REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS FALL OF CYBERTRON GRIMLOCK
Sometimes I wonder if the reason the Dinobots came into existence in the Transformers toy line in the first place was simply because someone realized that kids loved robots, and kids loved dinosaurs, and so a group of robots that could transform into robotic dinosaurs was as sure a thing as you could hope for in the toy world.
Certainly, the Dinobots proved to be extremely popular Transformers, and to one degree or another, they've been a part of the Transformers ever since, and none moreso than their esteemed leader, GRIMLOCK!
Grimlock has been part of quite a few Transformers lines over the years. Along with appearing with the other four Dinobots in the original Generation One line, he was recolored, in a dark steel blue, to appear as part of Generation Two, along with a couple of other Transformers. He also appeared as part of the Action Masters line, and even one of the characters in the Beast Wars line was named Grimlock. This, however, was likely not the same individual. Still, the name got around.
And now, Grimlock has become part of the series of Generations-style Transformers based on the video game, "Fall of Cybertron".
Now, in fairness, there has been a Classics/Generations-style Grimlock already. It was released several years ago, and is an extremely capable toy. I must say that my one and only complaint about the original, Generation One Transformers, is that they weren't very articulated in their robotic forms. The characters were shown as fully mobile in their robot forms in both the comic book and animated series, and even on the toy packages themselves. But the toys really couldn't do all that much except transform from one form to another. Granted, this didn't stop them from being a massively popular concept and toy line, but it was always just a little disappointing to me.
So when the Classics line came along several years ago, I was delighted. Here were some of the most popular Generation One characters, remade in new forms, whose robotic forms had the extensive articulation that the line had always deserved. And no great surprise, Grimlock was part of that line.
We're talking about a character popular enough so that when there was a poll regarding new characters to be brought into the sequel to the live-action movie, Grimlock came in second, losing only to Devastator. Personally, I prefer Grimlock, but given the rather extreme designs of the live-action movies, who knows how he would've turned out?
Grimlock's initial Classics/Generations-style toy is perfectly fine. But -- well -- it could've been bigger. I mean, come on, the guy turns into a robotic tyrannosaurus, right? That sort of transformation deserves an impressive size.
Say hello to an impressive size. As part of the boxed "Voyager" class of Transformers, Grimlock is a good bit larger than average.
Now, this Grimlock does hail from the "Fall of Cybertron" series, which is a video game that takes place prior to the events of Transformers Generation One. This is before the Autobots and the Decepticons have made their way to Earth. That being said, the toys being offered tend to be reasonably recognizable relative to their G1 counterparts in their robot forms, while their alt modes, usually a vehicular mode, tend to be more Cybertronian in nature.
For myself, I'm prepared to put up with this to a certain degree if it means bringing in some well-articulated robotic versions of these classic characters that otherwise might not see much chance of a good modern version. And in the case of Grimlock -- well, even though I do have his previous Classics version, this toy was just too cool and too impressive not to add to my collection.
Let's consider some of the history of Grimlock, from a G1 perspective, and then have a look at his Fall of Cybertron toy.
Grimlock is a tough leader, and the most fearsome and powerful member of the Dinobots. Grimlock can be cold, merciless and contemptuous of those he considers beneath him, including most human beings, and at times, even of Autobot leader Optimus Prime himself, who Grimlock would gladly supplant as Autobot leader if he were able to, giving him a superiority complex as indicated by his Generation 1 tech specs.
Nevertheless, he is a valiant warrior whose actions command respect from all who are witness to them, both friend and foe.
One of his most distinguishing features is his famous speech impediment, which leads him to shorten sentences and refer to himself constantly as "Me Grimlock", (e.g. "Me Grimlock no bozo! Me KING!"). The reason for this varies from depiction to depiction, with some making it the result of true mental limitations, and others vocal processor damage or a ruse Grimlock perpetrates to allow others to think of him as less intelligent than he actually is.
Grimlock is among the strongest of the Transformers, possibly an equal to, or even superior to Optimus Prime and Megatron in certain continuities. He was shown to be stronger than Megatron in the G1 cartoon, but in the Marvel comics, Megatron was able to defeat Grimlock and the rest of the Dinobots in their initial encounter.
