"Robots in Disguise" (2015) Three Step Changer Grimlock Toy Review

in 2014, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Dinobot, Prime, Three Step Changer

Robots in Disguise (2015)

Grimlock General Information:
Release Date: December 2014
Price Point: $21.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, K-Mart, Target etc.)
Accessories: Tail


*Images and text below from Amazon.com:
Decepticons beware, because this 3-Step Changers Grimlock figure converts in a heartbeat from robot mode to T-Rex mode, and he's not messing around! Convert him in 3 easy steps to either mode, and keep converting him back and forth so his Decepticon enemies can't keep up! Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

The 2015 "Robots in Disguise" toy line introduced a new class of action figure: Three Step Changers. In essence these are slightly more advanced versions of the "One Step Changers" introduced in the "Age of Extinction" toy line. Instead of one or two steps, these figures have three "primary" steps. I put it that way because there are some minor tweaks you need to make after the fact. Grimlock is one of the first of these "Three Step Changers" introduced in the "Robots in Disguise" toy line.

The existence of this Grimlock seems to contradict events in the "Beast Hunters" comic book which features a Grimlock in the "Prime" universe who is much more like the G1 Grimlock most fans know and love. While no official explanation has been given yet, in my personal fanon (fan canon) this is a separate character who took on Grimlock's name, but he is not the original.

The Three Step Changer packaging is a thick cardboard box with an open window. The figure is held down by straps that are easily cut for removal. The box itself continues the red and white simplified look from the "Age of Extinction" line, but with a new logo. There are no tech specs on the box, and the figure does not include instructions. Instead, the designers went old skool and put the instructions right on the back of the packaging. There are also blurbs for the "Robots in Disguise" mobile game. This packaging is multilingual, so there are several languages represented on the back of the box.

Robot Mode:
Being a new class, some may wonder about the size of this figure. Grimlock is a Voyager Class sized figure. He is about 8 inches (approximately 20.3 centimeters) tall and 5.5 inches wide (about 13.9 centimeters). He does have some nice bulk. If we were to compare him to "Generations" Grimlock, he is about the same size but he is heavier. "Generations" Grimlock is roughly 6oz (with accessories attached), but this Grimlock is 8oz! I was very surprised about this since he is such a simple figure, but I guess what is lost in complexity was gained in sheer volume of plastic.

Grimlock may not be G1 Grimlock, but he certainly takes a lot of influence from the iconic character. The features influenced by G1 include:

  • The head sculpt has a crest in the middle and two small horns on the top of his head.
  • The shoulders are large armor panels that form the upper legs in beast mode.
  • The chest is wide, with a shape that is evocative of the original Grimlock.
  • The dinosaur claws wind up on the wrists.
  • The lower legs are curved slightly with small feet at the bottom, a design that is reminiscent of G1 Grimlock's lower legs.

There are many differences of course. The head has a face with two eyes and a mouth instead of visor eyes and a mouthplate. The shape of the shoulder armor has some angles with a roughly oval shape instead of a round shape as G1 Grimlock had. And while the chest does evoke G1 Grimlock, the actual line designs are different. The waist and thighs are pretty much unique to this design as well. In this incarnation, the dinosaur arms and half the head wind up on the right side lower leg, which I'm sure is not part of the animation model design. Clearly some concessions were made to simplify the transformation.

Grimlock is cast in green, black and silver plastic. These colors are very different than the traditional Grimlock colors of silver, red and black and I'm glad. I think it helps distinguish the character from the G1 version. The torso, head and lower legs are black. The robot arms are green while the thighs are silver. The lower legs have green and silver parts on them. The face is painted gold with blue eyes. Green is used on the chest and the lower legs. Right in the center of the chest is an Autobot symbol with a circle around it. In 2015 Hasbro will release an app that allows you to scan this symbol as part of a mobile game!

Functionality is where you have to dial your expectations down...low. Grimlock's arms can move up and down and...that's it. Now, for a figure that is basically one level up from a "One Step Changer" that's fine, but it is a tad disappointing. I thought the figure would be redeemed slightly when I saw holes inside a hex shaped section on each wrist/hand area. However, I was let down when I tried to insert a 5mm post weapon and the port was way too big. So, why are these holes even here? They serve no purpose, yet they look like they were meant to allow for weapons being attached. I'm seriously hoping some cross-functionality with to-be-released toys and/or accessories will be revealed later, but for now it's just a disappointment.

For those curious, the dinosaur mode tail can attach to the area in between both legs. This winds up giving Grimlock a tail in robot mode, but he doesn't have one in the animated series so it's purely for convenience/storage.

Transformation to Beast Mode:

  1. Swing each arm forward.
  2. Holding the upper body, turn the body to the right. The robot head will sink down into the chest.
  3. On each leg, swing the lower legs out.
  4. Swing each leg up, joining the halves at the top by swinging the beast mode head halves together.
  5. Make sure the tail is attached to the back, using the tabs and corresponding slots on the figure itself.

Beast Mode:
Grimlock's beast mode is called a "T-Rex", but the design influences seem to be more of a mash up of the Japanese version of Godzilla and the 1998 American version of the character. The bulk of the body design is very reminiscent of the Japanese Godzilla, with a thick central body, a long tail, huge legs and thick arms. His head design seems to come from the 1998 Godzilla with a thick jaw on the bottom that's larger than the one on top. It's an interesting mash up and in a way, I like how it distinguishes itself from G1 and "Generations" Grimlock. It lets the character stand on his own.

There are some nice smaller details on the figure that carry over from the animation model. This includes three lines on each lower leg, a circle with lines coming out at the hips and other small line designs such as some vertical lines on his chin. One of the more interesting is a layer of armor panels sculpted into the top of the head. It resembles a crown and is, in fact, painted gold, making it look like Grimlock is constantly wearing one (perhaps a callback to his G1 comic book counterpart).

Grimlock carries over all the major colors from the robot mode into this form. This mode seems to mix up the black and green more, with green on the extremities (the head, the tail, the outside of the legs) while the black is focused in the center of the body. Silver also appears on the arms and the back. The deco is focused on the sides and the head. On the sides some of the black plastic is painted green. The head has silver on the snout area and teeth. The "crown" is painted gold and the eyes are blue. The thick brows over the eyes are painted black. It's a shame that the deco didn't go further. The animation model shows a lot of small glowing areas in line details such as the aforementioned three lines on his lower leg, but none of them are colored in on this figure.

Functionally this mode has four points of articulation, the legs and the arms. Unfortunately, I encountered what may be a Q/A issue on my copy of this figure. The right dinosaur arm tends to pop off when you rotate it. I've tried to push the piece back into place, but it won't snap in. It holds tight just fine, until you try to turn it around in a circle, then it falls right off. To say this is disappointing is an understatement. Hopefully not all of these figures will have this issue.

Final Thoughts:
I really wanted to like this figure more than I do. I like its size and bulk. I like the design and the way it pays homage to G1 Grimlock while looking fresh at the same time. The problem? Parts falling off is a deal breaker for me. The beast mode arm I indicate above should be more secure than it is. My other issue are those odd ports on the hands. Not having them hold 5mm peg weapons is a major turn off. I was hoping at the very least the tail could be used as a weapon/accessory but there's no way to connect it to the hand.

To put things in perspective, this figure is advertised for kids 6 years and up. This would definitely be fun for little kids who want a big, chunky figure that can be easily transformed - assuming the arm doesn't fall off constantly. For older collectors however I can't recommend it.