An Alternators logo? But Arcee only appeared in Binaltech! LOLOCAUST!!!!


Transformers Grimlock
Transformers Grimlock
Transformers Grimlock
Transformers Grimlock

I had the Ford Mustang Alternators figure before in the shape of Wheeljack. It didn't impress me and played a big role in putting me off buying the line. Part of the reason was that the mould seemed a poor fit for Wheeljack; it was originally designed and released as Grimlock before being retooled.

Some time ago Kali from the TFArchive board sent me a knockoff version of Grimlock that I've steadily grown fonder off. Spruced up with a dab of paint to the head and a stylish set of stickers from ReproLabels.com (largely to differentiate the silver car mode from the Bluestreak and Jazz figures I already have), I've decided to have another look at him. That's right, I'm reviewing a knockoff with fan-made labels and a head I've inexpertly painted. Deal with it.


Assigning car modes to characters who've never really turned into cars can be a tricky business, but it's one that Alternators largely handled quite well. Take Grimlock, for example - from Tyrannosaurus Rex (well, pretty much) to big beefy Ford Mustang muscle car. The Mustang is a good-looking car anyway, a call-back to when American performance cars looked like big engines with a housing built around them.

The silver works nicely too, especially with the red seat as and the custom stickers (designed by dec0y13) compliment the figure's colour scheme well. They're modelled on the colours used by the real Shinoda Boss tuning operation, who tweak real Mustangs and add the same distinctive design - so this is a custom toy of a custom car, which is pretty neat. The knockoff has a silver spoiler unlike the real toy, though I personally think this looks a little better. The only other problems with the all-plastic fake figure is that the legs don't connect quite as solidly as (I guess) they would on a genuine Grimlock, but there we go. Other than that the joint lines and plastic matching is surprisingly good, as is the detail, which seems on the same level as factory figures.


The transformation remains a somewhat overcomplicated and occasionally frustrating mess - after a couple of years' practice I can get it right, but it's still not particularly enjoyable. The arms especially are over-elaborate and counterintuitive, while the waist transformation is complicated by the great big slab of car floor that has to be rotated onto the toy's back. Considering few Alternators have car floors, especially those like the RX-8, Scion and Impreza that follow the same rough "car bonnet = chest" layout, you have to wonder why someone decided this one had to have a great big single-piece floor in the first place, rather than something that could break down and fold away.

The robot's proportions are odd - very squat, with big fat lower legs, massive kneecaps and hardly any thighs. Similarly, the arms reach down below the knees and have Popeye-style bulging forearms. The result is a rather simian appearance, and it's not entirely inappropriate for the lumbering, thuggish Grimlock - muscle car, muscle robot I suppose. There are some nice touches, like the way the car seats form the feet, but overall he's pretty cumbersome. The weaponry is mixed - there's a simple (if somewhat short) sword that simply unclips from the car floor (where it can also be stored in robot mode), but also the worst gun of the whole range - a chromed engine block with a couple of tiny black sticks on the front. Threatening it isn't. The original (and the knockoff) have a respectable head cast largely undone by an uncharacteristic silver faceplate and a blue optic (continuing Takara-Tomy's ardent belief that the choice of Autobot or Decepticon is not due to a deeply-felt political allegiance, but down to eye colour); I've painted mine to more closely resemble the original toy head, which I'd recommend.


Even unmodified Grimlock is the best of the official Ford Mustang figures. The mould is still very flawed and bulky, but it's not a bad fit for the character all things considered - though considering he tends to be one of the more expensive mass-retail Alternators/Binaltech figures, he doesn't quite justify the second-hand price tag even if he is a nice counter to Shockwave. The knockoff is therefore a respectable proposition, being well-made and lacking any serious diversion. And the Reprolabels set is an excellent add-on that makes him stand out a bit more among the range.