In Tyrannosaurus rex mode, his powerful jaws can snap virtually anything that comes between them - from steel cables to a Decepticon limb. He also can shoot an energy ray from his mouth. In robot mode, Grimlock wields an energon sword, whose blade is sheathed in crackling energon and can slice a 2-foot-thick concrete wall in one slash. He also uses a double-barreled, self-propelled rocket launcher. He is almost invulnerable in his Tyrannosaurus Rex mode, as shown with his battle with Megatron due to Megatron's primary weapon, his arm-mounted fusion cannon, having little or no effect on Grimlock.
In the animated series, the discovery of fossilized dinosaur bones in a cavern in their volcano base set the Earthbound Autobots on the track to creating the Dinobots. Intrigued by the creatures, and with additional knowledge supplied by Spike, Wheeljack and Ratchet created three "Dinobots" - Grimlock, Slag and Sludge.
Unfortunately, their design specs proved to be a little too accurate to the creatures they were modeled on, as their primitive brains went out of control, and Grimlock almost destroyed Teletraan I, before the trio was stopped. Optimus Prime deemed them too dangerous to use again, and had them sealed back up in the cavern, but when the majority of the Autobot force was captured by the Decepticons, Wheeljack freed them to go to their rescue. Equipped with new devices that enhanced their brainpower to functional, yet still impaired, levels (resulting in slow thought processes and simple, clipped speech), the three Dinobots successfully rescued their Autobot comrades, and Optimus Prime admitted his error.
In his private thoughts, however, Grimlock considered Optimus Prime too weak to lead, seeking the position for himself. When Soundwave read his mind and learned of this animosity, Megatron was able to trick Grimlock and the Dinobots into switching sides, attacking and capturing Optimus Prime. To stop the turncoat Dinobots, two new ones were created: Snarl and Swoop. Ultimately, it was when Optimus Prime threw himself into harm's way to save Grimlock from an explosion that he accepted his mistake and rejoined the Autobots. In a rare display of modesty and humility, Grimlock emotionally apologized to Prime, admitted his jealousy of the leader, and accepted fault for the battle. The two subsequently patched up their differences.
Although content for the moment to remain a soldier, rather than a leader, Grimlock still had trouble accepting orders, only agreeing to help stem the tide of natural disasters ravaging Earth due to Cybertron being pulled into its orbit when he realized he would die if he did not. Grimlock and the Dinobots were semi-regularly called into action when the Autobots were faced with challenges that required extra strength, such as the Sub-Atlantican invasion of Washington, D.C., or the Decepticons' control of the TORQ III supercomputer; with every piece of help he and his troops gave, Grimlock was never slow to add a scathing remark about the inabilities of the Autobots. That said, he was not unwilling to admit the failings of his own troops, either, and willingly took them to the time-displaced "Dinobot Island," where they trained in the wilderness and helped stop a Decepticon raid on the prehistoric paradise.
The final straw for Grimlock came when he and the Dinobots were injured in a Decepticon trap at an airfield. Enraged, Grimlock refused to take orders from Optimus Prime any more, and led the Dinobots away from the Ark. When the Autobots began to suffer from Cybertonium deficiency, Spike Witwicky and his girlfriend Carly attempted to persuade the Dinobots - who continued to function perfectly, as they had been built on Earth without Cybertonium - to steal some of the mineral from a Decepticon shipment coming in from Cybertron. Grimlock instead opted to lead the Dinobots to Cybertron itself, where they were captured by Shockwave and put to work in the Cybertonium mines, until Spike and Carly rescued them. Brought back to Earth, the Dinobots agreed to follow Prime's order again - until such time as Grimlock did not feel like it.
By the Earth year 2005, it seemed apparent that Grimlock had undergone some degree of a personality change, becoming more childish and petulant, rather than brutish and stubborn. Also of note, it seemed that, along with the other Dinobots, Grimlock remained in his Dinosaur mode almost exclusively, rarely changing back to his robot form. Throughout 2006, he regularly participated in missions with his fellow Autobots rather than the other Dinobots, battling on the planets of Chaar, Goo, Dredd and Eurythma.
