Posts tagged with "studio series" - 1
Posted January 20, 2021 at 10:35 pm

Transformers is about Robot Mode Scale now, and honestly that's the highly-addictive drug I've gotten hooked on.  And while I am definitely into robots who can stand next to each other and look the correct height -- so much so that I've re-bought so many live-action movie robots in Studio Series thus far -- sometimes it means getting a slightly ... worse...? Grimlock than I have already?   Masterpiece Grimlock is pretty dang similar to Studio Series '86 Grimlock, and I even have the fancy Marvel Comics-colored one, with the silver finish and the blue-for-black and the crown.  But it's a head or two too tall, and word is Studio Series '86 is gonna give us the other four Dinobots in turn, and I can't have one of them looking out of place.  

Because, honestly, having a full set of appropriately huge Dinobots is a long-dormant dream of mine.  I mean, it's been fine to have the Dinobot combiner Volcanicus fill in for them, since robot scale means a little less when they're all combined into a super robot.  There's some wiggle room there.  (or rather there isn't, since a combiner has to fit vertically on a shelf, so that limits things)  

Volcanicus shouldn't worry.  I've already found alternate display space for him.  He's a combiner and I love combiners, so he was never really in danger of disappearing into a bin.  

Anyway, Studio Series '86 Grimlock is pretty close in feel to Masterpiece Grimlock!  They're about the same size, and they're roughly the same visual design, and they transform very similarly.  SS86 Grimlock's a little chonkier, and the tail-to-legs transformation is a little less fussy, and he's missing the Turn-Head-Wag-Tail gimmick, nor is he electronic, and he doesn't come with a sword.  Cartoon Grimlock?  Didn't actually have a sword!  He had his double-barreled rifle in his model sheet and no sword.  And so SS86 Grimlock only comes with the rifle.  

He does come with Wheelie, though!  A small, nontransforming Wheelie that exists entirely to be fit onto the top of Grimlock's dinosaur neck or robot shoulder.  He's sculpted into a permanent squat because, again, he's a little prop.  His arms are posed just enough you can get him to aim his slingshot in plenty directions.  (The slingshot does remove from the fist and I think it's a 3mm port)

I have a perfectly fine Wheelie who's not sculpted permanently into a teabagging stance and can also transform, so I think I'll keep that one around for display.  But for those of you who missed out on Titans Return Wheelie from several years ago, this is your chance at him again.  

What's better about SS86 Grimlock that isn't his precise scale?  Well, he's cheaper than MP Grimlock, for one.  Most of his joints are ratcheted, while my Masterpiece's joints are all friction-based and getting kinda floppy after twelve years.  I like the range of motion his robot mode dino-rib wings have.  His articulation is a little more solid.  There's a 5mm port for effects parts inside his dinosaur mouth.  He can steal the Masterpiece's sword (since it also used a 5mm port) and crown (it barely balances on his head, but that was true of the masterpiece too honestly).  

Both still transform into that ugly-ass dinosaur mode, though.  I mean, we all know dinosaurs were birds, but it's weird when you see a T. rex waddle around like an upright duck.  However, he's releasing at the same time as Beast Megatron and Fossilizer Paleotrex, so it's not like there aren't other style options for Transformers tyrannosaurs!  See, they also come in both flesh and naked.  (And both with more realistic posture.)

there's just been so many grimlocks that transform this exact same way from the exact same terrible dinosaur to the exact same robot mode, you guys

Posted January 15, 2021 at 2:59 pm

They just really have trouble replicating Kup's head in plastic, don't they?  Every single time it just looks a little off.  Maybe it's the need to put bags under his eyes that sets everything else off, I dunno.  It wouldn't be so surprising this time around if Studio Series '86 Hot Rod's head weren't so absolutely spot-on.  But Kup (and Blurr a little bit) noteably miss the mark when next to Hot Rod.

