It's amazing what a difference a little bit of plastic can make.
I bought Fall of Cybertron Grimlock in October of 2013, and reviewed him that Smarch. But I still haven't thrown out the packaging, because I was sure I was eventually going to box him back up and take him back to the store. Yes, it's currently July; what's your point?
Anyway, I remained stone-cold certain that I was one day actually going to stop being lazy and get my money back for the toy. And then I learned about Iron Factory's "EX-01 Dinoarmor & Rifle" add-on set, and that plan went right out the window.
The set provides exactly what it says on the tin: armor and a gun. It doesn't sound like much, but it does the job it needs to. You'll recall that the major flaw with FoC Grimlock was that the designers apparently forgot these things exist in three dimensions, not just two, and consequently left a giant, exposed hollow under the T-rex's body. The armor instantly fixes that. There are two tall prongs that slide effortlessly into square holes on either side of the robot's head, tucked away inside the dinosaur the way it is. The plate stays on securely, and blends with the existing toy wonderfully. The colors are a little bit darker, but not so much that you'd notice.
The absolute best part about this set is that you can still convert Grimlock without having to remove it. Getting the dino hips to pop out is a little bit tough, but it can be done. So once the set is in place, you never need take it out again (not that it's permanently attached - but you could glue it if you were so inclined).
In robot mode, the armor splits in half and folds down to become unobtrusive flaps that hang behind his arms. In order to do this, the plates are mounted on articulated arms (two swivels and two balljoints) that swing them out to the sides. It's an impressive design which, again, allows the toy to retain its full range of intended functionality with no alterations. That can't have been easy.
For those who demand a more slavish devotion to Generation 1, the EX-01 set also includes a few extra pieces that allow you to make the robot mode more retro: two little nubs, and two short arms with balljoints at one end and sockets at the other. These allow you, instead of moving the parts around smoothly, to deconstruct everything and then reassemble it. Basically, you take the T-rex arms off, attach them to the short pegs, which then plug into the holes on the armor; then you take the short sprues and plug them on where the dino arms used to be, and pop the armor plates off the balljoints that usually hold them. Doesn't that rather defeat the purpose of all the smart work they put into the design? It's like the downgrade kit for Blitzwing: crippling something new in service of looking old.
By contrast, the gun looks old, but still has new functions. It's patterned after G1 Grimlock's "twin stunner laser," but not a direct copy. Plus it splits in two so it can plug into the dino's hips/robot's shoulders, so he can use it in both modes.
Honestly, I could do without the gun. I could do without the extra little bits. I could even do without the way the armor splits apart and moves around on the robot. Honestly, all I wanted was something to cover the horrible gap under the toy that Hasbro should have had the common sense and pure level of skill to never leave there in the first place. Just make it a plain damn shield and have him hold it in his hand when he's a robot, and I would have been happy. Iron Factory's "EX-01 Dinoarmor & Rifle" add-on set goes above and beyond those requirements, but it also doubles the price of the toy. The thing is, Grimlock is so! Much! Better! with the armor in place than he was without, that I'm glad I bought it. Think about that: spending the extra $23 on this set made me glad I didn't get my $25 back from the store for Grimlock. If that's not a mark of quality, I don't know what is.
How's he look from the front with the wings?
Not substantially different. His upper arms are so big to begin with that they block most of the armor from view, and what little bit peeks around them just adds more bulk. And the insides are sculpted, so you're not just presented with a flat surface!
But you're right, I should have taken a picture of that to begin with, so I added one now...
Is that 3rd party Blitzwing head really a complete downgrade when the default one has trouble staying recessed in his alt modes because of how bulbous it has to be because of the head changing and ends up warping the soft plastic nosecone after inevitability popping up?
Since I haven't had any such problem with him, I'll go with... yes?
I've had those problems... but I don't think the 3rd party head will fix them as the issue is more the mechanism not really wanting to lock than anything else. Plus, I don't think the head is substantially smaller. I mean, if it does then peachy.
... man, the Blitzwing figure is flawed. Anyone know if the Doubledealer remold fixed any of the issues?
Why were you goin to box it up? Was it defective? Missing parts? Or it just wasn't up to your standards?
I personally can't stand it when I see previously owned toys back on the shelf. You're abusing these stores return policy when you do that. There's no free trial period to see if you want to keep it. And as a toy reviewer you should know better. Research your product before you buy like your readers do. If you don't like something you purchased, be a big boy and deal with it. Don't go dumping your problems on someone else.
Because of the reasons listed in the review. And as a reviewer, I don't have the luxury of doing research before buying something - I am the research. Obviously I tend not to buy things I don't think I'll enjoy, but Grimlock's flaws aren't obvious until you open and transform him. A toy has to be truly disappointing before I'll return it. I mean, I've still got Straxus, and that thing's a hunk of ass (the last one I took back was Titanium Soundwave, for comparison).
And if you can tell by looking that a toy's been returned, then that's just laziness on the part of whoever had it before...
Why do you feel the need to repackage it in such a careful manner as to make it look like it wasn't returned by someone? If what you're doing is so innocent you should be able to take that opened box to customer service and say you just didn't like it as much as you thought you would.
Well of course I could just take it back and say I didn't like it: that's what receipts are for. But when you return something, you return it in the same condition you got it - that's just common courtesy...