Series: Convention Exclusives
Alternate Mode: Backhoe
Thanks to kup for loaning me Dinobot, making this review possible (I have since acquired Dinobot).
Height: 9.5cm Length: 16cm Width: 10cm
A dark metallic brown backhoe with a light metallic brown bucket arm on the right hand side, mid blue highlights including the bucket and light grey treads underneath. Dinobot is a repaint of Cybertron Longrack, himself a retooling of Armada Hoist. Dinobot actually has a reversion to Hoist's mould in one location - but I'll come back to that in robot mode. The cockpit on the front is painted silver, there are some lighter brown organic stripes on his outriggers, designed to resemble the stripes on the original Dinobot toy. There's a stamped Predacon symbol on a blue background on the right side of the toy. It's worth noting that this toy is a Predacon, since it's meant to represent Dinobot before the Beast Wars - and before he deserted Megatron. The relative profusion of blue is a feature not seen on the original toy - but the reissue BW Dinobot also adopted this - something taken from the cartoon Dinobot. The colours look great - the brown and blue play off one another well. The painted and plastic blue elements matches each other very well.
As mentioned, he's a backhoe with a big arm on the right hand side. Basically, he's got an outrigger on each side, the right one carries the digger arm, the left one I assume is there for balance so the machine doesn't tip over. Of course, they form his arms, so he has to have two anyway, but I can buy it being a counterbalance. The central piece is the cabin, and below the windows is an engine grill, so I guess there’s an engine in there somewhere.
There's pretty good movement here. The top section can rotate 360°, the swivel as actually towards the front. The MiniCon activation of Hoist is gone - now you have to plug his gold Planet Key into the side of the outrigger. Pushing on the back of the outrigger pushes the arm forward - this springs back into place once you stop pushing forward. If you push the arm forward and remove the key, you'll lock the arm in place - something the MiniCon didn't do (although there was a separate lock). The arm can't actually reach down, rather it can drag things backward. This mechanism has six joints in all, but it's connected in such a way that everything moves together. There are yellow pistons attached to the arm, they function as struts, since they don't actually extend, but create the intended illusion of there being pistons, so I'm calling them that.
The back piece of the outrigger has been completely redesigned, aside from the lock's removal. While the end result is about the same Dinobot is better that he doesn't carry the awful MiniCon Hoist came with. There are still two dead MiniCon ports, one is on the back of the left hand outrigger and the other on its outside. He has three blue wheels on his underside, which allow him to roll. They're ridged, so they'll roll better on carpet than a tabletop.
While the play value's quite cool, the most impressive thing about the backhoe mode is the detailing. He's big and blocky, so he looks like he's meant to be a giant piece of earthmoving machinery. The sculpt and painted details really make this work, though. He's got all sorts of industrial bits moulded onto him, such as piping and rivets, as well as great detail on the treads and wheels inside the treads (which are painted blue). The remoulding on the back of the right outrigger, and the outside of the outrigger itself, continues the detailed sculpting.
The colour scheme is great and does wonderful job of portraying Dinobot - which is important when you consider that a backhoe doesn't seem like the natural choice for a warrior like Dinobot. The play value is quite good for a deluxe and the absence of a MiniCon doesn't hurt the play value at all. The sculpt is good and the backhoe mode is quite interesting, making this a worthwhile alt mode.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
The treads basically unfold and swing down to form the legs, using about eight joints a piece to do so. The rear of the backhoe base is actually the feet folded around and interlocked to form a solid platform, which is a nice touch. The outriggers become the arms, the left hand flips out from both the top and bottom of the outrigger - the thumb from the top and the fingers from the bottom. His head flips up onto the top of the cabin, which is the chest, and rotates 180°. The shoulders swing out a bit to give his arms clearance from his legs. The right arm is the shovel arm, you don’t have to manipulate it aside from swinging it down. You'll notice that while the right arm swings down in the transformation, the left one swings up. Most of this transformation is in the legs, the top half is very simple.
Height: 20cm Width: 15cm
Dinobot's upper half is largely dark brown while the groin, feet and claw-arm on his right arm are light brown and his legs grey. There are again extensive blue highlights, including his face and the patch on his right arm bearing the Predacon logo. His eyes are red and there are extensive gold paint applications on his boots. The colours are a great match for the character and it's worth noting that Dinobot's head is that of Smokescreen - that reversion I touched on earlier.
Smokescreen's face always did look like Dinobot anyway, and I have a feeling this fact was the main reason this mould was chosen for Dinobot - I'm impressed that they combined Longrack's mechanism with Smokescreen's head to make Dinobot as good as possible.
The biggest problem in robot mode is the shovel arm. While I can live with him having a shovel arm and no hand, it's heavy and Dinobot has a tendency to keel over sideways. His feet are quite big and they've thoughtfully moulded him so that his legs are slightly spread, which means this is far less of a problem than it could have been, but you still have to be careful when posing him. As with the vehicle mode, the bodyshape doesn't seem like a natural fit for the character - the head makes this tribute work.
The poseability is reasonably good for an Armada mould. The head is on a ball joint, his shoulders both rotate 360° on ratcheting joints, both elbows allow for the forearms to rotate and the left one also bends, and the left hand effectively has a hand that can open and close. There's a thumb of sorts on his right hand (ie opposite the bucket) that can open and close, giving him the means to grip things. The waist, being the connection between treads and upper section in backhoe mode, turns right around. The hips are ball joints and the knees bend (albeit a little unnaturally), but the leg poseability is somewhat limited in practice since you've got to keep him from falling over sideways.
While it's not as good as the backhoe mode, there's still a lot of positives here. The detailing is again excellent, and the poseability is also quite good. The colour scheme is vibrant and represents Dinobot well while the head feels like it was always meant to be Dinobot. The lopsided nature of this robot mode - and his tendency to overbalance - is a flaw, but it's not a dealbreaker.
None that I'm aware of. Dinobot was sold exclusively at BotCon 2006 and was likely limited to a single production run.
While the mould has its shortcomings, Hoist's head sculpt made this tribute somewhat inevitable. The moulding and play value are good for an Armada toy this size. I really like the fact that Dinobot isn't burdened by Hoist's ridiculous MiniCon yet still has Hoist's head. The colours are great and the Predacon logo he sports illustrates that a lot of thought went into this toy. Whilst Dinobot is likely to be an expensive toy, I'd recommend this figure for fans of the character who have the means - 8.5/10