In episode #78, "Madman's Paradise", Spike and Carly hosted a banquet for a visiting ambassador. Daniel got bored and wandered off. Grimlock followed him, and they fell into a lost chamber where Quintessons banished their criminals to other dimensions. They slipped through to the other-dimensional realm of Menonia, and were tricked into fighting on the Red Wizard's side, only to find out that he was the Quintesson criminal, who overthrew the Golden One.
Later, Grimlock helped to sniff out the "dinosaur transform static" that implicated Trypticon in the theft of world monuments. Later in the year, when Decepticon leader Galvatron had Cybertron infused with function-inverting anti-electrons, a dose of the particles gave Grimlock super-intelligence. For the first time Grimlock identified himself as "I, Grimlock". During a mission to Unicron's disembodied head, where the Autobots were outmatched by the new Decepticon Terrorcons, Grimlock used components of Unicron's head to construct the Technobots to battle them. Combined as Computron, the Technobots felt they could not match the Terrorcons, until Grimlock transferred his super-intelligence into Computron, reverting to his old self and allowing the Technobots to claim victory.
Grimlock's greatest victory came when he and a large number of other Transformers with animal transformations were summoned to a world at the centre of the galaxy by the ex-assistant of the ancient genius, Primacron, creator of Unicron. The assistant had assembled these "Primitive" Transformers in the hope that their simple instincts could defeat Primacron's newest creation, Tornedron, but one by one they fell to him, with Grimlock apparently crushed under Trypticon. Grimlock survived, however, and followed Tornedron back to Primacron's lab. When Tornedron turned on his master, like his predecessor, Primacron's complicated plans and equations could not find a way to stop him; Grimlock, on the other hand, randomly flicked a switch which reversed Tornedron's energy polarity, undoing the damage the now dissipating Tornedron had done. Grimlock decimated Primacron's lab while dancing around over his successful saving of the universe, dubbing it the smartest thing he'd ever done.
In the original Marvel Comics, since Marvel Comics' Transformers series were primarily written by Bob Budiansky in its early years, the writer was able to present his origin for the Dinobots as he had originally conceived it. Hence, when the Ark crashed on Earth four million years ago, it was followed down to the planet by the Decepticon Shockwave, who touched down in the prehistoric region of Antarctica known in the Marvel Universe as the Savage Land. The Ark's computer detected his presence on the planet, and its scans of the Savage Land led it to believe that dinosaurs were the dominant life form. Thus, it reconstructed Grimlock and his troops into dinosaur forms, in order to battle Shockwave. Unfortunately, he slyly outmaneuvered them and managed to pick them off at a distance with his superior firepower; knocking them into a tar pit one by one. With their final strike the battle ended in a stalemate as the Dinobots made him fall in the pit along with them, buried under a rock slide for several million years.
In 1984, when Shockwave was accidentally reactivated by an Autobot probe and took command of the Decepticons from Megatron, Autobot medic Ratchet entered into an uneasy alliance with the deposed Decepticon leader, agreeing to recover the Dinobots so that they might defeat Shockwave again. Ratchet pulled a double-cross, however, and had the Dinobots attack Megatron instead, resulting in a battle that ended with Megatron's disappearance.
Grimlock steadily grew more and more displeased with Optimus Prime's leadership, and eventually broke his Dinobots away from the main Autobot faction. After a prolonged period living in self-imposed exile, the news of Optimus Prime's death brought Grimlock back to the Autobots. After proving his worth by defeating the Decepticon Trypticon, Grimlock was elected leader of the Autobots.
Grimlock developed into a tyrannical ruler who led the Autobots with an iron fist. His policy towards Earth and its inhabitants were vastly different from Optimus Prime's – instead of viewing them as objects of protection, Grimlock expressed a disdain for humanity, viewing them as an inferior species unworthy of their protection. Under Grimlock's leadership, the Ark was repaired and made space-worthy again.
In issue #32, titled "Used Autobots", Wheeljack completed work on his Geothermal Generator, which used the heat from the volcano the Ark had crashed in to generate energon cubes. Although Wheeljack thought this would impress Grimlock by reducing their dependence on human help, Grimlock seemed to think the Autobots should just take what they need from the humans.
