"Robots in Disguise" (2015) Battle Pack: Grimlock versus Decepticon Back Toy Review
Release Date: January 2016
Price Point: $14.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, K-Mart, Target etc.)
Official images and text in italics below from Amazon.com:
In the Transformers: Robots in Disguise animated series, Bumblebee leads a new team of Autobots. Their mission: capture the Decepticons that are loose on Earth … and do it without being discovered. Bring home the chase and capture excitement of the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons with this battle pack. It contains 1 Autobot Grimlock figure, 1 Decepticon Back Mini-Con Cyclone figure, and 7 accessories. The accessories can be used to customize the Grimlock figure with weapons and armor. Or, assemble them into a Decepticon-catching capture weapon! The Grimlock figure changes from robot to T-Rex and back in 8 steps. The Decepticon Back figure changes from robot to cyclone weapon and back in 1 easy step.
"Robots in Disguise" continued in 2016 with the introduction of "Battle Packs". These each featured an Autobot paired up with a Decepticon Mini-con. The Autobots were generally about the size of a Commander Class figure (examples of a Commander Class figure include "Prime" Ironhide and "Dark of the Moon" Guzzle). The Mini-Cons in the first wave were of the "Cyclone" kind, intended to interact with figures like Overload. Added play value is integrated into the set by adding on armor pieces that could be combined into one large "super weapon".
The "Robots in Disguise" Battle Packs are blister carded. If you are facing the card the left side has the Commander Class figure while the right has the Mini-Con. In between are the armor pieces and weapons. The backing card has artwork of Grimlock wearing his armor on it. The Transformers logo is on the right. On the bottom is an insert with the names of the characters. The back of the packaging shows both toys in both forms. There are no tech specs, just legal information in several languages and a promotion for the mobile app.
One of the main selling points of this figure are the accessories. These represent "battle armor" that appear on the character such as the armor seen in the "Robots in Disguise" episode "Decepticon Island" Part 2. Grimlock includes the following pieces:
- Helmet/Chest Armor
- Shoulder Armor x 2
- Forearm armor x 2
The armor pieces are cast in translucent orange plastic with no paint applications. The translucent orange color contrasts beautifully against Grimlock's darker green color. The orange also suggests lava, which is something that is sometimes used with the iconography of dinosaurs.
Grimlock's armor is designed around the savage nature of his dinosaur alt mode. The helmet has three spikes sticking up on the sides and in the middle. There are two small spikes that come up on top of the chest armor piece. The shoulder armor pieces are clearly based on the top of a dinosaur's head with both spikes and teeth showing. His forearm armor also has dinosaur teeth on it and the pieces look like they could be used as pretty savage weapons.
The armor pieces can be combined to form a large dinosaur skull/head. Connect the halves of each section of the head together, then use the chest/head armor piece on the back. This skull/head piece can be used in two ways. You can put it over Grimlock's beast mode head giving him a type of "energy helmet". Honestly this winds up looking a bit silly since it makes his head look positively huge. You can also put the "skull/helmet" over one of the arms in robot mode giving him a "Beast Wars" Megatron like arm.
Decepticon Back was introduced in the episode "Impounded" as one of the Mini-Cons partnered with Quillfire. If you're wondering "What kind of name is 'Decepticon Back'?!" it makes a lot more sense if you take into account that the Mini-Con he teams up with is named "Forth". This is the first release of Back in toy form, but there is going to be a single packed version of this figure with a different deco and armor accessories.
Back's sculpt is a really unusual one. He is a Cyclone Mini-Con, so his design begins with being a ball shape. However, instead of having a humanoid form like some other Mini-Cons, his looks more like some type of beetle that has mutated. He has arms that are spread out to the sides, but his head has a helmet design with a horn sticking up in the middle. Instead of two humanoid legs, he has four insect-like legs. He has a pretty nasty grin on his face and his eyes look a bit insect-like as well. Overall for a little Transformer with a ball shaped alt-form, this little guy looks creepy.
There are some differences between this figure and the animation model. On the cartoon his arms seem to swing up from the weapon mode, here they spread outwards. Also, the horn on his head is much larger in the cartoon (though recreating that in toy form would interfere with the transformation). On the cartoon, his legs have three segments, but here each leg is just one piece. For the most part I can understand all these changes since they were done to accommodate the transformation and reduce cost. Even if the designers had, say, given the legs three segments, they would probably be very fragile if you tried to put hinges on them.
