If there is one year in particular that defines most of what makes me “DisThunder,” I think I would have to say that year was 1986.
There were actually a TON of influential pieces of pop culture that made their start that year. Seriously, go watch one of those timeline or “flashback” videos on YouTube when you have a minute; it’s staggering. Great tunes, great movies. So when the Studio Series turned to 1986, well, it was a big win for me.
Transformers: The Movie is the epitome of going “back to the well” for G1. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to see that glorious Earthrise Optimus mold get a Studio Series 86 rebrand at some point– he’s almost been released in every box. So, it isn’t weird to see Grimlock under the banner, necessarily, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that was an odd choice than say, Kup, Hot Rod, Blur, or Scourge, that made their first appearance in the movie.
You’d be forgiven, but you’d still be wrong. 15 minutes into the movie, Grimlock and his Dinobot crew make their dramatic cinematic debut, in one of the most emotionally conflicting moments of my childhood. Optimus tells him, with a commanding urgency that still makes me a little uneasy- “Dinobots: Destroy Devatsator!”
And Grimlock eagerly complies, boasting how he “Loves challenge.”
That scene, with the Dinobots descending from the shuttle, over the ruins of Autobot City, with that bold Vince Dicola soundrack… For a minute, barely, you think the tide is going to turn. Grimlock orders the crew to transform, and he descends on Devastator, in full T-Rex battle mode, ready to bite his head off– only to get brutally kicked out of the sky, and out of the fight. Rian Johnson might think he knows a thing or two about “subverting expectations,” but he ain’t got sh*t on this movie. A debate that had raged on during recesses and Saturdays for nearly two years: Who Would Win- ended in mere seconds in a draw, with the big guy sidelined right out of the gate.
Sure, he redeems himself by essentially taking over Quintessa and literally kicking Unicron in the ass later, but that first scene alone justifies for me his inclusion in any movie line.
And what an inclusion! Leader Class Grimlock. Done up in cartoon colors, packed with a little friend find, and a Quintesson chamber backdrop.
One of the things that comes with Studio Series’ higher price point is a little more intricate figures, and/or accessories. For Grimlock, most of that goes to making him the biggest Autobot this side ofJetfire. He does come with Wheelie, an articulated legends-sized figure, and his blaster, but most that price point went to work on the figure himself.
His robot mode is a nice hybrid of his toy and cartoon looks, and very evocative of the Masterpiece version in several regards. I would say though this one is more solid and better articulated, even though he boasts a few less points. More accurately, he strikes a great balance between the two. The limbs have excellent range of motion, and the proportions are possibly the best of a Grimlock so far.
Transformation follows that MP template, itself borrowing liberally from the G1 toy, and is really a pleasant and familiar sequence.
And you end up with a spectacular G1 Tyrannosaurus mode, straight out of the G1 style guide. He is nearly as tall and articulated as his bot mode too, with even his little T-Rex arms having ball shoulders and hinged elbows. The articulated jaw is awesome too, though he needs a couple more front teeth- which we’ll get into in a sec. Also worth noting this is clearly a classic Rex, in his tail-dragging glory, as opposed to the Jurassic Park sprinter. I like to call this Dad bod T-Rex. This is what peak performance looks like. You may not like it, but here it is.
With so much this figure does right, I have pretty minimal things to even want to change, let alone gripe about. One thing of note is that he did change from the solicitation pictures a bit- he had more translucent plastic parts on his neck and chest, closer to his G1 toy. Of course, this way is more cartoon accurate, but I wouldn’t mind a retool later on with those added in.
The only thing I might have changed in the box is the inclusion of a sword instead of Wheelie. While he’s actually a nicely painted and sculpted little mini figure, I would have gladly bought a legends figure that transformed separate from this release.
Overall, if you are even just the most casual of G1 transformers collectors, this is a must have. Grimlock was such a fixture of my childhood, to the point my original figure was played with until it dissolved. And for whatever reason, each following version seemed to stop short of hitting that note just right, some only barely. But this one just nails it.