When the Autobot Headmasters and Targetmasters arrived from Nebulos, Grimlock refused to recognize the authority of Fortress Maximus and failed to establish an allegiance with his group. This proved to be the last straw for the Autobots under Grimlock's command, who collectively conspired to overthrow him, arranging for Blaster to challenge Grimlock for leadership. During their battle on the moon, the Decepticons took advantage of this weakness in the Autobot ranks and interrupted the duel with an all-out assault. With all Autobots now under attack from their mortal enemies, Grimlock and Blaster put their differences aside and fought alongside each other against the Decepticon horde. Subsequently, Fortress Maximus orchestrated the recreation of Optimus Prime as a Powermaster, and Grimlock stepped down as leader.
The 21st century re-imagining of the original universe by Dreamwave Productions chose to depict Grimlock in a manner similar to Marvel Comics - a powerful, cunning warrior who values strength of body and character. Through Transformers: The War Within, the company shaped a background on Cybertron for Grimlock which showed that he had participated in the planet's underground gladiatorial game in order to unleash the rage and anger he had always overflowed with. When Megatron began using the games to identify suitable soldiers for his burgeoning Decepticon army, Grimlock was recruited by him and initially fought on his side, befriending Starscream and perhaps the scientist, Jetfire, before defecting to the Autobots - not out of any particular fondness for them and their ideals, but rather out of sheer hatred of Megatron and his ideals.
In the IDW comic "Regeneration One", which picks up where the Marvel comic left off, Grimlock has been searching for a cure for the fact that the replacement power source, Nucleon, has left himself and his fellow Dinobots unable to transform. This has led him into an uneasy and unwilling truce with the Nebulon Decepticon Scorponok. This story is currently playing out as of this writing.
And, of course, Grimlock appears in the video game Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, where he and his team are captured and turned into the Dinobots by Shockwave. While I can't imagine why Shockwave would want to do this, it does explain how robotic dinosaurs could come to exist on Cybertron, and makes something of an indirect connection between Shockwave and the Dinobots, which they also had in the original Marvel Comic.
So, how's the toy? Extremely impressive, and definitely a superb incarnation of this iconic character. Packaged in robot form, Grimlock stands 7-1/4" in height, a very generous height for a Generations-style Transformer. His color scheme is mostly dark metallic gray and gold, with a bit of red trim, very much in keeping with the original's color scheme.
He has a powerful chest, and thick arms and legs. The headsculpt is very reminiscent of the original Grimlock, a very dark gray, almost black, with a "muzzle" over the mouth,and an angled, single red slit across the front to represent the eyes.
Interestingly, Grimlock has a very distinctive emblem on his chest. It's more or less the Autobot emblem, but it's been modified slightly, with more downturned eyes, lightning bolts, and a fanged mouth. If ever there was a specific Dinobot emblem, here it is. Really, I think it's great.
Sculpted detail on this toy is incredible. The red trim areas have an extensive "honeycomb" design sculpted into them. There are intricate mechanical details on the chest. Layered panels and exposed tech details seem to comprise a fair portion of this robot. It's really all very impressive.
The package for Grimlock made reference to "glowing eyes and mouth". Now, at first, I thought this was a reference to the not-unusual practice of molding the back of a Transformer's head in colored transparent plastic, and allowing that plastic piece to go to the front of the head as the eyes. Thus, when hit with a light source from behind, the eyes appear to glow. Any number of Transformers have this feature, and Grimlock is no exception, and it also works with some portions of his chest.
However, that didn't explain the "glowing mouth", or the fact that this is a battery-operated toy. After finding the switch, I realized that while activating it while Grimlock is in robot mode does cause some details on his chest and abdomen to light up a bit, it's really intended more for Grimlock's dinosaur mode.
With that in mind, let's see what's involved in Grimlock's transformation. Grimlock is listed as being "Intermediate" in difficulty -- well, we'll see. I'm used to transforming these things into vehicles, not dinosaurs, although from the look of him, the basic structure isn't all that different in basic function from the original Grimlock, as to what gets turned into what between one mode and the other. It's just the getting there that needs to be dealt with.
