"Age of Extinction" Leader Class Grimlock Toy Review

in 2014, Action Figure Review, Age of Extinction, Autobot, Dinobot, Leader

Age of Extinction

Leader Class Grimlock General Information:
Release Date: May 2014
Price Point: $44.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, K-Mart, Target etc.)
Accessories: Mace weapon, Shield


*Images and text below from The Official Transformers Web Site:
He has battled countless enemies across the universe, never concerning himself with trophies, only victories. He has proven difficult to capture and nearly impossible to defeat. When an enemy does manage to get the best of him, it's never for long. Un-caged and unleashed, Grimlock is concerned with only one thing: vengeance against those who would try to control him. Convert, arm and attack with all the Transformers action you can handle! This Grimlock figure is a high-powered fighter whether he's in robot mode or dino mode. With his Dragontooth Mace in his fist, he's a spiky danger to any enemy in robot mode. When he converts to T-rex mode, he'll stomp any enemy flat! Keep converting him back and forth so he can handle whatever his foes dish out! Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

In previous lines of live action movie figures, the character of Bumblebee practically overwhelmed toy store shelves with variations on the character. He appeared in almost every size class and sub-line, forming a sea of yellow and black plastic. This year, it's a different character's turn to pop up in different scales all over the live action movie toy line: Grimlock. While fans have received a steady flow of Grimlock action figures over the years, never has the Dinobot leader's presence been felt more on toy store shelves than 2014. I've already covered the the One Step Changer Grimlock and the Voyager Class Grimlock, but this figure brings Grimlock into the larger, more complex Leader Class category.

Robot Mode:
It's no secret that around 2012-2013, certain budget cutting measures began to take effect across the toy industry. Take a look at action figures such as Batman or Star Wars lines and you'll see that figures that were once standard are now considered more "premium" (with better decos and articulation for instance) and the "standard" figures are becoming cheaper (less deco, less articulation). "Transformers" as a toy line has not been immune to this. For those fans expecting something with the bulk of Leader Class Optimus Prime from the 2007 movie, don't. There's definitely less plastic being used here, no projectile firing and no electronics. I say all this up front because I think it's important to give context with reviews, and that context is a modern world where the economy is not optimal to support heavy, electronics filled figures like those we've had in the past.

On that somewhat down note, let's focus on the positive shall we? Grimlock stands at about 9.5 inches tall (about 24.13 centimeters). Thanks in part to his proportions, he still manages to look imposing despite the "sizing down" of the Leader Class. His upper body is wide, coming to a relatively thin waist area which leads to a wider hip and leg section. The shoulder armor adds a bit of width to his upper body. Thanks to the relatively thin design of the body, the result is a creature that looks both powerful and agile. This looks like a warrior who was built to put the hurt on enemies and not much else.

Of course, Grimlock has other features which enhance this perception. Between the "teeth" on his chest and the teeth sticking out of his shoulder armor, he has a very dangerous, ancient vibe to him. The layers of armor plating designs on his shoulders and torso add to this impression of a machine built for war. Even his head design with its thin, central crest and imposing looking face design shows no hint of kindness or mercy. This design is purely meant to say "I'm going to fight you and win." and it does it very well.

Some to do has been made about the wrist/hand design on this figure and it is rather odd. Essentially the wrists are on a swivel joint with a very obvious wrist piece, something that is not often seen on Transformers. In beast mode, the hand acts as a heel piece, providing some balance as opposed to having a separate heel piece swing out of the beast mode foot. I see some possible cost cutting here. The forearm section looks like it may have been designed for the top panel to swing up and allow the wrist to fold back (which is how most Transformers are made) but that was abandoned early in the design process. This is pure speculation on my part of course. In robot mode, this isn't a huge deal, but I can see how it would seem odd to folks used to the more traditional way of handling this type of joint.

Grimlock is cast mostly in copper and black plastic. Several parts are vacuum metallized silver so I'm not 100% sure what color they are underneath. The copper and black make up most of the arms, waist and legs. The middle of the torso, shoulder armor and lower legs have the vacuum metallized silver. Some have said this looks too garish, but I disagree. I think the color actually looks good, acting as a nice, bright contrast with the copper and black. Paint colors on the figure include black, copper and light blue. The copper is most obvious on the shoulder armor and head. The face is painted black with light blue eyes. Other areas mix up the copper and black colors such as the forearms. As I've mentioned in other Grimlock reviews, this is hardly "screen accurate" but it is consistent with his "toy look" for "Age of Extinction".