Anyway, it's Kup!  I love Kup.  Always have.  I'm sure a lot of that is me having a Targetmaster Kup toy when I was a kid moreso than me being drawn naturally to Old Robot Grandpas Who Transform Into Sort Of Pickup Trucks And Have Terrible Names.  But he's teal!  Either a bright teal or a washed-out teal, depending on if you're going for animation-accurate or original toy-accurate.  Teal with orange highlights?  Yeah!  Do that to me!  Do that to me in toy form!

Since '86 Kup is supposed to be faithful to The Transformers The Movie, he of course transforms from his animation model truck to his animation model robot.  (with a larger chin than necessary, honestly)  There's a lot of interesting ideas in his transformation, though the execution is a little tedious.  In truck mode, he ends up shoving his arms through his crotch between his legs, which is a place to put his arms that allow them to be Not Short, since the original toy just bunched them up under his own chest.  But you got to fasten a few panels together over all this arrangement, and that's the Not So Fun part.  I mean, it's not the worst.  Transforming Kup's second toy, the first Generations one with the giant rifle -- that's the worst.  But the Titans Return/Legends Targetmaster one managed to do a similar design but was much more fun to convert.  

Kup comes with both his animation-accurate gun and a container for Energon goodies to feed Allicons.  The container fits into the top of his fist with a 5mm peg, and both it and the gun slot into the side of the vehicle mode using much smaller pegs.  

Kup's arms and legs also come off at the mid-bicep and mid-thigh areas so that you can replicate the scene in The Transformers The Movie where Hot Rod has to rescue him from a giant robot squid and then repair him.  (Hot Rod's toy can swap out one of its fists for a welder torch for this same thing.)  This is neat, but what's most neat about it is that everything is done with 5mm pegs so that you can do all sorts of nutty stuff using Weaponizers and Fossilizers.  Want to give Kup a T.rex arm?  Of course you fucking do.  Do it.  Give him a T. rex arm.  

That's what this new Kup is really for.  

Posted January 11, 2021 at 11:07 pm

Reveal the Shield Jazz came out 11 years ago, and we were all thinking at the time, okay, this is the Best Jazz Possible.  There is no topping it.  No reason to buy any other G1 Jazzes!  And Power of the Primes Jazz came out 2017, and it was definitely a step down from RTS Jazz, but it became a combiner limb, so at least it serves a different sort of purpose.  So RTS Jazz still reigns supreme.  Unsurmountable.  Impossible.

And then Hasbro decided to reboot everything under a strictly adhered-to style (heavily cartoon-based) and also a unified scale.  RTS Jazz suddenly finds himself too tall and style-wise out-of-fashion.  He's clearly from a Different Era.  By the time Studio Series '86 Jazz was announced, you're already wishing for a Jazz that fits in better with everybody.  

I mean, if you'd rather your collection have a wider spread of styles, which is definitely a neat-o thing to do, then, yeah, keep your RTS Jazz.  It has its faults, but so does this new Jazz.  They're pretty similar in their placement on the joy vs annoyance spectrum, and about equally as complex.  New Jazz is definitely smaller (and about $5 more expensive after adjusting for inflation), but, again, he won't tower over the other guys he should be the same size as.  He does the job he's supposed to.  

The obvious difference between the two is that SS'86 Jazz tries to Be The Cartoon Model, and that means it needs to tuck those door wings away.  I'm pro door wing for Jazz in general, but this toy does an okay job of hiding them.  You tuck one layer of roof into another layer of roof, tuck the doors inside, and then just pile all that on his back.  Giving him door wings would be a more interesting use of that mass, but again we're trying to be the animation model.  

It is pretty great that despite having sixteen billion Transformers toys that transform with hoods folding down into chests, we're still discovering new ways to make that happen.  How will we have to fit the arms under there this time???  Well, in SS'86 Jazz's case, you ... rotate the abs around the spine to make room for them.  That's a new one on me.  

