Cliffbee.com: BotCon 2005 Dirge Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Dirge
Series: Convention Exclusives
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Commander
Alternate Mode: Praying Mantis-Lizard Fusion



BEAST MODE
Height: 9cm Length: 13cm Width: 8cm

   Exact dimensions depend on pose and wing position. Dirge's body is transparent yellow interspersed with black, mainly on the joints and forelimbs. There are only four limbs, which are mostly black, along with his mouthpiece (which, as on all the BotCon 2005 Buzzclaw repaints, is backwards). The wings and tail are slightly transparent red with black veins, the head has some purple paint wash and big red eyes. There is some purple paint wash on the hindlimbs and underneath the tail, rounding out a fairly coherent yet striking colour scheme. I like the contrast between the yellow, red and black and find the purple subtle enough to work. I actually prefer this colour scheme to that of Buzzclaw, in fact, since the black makes for a more balanced suite of colours.

   At first glance this beast looks to be a praying mantis rather than a Fuzor, but closer inspection will reveal a lizard's legs and tail - the latter isn't so obvious thanks to the painted veins, which mimic the wings' veins. The fact that this beast has only four limbs is also reptilian. The head, forelimbs and wings are pure mantis, mind you. This repaint isn't trying to highlight the Fuzor aspects of this mould, Dirge is more of an insect monster than anything else, and since he's a Decepticon rather than a Predacon, I can live with the reduced emphasis on lizard elements. There's a plunger on his back, when you push down the forelimbs spread out to the sides, the idea being that once you let go his claws clamp onto prey (or your finger). It works fairly well without being all that useful.

   The gimmick is nice if not spectacular, but there's decent poseability here which helps make a fun beast mode. The wings are on ball joints while the shoulders, hips and knees are also ball jointed. The ankles and foreclaws are hinged as well, and the tail makes a good counterweight - he'll happily stand on his legs with the claws hanging at the front.

   A decent bug monster, and Dirge's transparent yellow works a lot better than you might expect - transparent Transformers often look weird, but the black and red here help. The mantis aspects of this Fuzor mould dominate and the lizard aspects are just enough to give him a creepy monster feel. While I'm not sure that you'd want to play with a BotCon toy, there's good play value here for a basic. The only real complaint I have relates to the backwards mouthpiece, which is not easily fixable. The difference is fairly slight - the organic sculpting is on the inside of the piece, but it's essentially flat.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Lift out the head, fold back or detach the gimmick assembly (the back, wings and the claws), swing the beast head down as a chestplate and swing up the robot head. Swing up the shoulders (beast hip plates), rotate the elbows and fold back the lizard feet to reveal the robot fists. Split the legs hidden underneath the tailplate, rotate the boots and flip up his feet. Detach the tailplate and attach to his right forearm as a shield, if you've detached the gimmick assembly, place it in Dirge's hand as a large melee weapon.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 10cm Width: 5cm

   Again transparent yellow and black, Dirge has a purple tinge on his chest, a purple face on a yellow head, purple forearms and boots and red bug eyes on his chest. The shoulders, thighs and groin are black, along with the weapon's claws. The wings and shield are red and there's a Decepticon logo stamped on the inside of his shield. Dirge has white clenched teeth and unpainted eyes - since the head is entirely transparent there's a great lightpipe here. This colour scheme is somewhat strange - especially the extensive use of transparent yellow, but as on the beast mode, the colours are visually striking and the black helps offset the transparent yellow. It's not going to please everyone, but these colours are a lot better than those the original Buzzclaw toy had. There's still a fair amount of kibble, but the paints used work this time around.

   The poseability of this robot mode is great, which is to be expected. Not only do we have a poseable beast mode as foundation, but the gimmick has been detached, so it can't get in his way. The neck, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees are all ball joints while the waist turns and the ankles are hinged. The melee weapon has a few movable joints as well, and the claw pinching thing is still workable here. The weapon can get a little heavy, but it's not hard to adjust the joints to make him stable - they're all nice and tight which is very helpful.

   I prefer to leave the weapon on his back, mainly because it's unwieldy in his hand. You can have the claws over his shoulders or turn it around so that the wings are prominent on either side of the head. If the wings are up, the claws can act as third (and fourth) legs, and you do have the option of leaving the tailplate attached as a third leg as well. I find that wings in the air over his shoulders work for Dirge, even if this configuration makes him quite backheavy. While this toy doesn't represent the same character as the G1 Seeker of the same name, the wings provide something of a homage, and as a fan of the Seeker, I like that homage, which is also hinted at in his bio. The cardart on the bio card depicts Dirge with the wings up on his back, incidentally.

   Versatile and poseable, Dirge is great fun to fidget with and the gimmick is again meaningful. While the colours don't do anything for the G1 tribute, they do work for this toy as a limited repaint, and have grown on me since I first acquired this toy. The beast feet on the back of his forearms and giant gimmick mechanism are kibbly and help make this robot mode a little cumbersome, I'm glad they haven't put emphasis on the weapon this time around.

VARIATIONS

   None as such, although Dirge was exclusively available at BotCon 2005, either as part of a giftset (which included the bio card) or on his own in a bag sans bio card. I have the latter. As mentioned, this toy doesn't represent the G1 character - nor the BWII character. A repaint of the Beast Wars fuzor Buzzclaw, along with the BotCon toys Virulent Clone and (another toy called) Buzzclaw.

OVERALL

   As with most convention toys, much of the appeal of this toy is it's exclusivity. I grabbed it because I want to have all Dirge toys (as a fan of the original Dirge), and I'm happy with what I got. The colour scheme has grown on me, even if it doesn't represent the character that inspired my purchase. If you like the mould & colours, Dirge is probably worth picking up (as one of the cheaper BotCon 05 toys). Better than Buzzclaw thanks to more sensible colour choices, Dirge takes a playable mould and gives it interesting, coherent colours - 7.5/10

"Transformers" and other indica trademarks of Hasbro and/or Takara.