Cliffbee.com: Binaltech Grimlock Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Grimlock
Series: Binaltech
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Lieutenant Commander
Alternate Mode: Ford Mustang GT



MUSTANG MODE
Height: 6cm Length: 19.5cm Width: 6cm

   A very realistic metallic silver Mustang, Grimlock looks nothing like the tail-dragging T-Rex we're used to. The majority of the shell is metallic silver - either side cast metal or plastic, with a painted roof, over the transparent plastic used for his windows. Grimlock has all the standard features of a Binaltech vehicle - chromed hubcaps and rubber tyres, chromed rear vision mirrors, moulded wipers and door-handles, transparent plastic headlights (with parabolas inside), transparent red taillights, transparent orange indicators and even clear reverse lights within his taillights. His grille is the traditional Mustang grille, complete with the horse logo and distinctive headlight array. The silver works both for the Mustang and for the character, and is only really broken up by the relevant clear bits.

   This is a very stylish sports car - as the Mustangs have always been. The chromed mags, distinctive grille, small yet visible spoiler, twin chromed mufflers, "GT" logo on the back all help make for a stylish vehicle mode. I'm not sure that style is a quality usually associated with Grimlock, but it does make for a visually appealing toy. I've always like the Mustangs mind you, so maybe I'm biased but I do feel they've usually placed more emphasis on visual impact than many American cars.

   The excellent detailing is continued inside this vehicle. Open one of the doors and you'll see a steering wheel (left hand drive), stickshift, handbrake, stereo, odometers etc. and of course moulded seats. The choice of red for the seats may seem odd, but it works well, and makes sense for the character. The steering wheel can tilt up and down and _actually turns_. The front wheels turn, simulating a rack-and-pinion, although they're not linked to the steering wheel. There's a white license plate on his rear bumper which sports his name and an Autobot logo.

   As mentioned, the steering wheel turns and the doors open. As you'd expect, the boot opens and the bonnet lifts to reveal a chromed engine block - complete with the Mustang horse insignia!. As on Meister and Tracks, Grimlock has brakediscs that remain stationary while his wheels spin, which are done in silver and have moulded callipers.

   Up until this point the Binaltech seem to be constantly improving and outgoing earlier moulds, and unfortunately Grimlock is a slight regression from Meister and Tracks. The front section doesn't quite line up to the front of his doors, there's a slightly awkward gap at the back of his bonnet and the painted silver on his roof seems to scratch easily - both mine and a friend's had scratches out of the box. None of these ruin what is still a great car mode, but the standard has slipped slightly. From a realism point of view the misalignment bothers me most, but the paint scratches are of course annoying.

   Despite the minor flaws, this is still a very good car mode. The thing that impresses me the most is that Grimlock really captures the feel of the Ford Mustang, and there are some great visual elements such as his chrome wheels and the headlight array. It's a radical change of direction for Grimlock, which may not please everyone, but this is a nice car mode in it's own right.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   I'm not going to bother trying to explain everything involved in what is a very complex transformation. The headlight rack becomes his chest ala Jazz, the rear window becomes his boots and the rear end his kneecaps. The doors become wings, his arms fold out from within the engine bay. The engine block becomes his handgun and there's an orange sword tucked underneath the car.

   The shoulder transformation is awkward and counterintuitive, especially getting back to car mode. While grappling with the shoulders I find that the doors tend to pop off, which is annoying, and worries me since the left door on mine was loose to begin with.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 20cm Width: 17.5cm
exact height depends on pose, width is his wingspan

   As you'd expect, the silver is again his dominant colour, but it's now joined by red on his feet and groin, black on his waist, thighs, fists and upper arms and gold on his face, which also features transparent blue eyes. The face is little more than a mouthplate, but I can deal with this since Grimlock's head is faithful to his traditional head. The silver, black and red works very well and is remarkable faithful to the Dinobot Grimlock considering the sweeping changes. The red and black are in the right places, down to the silver wings above his shoulders. I have to say I'm glad the colour scheme and head evoke the character - it really makes the name work for me.

   While not all Binaltechs make full use of the vehicular features in robot mode, Grimlock certainly does. The front of the car is his chest, the front wheels are on the outsides of his forearms, the boots are his rear windows, the feet the car seats and the kneecaps are his rear bumper and lights. The wings above his shoulders are the car's doors, and apart from being appropriate for Grimlock, they're configured differently to the door-wings on previous Binaltechs, and while the transformation is fiddly I'll give points for innovation. The Mustang grille and headlights on his chest make for a great central feature. The kneecaps are huge, to the point where they partially obscure the thighs and the wheels on his forearms look a little weird since they sit on posts rather than being flush.

   There are stamped Autobot logos on either shoulder, the forearms have moulded pistons and the floor of the vehicular cabin hangs off the back like an armour skirt - although it's really just kibble. The roof and windshield also sit on his back, but they're behind the chest while this plate is fairly conspicuously behind the waist and groin. The kneecaps might look strange, but along with the large sloping boots, they help ensure this toy _works_ as Grimlock, so I can deal with them - and I really like how the boots are done. Heck, there are springs visible inside his boots, which are purely for show, rather than functionality.

   As is to expected, this is a poseable robot mode. The head is ball jointed and the waist and groin both rotate. The shoulders rotate and swing out to the sides while his elbows have both ball joints and sideways swivels. The wrists are ball jointed while his index fingers are jointed, the other three fingers jointed as one. His hips are ball joints with rotators directly below them to help the hinged knees. The ankles are ball jointed, while the feet and heelspurs are hinged. The feet themselves are the backs of his seats while the heelspurs are the bases of the seats. I'm really impressed by the way the feet were done. Not only does it show great creativity, but they've pulled it off without making it look silly.

   While the hinged knees are a slight negative, the rotators in his hips make up for this and the poseable feet make leg poseability a strong point. All told, the poseability here is great, which compliments the weapons. The sword is a transparent orange affair, and again it helps sell the toy as Grimlock - the Dinobot version came with a gun and red sword. Grimlock is the only Binaltech to date with two handheld weapons, so this was clearly done with the character in mind. The gun is a double-barrelled affair, with twin black barrels spaced apart. G1 fans might notice that this gun configuration matches the Dinobot gun, and this more than anything else shows the designer was really working hard to make sure that this robot mode works as Grimlock.

   This is Grimlock's better mode, not least because it's the mode that's able to display all the traditional Grimlock traits. The kneecaps bother me a little, but overall the bulky legs are part of what makes this robot mode work. The weaponry is excellent - the best yet in Binaltech for me and the poseability great. It'll probably come as no surprise that I really like the strong incorporation of Mustang elements here.

VARIATIONS

   The Alternators version lacks the die cast metal of the Binaltech version. Wheeljack is a repaint and retool of Grimlock.

OVERALL

   Sadly, the vehicle mode is slightly flawed, which is a shame since it's easily my favourite model of car used in Binaltech to date. My main gripe is the misalignment at the front of the car, but there's still a lot going for the Mustang mode. The robot mode is both aesthetically appealing and a great effort at turning a sports car into a believable Grimlock. I know that a lot of fans find the idea of a sport car as Grimlock unsettling, but this has been done right - forget the mismatched G2 name reuses - this is how an alt mode change should be implemented. Yes, it's a sports car and not a T-Rex, but this sports car is clearly Grimlock. The vehicle mode flaws are significant enough that I'm actually slightly disappointed overall, but this is still a very good toy that I'd recommend to fans of the character or Binaltech series - 9/10

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