Red Shoulder reviews TakaraTomy and Hasbro Masterpiece MP-8 Grimlock

Deluxe Review: Includes Original MP8 (Hasbro and Takara), MP8X, and the MP8X Reissue.

There is something special about the MP-8 Grimlock mould and character, not just in terms of masterpiece collecting, but in the wider world of Transformers fandom. The Transformers of the 1980’s were special, but the Dinobots occupy a spot in collective memory that inspires passion and childhood delight. Optimus prime said it best in S.O.S. Dinobot, “Robot dinosaurs might be useful.”

What could make a kid happier than a shiny dinosaur that transforms into a badass robot? I can’t think of anything that tops that, even flashy sports cars have to take a back seat to the majesty of King Grimlock. Every iteration of Grimlock and the Dinobots are generally prized and sought after, and the Masterpiece version released in 2008 is no different.

The Masterpiece Grimlock mould, designated as MP-8 was originally released by Takara in 2009 and was meant to invoke the original cartoon. Designed by Hironori Kobayashi. Grimlock is a triumph of simple design and G1 accuracy, both in Robot mode and Alt mode. Perhaps it’s easier to be accurate when you’re basing your sculpt off an inaccurate dinosaur, but the elegance and fun of this masterpiece really shines through, especially at a time when masterpiece releases featured complex and somewhat annoying transformations for many fans. The mould featured a shake action tail, Jaw snapping push button action, an LED light gimmick in the hands, and the ability to change eye colors. The blue eye choice corresponded with the cartoon, and the red generally represented his G1 toy and other incarnations.

Grimlock has also had several different accessories and features that have distinguished his many releases in the last 5 years, something that I will outline and discuss in detail later.

I have always had a keen interest in this toy which leads me to create this documentation, and I have gone to great lengths to secure various versions for the love of this piece. Whether it was translating Japanese at an obscure shop and having a proxy buyer pay an absorbent amount to import a sealed one from overseas (to avoid even more absorbent prices on Ebay), or driving two hours to rescue an original TRU Grimlock from the ignominious abandonment in some guys backyard shed, or calling Toys’R’Us two towns over to have an item shipped to my city. Collecting Grimlock isn’t always easy.

I love how the reflective paint and chrome shines on display, and the weight of the diecast in my hand. I love The details of the “wings”, and the sharp shiny claws. Not to mention the detail under the clear reflective panels on the chest and neck. As a kid who grew up in the 80’s who only had Slag and Sludge to beat up on (along with a big case of jealousy for my childhood friends who had Grimmy), Everything about this toy just feels right.
MP-8 is a blast to transform too. Simple, with just enough engineering to be interesting. The transformation itself is fairly similar to the original toy as well, which is a nice touch.

There are some design criticisms of this toy. Chief among them are the scale and the hand articulation. Due to the design of the LED gimmick the right hand of Grimlock is basically fixed, though I would argue that the hands on current masterpiece releases leaves a lot to be desired. The second criticism is that he’s just too small compared to the definitive MP-10 scale that would come out a few years later. It is an exhausting chore to talk about scale with the Transformers fans. Trying to figure out the exact size of beings that constantly change size (not only in the animation but in their various design incarnations) is a lot like herding cats. Most would agree that Grimlock should be taller than Optimus though. Fans either want a new mould to fit the scale of MP-10, or a complete redesign. And some 3rd party companies have fixed the problem by giving him platform shoes. I could discuss this for hours, and I am a proponent of Bot accuracy over all, but for my money, I love the MP-8 mould the way it is. MP-8 will be staying in my collection for years to come even if a newer design is generated.

The main reason I wanted to do this review or documentation was to outline how each release is different in terms of materials, paint, accessories, price, and collectability. I want to leave a fairly exhaustive document so that if a brand new collector came into the market and wanted a specific version, he or she could reference this article and be instantly knowledgeable about the history of this piece.

I also want to bring attention to a disturbing trend in the Masterpiece market that is very similar to the stealth downsizing we see in food prices, where a product will be reduced in quality but the price will remain the same. It’s not an actual shrinking of the toy, but a shrinking in the quality used to produce new pieces. To further confuse the issue several 3rd party companies have jumped in the ring either to release their own unique dinobot designs, or in the case of Grimlock release an exact Knockoff or “KO” of the existing mould. It is impossible to say where these KO’s are coming from, but they appear to be coming from the same factory as the official versions. It could be a case of the factory workers trying to make a quick buck on the side with a valuable collectible. Again, I could discuss and speculate on this forever, but I’ll turn our attention back to the actual toys.

