"Age of Extinction" Grimlock Evolution 2-Pack Toy Review

in 2014, Action Figure Review, Age of Extinction, Autobot, Dinobot, Generation One, Toys R Us Exclusive, Voyager

Age of Extinction

General Information:
Release Date: June 2014
Price Point: $39.99
Retailer: Toys R Us Exclusive
Accessories: Sword, Dragontooth Mace

General Images:

Text below in italics are from the Toys R Us web site:
Grimlock meets Grimlock in this awesome 2-pack! You can see the evolution of your favorite robot-dino warrior from then to now in these 2 Grimlock figures. Both your classic and your Age of Extinction Grimlock figures convert from robot mode to dino mode and back! Can the Decepticons handle not one, but 2 fighting Grimlocks? It's up to you!

  • Grimlock figure pack includes 1 classic figure and 1 Age of Extinction figure
  • Both figures convert from robot mode to dino mode
  • Classic figure comes with sword and converts in 7 steps
  • Age of Extinction figure comes with Dragontooth Mace and converts in 18 steps

As part of its "Age of Extinction" toy line, Hasbro has released several "Evolution" two packs, featuring a character in two different forms. For Grimlock, this two pack attempts to reflect how the character has changed from the year 1984 to now. The two pack is a tad inaccurate as it uses the "Energon" Grimlock sculpt to represent the 1984 version of the character. First, the Dinobots didn't actually come out until 1985, and second this is not the original Grimlock toy. However, I'll give Hasbro a bit of a pass since the original Grimlock's tooling is not even available at this time and the Energon does base its design on how the original Grimlock looked, so from a visual standpoint it's not a bad representation of the "80's Grimlock". For the modern day incarnation of Grimlock, this two pack features a redeco of the "Age of Extinction" Voyager Class Grimlock.

I'd definitely recommend looking at my previous reviews of these sculpts, especially the Energon Grimlock who I honestly have not even looked at since my original review back in 2004(!). These reviews will focus on the changes made to the figures and how those changes affect my opinion of them.

"1984" Grimlock Review
Grimlock

Images:

Robot Mode:
The "Energon" version of Grimlock used design influences from both the comic books being published at the time and the original Generation One cartoon. Grimlock's basic form borrows its design from his G1 counterpart. These design elements include:

  • The beast mode legs becoming the robot arms, including the round shoulder sections.
  • The back of the beast mode forming the legs, including halves of the beast mode tail on the sides of the lower legs.
  • The back of the figure has "wings" formed from parts of the beast mode's back folding outward.

Borrowing from the "War Within" comic book of the early 2000's, Grimlocks head design has a more rounded look than his G1 animated counterpart along with "teeth" sculpted into his mouthplate. The result is an interesting mash up of details and in a way, this really does help represent an evolution of Grimlock as it represents both the 80's and 2000's version of the character in one sculpt.

Unfortunately, Grimlock's proportions are pretty weird. His arms are gigantic compared to the rest of his body, meanwhile his thighs are super skinny. In a way, it gives him a brutish appearance that one could argue is appropriate for the character, but it doesn't make him look any less strange. This and the fact that his hands were sculpted with holes that did not fit any weapons of the time made this one of the more reviled sculpts to come out of "Energon". Much of this is ascribed to Grimlock being designed by different people than the usual Hasbro/Takara teams.

I usually don't front load a review with that much negativity, but it's all valid and in my original review I found myself disappointed in this figure for three reasons: lack of sculpted details in certain areas (such as the hands), the deco (which was rather weak) and the lack of ability to wield a weapon (and the lack of a weapon at all). My opinion of the figure goes up with this version as two of the issues I had with it have been resolved.

One issue that is resolved is the lack of weaponry. This two pack includes a redeco of Platinum Edition Razorclaw's sword. Since the Predacon team was just re-released last year as a Toys R Us exclusive "Platinum Edition" figure, the accessory tooling was available to provide Grimlock with a weapon. A similar move was executed for the Target exclusive Grimlock/Optimus Prime two pack. The sword has been cast in red, the color of G1 Grimlock's sword. Even better? Grimlock's fists have been retooled so they can hold the sword nice and snug (along with any other 5mm peg weapons). With one small change, the figure suddenly jumps up in play value and I was super happy to see this done.