Jazz comes with a Moonbase One backdrop and a rifle.  Unlike Kup and Blurr from his wave, he doesn't come with a non-gun The Transformers: The Movie-inspired accessory.  

Posted December 18, 2020 at 10:49 am

One of the things Hasbro's seemingly trying to establish recently is that a toy's price point isn't necessarily related to its size.  They've been making the case that it's more about budget.  Which is true!  And it's always been true.  But it's faced an uphill battle versus customer expectations.  But maybe a Leader Class toy isn't necessarily a very tall guy, but a Voyager Class-sized figure but with more budget and extra parts.  Maybe a Deluxe Class figure could range from the size of Bumblebee to the size of Prowl to the size of Ironhide.  It's about the size of the character more than $20 = 5 inches always.  

This has understandably upset some folks because they look at the size of, say, Optimus Prime in his Leader Class package, and he's relatively small, even though he's flanked by a giant semi trailer.  They're expecting a figure that fills the package.  On the other hand, it means we get toys like this Studio Series '86 Hot Rod, who's the size traditionally of a large Deluxe, but has way more parts and paints and complexity than you'd manage at the Deluxe Class pricepoint.  

There's always been trade-offs for having toys at certain pricepoints.  For example, a toy at a certain pricepoint only has so many plastic sprues budgeted, so you end up with a lot of, for example, Hot Rods with orange fists, because even though his fists are gray in the cartoon, they're the only thing that's gray, and so they end up being included in one of the other plastic sprues.  So if you upgrade Hot Rod to a Voyager, then, bam, you've got more plastic colors to play with.  He can have light gray plastic fists, and his lower legs can be a darker gray, and he can have a yellow spoiler without having to paint it.  

(He may end up having yellow other things, though, as is the case with Studio Series '86 Hot Rod, because even Voyager Class toys have their limits.  And so the yellow spoiler shares a plastic sprue with other small jointing parts that need to be cast in unpaintable plastic for durability.)  

What I'm getting at is that this Hot Rod feels luxurious for his size.  A larger size class of effort went into this smaller toy, and you can feel it.  He's a near-perfect representation of the Animated Movie character, and probably the most perfect you could manage at the size.  He scales properly with other recent Transformers figures, with him being about the height of Ironhide and Ratchet, taller than Earthrise Arcee, and shorter than Stege Springer.  

His head opens so you can flip out magnifying goggles over his eyes.  His right hand folds in to reveal a wielding torch.  His left hand folds in to reveal a 5mm peg so you can attach his buzzsaw accessory.  He comes with both of his rifles and two effects parts that can plug into his exhaust pipes so it looks like he's either zooming in car mode or firing out of them in robot mode.  He comes with a Matrix of Leadership, which his hands can hinge open to hold, and there's also an effects part that fits over the Matrix itself so it looks like it's glowing with energy.  And as with all other Studio Series toys, he comes with a cardboard display background.  Hot Rod's is of the interior of Unicron where he opened the Matrix.  

As with SS86 Scourge, you can appreciate the equal care given to these guys versus the live-action movie toys.  They're trying to achieve an onscreen look, and in that metric they succeed handily.  

And, yeah, his transformation involves his arms spinning around on a central axis so that they flip sides, just like in that one transformation sequence in the movie that everyone's always wanted to see replicated in toy form.

Posted December 15, 2020 at 2:17 pm

I may be a jaded ol' Transformers fan, but warms even my cold heart to see Hasbro look at their Studio Series stuff and think, okay, we're taking great care to faithfully bring these live-action movie designs to action figures, so what if we extended that to other Transformers?  I mean, it's the sort of thing I'd assume I'd roll my eyes at -- and I do, at first, from a distance, but once in-hand it's hard to argue with the results?  

