur. How can you not love the
imagery right there?
What struck me above anything else is how un-movie this robot looks.. The surfaces are smooth, the limbs are solid, not looking like a robotic skeleton wearing whatever the alt mode is supposed to be. It avoids all the typical movie toy/design tropes we've learned to expect. The general visual sense of the robot is more like plate armor. Many places are sculpted to appear as overlapping panels, especially around major joints. It's a break from the standards that I very much appreciate, but if you're very concerned about the visual consistency of your movie toys you may find issues with the robot form as it simply doesn't look like it's from a movie line. In broad strokes, the dinosaur aspect is not very strongly present in the robot design. The head sits split over the shoulders, and the chest has sculpted elements brought out with silver paint that look meant to represent the lower jaw also split and laying over the chest, and so I expect to see something to that basic effect in the movie model's transformation. But that's all that feels intentionally worked in from the dinosaur mode. I use the word intentionally because Grimlock has some junk hanging around. The biggest offender to start with are the dinosaur feet which stay attached to the forearms, and there's more about them which I'll come to shortly. Grimlock has a backpack problem too: the neck and actual lower jaw sticking out to the back, along with a small section of the dinosaur's back just above them. I'll grant that this is not the most horrible situation of leftover alt mode parts being distributed I've seen even this month (and it's only the 8th!), but it feels like it's spoiling what the design is wanting to do. There's a very obvious focus in this toy to having a clean robot form with just some hints of the alternate mode. It wants to look like a dinosaur-themed armor, and I can respect that goal because it at least shows that it knows what it wants to be. So I end up hating the extra junk since it does a lot to spoil the effect.
The visual side is not all that is spoiled. So let's look at a wacky design choice. The dino feet actually tab in on the forearms, so you don't even have to worry about any of that falling down or getting out of place when moving the arms or smashing the toy in to other toys. That's great! Or is it? When you remove Grimlock from the box, you'll find that the fists are oriented to bend inward, or do a "bicep curl" movement. The fist hole is at a right angle to the direction the elbow bends. This is not ideal, and is actually something I very much hate to see done in basically any action figure. And you know what? Grimlock has wrist swivels! He's not locked in to monkey arms! ...except for where he is. The dino feet are attached to the fists. The dino feet only tab in the forearms when in the curl orientation. The toy is designed to lock up one of the joints that improves its function and appearance significantly. Um. The argument might be made that the wrist swivel is in fact only a transformation joint and is not in fact intended for robot mode poseability. But that's a bad excuse. Ultimately, you can untab the dino feet, let the wrists swivel freely and not much harm is done. On the sample we have for review, the hinge in question is tight enough to keep its place just by friction in any normal circumstance. No guarantees if Grimlock becomes a bludgeoning implement.
Overall, the articulation is pretty nice here. You only really get single joints anywhere, but the elbows bend a little tighter than 90 degrees, the knees not quite as much, and the shoulders and hips have good freedom of range. The plate armor at the hips can get in the way, but it's pretty movable, so you can adjust it and get some extra space if you really need it. What stands out though is the very consistent smoothness of all the joints. I want to describe them as having a tightness about them, but it's misleading as to how it actually feels. At least for me, moving any of the insert joints feels like exactly what I want it to feel like without ever having previously known what I was looking for. There's this nearly perfect resistance level so you have confidence that the limb will stay as you place it, but when you're ready to move it again it does so simply with no fighting back. I don't know what kind of hideous magic was employed to make every joint on the toy feel this way with perfect consistency, but I hope someone wrote it down because it needs to never go away.
My largest complaint I think has to do with packaging the toy in the robot
mode. Because while functionally it all ends up doing well, it also has a slim
looking body, and honestly doesn't really stand out that well. The bronze, grey
and black are probably as close to Dinobotish colors we'll see on this or any
other AOE dino mold in the US, but they don't exactly make the toy pop. I'm
glad that aspect was not filled in with chrome on this version of Grimlock, but
it needed something to catch attention better. I understand the ideas in the
design, and having it in hand it does things I enjoy, but it doesn't look very
interesting in a vacuum.
Grimlock's transformation is mostly simple, and of course follows the
current directive of fitting in to a distinct number of easy steps. There's one
part, getting the dinosaur head and floating bit of the back past each other
which is a little tough, but only in as much as needing to find the right angle
for those parts where they can slide past each other. The satisfying joint
tolerances on the toy end up making this an unusually pleasant experience
beyond the convenient simplicity of the engineering.