Note that SHMP is Secondhand Market Price and I am rating out of 5 Claws.

Masterpiece Grimlock MP-8
Issued: 2009
Brand: Takara
MSRP: $140
SHMP: $200-300
Collectiability: 4.5 Claws

The release that started all the madness. The original MSRP was actually around $150 dollars, but after importing and re-selling most outlets in the states would probably charge closer to $200. This release is known for it’s lighter grey plastic, cartoon accuracy, Sharpe teeth and claws, and the Apron and Tray accessories from the G1 episode “Grimlocks’ New Brain”.

This release shot up in price for years and saw heights of $300-350 dollars in auction and secondhand markets. You can still find original stock on Japanese sites for around $250 shipped.

By all accounts the QA, paint, and materials were top notch due to Takara’s higher QA standards and smaller runs, though I’m sure some issues do exist.

Masterpiece Grimlock MP-8x
Issued: 2009
Brand: Takara (Hobby Toy Market)
MSRP: $140
SHMP: $300+ (Previously $500-1000)
Score: 5 Claws

This repaint originated frome UK Transformers comic book. The box art is a fantastic comic frame and is a bright yellow color. The toy itself was drenched in silver paint, and used blue plastic instead of black for the legs, head, and hands. It was also the first release to feature the infamous, and now standard crown accessory. It did not include the original tray and apron accessories.

Many people at the time skipped this release, which also retailed for $140 dollars, but in the years to come it would be the most expensive and highly sought after MP collectible due to its rarity and association with Grimlock. Ebay auctions hit the $1100 mark in early 2013, but the price has been impacted greatly by the re-issue of 2014, and have been fluxing between $300 and $400 dollars.

Again, the QA and materials used were the best they had at the time and it shows. I feel this is the best Grimlock toy out there, and the best MP release for a hardcore collector due to the attention to detail and the fantastic paint job.

Masterpiece Grimlock MP-8 (Hasbro)

Issued: 2010
Brand: Hasbro
MSRP: $60
SHMP: $150-200
Score: 4 Claws

Hasbro’s first release of Grimlock featured several changes and was distributed exclusively at Toys’R’Us. The plastic was a darker grey, the teeth and claws were rounded (for some reason) and more paint apps were added to invoke the G1 Toy release. The include strips on the shoulders, triangles on the thighs, and outlines on the waist. This release also included the crown, and came in a really terrible clear plastic box that was a torture device to open and made storage a pain.

Hasbro must have doubled the production run, as they were able to sell it for $60 dollars in the states, close to half the original price of the Takara runs. This set an interesting precedent where fans would wait for Hasbro releases to save money, though this pattern seems to be changing with the current MP-4 Prowl release, which in some cases cost more than the Takara release.

The value on this release also shot up to the $250-300 range during the many years when this piece was out of production, but has dropped recently.
Personally, I think this release is the best Hasbro Masterpiece release to date in terms of quality and detail. Usually Hasbro tends to skimp in the paint apps department for its MP’s, and QA is generally worse partially due to the fact that it’s a larger run, so there are more chances for defects and misassembly. But on this release they did a great job of putting out a quality Transformer at an amazing price.

I do prefer this version in Robot mode, Since the Teeth and claws are rounded. Robot mode also shows off the extra paint apps.

Masterpiece Grimlock MP-8: Asian Exclusive Version
Issued: 2013
Brand: Hasbro Asia
MSRP: $200-250
SHMP: $200-300
Score: 2.5 claws

This was the first re-issue of this figure for more than 3 years, and it was the sign of things to come. The aftermarket prices on all the previous Grimlock releases had hit a surge point, and Hasbro Asia decided to get in on the action.

Reported to be around 3,000 units, this re-issue was kind of a mishmash of previous releases with no real defining changes other than a bright white box with Chinese characters on the front. It was a very unique box, but the toy itself left a lot to be desired at an aftermarket price. I feel it was a missed opportunity to give the fans a G2 repaint and make it a highly desirable collectible.

