Friday, December 10, 2010

Toy Review: Grimstone & the Dinobots!

Grimstone and the Dinobots

"Grimstone and the Dinobots".

It sounds like one of those cartoons from the 80's they liked to show on Saturday mornings. Either that or a rock band. It's neither, however. Grimstone and the Dinobots is a boxset of Transformers available at toystores now. It's part the new Transformer subline called the "Power Core combiners". If you're old enough to remember the gestalt (a group of 5 or 6 Transformers who could join together to form one big bot), then you already know what you're in for.
Or you'd think you'd know.

They've gone and changed some things around. For one, it's no longer 5 robots with different personalities. It's just the one robot, in this case Grimstone. The robot, called the Power Core Commander, can control "drones" which are basically power up items, not individuals. These drones don't transform into a robot; they go straight from vehicle (or in this case dinosaur) to their respective limb once they've connected to the Commander.
Jump after the cut for further details...

It's an intriguing concept, but it hasn't been very well executed. Grimstone is part of the 3rd wave of figures in the line. We've already gotten several 5-packs (each with a Commander and 4 drones) and 2-packs (a Commander and a mini-con, which is sort of like a target master/power master weapon). I was looking at Grimstone as the one that would provide proof of concept to me, prove that the Power Core Combiners could really be something great.

Sorry, Hasbro, but no cigar.

There are a few things that the Power Core Combiners have against them. The biggest is the fact that calling them "5-packs" is misleading. You're not getting 5 toys. You're getting 1 toy with 5 accessories.

The drones really aren't anything to write home about. They've only got the two forms, vehicle (or dinosaur) and limb. You'd think that would mean Hasbro would be able to design some nice looking limbs, not those stick figure gestalts that could only goose step. No such luck. They've mostly got knees now, but you're still stuck with a lack of elbows, and many of the other joints are blocked by various kibble.

Most of the drones transform into misshappen claws, or club feet; forms unrecognizable as a hand or a boot. Sure we could argue that "it's an alien robot, it doesn't need to look humanoid", but do we really mean that? We want our robots to look like us, not like Quasimodo.

I also can't believe that they thought the fact that these toys are gestalts wasn't enough of a gimmick. Hasbro (or the designers) decided to make the conversion process of the drones spring-loaded. The blurbs on the box look great to an 8-year old in the toy store, but it's as annoying as fuck to play with. Because of the spring loaded mechanism, the arms and legs tend to fall off constantly, popping out if you touch the parts wrong. Some of the other limbs are also hard to put on, because the parts connected to the machine don't want to drop properly. What really kills me is the fact that if they hadn't been limited to this asinine idea, Hasbro's designers could have come up with more complicated conversion schemes that would have likely netted us more traditional looking mecha that looked more like the concept art on the box.

The third thing is the size of the toys. The Commanders are really just Scout Class toys, which means they stand about 5" tall. When combined with the drones, you get a figure about 8" tall. Original price for the 5-packs was Php 1,500.00; too much for this. Even at the marked down Php 1,000.00, I thought a long time before jumping in.

And have I mentioned those ugly blue nubs that stick out like Superman at a cosplay event?
But wait. Let me start over. The box. It's big, which is weird, considering I just got done telling you the toys were small.

Let's start with the Commander mode.


Really, I can't stand this toy. Its body parts are disproportionate, the dino head doesn't seem to be integrated at all, its got those annoying feet that won't hold him up, and the articulation is awful. Just awful. The less time I spend her the better.

Next up, we've go the dinosaur forms which, quite frankly, is where I'll keep them from now on. The 4 drones scale nicely with the Styracosaurus (Grimstone) and with the Classics Grimlock if you have him. The color scheme also mirrors the old Dinobot silver, gold and red, which is a nice nod to G1.

The other dinos, the drones, have less articulation than Grimstone, mostly just a hinged jaw here, a tail wag there, maybe a bit of a wiggle in the arms. There's the Ankylosaurus (left leg), the Dimetrodon (left arm - it's a Dimetrodon, even if the guys at Hasbro want to name it a "Spinosaurus"), the Pachycephalosaurus (right leg), and the Parasaurolophus (right arm). The Pachycephalosaurus has the best articulation; it's head goes down as his tail goes up, making it look like it's ready to ram it's bonedome into something, which is what it does in real life, so... cool.

The dinosaur modes are really the reason I can't completely hate this set. Having new Dinobots is just so awesome, it somewhat negates the suck that is the rest of the set.

Speaking of which, the big suck. The gestalt.
This isn't my first Power Core Combiner. When the discounts hit, I went out and bought several of them and I got to say that my initial fanboy impressions of them were well on the way to turning when this monstrosity came out. Both Crankcase with the Destrons and Bombshock with Combaticons were pretty great. I also got the 2-packs Huffer and Caliburst, Icepick and Chainclaw, Leadfoot and Pinpoint, and Sledge with Throttle, all of which were fun.
That perception dropped considerably when I got this thing home.


It's like the designers didn't even try to change the dinos into robot parts. The Pachycephalosaurus is just squatting, the Ankylosaurus looks as if someone just kicked it in the ass. Don't get me started on the Parasaurolophus claw. I can live with the Dimetrodon jaw hand, but they didn't even bother to do something with the sail or the tail.

And did I mention that none of the guns actually pivot? Ankylosaurus' cannons point at the ground, and Parasaurolophus ' weapons fire right over Grimstones head.
Really, what is this?

Or this?

Hasbro, please!

Now there are bound to be people who like this toy that are going to try and convince me that it is the shit. That since Hasbro is taking a chance on a new property that isn't supported by a cartoon or a comic or a movie, I should cut them some slack. That it's the greatest thing since comic book superhero movie porn parodies.

However, after seeing all the things that Hasbro IS capable of, this set is just a dissappointment to me. I'll keep it because I do love dinosaurs, but it is by no means a must own Transformer.

This review was first posted at Hipopotami on the Lam and for more other old toy reviews check out Slangards blog HERE.

You can now find Slangards latest toy reviews at Joint Junkie!

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