When the Repaint is Better: Fireblast Grimlock
I can’t count the number of times I have looked forward to getting a mold and once I’ve had it in my hands, decided that it was not what it appeared to be in the pictures online. The disappointment of spending hard earned money on plastic crack, just to have it turn out less than stellar is a sting many of us know well. And then there are those times that we find the same mold in a new color, thinking that somehow it will be better. Thinking that somehow, this time unlike the time before, some paint ops and some specially colored plastic will help you get beyond the design limitations of said mold. Stupid, right? But you know you do it. You do it, and you never learn. 🙂
But what about those times when the paint really does make a difference? What about when the attachment to a character and the color scheme gives you just enough leeway to forgive some poor design choices? Every now and then that moment happens, and it gives you pause to reconsider why you were so harsh the first time you judged that mold. This is one of those times. Let’s talk about the War for Cybertron Grimlock mold… But let’s talk about a prettier version. Let’s talk about Fireblast Grimlock.
Before we get into what I love about this version of the toy, let’s talk about what’s wrong with the mold. It’s hard to argue that the figure was not designed to have the ability for dynamic poses. It comes with lots of articulation, some of which is pretty ingenuitive when you consider the design elements used in creating the transformation scheme. The dinosaur legs successfully become the arms of the robot mode and provide much more articulation as arms than they do legs. Unfortunately, parts of the pieces in the arm and shoulder design can be problematic. Some versions of the mold have ratchet joints that are way too tight, causing a little fear that they could break with stress over time. The shoulder joints can be a little bit loose, allowing the shoulders to flop backwards and forwards as the figure leans. In leg mode, these joints are a pretty spectacular failure, as the hip articulation is reduced to a static position, and most of the articulation lies in the knees or just above them at the thighs. The other problematic piece of design work on this figure are the legs in robot mode which become the tail in dinosaur mode. Unfortunately, though there are multiple joints in the knee and lower leg, there is only a 45° amount of articulation in the knees. The extra joint and moving pieces all involve transformation to the tail mode, so it does not help movement at all. Another issue that I personally have with this design is that the tail tips do not always locked into the lower legs very solidly. This has the detrimental effect of having the legs somewhat fall apart during posing. All of that being said, things could be much worse.
What does this figure do right? Every version of this mold is pretty much the classic superhero. The profile of the torso with the barrel chest and a tapered body, strong shoulders, and athletic build make Grimlock a Cybertronian Superman. You can see him running across the battlefield, laying waste to Decepticons with little to no effort effort. In spite of the articulation issues, and a small problem with balance, this figure can be posed very dynamically. He also comes with a very intimidating sword and shield that allow him to give off a little bit of a knight vibe. This Grimlock is cool, and he’s ready to kick ass and take names.
Of course, as I said at the beginning of this article, I really didn’t like the mold because of the design issues. Strangely enough, I found out during a conversation with a friend that I have basically every version of this it. I know, you’re probably thinking I’m silly for buying the figure so many times, but I know I’m not the only one that’s done this. There was the American version of the toy, and then Takara put out a prettier version, and then there was the all chrome G1 Version of the toy, and then we got Fireblast Grimlock, and even a Transformers Adventures/Robots in Disguise version as well. Sadly, it wasn’t until the Fireblast version that I really became a fan of the mold.
Why do I love this version? First of all, who doesn’t love a fire dragon? That’s clearly what Grimlock conveys, and he kind of reminds me of some version of Godzilla coming up out of the center of a volcano. He’s got some very dark torso paint that is cracked with brighter red lines, giving him the look of a magma creature. The dark maroons, separated by the brighter red and yellows really give the impression of a beast that is generating tons of heat. The green details in the chest, eyes, and neck don’t really fit the fire theme, unless you consider that they could be nuclear. At any rate, they do serve to break up the sea of red, maroon, and yellow. As a fire T-Rex, Grimlock looks intimidating in spite of the strange posing due to his leg articulation. As a robot, he looks even more scary. Imagine a flaming, molten knight striding across the battle to meet his foes. He raises a bright and powerful yellow energon sword and begins to cut a swath through his enemies. This version looks angrier, and more powerful than any of the other previous versions. The best part about this color scheme is that it also pairs nicely with Superlink Dinobot Magma Type. From this point on, they will share a spot of honor on my shelf. I just hope they don’t burn a hole in my risers. 😀
So, do you love this mold as much as I do? Is there another mold that you have had a similar experience with? After pulling this figure back out, I think I’m going to spend some time going through my collection, looking for other molds that deserve the same amount of love. This could take a while. 😉