Maybe the important part is who I got my hands on first.  Scourge is pretty different from your usual early-years Transformers design.  His development process was animation design first, then toy, then new upgraded animation design based on that toy.  Scourge stands apart being this... muscular bearded vampire guy who transforms into a bar of soap.  There's always been a lot of compromise between those two modes, since they're largely incompatible.  But in Studio Series, its mission statement seems to be to try VERY VERY HARD to make it work, moreso than usual.  

This means he's got a nigh-perfect screen-accurate robot mode.  It feels like they started from that, made sure it wasn't compromised, and then built a vehicle mode around it.  Literally.  Scourge essentially has to be a shellformer, if you're doing any kind of accurate Scourge.  And he has big cape wings, which really says "Hey, I fold inside myself."  So, yeah, lean into that.  

Most of his transformation is getting his vehicle mode folded into his cape wings.  Usually Hasbro paints the wing shapes on the inside of the spaceship hull and calls it a day, but they tried to get the actual shape approximated as best as possible, here.  And I appreciate it.

I also appreciate the pink fingernail claws.  I feel like those are an important Scourge visual element that's not always remembered.  And there's this trapezoid on the front of his chest that's painted a slightly different blue than the plastic underneath.  It doesn't show at all in photography, so it's something you can only appreciate in person.  It's a paint operation you'd expect to be left out in the budget because it's an obvious thing to cut if you gotta, but it really adds some great color depth in person.  

Finally, there's no point in doing a Scourge toy if you can't have his head pop out of the top of the spaceship soap so he can fly around staring daggers at things.  And this toy can!  So we're all up in this.  

Studio Series '86 Scourge is running on all Scourge cylinders.  Even if he's not your particular kink, you have to respect the dedication to the kink.  They set out to make mothereffin' Scourge and by God they friggin' did.  

He's a very attractive rich milky blue, too. 

Posted March 22, 2019 at 10:21 pm

When I was a much younger lad, in those golden years before even the term "Autobot" had made a resurgence within Transformers stuffs after a long nap, when buying a new Optimus Prime (not Primal) toy seemed like a crazy pipe dream, I had lots of ideas about What Optimus Prime Should Look Like In Real Life.  It was largely based on the aesthetics of the original 1984 toy, with its giant box for a torso atop a pair of comparatively skinny legs.  It was very "this thing is a truck first and a robot second," with this shell of a Freightliner housing this skeleton of pistons and gears.  This foggy concept floating in my brain was my Idealized Prime.  And you could nourish that sort of thing for forever as it grew and grew, because in that desert bare of any possibility of a Transformers revival, that was all you figured you'd ever have.  

And then, you know, suddenly came the parade of reimagined Optimus Primes across countless aesthetics, culminating in a recent snap-back to the source material (by which we mean the cartoon).  

But Bumblebee Movie's Optimus Prime is so very close to what was in my brain all those decades ago.  Mind, I'm talking more about the action figure itself.  What we see on screen has less of what I want.  The CGI model is, you know, just An Optimus Prime.  The toy, though, has to become a truck.  And so that toy IS truck.  The robot IS truck.  

And what a friggin' great truck it is.  Unlike usual, this Voyager Class Optimus Prime toy feels like it's prioritizing the truck and then making a robot out of that truck.  It's not just an Optimus Prime chest with robot legs poking out the back.  It's an actual truck.  The back of it doesn't look like legs.  Instead, about half of the legs folds up into the back-end of the cab.  This leaves a more realistic-looking hitch section behind, which should really be just some railing for wheels to attach to.  

The rest explodes and then recompacts into a solid robot form.  Most of the bottom front of the truck, including the bumper, flips and turns around to become Optimus Prime's back.  His arms hide inside the cab in the usual L formation, but some panels cover them from view.  Some parts might pop out of their hinges in the process if you're not gentle, but they snap back on.  This is the toy's only frustration.  

