January 13th, 2009



Shortpacked!: When will I get used to typing 2009?

I have a lot of Dinobots. As the linked text proves, I even have Dinobots that aren't Dinobot! Like Ethan, I keep buying every new version as they're incrementally improved, simulating 0.9 repeating, ever nearing 1, but never quite reaching it. With every new Dinobot, they add another 9 onto the end, and I remove another $10-$30 from my bank account.

The most recent Dinobot got as close as you probably can get while using the old toy without any retooling. Takara painted that sucker up! We were at an impasse.

Well, just in time for the original mold to have been ground into dust from overuse, Hasbro has given us a new Dinobot! A new Dinobot! The very phrase seems wrong. What do you mean, a new one? A new new one? Like, not just a redeco? I can't make myself believe it. I mean, for me, trying to get a perfect show-accurate toy out of the original mold was like a sport for me. I wanted to add paint, I swapped parts between versions, I imagined a world in which one part was molded in a different color, etc. It was a challenging puzzle. A mental exercise. Sure, the goal was impossible, but it's the challenge that's fun! Would a an actual new Dinobot make my ever-present pipe dream obsolete? What would I do with myself in a world where I have a Dinobot toy that satisfies me?

Thankfully, even with a spectacular new Dinobot, I am not yet in that perfect world.

Wave 5 of the Transformers Universe toyline does give us a new Dinobot. Like the original, he's a Deluxe-class toy, and he still transforms into a organic velociraptor. Here's the awesome part -- as far as "show-accuracy" goes, the sculpt is practically perfect. Somehow, they managed to get a completely humanoid, minimally-kibbled form out of the same shape as the old toy. Sure, his tail still detaches to form his sword and tail weapon, which helps, but it's still astounding how differently-shaped this toy is compared to the original.

Every sculpted detail and every engineering twist on this toy exists solely to make a more show-accurate Dinobot. That is rare in Transformers. There are new Transformers like, say, Hound, which are "updates," and may more closely reflect the character model, but apply that to a new vehicle mode, or with a slightly different take, but that's not what Dinobot is. From all appearances, Hasbro and Takara genuinely sat down to make a show-accurate Dinobot toy. Down to the bones that fold out of his dino thighs that wrap around his robot shins, this action figure is a labor of love to the Mainframe design. Though some details aren't painted, they're definitely sculpted. Like the shoulder pads atop his arms!

And, hey, even his "missile" is actually sculpted to resemble his original sword, and there's a slot in his wrists so he can hold them in his claws. The launcher for the missile, made out of his splintering tail, splits just so it recalls his original rotate blade. Sadly, it doesn't rotate. It's just a launcher! Bummer. But at least the visual is there...

There's a panel on his chest that flips between fleshy skin, a Maximal logo, and a Predacon logo. His bio places this Dinobot fictionally within the first episode of Beast Wars, between his acquiring a beast mode and his defection to the Maximals. So the swapping logo is meant to represent that. And as a bonus, if you were one of those folks who hated his claw hands, you can rotate away his claws for real fists with pegholes! I am not one of those folks, but they're there for you, if you want them. The nonrotate blade can only be held in fist mode, since it snaps onto the top and bottom of the fist's pegholes. But if you dig the claws more, it's fine, because you can't see he's got a fist out if he's holding the weapon anyway.

Another plus over the original toy -- his shoulders lock in place. That's a godsend. And the tail is nice and long! It's so long they even have to half-transform it a little so he fits inside the package.

But this is where Hasbro leaves me wanting more. This is not the perfect Dinobot. His color scheme is a little surprising. Instead of having blue highlights, his face and other details are a deep reddish purple. His stripes are minimized, so he's mostly solid dark brown. And the amber plastic he has that has replaced his usual gold isn't the most attractive color. Together, objectively, they're not terrible. They do make him appear more villainous, which may have been their intent, as he's probably Universe's bad guy Beast Wars character to counter its good guy Beast Wars character, Cheetor.

Takara will inevitably change some of these colors for more show-accurate colors. But if I know my Takara, and I know my history, it won't be perfect. There'll be some things chromed that I wish weren't chromed, and some things I wish were done better. But, phew! That just means it's the status quo! I can go right back to mentally planning a better Dinobot, like I have been for the past ten years.

Also, I wish the articulation in his knees weren't so shallow, and that his tail held together better in beast mode, and that his chest pushed down further out of the way so you could see his head better from other angles.

(And I kind of wish he had feathers.)

See? Still not happy with Dinobot. Life is good.

Though I have to say, I will miss the original Dinobot toy. I've grown quite fond of it. I loved its wide shoulders with the head buried between them, and its stumpy thighs. Despite the television show, the toy did have an influence over how Dinobot appeared in my mind's eye. Alas, I knew him, Cheetor.

If you want more pictures, I've posted a gallery over at the Allspark.

Edit: First pictures of Japan's Dinobot here! Scroll down a bit, he's in dino mode. Yeah, definitely picking that up!