That T-Rex shaped Transformer and his pals are back in a new video game and fans say it's about time.
The Transformers are reaching back into their “prehistoric” past and bringing the Dinobots – Autobots in dinosaur form – to their next video game. Grimlock, Slag, Sludge, Snarl and Swoop are returning in the new “Transformers: Fall of Cybertron."
The group of dinosaur-shaped robots hasn’t been around for many years, only making small appearances in comic books after being prominent in the Transformer cartoon series in the mid-1980s. They were the first mini-team in the Transformers universe, and their shape and rugged attitude made them enjoyable for kids.
Ryan Yzquierdo, a self-proclaimed Transformers guru, has been a fan of the “Robots in Disguise” since the cartoon. He runs a website featuring galleries of Transformer toys, most of which (nearly 4,000) he currently owns. He says it was hard not to be a fan of the Dinobots.
“If you were a fan in the '80s, you knew who Grimlock was,” he said. “He is every bit of a character as some of the frontrunners like Optimus, Megatron, Starscream or Bumblebee. He’s right there at the top of one of the best Transformers of all time.
“Transforming dinosaurs into bad-ass robots. They’re like the 'Punishers' of the universe. They’re pretty tough guys and they do what they’ve got to get things done."
Jerry Jivoin, Hasbro’s marketing director for the Transformers, said it was an easy decision to bring back the Dinobots for a new generation of fans. The Dinobots are an emotional touch point with Transformers fans, Jivoin said, and prominent at Transformers conventions in the United States (BotCon) and Singapore (Cybertron Con).
“The Dinobots have always been a very popular part of the Transformers lore,” he said. “They are fan favorites and an important part in the history of the Transformers.”
Fast forward to today, and one of those young fans, Matt Tieger, game director for “Transformers: Fall of Cybertron,” jumped at the opportunity to retell the origins of the Dinobots and use the “cool, dynamic characters” in a new way.
“It was a eureka moment of 'We have the opportunity to bring in beloved characters and do some really creative story things,'” Tieger said. “The five core Dinobots are in the game and we wanted to tell a mature and logical origin story.”
Tieger wouldn’t say how their past would change, but he did say the core elements of each of the Dinobots would remain.
The 1980s TV show said they were created by an Autobot who found dinosaur bones and thought they were cool. The Dinobots existed in a unique category: They were the only creatures in the Transformers universe who were created on Earth, rather than Cybertron. The modern origin story will also be reflected in future lore in the Transformers universe.
But, Tieger said, they will look different than in the 1980s.
“It was a real opportunity for us to reinvigorate thinking about dinosaurs, and by extension, make it very relevant to kids,” Tieger said. “The way we designed Grimlock, the way he looks, is very appealing to kids and very nostalgic to gamers who remember (Generation 1).”
Yzquierdo, who has been keeping an eye on game trailer releases, is happy with the new look and how the designers were aware of what makes each Dinobot special.
“It really makes them stand out, transforms them to modern characters,” Yzquierdo said. “There is an acknowledgement for what’s gone on in years past, but the game retrofits them into this continuity. It’s nice to see they’ve figured it out.”
Yzquierdo thinks the game will definitely appeal to the older fans, but act as a great avenue to introduce new fans to the same emotions he has about the Dinobots.
“I’m really hoping that interest in these characters and making them so key in this game, the younger generation will play this game and I hope they will have the opportunity to make the same connection with these characters and see how awesome they are.”
Gregg Berger can vouch for that. Berger voiced Grimlock for the television series in the mid-1980s and again voices the Tyrannosaurus Rex bot in the video game,
Berger has been around the world to meet hundreds of thousands of fans who have been loyal to the Dinobot characters and the Transformers franchise. He says he is always amazed and humbled by the people who still flock to Grimlock and his teammates.
“There was a pure rage-driven aggressive side coupled with almost a childlike, simple understanding of that world and (Grimlock’s) place in it,” Berger said. “There is something about dinosaurs, and power, and the Transformers’ lore and story-driven characters. I have very loyal fans and fan base, and I try to be equally loyal to them.”
Grimlock is noble, with sense of purpose that crosses generations, Berger said . He recently met a group of fifth-grade students who said they discovered the original cartoon series and told him how much they loved Grimlock.
Tieger said they are trying to tap into those fan feelings with the new origin story and new look. But he wants Grimlock to be Grimlock.
“(Grimlock) is a good guy through and through, so he’s an Autobot,” he said. “But he does not always agree with Optimus Prime.
"There’s some interesting conflict that happens between the two of them, story-wise. It’s great to see Optimus from a different perspective.”
While fans pushed hard for the Dinobots inclusion in the Transformers movies, it never happened; Tieger said they will be very happy to get to play as Grimlock.
“Where the game starts is just going to blow you away and fulfill fantasies you’ve had from 20 years ago.”