Yeah, yeah… yesterday was Transformers Thursday, but since I had to skip last week, let’s keep the spotlight on the Transformers as we head into the weekend. Today I’m looking at a figure that needs no introduction. He’s Masterpiece Grimlock and he’s a figure that’s been around the block more times than I can keep track of. Suffice it to say, he’s had at least two Takara releases and this will be his second Hasbro release. I passed on him the first couple of times because I wasn’t collecting the MP stuff back then, but after acquiring a whole shelf full of the MP figures, I was recently poised to blow a lot of money on the Takara version. Something else came up that I wanted more and so I put it off only to have this second US release come out of nowhere. Now, normally the Hasbro MP releases don’t do me any good. They’re always Toys R Us Exclusives, there are no TRUs around here, and I could never get them online. Until now. The awesome guys over at The Allspark posted a heads up early one morning that Grimlock was up for order on TRU’s website, and I just happened to be online to get in on that hot robot dinosaur action. A few days later, MP Grimlock was finally mine. Today we’ll check out the packaging and the robot mode, and tomorrow we’ll look at the dino mode.
Grimlock comes in a box that is branded in a fashion similar to the Age of Extinction packages, and that’s a shame because I don’t like these at all. The plain white and red boxes are dull, with “Transformers” running down the side in what looks like a placeholder font. In fact, the whole box design feels like a placeholder. It’s like something the art department whipped up overnight just to see what the configuration of the box would look like with the intent of adding the actual artwork later on. I know times are tough at Hasbro. Maybe they had to fire their art design department. This kind of minimalist stuff works OK for the 6-inch Star Wars Black line, but here it just looks like garbage. Hell, the Third-Party Transformers I buy come in way better looking packages than these, and those aren’t even designed to sit on a store shelf and attract buyers. Nothing about Grimlock’s package screams premium Masterpiece Transformer to me.
Anyway, there’s a massive Autobot emblem on the front that wraps around to the side. There’s also an illustrated strip that wraps around the box with pictures of the toy. It still denotes Grimlock as MP-03, despite the fact that that numbering is getting more and more confusing. The box opens from the side and there’s a clear plastic tray, very similar to the Takara releases, holding the figure in robot mode and his accessories. So, I do really like the fact that this package is collector friendly. It’s also durable enough for storage and I prefer an actual box like this one to the window box used for the first Hasbro MP-03 release. It’s just the art design that puts me off. Let’s get the figure out and put the packaging behind us.
Holy hell! Out of the box, Grimlock is one impressive and formidable robot. He stands right about in line with my MP Soundwave and while he should be taller, the height is fine with me. The Masterpiece line has evolved quite a bit since the early figures, but I think Grimlock’s aesthetics fit right in with the more recent releases on my shelf. He strikes me as more of an update to the original toy than any attempt at a comic or animated inspired homage, and that’s Ok because he looks so damn good. The design is slavishly faithful to the G1 toy and everything on this guy is right where it should be only outfitted with better proportions. Yes, the proportions are fantastic, from the large feet to the powerful raised shoulders. Grimlock is an absolute beast of a robot.
Grimlock’s deco makes use of a lot of bare grey and black plastic. Of course, he wouldn’t be a true G1 Grimlock without the bling and MP-03 features plenty of that. The entire chest is metallic gold along with the claws on his wrists, and it contrasts beautifully with his dull utilitarian grey armor. But my favorite thing is the translucent plate on his chest that exposes all the intricate detailing behind it. Fantastic! The accents on the front of his legs are a mix of paint and tinted translucent plates and the glossy red paint on his pelvic area ties the whole figure together beautifully. Even on a shelf full of Masterpiece Transformers, Grimlock stands out from the crowd!
The portrait is also a slam dunk. Grimlock’s expressionless slab of a face is beautifully recreated. It’s amazing how much personality you can pack into nothing but a mouth plate and a visor. Out of the box the visor is red, to pay homage to the G1 toy, but you can activate a lever on the back to make it Sunbow blue. I think the red visor is more striking, but I may wind up going with the blue. Isn’t it nice to have options!
Besides looking amazing, Grimlock is lots of fun to play and features a wide range of articulation. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, they have swivels in the biceps, double-hinged elbows, and swivels and hinges in the wrists. The legs have universal movement at the hips, swivels at the top of the thighs, and powerful ratcheting hinges in the knees. There’s a little bit of rocker action in the ankles, but it seems to favor moving the foot outward rather than inward, so it doesn’t help a lot on those wide stances. Then again, my figure can’t do those without collapsing anyway, so maybe it doesn’t matter. Lastly, Grimlock features a generous ball joint in his neck, giving his head a very pleasing wide range of motion.
Alas, there are some blemishes on this beauty, so let’s talk about those. First off, the hip joints are all kinds of loosy goosy. Grimlock can stand just fine, but if I try to get him into a wide stance action pose, he’s going to wind up doing the splits. I understand there’s a fix for this that involves taking him apart and cleaning the joints. Maybe I’ll try that someday. In the meantime, an $80 collectible probably shouldn’t be having this kind of problem. I’ll also note that while playing around with him, Grimlock’s torso has come untabbed a few times. It isn’t a critical design flaw, but it can get irritating from time to time.
The other issues are more minor. First, Grimlock has a gimmick that makes an Autobot symbol appear in the window in his chest when he transforms. It sort of works, but the insignia always looks like it’s not quite all the way in place. It’s very close, but not quite. Second, the dino head is supposed to tab into his back but when you look at how shallow the slot is, it’s easy to see that it was never going to hold. As a result, the dino head has a habit of flopping around when I’m posing him. Again, all of these things are a little bothersome, but even when taken together they don’t add up to enough to really spoil my enjoyment of the figure.
Ok, I’ve gone long enough. Tomorrow I’ll take a look at his accessories and then we’ll get him transformed into his dino mode!
I don’t think I have had that hip problem.
This was my first MP. It got me hooked. It’s simple enough, it looks G1, it looks cartoon at the same time, it’s pretty near perfect. And when I get Scoria he’ll also be taller!
I’ve gotta try to rustle up two hundred bones for Scoria. The two figures look amazing together.
There’s the slippery slope right there. They also looked great next to not-Swoop.
Damn you, sir!