It was originally released at several Asian conventions and packaged with a CHUG Skyfire toy. Asking prices were anywhere from $250-300 dollars before shipping. Basically Ebay prices.

In terms of the toy itself, it was basically the Takara release, with the Hasbro accessories of gun, sword, and crown. It also widely featured poor QA, with shoulders falling off and very, very loose hip joints that would affect the ability of the toy to stand up straight and achieve poses.
The aftermarket has not been that kind to this release because there are so many other options, and it doesn’t really offer anything that the other releases can’t do better. Many people spent $300 to get it and are re-selling it at a loss to buy other things.

There were rumors that the mould was beginning to degrade at this point, but it could have been a scare tactic to get people to buy more, but from future releases I believe it. More than likely this was just a cash grab since Hasbro knew that KO’s were starting to enter the market.
You can see my review and comparison of this release here:

Masterpiece Grimlock MP-8: Takara Reissue (with flame sword pack)
Issued: 2013
Brand: Hasbro Asia
MSRP: $200-250
SHMP: $150-200
Score: 3 Claws

This is the only release here that I haven’t personally owned at some point or bought. This is basically a Takara re-release with the same box, accessories, and colorations. They threw in a rather cheap and cheesy flame sword slip-on “effects part” accessory to justify the aftermarket price. I wasn’t impressed with the flame piece and I had a pretty bad taste in my mouth from the AE release, so I skipped it. I also already have a Takara version so I had no need to double-up.

This release kept the same materials and quality of the first release as far as I know.

Again the secondary market is fairly tame for this issue as it’s still in stock at a lot of stores, and you can often get it for less than retail as there is such a glut of choices with Grimlock these days.

You can also get the flame sword accessories separately from third party companies with even more parts that fit on his head and hands for $30 bucks. I plan on getting it at some point for completions sake.

Masterpiece Grimlock MP-3 Hasbro Reissue
Issued: 2014
Brand: Hasbro
MSRP: $80 ($65 with Coupon)
SHMP: $100-120
Score: 1 Claw.

Hasbro upped the anty, or downed the anty depending on where you stand, by releasing their own re-issue in the states under the newly minted MP line that started with MP-1 Soundwave in 2013.

This release basically saw a doubling down on quality to the point that I cannot really tell if it’s any different than the KO that was released.
For the first time Hasbro replaced the clearly and slightly black tinted clear plastic with a green and cloudy plastic. I’m assuming to save money. The odd thing is that this is the exact same color as the plastic used in the Wukong KO, which makes me think that the KO is really just a spare run from the factory that isn’t officially sanctioned, or maybe just stolen.

At some point I may buy the KO to compare, but it’s not in the cards for me at the moment.

MP-3 also featured a very strange change where the gray plastic was so thin that light would actually pass through it, indicating again that Hasbro had decided to go with cheaper materials, yet keep the price the same or charge more in most cases.

It’s also interesting to note that they cared so little about this release that the front cover features the heavily painted original Hasbro MP-8 release from back in 2010, yet this version had zero paint apps. And the plastics color was different. False advertising on their own boxes. Tsk Tsk. Transformers history is full of inaccurate box artwork though, so I suppose it can be forgiven.

This issue was also plagued with loose hips. Scores of fans on forums reported legs that would split and not hold a pose. People suggested taking the piece apart and applying solution to create friction, but ultimately it came down to tightening the screws around the hips to tighten the joint.
Personally, I don’t like working on toys that I spend this much money on, or spend this much time to hunt down. They should be solid and tight out of the box, but such is life.

The Box was a flimsy Hasbro affair that was bright red with a glued on slip.

Wukong WK-01 KO Grimlock: Unofficial KO

Issued: 2013
Brand: Unknown
MSRP: $125 (Loose version were fetching $60 bucks)
Score: 0 Claws

I can really only speculate on why or how this release exists, but the similarities to the MP-3 release is a bit disturbing. Either Hasbro can’t control the factories that they rent to make toys, or they are willingly packaging a product of similar quality and selling it in the states for $80 dollars and call it a day.

I hope to do more research on this KO and update this section with my findings. I also hope to contact some of the distributors of the release and find out where they came from.

