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The War Within Grimlock

Transformers Titanium
by yo go re

When the (mostly) excellent Transformers Titanium line quietly folded, there were several toys still outstanding. A few were just dumb repaints, but there were a lot of new toys waiting to be released. Cosmos, Arcee, Shockwave, Bumblebee... lots of stuff the fans would have wanted but would never see. However, two of those unreleased Titaniums have now appeared as Toys Я Us exclusives, including The War Within Grimlock.

Grimlock fights not because he believes in the Autobot ideal of peace and freedom, but because he knows what Megatron really is. He was there at the beginning of the Decepticon movement, mudguard deep in the spilled oil on the arena floor. He knows what it is to feel the electron-​surge of total victory over his foes. His coolant too has sung as he pressed his blade against the torso of a helpless opponent.

But to Grimlock, no weakness is worthy of respect, least of all that weakness that disguises itself as strength. Where is the satisfaction of crushing those who cannot defend themselves, or slaughtering a building full of unarmed innocents? How does madness like that prove one's strength? Better to die fighting against an enemy so powerful that defeat is almost certain. Better still to turn that enemy back and drive him broken before you. To someday see Megatron so broken, that is why Grimlock fights.

Having done away with the notion that Grimlock and the other Dinobots were built on Earth, the question was then raised as to what to call them. Grimlock 'n' Pals? "Dinobots" doesn't work on a planet with no dinos. When Optimus Prime and Megatron disappeared in a spacebridge accident, the Autobots and Decepticons split into smaller factions. Grimlock ended up leading a group called the Lightning Strike Coalition, but that's not very catchy. Eventually, the LSC disbanded, and Grimmy and four of the other members formed a new clique, known as... the Dynobots. Now that's a clever solution!

Grimlock was the first TF retro-redesigned by Don Figueroa, based on a half-realized suggestion writer Simon Furman recalls as "well, he needs to be be big, some sort of truck maybe." Yeah, detailed. Grimlock's Cybertronian form is indeed big and burly, as it should be, with heavy connections to the classic G1 look. Look at the "wings" behind his shoulders, or the kibble on the outside of his legs. Sure, in G1 that was half a dinosaur tail, and now it's a tank tread, but the idea is the same.

One of the problems with redesigning Grimlock was that he wouldn't have any immediate connection to his eventual beast form. To get around this, Figueroa included some visual Easter eggs: for instance, the "teeth" on his belly and the sides of his mouth. It makes him look angry and chompy, even without a T. rex head hanging off his back. The paint on his eyeslit is kind of a mess, but the rest of the robot is good - he's yellow, red, black and silver, just like the old version.

Grimlock is a decent 5⅞" tall, but he was generally shown bigger in the comics. Still, the size limitation is a reality for this line, so we can't really complain too much: at least he's bigger than Optimus. What we can complain about, though, is the articulation. In most cases, it's good: swivel head, swivel waist, balljoint hips, swivel thighs, balljointed knees and various joints in the feet. All nice. The arms, however, are screwy. There's a swivel where the arm meets the body, which would theoretically be shoulders, but then there's another shoulder swivel immediately below that. What? There's a double-hinged elbow, which is always welcome, and the wrist swivels. Really, it's just the superfluous shoulders that bring this down. Of course, the tank tread/arm assembly doesn't quite work in three dimensions the way it did in the comic, so that may have something to do with the problems.

Once you free Grimlock from his plastic obelisk, changing him to a vehicle is pretty simple. Fold up the arms and close the elbow flaps. Contract the legs, turn over the rear treads, lift the chest and bring together the two "wing" pieces, then twist the smokestacks around the face the back and you have yourself a 6½" long... thing. It's some kind of space car. It doesn't really track to anything on Earth - even Prime's "truck" wasn't much of a truck, was it? This is a vehicle with four tank treads, a rounded cab with two small slits (presumably so you can see out) and six big exhaust pipes. Call it whatever you want - it's Grimlock.

The figure includes two weapons: a blaster rifle and his classic "energo-sword." Both can be stored in vehicle mode, too, which is always nice to see. It's not like they're hidden - the gun sticks straight out of the back of the cab, and the sword plugs onto the rear tread - but at least they're not just laying around waiting for Grimlock to pick them up and use them. The robot's legs don't quite retract as far as they're supposed to: they stop about ¼" short of where they should, so the vehicle ends up a little longer than intended, and there's a bit of a gap in the middle.

Grimlock is a great addition to the War Within ranks, and it really would have been a shame if he hadn't been released. You can get this one at TRU (if you're there at the right time on the right day), and if you give this unusual design a try, you'll find the quality is still there. However, Grimlock's so good, it makes me sad we'll never see the other Dynobots.

-- 11/18/08

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