The result is a robot that looks like it's made of truck.  An Optimus Prime made out of truck parts, rather than a truck made out of Optimus Prime.  I prefer to keep the silver stripe ab pieces folded down.  This is not accurate to the CGI model, but it's accurate to how I view the shape of Optimus Prime's chest.  It's a giant box.  Flipping the stripe-abs down approximates this.  

Plus if you got a hankering to go watch this design in motion, you'll see an Optimus Prime who shoots to disable, not shoots to graphically disembowel.  That's an extra bonus.

Posted February 19, 2019 at 3:38 pm

So far the Studio Series Leader Class toys have been pretty baller.  Like, Blackout and Grimlock?  Very good.  And here comes Dark of the Moon Megatron and... oh no, he's also baller!  Dang!  Oh no!  These are all great!

For Dark of the Moon Megatron, it's about time.  He's my favorite live-action Megatron design, largely because he actually turns into some kind of Earth thing.  Plus he's wearing a tarp on his head like he's Obi-Wan Kenobi, chilling in Africa shooting elephants (but only in a scene cut from the movie but left in the various adaptations).  He's such an impressive visual that Megatron even looked like that for a bit in the IDW Generation 1 comics.  

The original Dark of the Moon Voyager Class toy of this design was Not Impressive!  He was this dinky, skinny little thing.  Gangly, even.  And so that never really satisfied.  

But this new toy does that design very well!  Does it an amount of justice!  You may be put off at first by the soft goods, since it's very obviously a small piece of beige fabric that does not look like it is actually a very large tarp on a very large robot.  But you can squish it around a bit in your fingers, or get it wet and drape it better until it dries, or other kind of weathering techniques, and it starts looking pretty okay.  I am not really done playing with mine yet, because I didn't want to make too many changes before taking photography.  Didn't want to give off too false of an impression.  But I'll be wadding it up a bit now that I'm wrapped here.  See if I can get properly to Ragged.

Impressively, Megatron scales well to Studio Series Optimus Prime in vehicle mode.  Like, their semi cabs are the same size, with Megatron towing a large covered trailer behind him.  How does this work, with Megatron transforming into only a slightly larger robot?  Here's the secret:

the truck cab is essentially hollow

For real, look under it, and there will be nothing in there.  It's a shell.  It breaks up into pieces and then compacts into his legs, which are much less hollow, because they are several strata of truck cab wadded up.  And then his thighs and upwards become the entirety of the trailer.  Fold the tarp over the top, wrap his little rubber chain harness across that, and you're done.  It's a very large truck-and-trailer mode, and it looks very neat.  Very Mad Max, with the spike bumper and what-have-you.  

And then you unwrap it back into a large hunchy robot with half its skull blown off and wearing a hood.  He's got a lot of personality and I like it.  

Bonus: He comes with Igor, the little disembodied head guy who appeared in the movie but otherwise didn't receive a toy, possibly because Hasbro didn't know he existed until it was too late.  Hasbro also didn't know DOTM Megatron carried a shotgun, and they released the shotgun with an Optimus Prime from the following movie.  It happens.  But hey!  Igor!

I really like Megs and Igor.  They're neat.

Posted February 3, 2019 at 9:53 am

Everyone remembers Bonecrusher!  Y'know, from the 2007 movie?  Guy who smashes through a bus?  Doesn't have a single line of dialogue, but kinda echoed some sort of gutteral moan through his Squinty Owl face?  Lived approximately 30 seconds?  

I guess he mostly lived on through online memes, huh.  You know, the "Bonecrusher hates everything" running gag.  Sometimes when somebody's just a not-even-roaring monster, you gotta pull some character mythos out of yer rear.  I remember in the early days of fandom, when people would write fanfic screeds about, say, Reflector based on single lines of dialogue from the cartoon with an inflection that only the writer could discern.  And the folks surrounding those people'd be all "look, we're pretty sure none of this is actually in the original text, this is an asspull, you desperate nerd."  And then ten years later that same snarky audience is all big into Bonecrusher, who smashes through a bus and then dies.  

