"Beast Wars Transformers" Grizzly-1 / Barbearian Toy Review
Release Date: December 1998
Price Point: Approxiately $60
Retailer: Botcon Japan 1998 Exclusive (600 pieces)
Accessories: Nightshriek bat/claw
Function: Maximal Bezerker
Beast Mode: Grizzly bear/Bat
Motto: "Sometimes crazy works."
Clad in the hide of a black, wild bear, Grizzly-1 gained fame early on in the Beast Wars, becoming a hero regarded as a living legend. Having gone missing during a mission in the Arctic region, he has now awakened from his icy stasis lock and returned to the lines of battle! Due to compositional flaws in his organic structure, he secretes a toxin that induces extreme agitation and confusion, increasing his ferocity to an astounding level. But by switching between his mutant head, which receives the toxin and hormones, and his rational robot head, he retains perfect control over the wild "Barbearian" within him. In order to display his destructive power most effectively, he commits himself to solo actions of guerilla warfare, demolitions and front-line combat. He fires powerful energon bolts from his chest, while the power claw equipped on his left shoulder can cruelly tear off an enemy's head module. He forms a team with his robotic bat partner Nightshriek, who transforms into a sonic pistol that can scramble an enemy's brain circuitry, but Nightshriek's the first to disappear when Grizzly-1 goes into his berzerker state. He has the makings of an excellent commander, but is blessed with few opportunities to display his true ability there.
Strength: 9.0 | Intelligence: 8.0 | Speed: 4.0 | Endurance: 7.0
Rank: 7.0 | Courage: 9.0 | Firepower: 8.0 | Skill: 9.0
*Special Thanks to: Fumihiko Akiyama, Rugby's Starbase, Doug Dlin & Neale Davidson for this tech spec.
Back in 1996 when some of the first pictures of Beast Wars Transformers appeared in magazines, one of the first toys to be pictured was "Barbearian" a.k.a. Grizzly-1. This toy also appeared in the back of a Hasbro catalogue. Of course, fans would later get the mold with different colors in the form of Polar Claw.
Enter: Botcon Japan 1998 held on December 12-13, 1998. Botcon Japan organizer Fumihiko Akiyama decided he wanted to do this toy in the colors it was always meant to be in, and he succeeded. What fans got was a rare chance to own a toy in a color scheme that had previously been passed over.
For those wondering why I seem to be flip flopping over the actual name of this toy, it is because there are actually two names. Mr. Akiyama wanted to use both names somehow, but feared copyright problems. Although it says "Barbearian" on the packaging, the tech spec says "Grizzly-1", but makes mention of the term "Barbearian" in the tech specs. Both names are fairly interchangeable in my book, but I'll stick with Grizzly-1.
So what's the big hoopla over the colors? Grizzly-1 was not originally meant to be a polar bear (and although this mold has been used three times, the shape of the body and head are not those of a polar bear). Rather, this toy is mostly brown in beast mode with red eyes and a black nose. Much more like a "grizzly" bear (or at least a common conception of one). A nice spray op is applied to the nose area where yellow fades into the brown "fur" over the rest of the body. The claws on all four paws are yellow as well.
In robot mode, Grizzly-1 adds dark grey his colors. His abdomen area and lower robot legs are dark grey. Much of his upper body, lower arms and feet are yellow. His robot head is yellow with black eyes while his "mutant" head is grey with a red face and silver eyes. Nightshriek, his bat partner has brown wings now with a dark grey head.
Sometimes when a mold is given a new color scheme, some joints and parts become too loose or tight. No such worries with Grizzly-1. This toy works just fine.
Grizzly-1 has two main attractions: his history and the fact that he is a Botcon Japan exclusive. However, these conditions pretty much warrant you being a completist to purchase them. On those grounds however, this is recommended. B+
Additional Thoughts (12/24/15):
Over fifteen years after his original release, this figure continues to be a pleaser. Despite the age of the figure his spring loaded gimmick to launch Nightshriek still works great and all his joints are nice and tight. I think it was great that fans had a chance (albeit limited) back in the day to get a figure that would have never come out otherwise. Nowdays with so many venues for exclusives fans get all sorts of variants of figures, but back then this wasn't the case. It's also kind of cool owning a Transformer that was put out in such limited numbers! Grizzly-1/Barbearian is truly a special piece in my "Beast Wars" collection.