Cliffbee.com: Universe Dirge Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Dirge
Series: Universe
Allegiance: Decepticon
Alternate Mode: Cybertronian Jet



JET MODE
Height: 9cm Length: 22cm Width: 19cm

   A blue jet with brown wings and some white details on those wings, Dirge gas a black nose, black guns on either side of the canopy and black jets at the back. His canopy is a smoky transparent plastic, there are flashes of red on the wings along with raised purple Decepticon logos. While he's a repaint of Cybertron Starscream, the colours used here - and for the most part the colour mapping, are taken from G1 Dirge, so the tribute is immediately obvious. Granted they've used a bid brown paint instead of the metallic bronze seen in G1, but it's close enough. There's still a metallic sheen here - the black paint on his guns and jets is metallic. It's a fairly attractive colour scheme, a good tribute and is clearly different from Starscream, in both colours and layout.

   This jet is roughly a tetrahedron, although it's flatter with quite a few prominences. There are lots of little moulded details, including air intakes on the sides of the cockpit with the black cannons moulded right above them, jets sticking out the back of the wings and swept back wingtips. The Decepticon symbols on the wingtips are moulded with unpainted relief. The tailfin is an a-frame shaped affair with a key slot underneath.

   While it's clearly not Earth-like, this is instantly recognisable as a jet and with such detail, the end result is an attractive jet mode. There are three small black wheels underneath (two at the front, one at the back), and there's a missile launcher that slots nicely between the front wheels, that holds a single smoky transparent missile. The missile sits, partially visible, underneath the black nose. Unlike Starscream, Dirge's nose is made of a firm plastic rather than a soft plastic.

   His Planet Key is transparent purple with a metallic silver Decepticon logo stamped on top, and an unpainted one sculpted underneath. It slots in under the tail as mentioned, and it's easy to partially insert the key without automatically setting off the gimmick - something many Cybertron moulds don't seem to be able to manage. When fully pressed in, it operates a series of internal gears, causing two long transparent blades to flick out from underneath the wings. While the gimmick is quite impressive in itself, it's not hard to deliberately set off only one blade, if you feel the need. Adding this to the fact the key can happily stow, this is a great gimmick.

   A good repaint, both from a visual point of view and as a tribute. Dirge's colours are a much stronger match to G1 than those of Starscream, in fact, and I find the colour map here better than on Starscream, anyway. Dirge is a direct tribute, unlike Starscream, and the designer has done a good job of that. The play value is great and there's quite a lot of detail here. One downside of the colours on this toy is that the head easy to pick out in jet mode, since it's blue surrounded by black. It's still a good colour scheme overall, and this is a good jet mode.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Remove the launcher from underneath, unclip the nose halves, swing out the air intakes to form his legs, rotating the boots into position. Fold the front of the plane (complete with the prodruding legs) down to form his chest, which will reveal the head. Lift up the feet, swing out the heelspurs and fold the nosetip halves way into the same position under the feet. Rotate the wings down to form the upper arms, swing out the forearms from underneath the wings. Unclip the two halves of the compound tail and swing down behind his back. Place the missile launcher in either hand and you're done.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 19.5cm Width: 19.5cm

   Again blue with the brown on the wings on the outside of his arms as well as on his sings, Dirge has black feet, thighs and forearms. His head is blue with a black face and red eyes. The canopy sits on his waist, the shoulder pylons are black with brown details. Again this is an attractive colour scheme, with some white and red highlights, and the Decepticon symbols on his wings (on the outsides of the upper arms - although you can fold the wings back if you prefer. The layout is a little less G1 Dirge this time - the brown no longer corresponds to the bronze of that figure. I really like the red eyes nestled between a black face and blue helmet - they look very sinister.

   There are a few G1 homages here such as the already mentioned shoulder pylons. The face is reminiscent of the G1 seekers (it's not a conehead, so it matches the toy rather than the cartoon). The cockpit on his torso and cape-like wingspan are the others aspects. This is a detailed robot mode with a good colour map. The jets on top of the upper arms, wings outside those arms and canopy on his chest are highly visible jet aspects, and all form distinct features. Dirge's wingtips can actually fold back, although they look better out to the sides and offer the only Decepticon logos on this robot.

   Both weapon options are still available here - the black launcher with it's purple missile is pretty obvious since it's his handgun, and the Planet Key activated blades are again available. The key can again activate one or both blades, and again it can happily stow in place without activating the gimmick.

   The poseability is pretty good here. His head turns, the shoulders rotate and lift to the sides slightly while the elbows can bend 90. Considering that the key gimmick has to work via the shoulders, the movement in these joints is amazing (I can't work out how the activation is passed through the shoulders). The hips and knees rotate in two directions each while the feet and heelspurs can fold down. The leg poseability provides a lot of poseability here, and the heelspurs anchor the figure well considering that he has a tail and Planet Key hanging off the back.

   Great play value, a lot of moulded detail, some nice plane features - this robot mode has it all. While more poseable elbows would have been nice, they would have been restricted by the blades (I'm nitpicking anyway). Adding in that Dirge provides a great homage, this is a great robot mode. My only real complaint is that the launcher's trigger is easy to set off.

VARIATIONS

   A repaint of Cybertron Starscream, which I've already mentioned. Dirge is sold in a two-pack with Universe Roadbuster.

OVERALL

   A great repaint of a solid toy, Dirge looks good and does a great job of tributing the G1 toy. Yes, Dirge is one of my favourite Transformers characters, but the fact is that this repaint captures his colour scheme very well, and the colours are well laid out anyway. Both modes are good, the detail and play value are great and the key gimmick works in both modes - there's even room for the key to store. This is the second time Hasbro have released this mould - and both occasions have been as part of two packs. At least this time Dirge comes with another toy which hasn't been previously released, and Roadbuster's a decent repaint of another good Cybertron mould. Recommended if you like the style of Cybertron toys and are a fan of G1 in general - 9/10

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