Cliffbee.com: General Grievous Toy Review

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Name: General Grievous
Series: Star Wars Transformers
Allegiance: Separatists
Alternate Mode: Wheel Bike



WHEEEL BIKE MODE
Height: 14cm Length: 17cm Width: 10cm

   A grey wheel with grey and brown legs on either side, this bike actually has two serrated loops in the centre (two wheels) with black teeth on the edges. The legs are meant to fold away allowing it to roll, although that's not possible here. This is the vehicle we see General Grievous riding in Star Wars Episode III, complete with a small grey and white Grievous minifigure, and while the relative size of the figure matches the Star Wars Transformers line, it's far too small for this vehicle. There's some dark grey paint on the feet, but other than that and the black teeth, this this is really all about grey - which does match the film.

   This is one of the more ambitious SWTF vehicles attempted - one that Lucasfilm just got ILM to render on the computer, so I'm willing to give some leeway. Visually, it is fairly impressive, with a small control seat on the left and a three-pronged cannon on the right, along with those black teeth. There are piston-like sculpted elements on the legs and three-pronged claws on the feet.

   The weak point here is the play value, although the designer has given it a pretty good shot, to be fair. The legs are all on ball joints and have two hinges each along the length while the feet have some hinges in them. The problem we have is stability, with all these joints need to support a fairly heavy central piece. While stable poses are possible, if one leg is unstable the entire thing can collapse under its own weight. The central part of the cannon is actually a missile, which fires quite powerfully.

   While it's not as stable as I'd like and there's no actual rolling mode, this is a pretty good attempt considering how ambitious this concept is. As with many SWTFs, this vehicle mode is the better one, and while it's not perfect, the designer has done an admirable job.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   This one is pretty hard to describe, so I'll summarise. The legs become the robot limbs, with the rear becoming legs and the front becoming arms. The front claws fold away and hands come out. The robot's torso and head are hidden in the underside of the loop while the wheels fold away on his back. The reverse transformation is painful - literally - since you're forced to grip the teeth, which dig into your fingers. There's a randomly annoying piece floating in the groin area which can't stow in robot mode - I actually took it out (one screw is all you need). There are two light sabres cleverly concealed within the toy.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 20.5cm Width: 7.5cm

   The limbs are still mainly grey with some brown, the torso is a mixture of white and gun metal , as is the head. This mech has brown eyes, which are trying to mimic the glowing eyes seen in the film. The colours aren't that close to those of Grievous, but the overall feel is fairly similar since he has understated colours anyway. The light sabres in either hand are blue and green while the missile, which has a transparent red shaft, sits on his considerable backpack, as a stowed light sabre. It can't actually be held - but provides the illusion of a ready supply of light sabres.

   This is the weaker mode, for several reasons, but I'll deal with the visual ones first. The backpack, which is the folded up wheels, is big and hard to miss, although it is fairly compact. The hips are distinctly lizard hips - the hips are at least three times the width of his waist. The limbs look good for the most part, although there are kibbly covers hanging off his wrists. The head and chest are well sculpted, you can clearly see his armour suit and the face is unmistakable. There are no second arms, which would have been asking far too much of this toy. Since Grievous only used them during the film's fight scene, this robot mode looks fine without them. The light sabres actually have different sculpts, which is a nice touch - Grievous carries light sabres he has obtained from killing various Jedi.

   The heelspurs are nowhere near big enough - or stable enough. With the backpack we have here it's quite hard to stand this toy in any pose, let alone a dynamic one. The claw-like hands don't grip the light sabres that well, either. The limbs are well articulated, which ball joints on his shoulders and hips while the elbows and knees are hinged with rotators. The hands open and close while the wrists can bend, there are some strong hinges in his ankles and weaker ones on his heelspurs. The head is ball jointed, and this particular joint is well designed.

   The missile launcher can't really be used here, and it's too easy to fire the missile while trying to pose - or stand - him. The seat can rotate so that the pilot is still facing forward, but it'll end up behind his left shoulder. I wish there were some holes and pegs for him to hold the light sabres better. They light sabres fall out fairly easily, especially when he falls over. Which will happen.

   A well sculpted robot mode, but one that suffers too much from the ambition of this toy. I don't hate it, and I certainly admire the effort, but the backpack was always going to be an issue here, so I am annoyed that the heelspurs are so ineffective. This mode displays okay once you find a way to keep it upright, but the vehicle mode looks better anyway so I plan to display Grievous in that mode. I'm just not looking forward to transforming him again.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of although there is a Starfighter version of the character.

OVERALL

   A Transformer that suffers a lot from ambition. Both the ambition of the unusual vehicle and Hasbro's attempt to make it transform into an analogue of General Grievous. The vehicle mode is actually pretty good, with poseable legs and some nice details, if not the ability to fold the legs away and roll. The transformation is simple yet frustrating, while the robot mode is fairly weak despite a good sculpt. I can live with some of the weaknesses in this toy - it was never going to be perfect - but I would have really liked better heelspurs and light sabres which fitted into his hands better. It's not the worst Star Wars Transformer, and I'll certainly give points for trying here, but there are problems here which bring Grievous down - 4.5/10

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