Back in 1996 when some of the first pictures of Beast Wars Transformers appeared in magazines, one of the first toys to be pictured was "Barbearian" a.k.a. Grizzly-1. This toy also appeared in the back of a Hasbro catalogue. Of course, fans would later get the mold with different colors in the form of Polar Claw.
Enter: Botcon Japan 1999. Botcon Japan organizer Fumihiko Akiyama decided he wanted to do this toy in the colors it was always meant to be in, and he succeeded. What fans got was a rare chance to own a toy in a color scheme that had previously been passed over.
For those wondering why I seem to be flip flopping over the actual name of this toy, it is because there are actually two names. Mr. Akiyama wanted to use both names somehow, but feared copyright problems. Although it says "Barbearian" on the packaging, the tech spec says "Grizzly-1", but makes mention of the term "Barbearian" in the tech specs. Both names are fairly interchangeable in my book, but I'll stick with Grizzly-1.
So what's the big hoopla over the colors? Grizzly-1 was not originally meant to be a polar bear (and although this mold has been used three times, the shape of the body and head are not those of a polar bear). Rather, this toy is mostly brown in beast mode with red eyes and a black nose. Much more like a "grizzly" bear (or at least a common conception of one). A nice spray op is applied to the nose area where yellow fades into the brown "fur" over the rest of the body. The claws on all four paws are yellow as well.
In robot mode, Grizzly-1 adds dark grey his colors. His abdomen area and lower robot legs are dark grey. Much of his upper body, lower arms and feet are yellow. His robot head is yellow with black eyes while his "mutant" head is grey with a red face and silver eyes. Nightshriek, his bat partner has brown wings now with a dark grey head.
Sometimes when a mold is given a new color scheme, some joints and parts become too loose or tight. No such worries with Grizzly-1. This toy works just fine.
Grizzly-1 has two main attractions: his history and the fact that he is a Botcon Japan exclusive. However, these conditions pretty much warrant you being a completist to purchase them. On those grounds however, this is recommended. B+
Grizzly-1 is available through Rugby's Starbase at the time this review is being written. Rugby's is going through some changes right now, so e-mail them so they know you are interested in this item!
Updated Thoughts (January 30, 2022):
One of my favorite themes in the Transformers toy line is the resurrection of ideas that were given up on in development. This could mean the ideas did not make it past a concept stage but get revisited later on. Barbearian/Grizzly-1 fits this theme perfectly. I love how the origins of the figure come from a catalog picture of all things. I also appreciate the deco being so different from Polar Claw and the "in-story" explanation for him having two heads and two working names. The toy is also still very fun, but I will warn you that if you try to obtain him now this guy is not cheap on the secondary market averaging $3-400 USD!