"Generations" Studio Series Leader Class Grimlock Toy Review

in 2018, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Dinobot, Generations, Leader, Studio Series

Generations

Studio Series

Grimlock General Information:
Release Date: April 2018
Price Point: $49.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, K-Mart, Target etc.)
Accessories: None

Official images and text in italics below from Amazon.com:
This Studio Series 07 Leader Class Movie 4 Grimlock figure brings the movie action from the Hong Kong Pursuit scene to new dimensions. The figure converts between robot and T-Rex modes in 14 steps. Remove the backdrop included in pack to showcase Grimlock in the Hong Kong Pursuit scene.

The Autobots clash with KSI in the Hong Kong Pursuit scene from Transformers: Age of Extinction. Freed from the ship of Lockdown, Grimlock resists the call to stand with Optimus Prime. But bested in combat, he shifts his allegiance in defense of freedom. He leads the Dinobots in a stampede into the city to destroy the Decepticons when the Autobots need it the most.

  • Reach past the big screen and build the ultimate Transformers collection with Studio Series figures, inspired by iconic movie scenes and designed with a cinematic blend of movie scales and deco.
  • This Studio Series 07 Leader Class Movie 4 Grimlock figure converts between robot and T-Rex modes in 14 steps. Remove backdrop from pack to showcase the legendary Dinobot leader in the Hong Kong Pursuit scene.
  • 2017 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.
  • 2017 Paramount Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
  • Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

2017 was a milestone in Transformers history. The live action movie series was now ten years old meaning an entire generation of fans had grown up in an era where they had a live action Transformers theatrical film every other year to watch. In 2018 Hasbro launched the "Studio Series", a "Generations"-esque line of figured focused on the live action movies. The series boasts several figures that are made in rough scale with each other using the CAD files from Paramount Pictures as the basis for the design. Part of the idea was also to fill in gaps in previous lines by making characters who had not appeared in the line previously.

Grimlock is a name that has a lot of history in the Transformers brand. Originally introduced as the leader of the Dinobots in G1, the character became a fan favorite over the years. When the time came to introduce the character into the live action movie universe, he was a terrifying giant capable of incredible destruction. When he appeared in "Age of Extinction" this gave the designers at Hasbro and Takara Tomy the opportunity to create a very different Grimlock figure, and so they did. There were many versions of the character released for both "Age of Extinction" and "The Last Knight" including:

And yes, there were even more! I just wanted to give you a sense of just how many Grimlock figures there are out there based on the movie universe. All that said, the one issue they all have in common is that none of them truly represent the character as he was seen on the big screen in "Age of Extinction" and "The Last Knight". This was partly because Hasbro and Takara Tomy were working off concept art of the character rather than the actual CG models used for the film. Now with the Studio Series they have the chance to use those models and thus produce the most "movie accurate" Grimlock toy to date!

Packaging:
The Leader Class Studio Series figures are packaged in boxes similar in size to the boxes used for "The Last Knight". The boxes are vertical rectangles with a large window in the front. Instead of the lighter colors of "The Last Knight" boxes, this box takes a more "Generations" style approach, using a black background and a vertical "Transformers" logo to the right. Above that is the "Generations" logo. Reflecting the new, unified approach to the Transformers toy line both Hasbro and Takara Tomy's logos appear on the front of the packaging. Towards the lower part of the box is the logo for the specific film the character comes from. To the left is new package art with blue borders. The packaging also has package art on the side and a large collector number designated to each figure. In Grimlock's case he is number seven. The idea is that you can line up all these figures on a shelf to show off the collection numbers. It's a neat idea and has kept me from tossing out the box so far.

The back of the packaging shows Grimlock in both modes along with the logo for the "Age of Extinction". It also describes his transformation as having thirty steps. Towards the bottom it shows you how you can take the cardboard insert from the inside of the packaging and use it as a display base and background for the figure. In Grimlock's case, he comes with a background with a battle scene happening towards the end of the movie in Hong Kong. Next to that are are the cosells for this figure: Leader Class Blackout and Voyager Class Starscream. Below that is all the requisite legal information for the figure.

Robot Mode:
When fans were introduced to the live action movie version of Grimlock in "Age of Extinction", there was not a lot of time to get a look at the character in robot mode. Optimus rescues him and within minutes the two are involved in a battle where Optimus has to prove his worth in recruiting the Dinobots. Even with all of Grimlock's movements it was clear that he was a heavily detailed character even by live action movie standards. His body was layered in machinery details, armor panels and some savage looking bits like the dinosaur teeth on his chest and shoulders.

Of course, this was in the final film. When Hasbro had to design the action figures for the film they only had Grimlock's concept art to work off of for the robot mode and it showed. This design is more smooth in many respects than the final product and a bit less bulky. With the "Studio Series", Hasbro and Takara Tomy finally had the actual CG models from the film to work off of and the result is incredible!

In ever way the detailing on this figure beats all previous versions of this character. Gone are the smooth torso panels of the previous figures. Gone is the smooth head design that looked more like a helmet and in its place is a very complex looking figure that is covered in details from the film. I could go on forever about the details, but here are some of my favorites:

  • The head design now mirrors the one seen in the film, which had shades of looking like Grimlock had more of a beak that opened up like a bird's than a mouthplate. It also features the crest sticking up on top.
  • The chest design features "teeth" from the beast mode (this existed on previous figures) but this time it is clearer that these look like pieces of the beast mode jaw rather than a decorative design.
  • The right hand has a mace at the end. Previous figures featured a fist or hand there, but in the film Grimlock actually transforms his right hand into a mace when he fights Optimus Prime so the designers chose to give him the mace this time out.
  • The armor over his waist area is sculpted to look like it is made up of several panels that end in sharp angles (don't worry, the plastic is not going to cut anyone).
  • The lower legs feature spikes sticking out on the sides. This detail appeared on some, but not all previous figures representing this version of Grimlock.
  • The knee armor and "toes" on the feet are both pointed pieces that curve upward.
  • The back details are accurate, including two curved panels on his upper back and a piece that looks like the top of a spine behind the head.

Overall this sculpt is incredible and shows what Hasbro and Takara Tomy can do when they are given the right reference materials to work off of.

Now let's talk about the other incredible part of this figure: the deco. When the "Age of Extinction" toy line came out, the designers at Hasbro and Takara Tomy had to find a way to make the Dinobots distinct from one another. In the film they were basically gunmetal grey and silver with a tinge of other colors (red on Scorn, green on Grimlock etc.). In toy form Grimlock wound up with a silver/copper/beige color scheme across many different toys. This time out the designers decided to stay more true to the film, and the results are incredible.

The figure is mostly cast in dark grey plastic (both hard and soft for safety). Then an insane amount of metallic green, silver and gunmetal grey paint applications have been brushed all over the figure. This includes the shoulder armor, the torso, the head, the waist area and the legs. Some sections have been left unpainted such as the mace weapon and his fist, but for the most part there is a ton of eye candy on this figure. In the film, Grimlock looked mostly metallic grey but when he moved, light would shine on him and reveal the brushed metal details in green. This figure manages to achieve the same effect and it looks incredible. A finishing touch are red eyes on both the robot head and the dinosaur heads on his shoulders. The color adds an extra threatening look to the figure and matches up with Grimlock's on-screen appearance.