Regardless of this self-reflection, I still like Bonecrusher.  I mean, sure, he's literally beige.  He is a beige robot.  But he has an angry flower made out of forks that he'll stab you with, and he roller skates.  He is not a person, he is a monster, but he is a roller-skating forky monster.

This twelve-years-later Bonecrusher update is Voyager Class, not Deluxe Class like the original '07 model.  This is very good, because, man, I gotta tell you, that Deluxe Class Bonecrusher was some weak sauce at the time.  In the movie, Bonecrusher only interacted with Optimus Prime, and Optimus Prime's toy was Leader Class.  In the movie, they're the same size.  In toy scale, Bonecrusher was Optimus Prime's toddler son.  And so it scratches a decade-long itch to have a Bonecrusher who's roughly the same size as the concurrent Optimus Prime toy.  In Studio Series, Optimus Prime is downgraded to Voyager, and so they can just about interact plausibly.  That's really the best selling point of Studio Series -- everything aims for scale.  It doesn't always exactly hit the precise mark, but it tries.

New Bonecrusher transforms very similarly to the Old Bonecrusher.  The arms form the top half of the vehicle and the legs form the bottom half.  The two halves connect at the front of the vehicle, where the torso is.  Some of the smaller details are different, but the broad strokes are there.  That's not to say this guy isn't improved.  He's got a lot less giant vehicle kibble hanging off him where it doesn't go.  The new toy is way more efficient at putting stuff where it goes.  And he's got his back-wielded pair of mine-clearing forks which can fold together, sort of, into the angry flower weapon we see briefly in the movie.  It still regrettably looks like a pair of forks facing each other, rather than a circle of prongs, but there is an attempt.  

Studio Series Bonecrusher is a satisfying recreation of a noncharacter who we like despite not him not really putting in the work for it.  And he's rightfully huge.  Thumbs up for you Bonecrusher stans.  

Posted August 20, 2018 at 11:07 pm


man wtf

So, like, there were these four dinocassette guys who were only ever released in Japan, right?  Four dinosaurs who transformed into mini-cassettes, and each pair combined into a bigger robot, much like Squawkbox and Slamdance.  These were super hard to get even in Japan when they first came out, and they were never reissued or, really, mentioned ever again.  And so you can imagine these guys went for a pretty huge price on the secondary market!  If you could even find them! 

(let's set aside that these four guys were not very good)

(look, they're dinosaurs, and we can't have them, so we don't really care how good they are)

In the past few years, there'd started to be some knockoffs of these guys.  They were, like, you know, AVAILABLE, unlike the actual original toys, so lots of people jumped on them.  Enough jumped on them that even the knockoffs go for a crazy price.  We're talking hundreds of dollars.  For cassettes.  Knockoffs of cassettes.

So for San Diego Comic-Con this year, Hasbro was apparently all sure let's throw two of these guys (Dile and a bizarro Zauru, named Uruaz) into a set with a golden Camaro live-action movie Bumblebee.  Now, the original molds are clearly lost, and so these toys were recreations.  Hasbro took the original wooden two-ups (back when Transformers did wooden test shots at larger sizes and then shrunk) and did their best to recreate them faithfully.  

Now, uh, there are some hiccups.  


I'm pretty sure some of the surface detailing is based on, well, the knockoffs themselves.  The wooden two-ups wouldn't have had any sculpted detail -- they'd just be a demonstration of the transformation engineering -- and so the sculpt itself would need to be copied from somewhere.  But the surface detail of the SDCC versions seems to have more in common with at least one of the iterations of knockoffs rather than the original, actual toys.  The face doesn't have a mouth, for example.  Another difference between the knockoff and the original is that some sculpted hashmarks are put in different places on the biceps, and the SDCC Uruaz's hashmarks match the placement of the KO Zauru.  So, uh, whoops.

