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Transformers Power Core Combiners
by yo go re

When it comes to fan-favorite characters, few Transformers can compete with the G1 Dinobots. There have been several re-uses of the name over the years, but the originals are still the best. They've just recieved an updated homage in the Power Core Combiners line.

Thought lost long ago, Power Core Combination has recently been rediscovered on Earth. It creates a new breed of powerful Autobot warriors to destroy the Decepticons!

(See? We told you the Autobots had a different blurb. On with the review!)

Grimstone has always dreamed of power and the privilege it brings. Despite his hunger for power, however, he has always considered the needs of others before himself. He believes it is the responsibility of the powerful to protect those less fortunate - a belief he intends to aggressively enforce now that he has his own Power Core team.

So... Grimstone's a Democrat? Not one of these modern "can't pass a health care bill the majority of Americans want" Democrats, a good old-fashioned "it's right to help those who need it and damn anyone who says different" Democrat.

The classic Dinobots had a distinctive design scheme that was less about looking like the actual animals and more about being intimidating, and this figure keeps that aesthetic alive. Really, the only difference between old Dinobots and Grimstone is that he's not as much of a brick as they are. Basically, he's what the old Dinobots were meant to be.

The robot is red, grey, black and gold, the four colors shared by the old crew. His proportions are decidedly retro, as well, with wide-set hips and stumpy feet. Even the way the kibble is arranged behind his shoulders is similar to Grimlock and Sludge! He has a much higher level of detail than the old toys, of course, at once more organic and more robotic. He's very bulky for a Scout-sized figure, but that just makes him look strong. His feet are kind of lame, but the spikes on his chest are delightfully fearsome.

Grimstone's head is pretty darn cool. He has a silver face and blue eyes, and his black helmety thing has three ridges, suggesting his animal form. Articulation is decent as well, with a swivel neck, balljointed shoulders (blocked a bit by the armor on the back), hinged and balljointed elbows, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs and hinged knees.

The box identifies Grimstone's altmode as a triceratops, but it's not - oh, it could pass for one in a pinch, but the spikes coming out the back of its head-frill clearly peg it as a styracosaurus (which is basically a triceratops with spikes on its head-frill, and thus how we were able to identify it so readily as "not a triceratops"). But like we always say, what the toymakers want you to call something is never as important as what you want to call it, so call this a triceratops if you feel like it. Everybody likes triceratopses.

[As one of our readers pointed out, styracosaurus doesn't have the two "eyebrow" horns that the triceratops (and this toy) has - the only dinosaur with three face-horns and spikes on the neck-frill was Utahceratops. --ed.]

Once again, the design is so directly influenced by the original Dinobots that Grimstone could blend into their ranks like a long-lost brother. The colors have all transitioned nicely from robot to altmode, and he has two small blasters on his cheeks. He still looks unmistakably like a machine in the shape of a beast, thanks to all the armored plates and strong lines, and the shapes on his hips are classic Dinobot features. The dino is 4¾" long, 2" wide and 2⅜" tall. The legs move a bit, just enough to get the feet off the ground when you feel like it.

The original Dinobots were a group of five. Fitting, then, that the PCC Dinobots are the same - you've got Grimstone as the Commander, then four more drones. They, like their leader, carry forth the G1 Dinobot aesthetic: more "techno" than "organic," done all in gray and red, silver and gold. They have blue eyes, and each has some decidedly non-prehistoric weaponry fitted onto their chassis. There's a little bit of articulation to be found here, but nothing major. It's a shame, too, because all these guys would have made cool Transformers, not just drones.

All four of the PCC Dinobots have modes not seen on the original Dinobots: there's a parasaurolophus, an ankylosaurus, and pachycephalosaurus and a "spinosaurus" (actually a dimetrodon, misidentified on the box. They have very nice looks, and even if you don't want to attach them to Grimstone, they'd make nice filler in a G1 Dinobot display.

Grimstone's "Power-Up Mode" isn't as good as it could have been. Yes, all the Dinobots look nice combined into one giant robot (much better than the last attempt, that's for sure), but there are some serious design problems. For instance, the parasaurolophus' tail doesn't tuck into place the way it should, so the arm is always a little floppy. Additionally, the knees are very spindly, so his legs are far too easy to knock out of position, and all of a sudden you've got a robot falling on his back.

The larger head revealed in this mode is very nice. The face is black and there looks to be a golden helmet protecting him. The way Grimstone gets repositioned works out very well, with the frill now acting as chest armor (and vaguely resembling a face), and the horns on the dinosaur's head serving as design elements on the ridiculously tall headdress. Seriously, look at that thing: it's like Marge Simpson's hair or something. It's nearly obscene! You'd be embarrassed to show this to your grandmother.

As we said in the Crankcase review, the quality of these Power Core Combiners is directly related to what you had to pay for them. If you pay the SRP of $20 for Grimstone and the Dinobots, you'll probably hate them; at the pre-Giftsmas sale price of $15, you'll probably think they're okay. The Power Core Combiners all seem overpriced, so wait for the sale that you think is good enough.

This release does raise the question, though, of what other old subteams could be reimagined for the PCC line. How about a big purple, yellow and black Insecticon group? This set isn't problem-free, but the individual figures all look fairly cool, and could certainly be a lot worse.

-- 12/28/10

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