Way back when, around maybe a year I started this blog, I got myself a Masterpiece Grimlock from my local Toys ‘R’ Us store. It was something I really wanted then because I loved Grimlock from the original G1 cartoon and I’ve always wanted a figure of him ever since I was a kid. I planned it to be one of the things I would review for the I’ll Review Anything segment of 3rd World Geeks. It was one of those toys that deserved a review back then. But, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why I never did. Well, it’s been quite a while since then and Takara even started revamping their entire Masterpiece Transformer line to reflect more accurate cartoon features than the more G1 toy accurate versions they were making then.
Well, better late than never! Here’s my review of the 2014 Toys ‘R’ Us re-issue of Takara’s Masterpiece Grimlock.
There may be some confusion as to what exactly is the Toys ‘R’ Us Masterpiece Grimlock and why I’m not calling it by the “official” Takara MP-08 designation. Well, for a while, Toys ‘R’ Us made a deal with Takara to release some figures from the Masterpiece Transformers line as exclusives to their stores. This led to some figures, such as MP-17 Prowl and MP-8X “King” Grimlock, becoming repackaged by the company and sold as exclusive in their stores. So, basically, the Masterpiece Grimlock figure would be the same as Takara’s MP-8X Masterpiece “King” Grimlock they released in 2009, which is the figure in question.
It’s actually kind of refreshing to toy around with an older Masterpiece Transformer again. As I mentioned earlier, the newer models try to make the figures look more like the G1 cartoon rather than the original G1 toy. Masterpiece Grimlock, as it’s an older Masterpiece Transformer, looks and feels a lot more than the original toy, especially in robot mode. I do like how the head of his Tyrannosaurus Rex alternate form can fold flush into his back. He’s still backpack heavy but it’s much less obvious. His arms, particularly his shoulders, are incredibly huge and rides high on his torso. His thighs also comes off as lacking significant girth for a robot of his stature. I also do wish they found a way to better hide his alternate mode’s “claws” in robot mode as they’re incredibly huge and distracting on his forearms. It’s toy accurate but just looks out of place in his robot mode.
While it generally copies the G1 toy, Masterpiece Grimlock does have a good amount of articulation in robot mode. The shoulders are on ball joints and, while that’s great for articulation, I do wish they were on double joints with the joint that moves towards his front were on ratchet hinges; I’ll explain later. The legs can move in all the directions it needs to. It is lacking a swivel hip because of the way it transforms and there isn’t a whole lot of ankle movement as his feet are pretty much a part of his lower leg assembly. Still, it’s nice to see Grimlock have more posability than before.
Like most of the earlier Masterpiece Transformers, Masterpiece Grimlock doesn’t have too many accessories. All he has out of the box is his twin stunner laser rifle, his energon sword and a crown. The first two items actually link to one of the primary gimmicks of the figure. If you attach either the laser rifle or his energon sword to his right hand, you can press a hidden button behind his right shoulder to light it up, provided you plug in a battery with some juice left in the compartment. Mine has unfortunately drained a long time ago so I couldn’t really show it for this review. Just let me reassure you it’s there and, well, doesn’t really add much to the figure. It’s cool but unnecessary and actually causes me to have couple of issues with the overall product.
Because of the lighting gimmick, the right hand is a molded fist with a hole where you can fit either the gun or the hand. It uses light piping to allow the built-in LED to illuminate whatever he’s holding, which also has light piping to allow the light to show up. However, his left hand is a posable hand, complete with separate index finger and thumb. In order to properly affix the weapons on them, you have to fit them in another nub jutting out from the bottom of the accessory. Basically, due to the light piping gimmick, Masterpiece Grimlock can’t hold other weapons properly as it doesn’t have the necessary notches to do so. It kind of bugs me that they couldn’t figure out a way to fit in the lighting gimmick to work with “regular” hands.
Fans of the cartoon may be unfamiliar as to why they gave Grimlock a crown accessory and that’s because it wasn’t featured in the animated program. It was actually featured in one of the Marvel comics issues. It’s a cool accessory but I don’t really don’t take it out of the box that often as I’m afraid I’d lose it. It does fit snugly on his noggin, at least.
Speaking of noggins, Masterpiece Grimlock does have a neat feature that allows you to swap out his visor or eyes with either a red or blue tint for both his robot and Tyrannosaurus Rex form. And they’re all built into the figure! For his robot mode, you just have to move a lever found on the back of his head to switch between both of them. When in his alternate mode, you have to flip open the top of his dinosaur head and twist the eyes around then close the head again. It’s neat as you don’t have to dig into the box to make Masterpiece Grimlock toy or cartoon accurate!
Getting Grimlock from his robot mode to his alternate dinosaur mode and vice versa is a very simple process, especially if you’re familiar with his G1 toy transformation. It follows the game general beats. The legs form the majority of the tail. The arms becomes the dinosaurs hind legs. The entire backpack assembly becomes the top portion of the torso and the head. There are a few changes, like the entire tail transformation is a smidge more complex but, when compared to other Masterpiece Transformers, particularly the more recent ones, this is a breeze to transform. I’d even say this could be baby’s first Masterpiece Transformer… if that baby is 8 years old and above, of course.
Masterpiece Grimlock’s Tyrannosaurus Rex mode is definitely a looker! It certainly doesn’t look like it was initially a robot to begin with and honestly looks like a robotic dinosaur. There’s also a ton of detail they put into the figure. All the metallic bits are nice and shiny. Grimlock’s Tyrannosaurus Rex’s neck and lower torso are made of a clear plastic that shows some inner robotic parts, which are always a nice touch. And, if you open its mouth, you can see a barrel of a flame thrower! That’s just such a nice little detail!
But there are definitely a few problems with it. Remember when I said I wish his robot mode’s shoulders were ratchet joints and not ball joints? Well, that’s because they don’t really feel substantial enough at times to carry his weight in dinosaur mode. You can finagle with the lower limbs a bit as the top one is a weak ratchet joint but it definitely could be much more stable if the actual joint connecting to the main body was stiffer. And since these are ball joints, they may get looser at time marches on and I’m definitely not looking forward to when that happens.
There are also a few cheesy gimmicks that comes with his dino mode, which, like the lighting effect, come off as gratuitous. If you swing his tail around, Grimlock’s dino head will also sway around. Seems like an odd thing to put in a Masterpiece Transformer figure, if you ask me. You can also cause his jaws to snap down quickly by pushing in one of his cheeks. It’s does seem like a needless feature but I’m generally okay with it. I call these features unnecessary because, half the time, I forget these features exist as they don’t seem pertinent to the figure itself.
I will admit that the Toys ‘R’ Us Masterpiece Grimlock isn’t the best Masterpiece Transformer I have. Takara has stepped up it’s design game since then, with really intricate transformations, more cartoon accurate looking figures and plenty more accessories bundled with each Masterpiece Transformer. However, I just can’t help but smile whenever I’m holding this figure because of my personal bias on Grimlock. I do say it’s worth a buy if you’re a Masterpiece Transformers collector but I will say you might be better off getting the original MP-8 Grimlock as it has a few extra accessories, such as a bow tie, serving tray with glasses and the intelligence transfer helmet. Yes, those accessories are also superfluous but at least you get more. Still, if you have the chance to snag this version, you still can’t go wrong.
Have you ever owned the Toys ‘R’ Us Masterpiece Grimlock figure? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!