The second issue that has been addressed is the deco. "Energon" Grimlock had a relatively weak deco meant to be a homage to his G1 counterparts. This time out special attention has been paid to the deco, and I don't just mean the paint, but also the plastic colors used to create the figure.

There are four plastic colors used on this figure. The most prominent is a metal flaked grey. It's tough to convey just through photos or even text how nice this color is. At first your eye and brain thinks "Okay, that's a grey that matches what I'd expect on Grimlock", then you look closer and realize there are bits of metallic flake that give the silver parts a metallic appearance! There are two shades of yellow on this figure. Both are darker in color than the one used on the original version. A light one is used on the torso and waist area. The other yellow pieces are a darker, richer shade of yellow. This is found on the top of the chest area and the center. It's also used on his claws. I found these colors much nicer than the original's light yellow, which had a bit of a "knock off" appearance to it. The black plastic is used for smaller parts like his upper arms, fists, head and thighs. The base colors already work nicely . I'm especially happy with the metallic flake grey and the deep yellow color.

Paint colors on this figure include red, white, blue, red and green. The red is used on the top of the thighs, a visual reference to the red waist section on G1 Grimlock. It is also used for Grimlock's eyes. The white is used on rectangular details on the thighs are a bit of a callback to some of the stickers on G1 Grimlock's legs. The blue, red and green are used on the lower legs in rectangular patterns. These are details carried over from the animated series. A similar set of details was used on the recent Grimlock from the Target exclusive two pack. Additional details have been applied as tampographs. On each upper arm/shoulder section are red and white stripes. These are visual callbacks to stickers found on the G1 Grimlock action figure. In the center of the chest is an Autobot symbol in red and white against a yellow background. This reflects a detail found on G1 Grimlock's animation model.

Overall, I have to say this deco is absolutely stellar. The plastic color looks great and the deco on it does a great job of paying homage to past incarnations of Grimlock.

The joints on this figure are still nice and tight. That's hardly shocking since the tooling for this figure hasn't been reused since its original release. For those curious, Grimlock can still combine with Swoop to form "Mega Dinobot". The parts fit snug and they even painted the eyes on the "Mega Dinobot" head, so clearly the designers knew some fans would break out their "Energon" Swoop figures to attempt this combination.

Transformation to Beast Mode:

  1. Remove the sword from Grimlock's hand and set it aside for now.
  2. Push each robot fist in.
  3. Swing the beast mode head/neck/arms section on the back up.
  4. Swing the beast mode head up and the arms down.
  5. Swing the panels on the back together.
  6. Push the yellow robot heel pieces up.
  7. Push the lower legs together.
  8. Swing the lower legs up and connect the tail halves together.
  9. Push each of the robot legs back at the top.
  10. Rotate the forearms of the robot mode around so the dual claws face the front.
  11. Swing out the claws.

Beast Mode:
In my original review of this figure I was quite effusive about the beast mode being a nicely detailed piece of work, and I still stand by that. While the robot mode could've used more detail, the beast mode looks great. My only complaint about the original's beast mode was the coloring, which I thought could've been better. Well, this time out it is. It's not so much about the amount of deco, because the original version of the sculpt actually had a good amount of paint detail. Instead, it's the colors used and the placement of the details that matter.

This mode mostly features the metallic flake grey plastic. His claws and arms are the same deep yellow seen on the robot mode's torso. Paint colors include yellow, red, green, blue and white. The yellow paint is used on the neck area. This actually wraps all around from the back to the front of the neck. This plays off the parts on the original G1 Grimlock toy that were vacuum metallized gold. The red is found on his head and parts of the back. The red and blue rectangles from robot mode wind up along the tail section. The tail and teeth are painted white. I really love the colors on this figure. Their darker tones (compared to the original) give the figure a much richer appearance and I appreciate the placement of deco on parts like the front of his neck and teeth which were left unpainted on the original version of this figure.