Grimlock has twenty one points of articulation in this form. This includes five in each arm and leg and the head. A few joints are ratchet joints, allowing for stability when posing the figure (especially the hip joints). He includes two accessories. One is a shield that could also be used as a weapon, featuring spikes on the outside and a saw-like blade at the end. This can be held in one of the fists or connected to the underside of the beast mode feet on his forearms. The shield is vacuum metallized silver with grey spikes and copper paint on the outside. His melee weapon is a staff with a spiked mace end, inspired by the weapon he used in the movie. The other end is also a weapon with a pointed end. The weapon is cast in black with copper paint on the top portion. I really like this melee weapon/shield combination, and I find it fun that the shield can also be used as a weapon which very much fits the "image" of Grimlock as we've known him throughout the years.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Take the mace weapon and push the handle up, then swing the halves of the spiked sections down.
  2. On the shield, swing the spikes back. Then swing the "blade" back. Connect this piece to the tail piece from the previous step using the holes in between the spikes to connect to the corresponding sections on the tail/melee weapon piece.
  3. Swing the "teeth" pieces on the chest down against the torso.
  4. On each shoulder armor piece swing the jaw section down.
  5. On each foot, swing the pointed pieces down and back into the underside of the feet.
  6. On each forearm, swing the beast mode feet down.
  7. On the back, swing the panels on the back down.
  8. Swing the shoulder armor pieces down (they connect to a central hinged piece) and connect the beast mode head halves together.
  9. Pull the chest section up, covering the head.
  10. Swing the panels on the back back up.
  11. Swing each shoulder section out, then swing it down and connect it back in place.
  12. On each lower leg, swing out the panels that form the lower legs and swing the robot feet in.
  13. On the hinge piece that connects to the beast mode head, you'll see two large tabs. Connect these to grooves on the inner thighs of the robot mode.
  14. Swing each lower leg back. The beast mode arm should be on the outside. The panels that form the lower leg tab against the thigh section in two places. You may need to move the shoulder pieces (now the beast mode legs) out temporarily to give yourself clearance.
  15. Note: the robot feet wind up sticking out in the back, with the heel piece pointing up at an angle and the toes pointing down at an angle.
  16. Connect the two halves of the beast mode's back together.
  17. Swing down the panels on the sides of the neck.
  18. Swing the beast mode legs down, then rotate the lower legs around so the feet point forward.
  19. On the halves of the back piece you'll see two pegs. Attach the ports on the shield piece to those pegs to form the lower back and tail.

Beast Mode:
When early photos of Grimlock popped up online before "Age of Extinction" debuted in theaters, many decried Grimlock's "dragon" like appearance thanks in part to the horns on his head. Now, many dinosaurs already had this feature, but the discussion was a valid one as he was a visual departure from what fans were used to. This figure really brings that departure to the forefront as this version of Grimlock looks different in many ways than both the the One Step Changer Grimlock and the Voyager Class Grimlock figures. This is due in part to the size of the figure. It's bigger so certain details such as the "horns" on his head make more of an impact. However, the biggest difference is how oddly flat his body looks. If you look at the other Grimlock figures, they have a more traditional body which is roughly cylindrical in shape. This Grimlock's body is wide and thin, making him shaped kind of like a flat pillow. It's not particularly flattering unfortunately. I can't help but look at the beast mode and find its proportions odd looking.

I don't want you to think this is all bad however. This figure has a lot going for it in this mode. The detail level on this sculpt is insane. Just follow the head to the back and you'll see a really intricate set of curves and grooves that evoke thoughts of dinosaur bones in museums. This is most notable on his back where a spinal ridge runs down the center. The underside has rib like bone structures curving around his abdominal area and the rear section looks like it has rib cage-like bone designs on it. It's certainly a striking sculpt and from certain angles it's downright gorgeous.

There are no real color surprises in this form. What does happen is consolidation of colors. The vacuum metallized silver makes up most of the area form the head to the back. The lower back to the tail is mostly copper in color. The black pieces are mostly located on the sides or lower part of the figure. This mode gives you a good look at black deco on the sides of the head and light blue eyes. The large amount of vacuum metallized silver may turn some folks off, but I don't have a problem with it.

There are sixteen points of articulation in this mode, with ten focused on the legs. He has small dinosaur arms that have two points of articulation each. I'm being a bit generous by counting the ability for the neck to move up and down a bit since that's technically just part of the transformation scheme. I do like how fierce he looks when you open up the mouth with its rows of sharp looking teeth (no worries about hurting yourself, it's cast in soft plastic).

Final Thoughts:
It's undeniable Leader Class Grimlock is a step down from previous Leader Class figures in many ways. He isn't super heavy, he doesn't have electronics or even projectiles. However, that doesn't necessarily make him a bad figure. I actually think in many respects he's pretty cool, especially in robot mode. The question is, do you want to pay $44.99 or more for him? My answer to that is no. That said, as I write this review he is about $35 on Amazon.com and for that price I think he's worth it. So, not a bad toy, but not worth paying $45-50 for in my book.