With this being my first week of regular content since the New Year, what better way to kick off 2018’s Transformers Thursdays with a look at the very highly anticipated new Voyager Class Grimlock? I actually got this guy in right around the turn of the year and I’ve been chomping at the bit to open him up ever since. I’m also just a wee bit nervous, because not everything I’ve been hearing about Grimmy has been good. Will PotP Grimlock be Bozo or King? I guess I’m about to find out!
This is the first boxed figure that I’m reviewing from PotP and as you can see it’s not much different from Combiner Wars or Titans Return. The character art is great, but I’m really ready for Hasbro to change up the packaging deco for the next Transformers line. I was never a big fan of this layout. It just feels bland and boring and generic, and it’s getting more than a little stale for me. But who cares about the box? I’m just going to trash it anyway. The figure comes packaged in his robot mode and as we’re about to see, that was a good choice on Hasbro’s part. Let’s jump right in to Grimlock’s alt mode.
Oh, boy. So, I knew I was going to be in for a rough ride here, but I’ll say straightaway that the T-Rex mode is at least instantly familiar. Unfortunately, It’s also a veritable symphony of good and bad execution, and the emphasis is leaning toward the bad. I’m tempted to say that I’d be fine with the main body if the legs didn’t seem to jut out so far to the point where they’re really awkward looking. Then again, I think a lot of that has to do with how wide the body is. He looks like he’s wearing a pair of big gold diapers, and they’re starting to sag. Let’s just say that the proportions on this T-Rex are a mess. I think he looks passable when viewed at a three-quarter turn, but looking at him dead on, or from above, or from either side makes me want to ball up my fists and scream, WHYYYY? And the answer I keep coming back to is simple: Because they made him a Combiner. That tail is chunky because that’s where the Combiner’s leg ports are. Those legs are so horribly misshapen because that’s where the Combiner’s shoulder ports are. I didn’t ask for Dinobot Combiners, but I’m not earnestly against the idea. But in this case, a lot was sacrificed in favor of a Dinobot Combiner gimmick, and I can’t say I’m very happy about it.
Proportions aside, assuming I’m able to overlook them, there’s some great stuff going on with this sculpt. There’s plenty of panel lines, vents, circuitry, and other doodads that really makes the detail come alive. I’d also argue that the head is spot on perfect, as are the tiny little arms, which are ball jointed into his body. It’s true that he’s really damn f’ugly from the top top down, but I’m surprised at how little that bothers me. The deco is also brilliant. Like the other PotP Dinobots, I really dig the mix of gray, red, and black plastic, along with those gold sections under clear plastic. Add in some foil stickers, and you get a deco that perfectly invokes the G1 Dinobot aesthetic, and matches Slug and Swoop pretty well. He scales fairly well with them too.
I do have some problems getting the seam running down his dino chest to close up all the way. Some silver paint for the arms and teeth would have been cool, but all in all, there’s some stuff to love on this T-Rex and just about all of it is from the chest and arms up. But I don’t think it balances out with the awkward, clunky proportions. Let’s move on to his robot mode.
And here is where the figure starts to shine a bit. The big barrel-shaped gold chest covered in clear plastic works for me, although I would have liked a little something between it and his pelvis. I think it’s called abs and Grimmy here just doesn’t have any. Regardless, I think the arms are great. They look powerful, I love the high shoulders, and while the diminished claws didn’t help him much in T-Rex mode, they look OK here on his wrists. It’s below the waist where things get a little dodgy. The legs could have used a bit more bulk to them. They look fine on their own, and I like the way the colorful foil stickers invoke that G1 spirit, but his lower half is a touch too scrawny for that powerful upper body. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a deal-breaker for me, but there’s room for improvement. Maybe he would have benefited from some actual feet.
The back of the figure advertises how the transformation doesn’t stray too far from the old G1 engineering. The T-Rex neck and head still flops down the center of the back, the chest opens up into “wings” and the tail, instead of folding up the sides of the legs, go to the back to serve as heel spurs. About the only thing out of place here is that giant hip plate, which is obvious Combiner kibble.
The head sculpt is simple, but wonderfully slavish to the G1 design. Here’s one thing that I wouldn’t have changed at all.
And just as things were getting better, Hasbro punches me right in the balls with the decision to not include any weapons. Nope, no weapons. No sword, no gun, nothing. It’s an omission so ridiculous, that I can scarcely believe it. You do get a couple of Combiner parts in there, and a power chip called the Dinobot Enigma. But if you want your Grimlock armed, you’re just going to have to steal the sword and gun from his fellow Dinobots.
The Combiner Parts double as Prime Armor and can attach to him at various points. The most useful place seems to be on his arms, as it gives him some claw-like thingies. They look OK and they’re probably fun for the kiddies. The Dinobot Enigma is basically like a Prime Master that doesn’t transform. Or maybe like a Dinobot Matrix? Either way it fits into any of the Prime Armor pieces you have. You can probably tell that I’m not at all vested in the Prime Armor power gimmick, although I do applaud that it’s a feature that actually requires kids to use their imaginations. And don’t you worry… I’ll be looking at some of them Prime Masters coming up real soon. Hey, before wrapping up, let’s take a quick look at him with the last Voyager Grimlock, from the Generations Fall of Cybertron line…
When it comes to the robot mode, I’ll take FOC Grimlock over this one in a heartbeat, but in fairness they are two pretty different looks. I like the deco on PotP Grimmy a little better, as it really does a splendid job matching the G1 aesthetic. But with that having been said, the proportions and overall sexiness of FOC Grimlock still impresses me. Not to mention he comes with a sword and a shield, which he’s probably going to have to learn how to share.
The T-Rex modes tell a very different story. I had really good memories of FOC Grimlock’s T-Rex mode, but dear god, it has not aged well. While PotP Grimlock looks bloated and ill-proportioned, the FOC version looks like a hollowed out husk of a T-Rex. As many problems as I have with this new Grimlock’s alt mode, I have to say it looks like a goddamn work of art beside the older FOC figure.
In the end, Grimlock here is disappointing, although the pretty decent robot mode helps keep him from being a total disaster. There’s a hint of greatness in his alt mode, at least in the top half, but when you get down to the legs, the whole thing just falls apart for me. It’s a real shame, because the original G1 Grimlock toy looked pretty damn great in both robot and T-Rex mode, so modernizing it should really just be a matter of adding articulation and cleaning up some of the proportions. And yet here we are with a modern update that looks worse because of the Combiner gimmick. Now, obviously, I won’t pass judgement on the Dinobots as a Combiner Team until I have all the figures to combine, but as things stand now, I’m not very happy with this trade off. Am I being too hard on this new Grimlock? I dunno. You tell me.