"Age of Extinction" Grimlock Review
Grimlock

Images:

For this two pack of Grimlock figures, the Voyager Class Grimlock figure form "Age of Extinction" was used to represent the modern incarnation of the Dinobot leader. There were no mold changes made, so this section of the review will focus purely on the deco changes.

Robot Mode:
If you only take a quick glance, you'd think there aren't a whole lot of changes to this figure, and in a way you'd be right. In terms of the general color tones used for this figure, many remain the same. Most of the gold parts from the first Voyager Class figure are also gold, but a much deeper shade of the color. Most of the grey parts are also grey on this redeco except for parts like the waist armor which was gold on the original version, but grey here. Black plastic is also used on this figure but in higher amounts than the previous version. The chest, fists, elbows and thighs are black on this version as opposed to the original which had a gold chest piece. While similar to the first version of this figure, the extra black parts on his chest and the darker shade of gold coloring used on the figure give this Grimlock a much deeper visual appearance than its predecessor. The weapon is cast in grey and black, just like the original.

The paint colors used on the figure are almost the same as the first. Like the first version, silver is used on the "teeth" details on the chest and on parts of the head. However here it is also used on the mid-body area with a red Autobot symbol printed on top. Black paint is used on the face and crest (as opposed to silver, which was used on the original). The eyes are painted in metallic green. Some gold paint is used on the collar near the head and the knee armor.

Between the original version of the figure and this one, I prefer this one. This is mostly thanks to the extra contrast offered by the black plastic pieces on the chest and the grey panels on the waist armor. I also like how bold the darker gold plastic is. The use of extra grey parts also hint of Grimlock's more grey/silver colors as seen in the film.

All the joints on this figure are nice and tight. The weapon fits nicely in his hand. From a functionality standpoint there are no issues with this figure.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the weapon if attached.
  2. Swing each of the beast mode leg pieces over the forearms and swing the heel pieces back.
  3. Swing each robot foot so the toes point down.
  4. Swing the back piece (complete with the halves of the beast mode head) back.
  5. Raise the small piece in the middle up.
  6. Begin bringing the two beast mode head halves together.
  7. Connect the lower jaw with the upper jaw sections of the beast mode head.
  8. Swing the chest piece up, it won't go all the way, just enough to cover the face.
  9. Swing the middle piece of the beast mode's back down.
  10. Swing the waist armor piece in.
  11. Swing the robot legs back and connect the tabs on the knee armor to the corresponding slots on the chest piece.
  12. Swing the front arm pieces down.
  13. Rotate the legs around.
  14. Connect the toe sections together using the small peg and hole.
  15. The weapon attaches to his tail by attaching the top section to the tail. There are grooves in the top of the weapon that slide into corresponding tabs on the tail.

Beast Mode:
Most of the robot mode colors show through in this mode. However, there are a lot more grey parts showing, including most prominently the head. In terms of representing Grimlock's on-screen appearance, the grey brings him closer to his CGI counterpart. He still has the "tiger stripe" like details in black on the gold sections. The head has a bit of gold and metallic green on the eyes. The deco looks good, but it's not a shockingly different deco from its predecessor.

Final Thoughts:
For years I've held "Energon" Grimlock as an atypical example of a bad figure from the "Energon" era. However, with most of my complaints about the figure addressed with this redeco and retool, I'm very happy with it. It also has enough design and deco cues to properly serve as a representation of the original Grimlock. It's amazing how small retooling and deco changes can make such a huge difference in one's opinion of a figure.

On the other hand, I did find myself wishing that the "Age of Extinction" Grimlock was more distinctive. When this two pack was first announced, I thought this figure should've been a G1 homage in color or perhaps a "screen accurate" version. However, both those ideas were taken care of by the San Diego Comic-Con 2014 exclusive Dinobot set and the upcoming Dinobot 5 Pack so I can see why this wound up being a bit of a variant on the first Voyager Class figure instead.

This two pack is best for those who do not own either of these figures or if you own the "Energon" version and are dying for a better version of that sculpt. If you already own the Voyager Class Grimlock, you may want to wait for this set to go on sale. I like the two pack, but realize not all fans want multiple variants of the same sculpt.