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Transformers Classics
by yo go re

Pop culture is often viewed as junk, as waste that takes away from higher pursuits. But that's really not the case. Pop culture is simply a mirror held up to the state of the world at its creation. Hopes, fears, art, science... it's all there, a time capsule, if you know how to look. Take, for instance, the old Transformer known as Grimlock.

Grimlock keeps a collection of the parts Grimlock he's torn off his Decepticon enemies. His super-thick ultramantium skin - in both robot and dinosaur mode - is coated in energy-absorbing materials, making him nearly impervious to damage. There are many who might say much the same thing about his mind. He is actually quite smart, but a programming flaw in his speech centers gives him only the most basic communications skills. He dislikes the weak, but is dedicated to the protection of those he views as lesser creatures. The only thing he hates more than weakness, in fact, is those who exploit the weak.

Wildly popular among Transfans, Grimlock was one of the characters chosen to receive an update in the Transformers Classic line. Commensurate with his popularity, he was one of the hardest figures to find - of course, that may also have been because Hasbro, in its infinite wisdom, chose to make him an incredible sortpack. It wasn't rare to walk into a store and see one Grimlock for every eight of his case-mate, Mirage. Bad planning.

After his ignominious stint as a Ford Mustang in the Binaltech/Alternators story, Grimlock is back in the body he loved so much: that of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Me, Grimlock, truly menacing! Of course, unlike the hideous Beast Wars toys, this isn't supposed to look like a real dinosaur; Grimlock is unbashedly robotic. In fact, he kind of resembles one of the Zoids robots, in much the same way that Snow Cat was a GIJoe homage. The sculpt is covered with technological detailing - this isn't a crossdressing robot trying to pass as biological, this is something that was blatantly built.

Grimlock has the same "gray and gold" color scheme as his G1 counterpart, but a ton more articulation. He moves at the head, jaw, shoulders, hips, thighs, knees, heels and toes, plus four joints in the tail that allow it to sweep side to side. The design isn't perfect - see, for example, the weird little pillar that rises above one of his kidneys. The weapon plugs into it, but why? Grimlock's eyes are light-piped, which actually works out to be a subtle G1 parallel - the translucent red plastic on his head where the light enters? It sits in the same spot as the Autobot symbol sticker on the G1 version. Neat!

One of the ways that Classics Grimlock is different from his G1 counterpart is that pop culture thing we were talking about earlier. Me, Grimlock, scientifically out-dated Back in the '80s, when the original Grimlock came out, science taught us that dinosaurs walked upright, dragging their tails on the ground - which is how Grimlock was posed. Today, scientists know that dinos like this were more horizontal, with their tails held in the air - and the modern Grimlock follows suit. Awesome! Of course, with all his articulation, fans who want to duplicate the G1 pose can do just that. And this is why an articulated figre will always be better than one that's not.

Grimlock's transformation is surprisingly complex. The only thing that even relates to the G1 version is that the dino's legs become the robot's arms, and even that is about five times more complex than it used to be. The head splits to become feet, the tail comes off entirely, we've come a long way, baby there's this whole weird thing with the arms rotating and flipping around... it's tough. It's funny that G1 Grimlock's legs were formed from his tail, while this time they're in the head. That's some reversal!

The robot's design is okay, but not spectacular. The legs, for instance, never stop looking like two halves of a T-rex head. The beast's feet just hang off the robot's elbows, getting in the way no matter how you pose them. The shoulder pads stick up higher than the head, and there's a construction flaw there, too: the black flaps which probably should have locked the shoulders in place don't fit; you can only get one side in place at any time. Bad design, guys.

needs teeth On the plus side, the colors are distributed well in this form. His body is mostly gray, with black centered around his core. His chest is golden, though it has an off-center red dot that hasn't been part of the design before. What's that supposed to be? It almost looks like the "Energon chips" the toys had a few lines ago. The head is designed to mimic the G1 version, but it has a much nicer sculpt and light-piped eyes.

needs a sword The peg where Grimlock's weapon plugged into the dinosaur's back just folds around behind the robot, but the missile launcher/bayonet can be held in either hand. The dino's tail becomes a pseudo "whip," but it still looks like a tail. That he's holding in his hand. For some reason.

Grimlock is the Boba Fett of Transformers: blessed with wild popularity, but without having done anything to earn it. Lots of fans count him among their favorite Transformers; Poe says Grimlock is his favorite toy, period. Me? Grimlock wasn't even my favorite Dinobot, let alone favorite anything else. Still, it's no surprise that he made it into Transformers Classic - just that Hasbro made him so darn hard to find.


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