Many secondary characters from successful franchises get their time in the spotlight – Angel from “Buffy and the Vampire Slayer” spring to mind. The Transformers are reaching back into its “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” game due out later this year. Jerry Jivoin, Hasbro’s marketing director for the Transformers, said it was a very easy decision to bring back the Dinobots for a new generation of fans.
“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.”
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.
Fast forward to today, and one of those kids, 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 with,” Tieger said. “The five core dinobots are in the game and we wanted to tell a mature and logical origin story.”
Their original origin, created by an Autobot who found some dinosaur bones and thought they were cool, put the Dinobots in a unique category as being the only creatures in the Transformers universe who were created on Earth, rather than Cybertron. The origin change will also be reflected in future lore in the Transformers universe.
Tieger wouldn’t say how their past would change, but he did say the core elements of each of the Dinobots would remain. They will be visually different from the way they looked in the 1980s.
“It was a real opportunity for us to reinvigorating 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 G1 (Generation 1).”
Jivoin said the Dinobots are an emotional touch point with Transformers fans. They are prominent at Transformers conventions in the United States (BotCon) and Singapore (Cybertron Con).
“It’s a great way to reintroduce the characters to the masses, because they are such a popular part of the lore. There are a lot of fans out there of the Dinobots.”
Gregg Berger can vouch for that. Berger is the voice of Grimlock for the new video game. He also was the original voice of the Tyrannosaurus Rex-shaped robot for the television series in the mid 1980s.
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.”
Berger said Grimlock has a nobility and sense of purpose that crosses generations. He recently met a group of fifth-grade students who said they recently 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, 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.”