Toy Review: Masterpiece Grimlock (Toys R Us 2014 Re-Issue)
For those of us who grew up in the mid-1980’s, one of the cartoons I gravitated towards was Transformers. The concept of robots turning into vehicles was the coolest thing to my young mind, but like most concepts, the showrunners would soon find other forms that these robots in disguise could transform into.
One of them was dinosaurs. After finding skeletons of dinosaurs near their ship, the Autobots Wheeljack and Ratchet decided to create robotic dinosaurs that transformed! Out of this collaboration, emerged The Dinobots: Grimlock, Sludge, Snarl, Slag, and Swoop.
Toy-wise, I never did have any dinosaurs as a kid, except for a small plastic one. I still remember a Kindergarten assignment where we were supposed to bring in dinosaur toys to display, and one kid named Nick Kern brought his Grimlock toy. I remember how many of us were fascinated by Grimlock’s rotating head, and opening/closing jaw. It wasn’t until almost 7 years later that I would obtain my own Grimlock, when Hasbro re-released the moldings under the Transformers: Generation 2 headline.
In 2003, the Japanese company Takara began giving those classic first generation figures a second life as larger, Masterpiece editions. This meant larger figures, with more accurate transformations and appearances to their original forms. Optimus Prime was the first figure, and the treatment carried on over to other characters like Megatron, Starscream, and Hot Rod. In 2009, Takara brought Grimlock into the line, making him Masterpiece figure #8.
After his release in Japan in 2009, Hasbro released Masterpiece Grimlock as a Toys R Us exclusive in the fall of 2010. The $70 release was rarely ever on the shelf, and I only saw him in stores once when I picked one up for a friend. Sadly, when I went back for the other one, it was gone.
With the upcoming appearance of Grimlock in Transformers: Age of Extinction, Hasbro and Toys R Us found this the perfect time to re-issue the robotic T-Rex.
With the Masterpiece-sized figures, they have often been produced twice as big as the original figures. This almost gives an adult the feeling of holding an ‘average-sized’ Transformer, albeit one with more bells and whistles…and Masterpiece Grimlock is definitely filled with more surprises than his original release.
One thing that often differed between the original toy and the cartoon, was the color of Grimlock’s eyes. In the cartoon, his eyes/visor color was blue, whereas in the toyline, these features were red. What was great was that the makers of this latest iteration took the debate, and found a happy medium! A switch on the back of Grimlock’s robot head allows you to change between both colors. With his dinosaur form’s head, the top opens up, and you can rotate the eyes to different colors!
Transformation-wise, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Grimlock’s transformation between both forms, was not that different from his original incarnation! His tail turns into his legs, and his midsection shifts up to become his torso (with an appearing Autobot insignia in a special place on his chest). However, one of the rubik’s cube points of transformation that can get tedious, is the transformation of his legs into the T-Rex tail. Unlike the stiffer G1 transformation, many of the leg pieces don’t really ‘lock’ into place.
As expected, there are plenty of extra areas of articulation. From hips, knees, and even arm joints, as well as his T-Rex arms and fingers. There are also inner workings, that will shake the T-Rex head back and forth when one wiggles the tail section.
Some may even find it odd that there appears to be a place to put something in his mouth. The original Japanese release actually came with a jet of flame that one could attach here, to simulate Grimlock’s fire breath. Personally, I feel this little accessory would have been a great addition to this release (word is a 3rd party group is working on a version of their own fire accessories for the figure).
Accessory-wise, Grimlock comes with his sword and gun, along with a crown, which was based on one he wore in an issue of the Marvel Comics series in the late 80’s.
Hidden switches can also be found on the Dinobot leader. In his right leg/arm, a hidden button allows light to be piped into his hand. This allows the clear-plastic in his sword or gun, to light up. It’s a neat effect, but the light-piping is about 1/3 as strong as the examples shown on the packaging.
There’s also a hidden switch in Grimlock’s jaw. The left ‘cheek’ functions as a button that can cause the jaw to bite down when pushed.
Size-Wise, Grimlock fits in well with the newer Masterpiece figures. However, he may appear out-of-scale with some of the earlier figure releases of Optimus Prime (seen above), and Megatron.
As well, some of the joints in his torso are a little looser than I would like. This does make me a little worried that in the future, he may be unable to hold some standard poses in robot form.
Four years after his first US release, Grimlock’s return has price-jumped him by $10, to $80 (not including tax). If you were lucky enough to get him a couple years ago, there’s really no reason to get this version. It’s a passable reissue, and is only missing a few minor decals/details in certain parts of the figure. At least for those of us who are not won over by Age of Extinction’s simpler toy transformations, Masterpiece Grimlock is a nice reminder of the old days. Speaking of the old days, we leave you with this little nugget of nostalgia: