Power Core Combiners Grimstone with Dinobots Toy Review

in 2010, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Dinobot, Generation One, Power Core Combiners

Power Core Combiners

General Information:
Release Date: December 2010
Price Point: $19.99
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Beacon Mini-Con figure
Image Gallery: Gallery of images featuring Grimstone and the Dinobots

Text below from Transformers.com:
Power up for the ultimate robot battles! Your GRIMSTONE Commander vehicle is already a virtually unstoppable opponent in his Commander Triceratops mode and Commander robot modes. But his strength gets increased five-fold when you convert him to Power-Up mode and convert his DINOBOTS drone figures into his limbs! And the action doesn’t stop there. With this Power Core interchangeable robot combination system, MINI-CONS (sold separately) and drone vehicles can attach to power up any Commander figure. Collect more packs and you can create tons of unique and fierce robot battler figure combinations!

Five-pack includes GRIMSTONE, Spinosaurus Drone, Pachycephalosaurus Drone, Ankylosaurus Drone and Parasaurolophus Drone figures. Ages 5 and up.

I have never met any casual or hardcore Transformers fan who does not seem to smile (or at least light up a bit) when you use the term "Dinobot". Once, this term only referred to the five original Dinobots led by the famous Grimlock. As the years went along, there were more "dinosaur" based Transformers but they were never referred to as "Dinobots" (such as some dinosaur based cassette Transformers released in Japan). When Beast Wars arrived on the scene, the Maximal Dinobot became one of the most prominant and famous Transformers characters in history (so much so that he became inducted into the "Transformers Hall of Fame" at Botcon 2010). During the Beast Machines era, a team of techno-organic Transformers were released as the "new" Dinobots, led by a tyrannosaurus based character named T-Wrecks. More recently, a team of Mini-Cons was released also using the Dinobot name. It is safe to say Dinobots have been quite the influence in the Transformers universe.

The Power Core Combiners have brought the Dinobot concept back, this time with heavy design influences from the very first group of Dinobots. Even the number is appropriate as the original Dinobot team was made up of five members. This team has the typical Power Core Combiner set up, with one Commander figure and four Drones.

Grimstone Review

Robot Mode:
There are certain design elements that all the classical Dinobots had in common. First, they were not techno-organic and their dinosaur modes were hardly for disguise. Indeed, they were more for combat effectiveness and intimidation. They made liberal use of angular designs that line up more with traditional Transformers design. Grimstone uses this aesthetic to the point where he looks like he's the "missing" sixth member of the Dinobot team from Generation One.

While he may be a Scout Class figure Grimstone has a lot of bulk for a smaller Transformers figure. Some of this is thanks to armor that hangs over his shoulders that look like a protective armor shield. His design speaks to a character that is meant to get into fights and protect himself from harm. His arms are set wide relative to his torso. The same can be said for his legs, which are thick and strong looking. I also dig the head design, which feature three ridges along the top that echo his beast modes "triceratops" theme. The horn from his beast mode is prominently displayed on his chest, evoking a very primitive and powerful appearance. Add to that a lot of the more intricate detailing including layered detailing and tubes on his torso, pointed details resembling horns on his legs and feet all add up to a nicely detailed figure that looks great with the G1 Dinobots.

Grimstone is cast in mostly traditional Dinobot colors, those being grey, black and red. There are of course the light blue "Power Core Combiner" connector bits but they are for the most part out of the way in this form. Paint applications are also done up in many of the more traditional Dinobot colors. One of these is silver, which you'll find on his face and legs. Another is gold, found on his chest. Orange is used as well, and while it is not a color many people think about with Dinobots, it was the color often used in the cartoon to show the energy weapons coming out from Dinobots in their beast modes (such as Slag's horns). Appropriate, the orange is used on the horns in this form as well as the sides of the legs. Though a bit hard to see because they're rather thin, his eyes are painted blue, the traditional color for an Autobot's eyes. Overall, the color scheme really works well in concert with the sculpt to give him a look that is instantly recognizable as a Dinobot.

There are seventeen points of articulation on this figure. This includes three on each arm and four in each leg. I will qualify this however by saying that I'm not particularly pleased with his shoulder articulation. The shoulder joint is perfectly capable of swinging up and down, but it is partly obstructed by the armor that drapes over the top of his arms. Thanks to those pieces, his arms do go up but they point at an angle instead of lifting straight up. It's a bit annoying, not enough to ruin the figure but enough for you to think "Man, if they had just fixed this one point this guy would be pure win".

Like the other Power Core Combiner five packs, the Commander figure does not come with any accessories of its own, but you can arm Grimstone with "standard" sized weapons such as those from the Energon line and some from the more recent Classics universe figures. He has a Mini-Con peg on his back (really part of the beast mode tail) that allows you to connect a Mini-Con or weapon. I was a bit worried about his fists at first because they're not very thick, so I feared for the stability of weapons in his hands, but one "test" I used was Energon Rodimus' weapon and it fit nice and snug and didn't fall out even as I moved the arms up and down.

Transformation to Beast Mode:

  1. Swing the red heel pieces up.
  2. Swing the gold section on the chest up and over the robot head.
  3. Straighten out both arms.
  4. Swing the arms forward so they connect together.
  5. Swing the front beast mode legs down and straighten them out.
  6. Swing the tail back.
  7. Rotate the lower half of the robot legs around, then curve the legs at the knee joints to form the rear beast mode legs.

Beast Mode:
Grimstone is a triceratops in beast mode, though to be honest I almost thought he was a Centrosaurus at first. He has the normal trappings of such a mode including being on four legs, having the frills above his head and a prominent snout with a point at the end. Now, the horn on his snout is relatively large so it is hard to miss, but the other two horns above his eyes look more like little nubs. I think there were practical reasons for keeping these parts smaller, mostly having to do with safety and the transformation of the figure, but still it does make me a bit nostalgic for G1 Slag's more threatening looking horns. He does however have spikey parts on each segment of the frill and small horns sticking out the sides of the head, which kind of makes up for the size of the two aforementioned horns in sheer quantity. The horns aren't Grimstone's only weapons however, he also has two blasters mounted on either side of his head. The Generation One Dinobots were often seen firing energy from their mouths or horns in Slag's case. Here it is cool to see both types of weaponry in this mode.

Note: Fellow fan Daniel Suh believes (quite correctly I think) that Grimstone is more likely a Utahceratops.

There are a lot of other nice design elements. The plate has sections of armor with small raised ridges in the center. Each leg has a very classic Dinobot appearance with lots of angular shapes surrounded by round ones, especially at the top of each leg. His head has several nicely defined hard lines that give him a very robotic appearance that looks fantastic.

This mode features the same basic colors as the robot mode, but this time around the paint colors of silver and gold become much more primary, with some red added in as well. Most of these colors are focused around the frill area. The frill is mostly silver, with the spikes at the end painted gold. A ridge on the bottom is painted red. The ends of the blasters on either side of his head are painted black. On the back of the beast mode is an Autobot symbol painted in red and each of the rear legs has silver and orange details painted on. These colors all work together very well and act as iconic Dinobot colors at the same time. Kudos to the designers for this!

In this form Grimstone has twelve points of articulation. This is mostly focused on his legs. The end of the tail has a Mini-Con peg on it (this is the same one that is used on the back of the robot mode). I grant it's a slightly awkward place to have a peg, however given the transformation scheme it would be hard to place it anywhere else. Still, if you connect the right Mini-Con or weapon, it does give him some extra firepower potential which I like a lot.

Overall this is a strong beast mode for a Scout Class scale, especially when you consider there is a third mode to be explored!

Drone Reviews

Ankylosaurus Drone
Following the theme of creating dinosaur beast modes that borrow the aesthetic of the G1 Dinobots, the Ankylosaurus Drone is a very robotic looking creature. There are no techno-organic elements here, this guy is all machine. The basic form is very nicely done. The head is curved in the front that comes to a point. The top part of the figure has a shell with raised spikes while his tail ends in a spiked ball. His legs are a bit higher than other Transformers Ankylosaurus figures have used, but it looks great all the same. Like Grimstone, the Ankylosaurus has several melee type weapons including spikes on his head, shell and tail, but he also has energy weapons in the form of two cannons, one mounted on top of each front leg.

I like a lot of the smaller details on this figure that point to its more robotic nature. This includes tubes and vents on the sides under the shell and a horizontal set of ridged lines on the top. You'll also find hinges sculpted into the legs and "toes" that stick out in the front of each foot.

The Ankylosaurus Drone is cast in grey plastic, red and black. The grey is the most used color, with red found on the combining point and black on the blasters. Gold, light, blue, silver and black are the colors used for his paint details. Silver is found on his head, back and the end of the tail. Gold is used on the head and most of the shell. Now, most Drones don't have "eyes", but since he has a beast mode head he has a pair of light blue eyes. The black paint is found on his rear legs where it is used for an Autobot symbol on either side. The colors are spot on perfect and blend very well with the sculpted details.

There are two points of articulation in this form, the head and the tail. Both relate to his transformation into a leg, but it also works to give a bit more expression to the Drone. The Drone has a peg on the top of his shell, where it is in the perfect place to add on Mini-Cons or weapons such as those from Energon. It's the perfect spot for this peg. This is one of my favorite Drones of the set and I've always liked the Ankylosaurus just as a dinosaur, but as an official Autobot/Dinobot it makes me smile.

Pachycephalosaurus Drone
Like the Ankylosaurus Drone, there has already been a Pachycephalosaurus Dinobot in the aforementioned team led by T-Wrecks. This time out, this guy definitely fits into the team that his name comes from. The Drone has many of the features one would expect from a Pachycephalosaurus including a long tail, two "chicken walker" style legs, two small arms and a big battering ram built onto the top of his head. I'm not claiming any particular accuracy from the persepctive of paleontology (they debate whether this feature was really used for ramming) but I do think in a mechanical beast this function would make perfect sense. Like the other Dinobots however, he isn't just about potential melee power, he has blasters mounted on either side of his upper body.

While the other members of the team are by no means plain, the Pachycephalosaurus has a lot of detail sculpted in relative to the others. The head is sectioned off into different portions including the cheeks, eyes and mouth. His ram has a ring with studs around it, which continue down the front of his face to the nose. The weapons on the sides have targeting sights on them with some ridged detail to boot. The sides of the beast have several intricate and layered details including hinges and gears. His tail is sculpted with a series of armor plates layered on top of a section underneath. All this works together to make one impressive looking Drone.

Like the other Dinobots, most of this figure is cast in grey. There is a lot of red plastic found on the arms, the chest and on the back. Continuing the G1 Dinobot color theme, there are silver, gold and black details. The gold is found mostly on the legs, where it is used on the sides and the lower legs. The silver is used on his head and the blasters on the sides. Black is used for an Autobot symbol on the top of his head.

There's no real articulation to this figure, but if you press the tail down it moves the head down as well, all part of his conversion to one of the combineder's legs. In this mode however, it makes his head look like it is bearing down to get ready for a ramming strike, which could be coincidence, but it's fun in play. He also has a Mini-Con peg on his back, allowing you to connect a weapon or Mini-Cons. It's a good place for the peg as it offers up a lot of clearance for anything you attach.

Parasaurolophus Drone
The Parasaurolophus Drone is perhaps the most elaborate of the Drones in design. He retails the basic shape of a real life Parasaurolophus including the head with the famous crest that sweeps back on the head. He has two small arms in front with two large legs (which jives with some of the more popular portrayals of this species). This is all balanced out by a long tail that curves out the back. Unlike the popular portrayal of the Parasaurolophus, this one has a huge pair of blasters mounted on its back. Unlike the other Dinobot Drones which have smaller weapons, this one is huge, with tons of complex looking machinery behind it. Unlike the other Drones, this one can have two weapons or Mini-Cons attached to it, thanks to there being pegs on either side of the blasters.

Speaking of complex, much like the Pachycephalosaurus Drone, the Parasaurolophus has a lot of sculpted detail. This includes his head which has each section sculpted including a hinge on his jaw, sectioned armor plates on the extended crest and a snout with nostrils. His torso and legs have lots of line detail down to his toes having distinct lines segmenting them from each other. The tail has a series of armor plates separated by ridges. It's very well sculpted and I love his weapons which just look super powerful.

The primary color on this figure is grey, with red used on smaller parts like his arms and chest. Black plastic is used for the weapons on his back, so they wind up making up a large chunk of the contrasting color in this form. The paint colors are as you would expect: silver, gold, orange, light blue and black. The silver is used on his tail and lower legs. The gold is found on the barrel of his weapons while the orange is used on the crest. The black paint comes into play on his head, where there is an Autobot symbol right in the middle between his eyes. The eyes are each painted blue. The colors work very well here and I like the use of the silver on the tail and legs.

Spinosaurus Drone
When I first read the Dinobot packaging, I saw "Spinosaurus" from this Drone's description and the old dinosaur geek in me immediately thought "Um...nooooo...". Clearly, this creature was originally designed as Dimetrodon. Its sail on the back, oval shaped head and squat, low to the ground configuration clearly points to a Dimetrodon. The Spinosaurus on the other hand has a very elongated snout with much longer legs. So why the change? My theory is simply this: a Dimetrodon, despite all appearances is not an actual dinosaur, thus making the term "Dinobot" a misnomer. If you squint your eye and tilt your head, I can see how the Drone could be seen as a Spinosaurus so I guess the name change works, but it's one I find a bit funny.

Aside from the obvious Dimetrodon features, there are a lot of the same types of details on this Drone as the others. This includes hinge details on the legs, a jaw with teeth and even brows above the eyes. I even noticed his feet have segmented digits. On the rear legs the digits actually raised from the front to the back. While the Drone definitely has a mean set of chompers in his mouth, he also has several guns built into the front end. He has five barrels of weaponry on each side, perhaps making him the most heavily armed of the Dinobot Drones (at least in terms of quantity).

The figure is primarily cast in grey, but he also has a lot of red plastic in the form of his chest and tail. Gold, silver, orange, black and light paint are used to give extra detail to the figure. The gold is found on the sail, with the top ridge painted in orange. The top of the head and the lower part of the rear legs are painted silver. The top of his head is painted silver with light blue in the eyes. One the left hand side is a black Autobot symbol, set at a slight angle.

Combiner Mode

Grimstone transformation to Combiner Mode (starting in robot mode):

  1. Swing the heel pieces up.
  2. Rotate the lower robot legs around.
  3. Swing the lower leg up and swing the Drone connection point down.
  4. Swing the gold chest section up, then swing down the top gold panel up to reveal the Combiner head.
  5. Swing the two arms together, connecting the halves of the arms and frills together.
  6. Rotate the robot arms back, then swing up the lower arms up and connect the red clips on either side of the head to the lower arms.
  7. Swing the Drone connection points out to the sides.
  8. Swing the Ankylosaurus tail down and the head up, the connect it to one of the leg connection points.
  9. Swing the Pachycephalosaurus tail down, then connect him to one of the leg connection points using the area behind the head.
  10. Swing the Spinosaurus tail up against the sail and plug it into one of the arm connection joints.
  11. Plug the chest panel on the Parasaurolophus to one of the arm connection joints and it will auto-transform.

Power Up Combiner Mode:
The combined form of all five Dinobots in this set look fantastic. Everything about Grimstone's combiner form speaks to a primitive, savage but devastating opponent. Grimstone himself reveals the key new part of most Power Core Combiners: the combiner head. Here, the snout of Grimstone's beast mode becomes the helmet portion of the head, giving it extra height, looking almost like a tribal head dress of some sort. The "helmet" portion comes down to the nose, covering it up like armor. His face is layered, with armor layering around the eyes and chin area. It's a really nice sculpt and is very appropriate to the character.

