Name: Dirt Boss
Alternate Mode: Monster Truck
Height: 7.5cm Length: 10.5cm Width: 8cm
A rather bright purple monster truck with some grass green highlights, notably the wheel assemblies on either side. The tyres and windows are a dark transparent red and there's some silver paint apps here and there, with the bonnet and roof being the most prominent. Rounding things out is a charcoal on the front, the grille I suppose. This is a very bright colour scheme, thankfully the red plastic is dark enough to give Dirt Boss a darker colour. I'd have preferred a more tasteful colour scheme, but these colours work better than bright purple and green are entitled to. I don't _like_ the colours, but I wouldn't say I hate them.
I doubt this truck mode is based on any actual truck models - the front has no real grille or headlights, the rear no taillights - but it's realistic enough for a monster truck Transformer. There's enough in the way of moulded detail for me to think this truck _could_ exist, including silver roof lights, wheel spokes, rear-pointing exhausts on the back and some tread on the tyres. There's also an engineblock mounted on the bonnet, but for some reason it's purple when silver paint would have worked better. There's a Decepticon logo stamped on the roof, and the purple parts are actually painted which is nice despite being redundant.
The robot fists are visible at the back of the truck on either side, and there's no tray there, just a jumble of mechanical parts. Aside from the hands, the back works quite well. The big red tyres have green seams down the centre, which don't spin with the tyres themselves - almost like he has eight wheels.
On smoother surfaces like my table Dirt Boss tends to slide, but he rolls well on rougher surfaces such as carpet. The tyres are mounted on green assemblies, either side can push in and out a little, giving some suspension. Inserting his red Planet Key (code: d3h7) into the back of the truck will cause the tyre assemblies to push out to either side, lowering the body and widening the truck by 3cm. As long as the Planet Key is inserted the wheel assemblies will pop out to the sides, you can't simply push them back in and clip them into place. If you remove the Planet Key, you can't clip the wheels back until both sides are pushed in - making sure he won't end up lopsided. The suspension feature is lost while they're deployed also, but I don't mind since this is one of the better executed and appropriate Planet Key gimmicks in the line.
The colours are bright but don't ruin a fun truck mode. The Planet Key gimmick is well done, the overall detailing is good and the colours used are combined quite well. I'll admit I prefer the robot mode, but this mode is still worthwhile.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Grasp the front fenders and pull forward, which will unfold the legs at knee and hip joints. Rotate the waist, turn the shins 90° to face forward and flip up his feet. Rotating the waist will cause the wheels to pop out to the sides, giving the rear block clearance for the robot mode (thanks to Bill Egbert for pointing out this wonderfully nifty piece of engineering). Unclip the arms and swing them down to the sides, rotate the forearms and fold up the charcoal clamps that were plugged into the exhausts. Fold the back of the truck back 90° and flip down the head from within the rear block.
Height: 15.5cm Width: 11cm
Again mainly purple, with the green now largely limited to the backpack - the wheel assemblies stick out behind his shoulders. There's also some green on his shoulderblades along with some green painted details, most notably his forehead. The face is silver, matching the silver paint apps on his chest, which was the truck roof. The groin, upper arms, mid forearms and feet are charcoal while the thighs are painted a dark purple, which is only subtly darker than the purple plastic, although it's obviously deliberate. The eyes are red, his right eye is a tri-lens affair (similar to a gatling gun). There is no lightpipe, nor is there any real point with the truck rear block behind the head. This is a nicer colour scheme than the truck mode, partly because the green is far more peripheral but also because of the darker purple and more prominent charcoal, making Dirt Boss darker.
The wheel popping gimmick is no longer functional, but sticking the Planet Key into his back will cause the exhausts to flip out as green shoulder cannons. I must admit I like the idea of two distinct gimmicks in either mode, activated by one key. Not only is it clever and well executed, but it makes the whole Planet Key concept interesting here. Incidentally, you can actually leave the shoulder cannons deployed and transform Dirt Boss to truck mode, which will leave the exhausts sticking up rather than back.
Dirt Boss is a very poseable robot, especially considering he has two mechanical gimmicks relying on one switch. Yet for some reason Hasbro's promo shot of his robot mode uses a very static pose. The head turns, the shoulders rotate and the elbows bend while there are swivels below the shoulders. His waist rotates while the hips swing and lift out to the sides. The knees sport both hinges and swivels and the feet can fold down. The backpack does limit his poseability a little, but there are big heelspurs, and with a little effort a lot of dynamic poses are possible - I've currently got him in a slowing-down running pose, with his trailing leg on tiptoe, the backpack is an issue but not a major hindrance.
I have only one real complaint here, and that's a lack of any handheld weapon. Dirt Boss does have standard hole in his fists, but the cannons are not detachable. The shoulder cannons are adequate mind you, and the lack of a detachable weapon means you can't lose it, so while I'd have preferred something for his hand I'm still happy with the play value here.
The big, visible backpack is a feature rather than kibble, and along with the exhaust-cannons and roof on his chest, create a robot mode with nice truck elements. He's actually a visually attractive robot, which is amazing for a toy based on bright purple and green.
With a cleverly done alternate gimmick, great articulation that's not hindered by his backpack and a visually appealing layout, I really like this mode. The promo pictures really don't do this guy justice - I was very pleased when I opened and transformed Dirt Boss.
The Japanese version has some minor paintmask changes and from what I've heard the wheels tend to pop out without the help of the Planet Key. No actual variations that I'm aware of.
Dirt Boss is proof that bright colours _can_ work with a little thought put into the colour layout, and proof that a backpack in robot mode isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm really impressed that the single Planet Key slot activates different gimmicks in either mode, and love how well put together the robot mode is. Dirt Boss is a lot better than the promotional pictures on his card suggest, and is a well done deluxe with gimmicks that put many larger toys to shame - 8.5/10