There are twenty one points of articulation on this figure. They include five in the left arm and four in the right (the right arm loses one point due to the mace weapon). The waist can turn and the ankles are on ball joints. A couple of the joints such as the ankles and knees are ratchet joints that help hold the figure steady and make a very satisfying "click" when you move them. In a very smart move, both the armor in the front and back of the waist/hip area can lift up, allowing the legs to move forward and back without an issue. The left fist has a 5mm port in it, allowing you to arm Grimlock with weapons from other figures. Sadly he does not include a staff weapon like he had in the film. However the staff weapons from either the Voyager or Leader Class Grimlocks from previous films work just fine.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  2. Rotate the feet around so the dinosaur feet are pointing forward, then push the robot "toe" piece into the back of the lower legs.
  3. Swing the arms out to the sides.
  4. Lift the front and back waist armor pieces up.
  5. Pull down on the hip area, then swing each leg/hip section out to the sides.
  6. Turn the upper body so the robot head is facing the right side.
  7. Rotate the right arm around so the elbow armor piece is facing downward. Swing out the end of the tail in the mace.
  8. Split the right side shoulder armor and swing each half down over the base of the tail.
  9. Swing up the rear waist armor, then push up each half to form the bottom of the tail.
  10. Pull the left shoulder armor piece forward to begin forming the beast mode head.
  11. Rotate the left arm around so the back of the fist is facing downward.
  12. Swing the bottom jaw piece on the forearms up.
  13. Push the left upper arm against the chest, then bend the arm at the elbow to swing the forearm up.
  14. Push the top half of the beast mode head down into the lower jaw section. There are tabs on the top part that fit into corresponding parts on the lower jaw.
  15. Push the crest on the head down.
  16. Swing open the chest panel from the robot mode.
  17. Rotate the section with the robot head on it around, then close the chest panel.
  18. Swing each of the legs back and angle them so tabs at the base of the hip/thigh area fit into corresponding slots on the sides of the beast mode.
  19. Swing the knee armor out.
  20. Swing each lower leg back,then swing it up.

Beast Mode:
Just as the designers faced challenges with Grimlock's robot mode in creating previous figures, the same could be said for the beast modes. In some cases the proportions were a bit odd (large heads and feet with smaller bodies) and for some reason the tail seemed to be a really difficult problem to solve (the "Age of Extinction" Leader Class figure probably being the worst offender). Well fellow fans, after many years of lessons learned it looks like the designers finally managed to tackle this beast mode and make it work!

Like the movie's CG model, Grimlock's beast mode looks like the armored skeleton of a Carnotaurus (not so much a T-Rex). He has many of the design elements from the film's CG model including:

  • The head features layers of armor all over it leading to two "horns" angling upward at the back and rows of giant, sharp looking teeth (cast in soft plastic for safety reasons). He even has tiny details like tubes that extend into the nose and three distinct pointed panels behind the lower jaw area.
  • The back section features several designs that resemble rib bones with spikes on top (blunted for safety reasons).
  • The dinosaur arms are thick at the top and lead to smaller sections in the front with two claws.
  • The layered look of the armor on the legs matches up with their appearance in the film where they would seemingly lift up and move down in concert with Grimlock's leg movements when he ran.

All that said, the tail is still a pain point for the designers. Here the tail is formed by a combination of the right robot arm, armor panels and the mace weapon extending out to reveal the tail tip. However this winds up creating a bit of a mish mash of parts that resembles a tail more than the long tail Grimlock used in combat in "Age of Extinction". Still, it is a piece that comes to a point at the end and it looks more like a tail than the "two legs stuck together" tails of some previous figures. Also, it is very obviously a tail and in the face of how awesome the rest of the figure is I have no issue with this one imperfection.

The same colors seen in the robot mode wind up here, with the same amazing brush work of metallic green and silver paint running from the front to the back. In a way, this mode gives you an even better look at the amazing brush work on this figure since it extends a lot of parts outward. I do wish the plastic on the tip of the tail had some paint on it, but it is not a huge loss in my opinion.

This mode has sixteen points of articulation. This includes the base of the neck being able to turn, the mouth opening and closing and even a couple points on the tail (not a shock since it's made from one of the arms). The ratchet joints in the legs also really help provide stability in this form.

Final Thoughts:
Grimlock is spectacular, and one of the best figures to come out of the "Studio Series" thus far. The transformation is both fun and intuitive with some clever steps. The sculpt and deco are amazing. Sure the beast mode is not perfect but it is miles ahead of previous versions in terms of movie accuracy, sculpt and deco. Highly recommended!

Pros:

  • Sculpt is movie-accurate and highly detailed.
  • The brush work used on this deco is stunning.
  • Colors chosen help recreate the visual effect of "gunmetal to green" seen in the film.
  • Intuitive and clver transformation.
  • Smart use of ratchet joints.

Cons:

  • Missing staff weapon.
  • It would have been cool if the mace weapon could have opened to reveal a fist.
  • Tail in beast mode could have been better.