Another whoops: the feet of the combined robot are fucked up.  One is hinged higher than the other for no reason.  It just is.  It doesn't affect stability, but it looks goofy as hell.

When you combine regular-style Dile and Zauru, you call that guy Legout, but I don't think Hasbro's told us what the combined form of Dile and Uruaz is.  Maybe it's Legtou or Gelout.  


This is still a crazy gift from the gods, regardless.  Toys that are so rare you can't even buy them for an unreasonable price are now available again for like $60 (including a Bumblebee nobody wants or cares about).  

A second set (exclusive to Entertainment Earth) with a different Bumblebee will include Uruaz in his original colors properly as Zauru and a reverse-colored Dile to complete the set.  Yeah, they gave them both evil twins and then split them up so you have to buy both to get properly-colored original guys and a set of reverse-colored evil twins.  (and ultimately two bumblebees you probably don't want)

But, like, you can still combine the two from each set, so to most folks it probably doesn't matter too much.  It's still these molds, released officially, all insane-like.


Posted April 14, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Live-action Grimlock is, uh, sort of there in the movies!  He's in about 2% of Age of Extinction, during which Optimus brutally beats him until he submits and then rides him around town a little, and then he's also sort of in The Last Knight, where I think he disappears like a third of the way through.  

Thankfully, a giant robot T. rex toy is something that sells itself on its own merits.  

If you have any other movieverse Grimlock toy, throw that thing in the garbage.  This is it.  This is what you wanted.  What were those other previous movieverse Grimlock toys even thinking?  They are mere boys in the world of men.  

Studio Series Grimlock is large and massive.  In robot mode he's a little taller by a smidge than the usual Leader Class, and also pretty wide.  And he looks amazingly decoed, even though he's really mostly the same plastic color all over and most of him is covered with a metallic green paint wash.  It's the incredible sculpted detail and the beefy proportions that make him look impressive, and to the eye it cheats him even bigger than he already is.

It does some weird yet impressive stuff in service of making him look as much like the movies' CGI model.  There, he has a full dinosaur head on each shoulder.  Like, a copy-pasted entire Tyrannosaurus rex head, even though he transforms into, you know, a single-headed Tyrannosaurus rex.  All of his earlier toys unsurprisingly split the head in half for transformation and put each outward-facing head on each shoulder.  This toy says nah.  He has both full heads.  But only one actually transforms into his actual Tyrannosaurs rex head.  The other splits open and integrates into his tail.  

The tail is also formed out of his right arm (which ends in a spikey ball) and his coattails.  These three elements -- the head halves, the coattails, and the arm -- sort of loosely form a pretty good tail shape.  It's a better solution than the usual approach, which is "oh hey look, actually this tail pops off and becomes a weapon!"  It's interesting and fun AND it means that a third of the toy's mass isn't being used for a weapon -- it all becomes robot mode, baby.

In dinosaur mode, Studio Series Grimlock is the best thing my kids have ever seen.  I kind of have to keep it out of view or they go nuts.  (I, of course, let them handle it with supervision, I'm not a monster, but I can't have them being crazy for hours of the day.)  I don't blame them, because it's a great stompy dinosaur toy.  The only thing I think is missing is I wish its head could turn side-to side, or even up or down at all.  The transformation prevents it, but I still feel a need for it.  This is why Beast Wars Tenth Anniversary Megatron is still one of my favorite Tyrannosaurus rex Transformers -- the full neck articulation.  

As with the other Studio Series toys, it comes with a cardboard display stand/background.  It's less appealing paired with this toy than the others only because Grimlock is so large.  He barely fits against the backdrop in robot mode, and his dinosaur mode is entirely too wide to fit onto the stand.  But this is damning with faint praise.  He's a large toy, posed on his bent knees to even fit into the packaging, and this is ultimately good.

Beyond those small complaints, there's very little wrong with this and so much right.  It justifies the entire Studio Series line all by itself.  

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