Back is cast in metallic purple and green plastic. He has very little deco. The eyes are red there is a scannable Decepticon symbol on his back and that's really it. If you compare him to the animation model a lot of details have been left out. I suspect many of these deco points are being "saved" for his individual release. In this set it's best to think of him as an accessory to Grimlock rather than a standalone figure.
To transform Back, push his arms in first, then push the sides of the figure in. The auto-morph gimmick will swing the head down and tuck the legs in.
In this form Back can serve as a projectile for Deployers such as Overload to launch. He really doesn't have many embellishments in this form, he just looks like a ball with a lot of armor plates on it.
Grimlock's design is based on his cartoon model. This includes having a wide chest and shoulders with a narrow waist/hip area that leads to thick legs. In many respects this design calls back to aspects of G1 Grimlock. For instance his head design has a helmet section with two horns sticking out on on top, reminiscent of G1 Grimlock's head. Also the beast mode arms form the legs and the beast mode legs form the robot arms, just like they do on G1 Grimlock. What I appreciate is that the figure may be downsized from the Warrior Class figure but it is every bit as intricate in sculpt and design.
Grimlock is cast in green and black plastic. Green, gold and blue paint are used to provide detailing. The green paint is used mostly on the chest and the sides of the lower legs. Gold is found on his face and blue is used on the eyes. The center of the chest has a scannable Autobot symbol for use with the mobile app. Most of the time simplified figures have decos that don't really match well with the animated model, but in this case Grimlock looks good. There are some differences. For instance his thighs and lower legs wind up swapping primary colors (green and black) when compared to the animation model. Also, this figure lacks any of the small yellow "light" details but the same can be said for virtually all versions of this character in toy form so I don't see it as a big deal.
There are thirteen points of articulation on this figure. This includes three in each arm and two in each leg. I was actually surprised that the head on the figure turned since I figured this was a "simplified" figure with little articulation. I'm actually very happy with the articulation given the price point and size of the figure. Of course the major functionality here are the armor pieces which attach to the chest, head, shoulders and arms. I love the savage looking nature of the armor pieces and the orange color contrasts really nicely against the green and black colors. Grimlock also has 5mm ports in each hand, allowing him to hold weapons from other figures like Bumblebee.
Transformation to Beast Mode:
- Detach all armor pieces if attached.
- Swing the hands into the forearms.
- Swing the dinosaur head forward over the robot head and snap it into place.
- Pull the robot arms out to the side along with the outer panels of the chest.
- Rotate the dinosaur arms forward.
- Connect the robot legs together, then swing them up in the back.
- Swing the tail halves out and connect them together.
- Swing the robot arms/chest sections down.
- Rotate the robot forearms around.
Grimlock's beast mode is based off the animation model which has some distinctive design elements not found on G1 Grimlock. This includes the crown like ridges on the top of his head, the "Godzilla" like jaw and the ridges running down the spine. In many respects he seems to owe more to Godzilla in design than G1 Grimlock! Like the animation model, he also has a very thick body and he is designed with a very retro T-Rex based design where the tail curves up to the head from the ground up. This is quite different than most modern day interpretations of the T-Rex who is hunched over with the head pointed forward.
This mode shows off a lot of green plastic via the tail, legs, arms and head. Black makes up the rest. Gold and silver deco show up on the head and feet. The beast mode eyes are painted blue, matching the robot mode eyes. The rest of the figure looks pretty plain but given the simplified nature of the figure it's no real surprise. I think the figure looks good, just not amazing.
This mode features seven points of articulation. This includes the arms, legs and the ability of the lower jaw to open and close. Interestingly the jaw is not just a simple hinge but it feels like a ratcheted one where the jaw "clicks" into place. This mode allows you to attach the armor in its skull form over the head, though to be honest it winds up looking kind of silly because it is so oversized. It's still a fun play feature however and I imagine kids would really enjoy it.
This is a fun two pack and I really dig the way the Grimlock figure mirrors the Warrior Class one in many ways. Back is an interesting looking Mini-Con, though if he's the main reason you want this set I'd recommend waiting for the individual release.