Cliffbee.com: Activator Dirge Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Starscream
Series: Animated
Allegiance: Decepticon
Alternate Mode: Fighter Plane



PLANE MODE
Height: 4cm Length: 12cm Width: 10.5cm

   A dark blue fighter jet with pea soup green wings, which extends over much of the fuselage and the tailfins. Dirge has a bright red canopy and dark red lines on his wings, tailwings, tailfins and air intakes. He's a repaint of Starscream taking cues from his G1 namesake, but the pea soup green is a poor match for the bronze on that toy. The switching of some of Starscream's blue to pea green soup is very inelegant - the seams were clearly not designed with different colour plastics in mind. The tailwings are blue and this looks odd alongside the green engines and tailfins. He has black Decepticon logos on his wings, facing backwards, and a bright yellow button on the top of the fuselage which activates (no pun intended) his transformation. The colour scheme here is... awful. The yellow clashes with the pea soup green, the two reds don't work alongside each other and they should have just painted the wings bronze rather than changing plastics to this odd shade which has jarring edges.

   Dirge's sculpt looks like he could be a real fighter jet - although not in these coloyrs. There's a prototype feel here, with forward swept wings and tailfins. The tailwings are small and sweep backwards while there are twin engines with a fair gap between them. While the Animated line features many low-detail toys, there are enough moulded details here for the mould to work well at this size. We do get some undercarriage junk - the hands are visible behind his wings, but for the most part this is all jet. There are guns sticking out from underneath the front of the wings as well. The colours ruin any real chance of Dirge looking like a real jet, sadly.

   The whole point of the Activators is an auto-transform, so much of the toy's engineering goes into that. We get a little bit of play value here - there are plastic wheels at the back which can fold up, They fold up a little too easily - I would have actually preferred something fixed. The back of the engines unclip and float around too easily as well - they can't clip in without affecting the auto-transform. While neither of these issue are major, they do count against his vehicle mode.

   The colours here are terrible, thanks to some bad matches and an awful switch of plastic colours. The blue is notably darker than that of the G1 Dirge toy - which doesn't bother me, but the switch from bronze to pea soup green does bother me. The hands behind his wings and loose legs bother me a little, but they're overwhelmed by this messy colour scheme, which ruins a good jet mode.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Unclip the arms from underneath the wings and press the yellow button. The cockpit folds over while the nose folds away through a really clever gearing mechanism. The legs swing down into place and the head is revealed. Rotate the lasers on his arms down, flip out his feet, fold away the wheels and lift up Dirge's shoulderpads. This is a very well engineered transformation.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 11cm Width: 10cm

   A dark blue robot with black patches on his chest, which also features the red canopy. Dirge's forearms, feet and head are black and his face gunmetal with red eyes. As bad as the tribute is in vehicle mode, the pea soup green is now limited to the wings behind his arms, so this _does_ look like G1 Dirge, despite the variation in colours. I'm still not sold on the green, but the jarring transition between colours isn't a problem here. There are no visible Decepticon logos here - only the pair now on his back. While the colours don't match those of the original seeker that well, the tribute is pulled off fairly well here.

   The bodyplan here is all seeker, with wings behind his arms - sweeping up - the cockpit on the chest and nose out of view. The landing gear on his shins even matches the patches on the G1 seeker shins. The feet are more like those of Jetfire than a seeker, but they work so I don't really mind. The proportions here are generally pretty good - more like a real Transformer than many of the Animated characters, which I appreciate. The head suffers from the Giant Jaw Syndrome, which bugs me a little, as does the smirk smile on his face. I'll admit that it's my personal preference regarding the head and smile, but I don't see how this sort of head is robotic. The head hasn't been resculpted to give Dirge a conehead - the original Dirge toy was never intended as a conehead, mind you.

   There are no gimmicks here but Dirge is stable and poseable, so I don't care. His head, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees all feature ball joints while the fusion cannons are attached just below the elbows, without getting in the way of his articulation. The heelspurs are useful while the wings on his back are close enough to his body that they don't cause any balance issues, yet still allow shoulder movement. The poseability here is great for the pricepoint.

   While the vehicle mode has major problems, this robot mode is quite good. The colours work well and despite the variance they're closer to his G1 equivalent than those of Starscream or Thundercracker. The layout is very reminiscent of a G1 seeker. His poseability is great, especially considering that the engineering here is geared around the auto-transform. The head isn't very robot like, which is a defining feature of this line, but I can't really call that a flaw.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of, although as mentioned, he is a repaint of Starscream. Activator Thundercracker also shares this mould.

OVERALL

   As much as I dislike the concept of Animated, I'm glad that it has given us the Activator concept. Dirge's auto-transform is really well done, and at this scale it's a great transformation. The colours really don't work in vehicle mode - it's one of the worst repaints I've seen in a toy paying direct tribute to a G1 character - but they do a decent job in robot mode, which does look quite good. I'm not sure why the colours diverge but I'm more worried about how poorly they've been applied to the jet mode. The plane mode has some issues with kibble and stability, but still works quite well, while the robot mode is poseable and very much looks like a seeker. It's a mould worth grabbing, but despite the robot mode having the best tribute of the three versions, the jet mode paint job is abysmal enough that I'd recommend the others first. I only grabbed this one because of my affection for the character concept - 5/10

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