To be clear I have nothing against Third party original designs, but I avoid Knock Offs as it’s basically giving money to people who are trying to exploit a market niche. Somebody in China realized that customers were paying top dollar for Grimlock toys and took action. Great for them. Maybe Takara and Hasbro could have re-issued their versions sooner and avoided it, but the recent official releases don’t seem much better in quality than the KO’s, and that bothers me.

For their part they made a decent looking box with some cool fan art. It looks better than the MP-3 box anyway.

Masterpiece Grimlock MP-8x Reissue

Issued: 2014
Brand: Hasbro Asia (Hobby Toy Market)
MSRP: $250+
SHMP: $250+
Score: ½ Claw (For tight joints)

This toy. This toy really pissed me off. What we have here is basically a re-release of the MP-8x toy but with sever reductions in terms of quality.
The paint itself isn’t nearly as brilliant or neatly applied. It should be a bright and reflective metallic silver, but instead I could barely tell that it was painted at all when I took it out of the box. The paint is also unevenly applied and sloppy. Scratches, smudges, and places where the paint isn’t even applied are common.

This version also continued forward with the cloudy clear plastic for the chest and neck seen in the MP-3 release.

Mine also came with a misassembled left arm. It basically had a right bicep piece on the left arm, making the articulation and movement about 5 percent. I noticed this due to a fan forum member pointing it out, so at least two people had this defect.

Paint chips on the feet are a common issue, and mine had missing chrome on the chest.
The gun had large bubbles in the middle of the barrels, and the sword is a cloudier plastic.
The red pipping on the back bleeds into the grey and has a pink hue.

Overall, I would advise people to skip this release unless you just can’t find the original at a decent price. I know it’s expensive, but now is probably the time to try to hunt one down if you have to.

The best way to tell them apart is to ask any seller if the box front has 25th anniversary or 30th anniversary.

To be clear I’m not knocking people who have this release. I know that for some people it’s enough and looks like the comic, plus is a fairly inexpensive version compared to the insane prices of the first release. If it works for you, and you can find one that is issue free, more power to you. My aim is not to be a toy snob, rather to document the existing differences and shed some light on what you’re getting for your money.

I think that if Hasbro is going to charge $270 dollars for a repaint reissue, the paint job should be flawless and the piece should be free of defects. If they are going to use lesser materials, paint, and quality control they should charge less. Drop the price down to $180 or $200 and I would be a lot less annoyed. As it sits I don’t feel that nearly $300 is a smart purchase when you could just save up and put that money to finding an original. Also, there is already a listing for a KO of this release that is around $125 bucks, which leads me to believe my initial theory that the factory is making extras on the side. I am conflicted to suggest that you should buy a KO, but if Hasbro doesn’t care, neither should you.

Here is my extensive comparison of the original and the reissue:

Thanks to Kool Kollectibles for this picture:

In summation, I love this toy and I can’t wait to see more official Dinobots. I personally feel it is an inevitability at this point, and something all fans would love to see on their shelves. If you can’t wait there are litterally slews of third party dinos fighting for your collecting dollar. Dinobots forever!

2 Replies to “Red Shoulder reviews TakaraTomy and Hasbro Masterpiece MP-8 Grimlock”

  1. Damn … I jumped the gun and bought the mp-08x reissue and now wish I hadn’t …. Although I do still have my original hasbro 2009 version MISB so at least I have one solid mold from a time when corners were not cut and fans got what they paid for.

    I feel the masterpiece line as a whole is suffering right now with all these abhorrent KOs polluting the market…

    Don’t get me wrong I always pre order nowadays and get the first production run of every MP just to ensure I get the best version … But like many I missed the mp08x original because it was just before I got into the mp line … And knowing this I feel sickened by my purchase of this product as I had expected the quality to be top notch for the price and the special nature of the figure.

    With the rate at which these KOs are appearing I would hazard a guess that the mp line will be largely worthless in a few years time as it’s just too much of a hassle to tell them apart when buying online ….

    I don’t collect solely for investment … But it’s nice to know that your collection will at least maintain its value somewhat …. And every time a KO pops up it literally feels to me like someone just took a shit on my nice pure bred mp collection …

    Anyway rant over …. There’s still hope .. Have the evangelion optimus prime preordered so if that ever decides to pull an “mp-08x” on us then at least I know I have the original lol …

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