While not "new" per se, the frill and back portion of the beast mode become the front of the torso section in this mode. The frill winds up becoming what looks like body armor protecting the chest. The other cool part about this "frill armor" piece is the general design, which resembles a head with a brow and huge teeth. The back portion of the beast mode becomes the middle of the torso, which goes from wide to narrow towards the bottom. This mode also shows how important having the thick robot mode legs is to this form. The legs from Grimstone's robot mode are perfectly sized to act as the upper legs of the combined form. Once again, Grimstone's tail winds up on his back, allowing you to attach a Mini-Con or Energon-style weapon to his back.

Each of the Drone limbs reveal some new parts and change their configuration fairly significantly:

  • The Ankylosaurus Drone extends its shell forward, revealing more mechanical detail on the sides of the beast along with a red plastic section of gears, hinges and tubes. The blasters on the beast mode only point downwards here, which is a missed opportunity to me. It would have been cool if they pointed forward instead. Still, thanks to the beast mode head, neck and front arms it forms a very stable leg design. The peg on the Ankylosaurus back faces front, allowing you to connect weapons or Mini-Cons (though I find the Mini-Cons tend to make a bit more sense).
  • The Pachycephalosaurus Drone forms the other leg in this form. The entire front portion of the beast mode swings down, revealing red plastic mechanical details inside. Now, you can technically have the leg rotated with the tail facing back or front and it works well as a foot. I think the best way to go is the beast mode head pointing forward, which also allows the blasters to point forward. The beast mode arms, legs and tail all wind up acting as forming a rather unusual looking foot, but between the arms and legs in the front and the long tail in the back, this also makes an extremely stable leg. Depending on how you turn the Drone, the peg is either on the front or back. Either way if you pick the right weapon or Mini-Con it can be a very effective spot to place one.
  • The Parasaurolophus Drone perhaps has the most "auto transforming" feature. The legs turn at an angle, the leg swings up. This also reveals mechanically detailed sections that connect the upper part of the arm to the lower arms. The legs form a type of giant claw, which looks really cool (if not particularly practical like so many of the other Power Core Combiner "hands"). Thanks to having the pegs on the top and bottom of the blasters you can attach Mini-Cons and weapons to this guy, enhancing his firepower potential.
  • The Spinosaurus Drone forms the other arm, and to be honest it makes a much better arm than the Parasaurolophus. This is partly due to the beast mode head forming the "claw hand", which I can imagine would be quite nasty with his teeth sinking into an enemy. The Spinosaurus also reveals an extra weapon in this mode in the form of a cannon barrel from behind the beast mode neck. This part is cast in red and it really amuses me as it gives him an eleventh weapon!

Unlike some of the other Power Core Combiners, all five of the Dinobots in this team have the same base grey color, which allows the other colors to really shine through. The colors are consistent with each other thanks to the liberal use of silver, red, gold and orange. Even the placement of the Autobot symbol on Grimstone works out perfectly, showing the symbol boldly in front.

Each of the Dinobot Drones connects perfectly with its associated joint. There are no extra tense springs, no parts popping out or loose joints. Functionally, Grimstone's combined form is perfectly done.

Final Thoughts:
For years, Transformers fans have wanted a true Dinobot combiner. Not one made up of only two or three dinosaur Transformers, but a team called Dinobots that had about five members that turned into a single robot, and while it isn't anywhere near as complex as say, Generation One Predaking, it is a huge step in the right direction. I also love the idea of a beast-based Power Core Combiner team and hope the fan enthusiasm for this set opens up the door for at least one more beast-based set (I know many a fan that would love a gorilla/rhino/falcon/cheetah/tiger set, just saying). On top of all that, the way the Powerlinx pegs are placed is perfect for adding on weapons and Mini-Cons and he is extremely stable to boot. Combine all that with an awesome aesthetic and Grimstone is all sorts of win. Highly recommended!