So straight up, this is how Grimlock should have been packaged. The dinosaur mode looks really cool. It's been hard for me to not draw comparisons to Fall of Cybertron Grimlock since both do similar things in working of a common base transformation pattern, and AOE Grimlock actually comes out with the much, much stronger dinosaur mode. It's not entirely perfect, but it comes out really nice. This is also where the toy starts to read like a movie toy again. It's not the case I described before of robot-wearing-a-dinosaur, but it looks a lot more sharp edges and broken lines and random chaos than the very controlled appearance to the robot. This is itself an interesting accomplishment given the moving parts are mostly big chunks that don't invert or do anything tricky between modes. It's all managed just by changing how pieces are aligned, and hiding some of the smoother portions on the inside of the body. I'm very impressed with the aesthetic shift while keeping to a very good economy of movement and parts. It's not a perfect execution, though the issues are actually really minor.
Like, the biggest problem is the arms. They're on the panels that were the
hip armor, and in this mode they kind of just float. Again, the great joint
tolerances make that a non-issue, but they have to sit at one of two positions,
and neither looks entirely right. Set in the upper position, the dinosaur mode
looks the most solid from any important angle, but the arms seem a little bit
high up on the body. The lower position has the panels seem to close in the
dinosaur's chest, but it leaves some badly exposed bits higher up, and the arms
are now a little too low. I just stick with the upper configuration. My other
problem falls to the action feature. A button on the neck makes the lower jaw
snap shut. Outside of a situation where I'd just have a freely moving jaw
without gears or springs, this also has the opposite action I'd like. I more
want a jaw that wants to hold itself closed, ideally permitting to have the toy
hold small things in its mouth. That's of course not possible in this case, nor
is even just leaving the mouth closed at all, unless the button is held in.
Like the arm panels it's a very small issue, but just on the wrong side of
In terms of posing, the arms and the first three joints in the legs are it. And the legs are of a limited utility anyway. Since the toes can't be moved, you're limited in terms of walking or running poses, and mostly you can just change the posture of the body, or maybe have Grimlock pinning something under one foot. It's not the most mobile, but at least if it's going to be fixed in one general pose, it looks nice doing it. You do have some visual oddities like the short, thick tail (though going to the earlier comparison, it's far better than what FOC Grimlock did), but the toy does try to find a way to address that. There's a thing here or there that'd probably bug a devoted dinosaur enthusiast, like how Grimlock totally can't possible see forward, but anyone even close to the target audience is gonna be pretty in to having a completely murderous looking dinosaur.
Grimlock has a... spear... club... thing. It's a polearm weapon with a blade at the end and a big spikey head. It has an offset 5mm handle, which is the only way the toy can hold it. Having the shaft split near the middle to accommodate the fist would have been better looking, but probably ran against the parts count. The mace end can be removed, and the weapon placed upside-down in the fist if you'd prefer Grimlock to have more of a spear than a club, but in any case, posing with it is a bit on the limited side.
For dinosaur mode, it's made for the club head to slide over the end of the tail, locking on to tabs on the sides and extending the tail to a more realistic length. All well and good, aside from that the tail tapers down a bit naturally, has this giant black tumor, and then continues past that at skeletal thinness. And if not for the black blob there in the middle the taper would very nearly work visually. It's just that huge lump that spoils the image. Fortunately Grimlock has a serviceable tail without the weapon added on. You just won't have anywhere to keep the weapon otherwise. And the robot mode isn't made to store it at all.
I really feel strongly Grimlock should have been packaged in dinosaur mode. It's what sold me on the toy after being initially really unimpressed with the robot. This Grimlock is free of chrome, it's a good size, and very accessible price point, and in overall terms probably ends up with the strongest appearance of any known collector-focused toy of the design. Being my second hands on experience with the current school of simple, easy Transformers design, I think Grimlock handles it better and with less feeling of cheating than First Edition Optimus Prime left me with. On the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Scale, Grimlock ranks Very Good.
I'm suitably impressed with the functional aspects of the toy, but I'm concerned that without being able to know that in the first place or just simply be drawn to the awesome looking dinosaur robot, Grimlock may not be very appealing in stores. It's a big push for Dinobots, and my hope above all else at the moment is that it does sales enough that Classics-style Dinobots may become a possibility not too far down the road. I'd hate that to be shot in the foot because the toys are being sold in the wrong modes.
|Date||May 8th 2014|
|Score||(8 out of 10)|
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