Hasbro Transformers Age of Extinction Grimlock Hasbro, 2014
Day #948: June 23, 2014
Grimlock One of at least Four Versions Worldwide
Transformers Age of Extinction Generations Voyager Class
Item No.: Asst. A6513 No. A6515 Manufacturer:Hasbro Includes:Club Action Feature:Transforms from T-Rex (so says the box) to robot Retail:$24.99 Availability: May 2014 Other: M4 Series #002
Despite his popularity and fame, new Grimlock toys are far and few between. Well, relatively speaking - he doesn't get the love of Optimus, Bumblebee, or the various Seekers and whatnot. His inclusion in Age of Extinction means the franchise is aiming for a younger audience - talking animals is movie and/or toy industry code for "we would like your business, pre- and early grade schoolers." Heck, the Dinobots as a whole outside of Grimlock have basically been completely ignored for the last decade outside of Animated, Wal-Mart's Beast Wars repaints, and a couple of Mini-Cons. The team's revamp in the movie sticks to naming conventions but basically reinvents pretty much everybody - the only unchanged name from the old days is Grimlock, who gets a few new toys. The Voyager-class robot seems to be the one that Hasbro wants to push, and that's what showed up in the mail, so let's look at him.
While aiming for a new generation of kids, Grimlock's big splash brings us a new 7-inch tall action figure with a heavy Samurai motif - with curly-toed elf shoes. I don't understand this, but whatever, let's go with it. The figure is basically Grimlock in name and alt mode only - the copper robot has silver and grey elements plus a head that barely recalls his namesake. Some of the later redesigns of G1 Grimlock featured teeth in mis face plate, and if you squint you an see some of that here. The figure has metallic bluegreen eyes that really pop over his vaguely sneering "mouth." It has a lot of personality and a bike spike on the head, but is it Grimlock? Sure, why not.
While it seems this line is lacking in striking Autobot symbols, there's a little red one right on his chest. It's not too big that it gets in the way, and it's small enough where it's easy to gloss over. Big Grim has his dino arms hanging off his armored "skirt" that actually plugs right in to his legs. The toy holds together quite well, even his dinosaur feet plug in to his robot arms to avoid flopping around. The engineering on these guys seems better than most of their recent lines, including collector series like Generations from 2010-present. With roughly 15 points of articulation, he can be posed fairly well - but since his weapon can only be held one specific way in his fists, there's not a lot of action to squeeze out of this figure. He looks cool standing around, and the paint job is one of the better ones in this or any Hasbro Transformers line. The figure's molded colors look great, so it largely just plain looks good as its own original thing. The one piece I find falling off his the little skirt piece over his crotch, it's a small flap that pops off without much trouble. Be careful, you may lose it.
The Dinobot commander has one two-piece accessory - a club thing. The black cap can separate from the silver pole, which can be held in the figure's hand using a handle. I find this limiting, but I don't much like the weapon either. In addition to being a hand-held weapon, it acts as a tail extension in dinosaur mode. Unfortunately Grimlock's wrists don't rotate, nor do his elbows, so getting him in certain dynamic poses may prove tricky for the impatient or lazy like myself.
Transformation to dinosaur/carnotaurus/t-rex is a little wonky, and the instructions help. The dinosaur chest and arms are a bit tricky to position properly, and the bits and pieces making up the dinosaur neck are a little unpleasant to move in to place. It's an acceptable dinosaur robot, sure, and maybe the kids will love it - I don't find it as stable or charming as Hasbro's other transforming dinosaur toys. The figure does boast a ton of personality from its head - the big, deep, layered eyes are something to behold while his fearsome teeth have an undocumented spring-loaded lever to make his jaws open wide. This is actually a lot of fun, and was a pleasant surprise - I could just have him chomping on my other toys all day long. You're going to like this.
As with Optimus Prime, I love the packaging. The box does a good job grabbing your attention, and it's inviting - it looks like a consumer product, perhaps more like shoes or a movie than it does a kid's toy. The package does a good job showing its alt mode in art form, but the colors, eyes, and even the design don't quite match what is in the box. It's striking, but off-model.
I can't (or shouldn't) fault this figure for what it isn't, and that would be a decent update of G1 Grimlock in some form. (The 2006 Classics and 2013 Fall of Cybertron flavors didn't do it for me all that much in the long run.) This is a new animal, and on its own merits - as a robot dinosaur toy - is going to please most who dare buy one. Hasbro was wise to make simpler toys in various size classes for the tiny tots, as I assume this is going to frustrate a few kids the first time they transform him. Unlike other toys in their line, Hasbro made this a solid creation whose parts and pieces don't pop off easily when stressed. I consider this a huge, enormous step in the right direction. I'm so tired of seeing decapitated and dismembered robots in thrift stores, at least now the modern new figures stand a chance of surviving childhood.
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