Technically, you start on the back of the robot. Raise the dinosaur head and neck up and over the robot head, stretch them out a bit, and snap them into place. Be advised that the robot head does not retract.
Next, fold the hands into the lower arms. This is going to get a little confusing to explain, because the robot arms are going to become the dinosaur legs.
Now, swing the arms around 180 degrees, effectively turning them into the dinosaur's legs. Okay, so that wasn't so bad.
Here we come to what was, for me, the tricky parts. Raise the lower legs over the upper legs, bring the legs together, extend the tail sections, and then lower the feet against what is now the tail section, and snap the two tail end halves together. This presented something of a problem in alignment for me, but I eventually got it. Finally, tuck the legs a little closer against the main body. And Grimlock is a dinosaur!
So, how is Grimlock as a dinosaur? Very impressive. He measures about 9-1/2" from snout to tail, and stands about 5 inches in height.
One thing to note -- the painted package illustration shows Grimlock standing more or less upright, much as his animated counterpart in the original series tended to do, and which, in fact, the original Grimlock toy tended to. This Grimlock doesn't really do that. He's not designed to stand quite as upright as the illustration makes him look. His head and legs don't really move quite that far, and frankly, in robot mode, the underside of his torso is a bit hollow-looking, so he wouldn't look all that great even if he could.
He tends to stand, not so much hunched over, but with a more forward sort of stance than the original Grimlock. This is not at all detrimental to the look of the character. If you've seen the Jurassic Park movies, then you know that this is not unlike how an actual tyrannosaurus likely stood, especially when it was charging ahead to attack, which Grimlock is certainly capable of doing.
In dinosaur mode, Grimlock looks very much like his classic incarnation -- just a good bit more detailed, much as with his robot mode. He retails his color scheme, dark metallic silver and gold, with red eyes on his dinosaur head and a mean fanged mouth. One of Grimlock's favorite phrases in the animated series was, "Me Grimlock want to munch metal!" He certainly looks ready and capable of it.
Grimlock is one of those rare Transformers who evinces just as much personality in both modes. I tend to keep my Transformers in their robot modes, because they just seem to have that much more personality and character that way. In their alt modes -- well, okay, they're cool planes, cars, trucks, fire engines, whatever. But it helps to have a face to look at. Grimlock manages to have a distinct and familiar personality in both modes.
He's also got a very impressive amount of articulation in both modes. In his robot mode, he's poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, legs, upper leg swivels, and knees. In his dinosaur mode, he's poseable at the jaw, neck, arms, legs, upper leg swivels, knees, and toes.
Also in his dinosaur mode, the battery-operated light-up feature really comes into play. It lights up his eyes and mouth very brightly, as well as a more traditional Autobot emblem on the top of his head. Really, the light-up feature is so bright it practically lights up his entire head. It's a nice touch for a cool character. The activation switch also moves his jaw for a sort of "chomping action".
Grimlock also has two accessories, a very impressive sword and shield, transparent red with black detailing. He can hold these in his hands in his robot mode, and they can be attached to the sides of his legs in dinosaur mode. You know, just in case a rampaging robotic tyrannosaurus isn't menacing enough...
Grimlock's character profile on his package reads as follows: 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 fight against the Decepticons.
His power rankings are as follows: Grimlock gets a full "10" in Strength, Endurance, and Courage; a "9" in Rank and Fireblast; "8" in Skill, "7" in Intelligence -- so he's got to be smarter than he sounds -- and a "5" in Speed. In short -- not someone you want to mess with.
So, what's my final word? Even if you purchased the Classics Grimlock a while back, you need to have the Fall of Cybertron Grimlock from the Generations Collection. This is an incredibly cool and superbly detailed incarnation of everyone's favorite robotic transforming dinosaur. From the distinctive logo on his chest to impressive and imposing modes both as a robot and as a dinosaur, this Grimlock is a superb addition to anyone's Transformers collection.
The TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS "FALL OF CYBERTRON" edition of GRIMLOCK definitely has my highest recommendation!