Thursday, 20 June 2013

Generations Dirge

It must be slightly embarrassing, if not outright upsetting for the Official TransFormers Collectors' Club that, only a short time after their Games of Deception BotCon set completed the full roster of G1 Seekers and Coneheads (albeit with mixed success), TakaraTomy's Henkei line suddenly decided to add Dirge and Thrust to the mainstream lineup... but for Hasbro to then follow suit in the Generations continuation of the Classics line must have been like rubbing salt in the wound.

Still, proper G1 authenticity always wins, right?

Vehicle Mode:
Where BotCon Dirge was - disappointingly - a straight repaint of Ramjet, the Henkei and Classics version has remolded wings, and pays far better homage to the G1 model. Everything else is the same old Classics Seeker mold using the Conehead variant nosecone.

This is, at once, its strength and its weakness. When the mold first appeared, it was a pretty incredible piece of engineering, almost like the Masterpiece mold in miniature, yet with very few concessions to make it work in the Deluxe size class. Sadly, with Starscream alone getting a billion repaints and Skywarp, Thundercracker, Thrust and Ramjet appearing in both Classics and Henkei, the mold began to degrade quite noticeably - the back end of this particular model doesn't plug into the midsection quite as tightly as it should unless it's tilted... so Dirge either has floppy engines, or his afterburners are angled downward.

On the upside, the new wings are brilliant, fitting the body perfectly and creating something unique... and it's no surprise that most of the paint budget got splurged on decorating them. The red and white striping is fairly accurate to the stickers that came with G1 Dirge, though perhaps a little wider, and the construction of the wings is such that the stripe is broken by a gap between the main wing and the smaller fins either side of the jet intakes. Strangely, the fins sticking up out of the main wings are left unpainted, rather than having an interpretation of the G1 model's stickers there, but he does at least have Decepticon insignias stamped on both wings. Never having had the G1 Coneheads, I can't say how well this matches the original in terms of its colourscheme, but it's a decent, vibrant blue and the wings are vaguely goldish.

The weapons are a bit of a let-down. Back in Generation 1, while the original three Seekers and Thrust all had the same weapons, Ramjet and Dirge were given completely unique armaments... Classics, meanwhile, used the same launcher for all of the planes, and only came up with one variation on the missiles. Dirge gets the original Classics Seeker oversized laser weapon, rather than the chunky missile that came with Ramjet.
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Robot Mode:
The Classics Seeker body has always been a winner and, while mold degradation has taken its toll on the tightness of joints, it still looks very much like a smaller, slightly simplified version of the Masterpiece mold - particularly the 2012 version released as Coronation Starscream and Thundercracker, since those had the remodelled, squarer legs.

Dirge borrows Ramjet's trick of breaking the wings into two sections - the main wing stays attached to the leg, creating a kind of cape effect, while the fins up front flip round and hang off his back. Being so small, they don't restrict his arms as much as the standard Seekers' wings, though most of that restriction was down to the oversized weapons anyway. Those launchers (still spring-loaded!) look just as ridiculous on Dirge as they did on the original Classics Starscream... but at least they can be aimed more easily.

The paint job is probably the most precise of all the Classics Seekers/Coneheads, particularly on the groin and the shins, where the paint is applied more sparingly. On the other hand, this does highlight that Dirge actually uses less paint than previous Classics jets... Though he's also the first to have a Decepticon insignia stamped onto his chest.
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Transformation is the same clever trickery as the other Classics jets - simple, but very effective. It does leave jet mode looking decidedly fat, and the shorter nosecone doesn't suit Dirge as well as it did Ramjet, but it works well enough.

The overuse of the mold has made some impact on poseability - some joints are overly loose, others are tighter, or just feel fragile. To be honest, though, the biggest impact on poseability comes from the design of the model. The legs have an excellent range of motion, but they all end up standing on the edge of their toes and the tiny heel spike. The afterburners could have done with being a tiny bit longer, and the feet might have been better if they were on ball joints rather than hinges... but it's perfectly possible to get some decent stances out of all of them, particularly those on which the arms/weapons are not restricted by the wings.

That said, it terms of displaying the figure, those wings are a real pest. Whereas Ramjet could angle his wings back - the only one of the jets who could, in fact - Dirge's massive wing/cape just sticks out of his legs, getting in the way and taking up shelf space.

I can't help thinking that Fun Publications got royally screwed over by Hasbro/TakaraTomy with the Seekers... and that the Games of Deception set could have been a bit more interesting had it not been trying too hard to complete the Seekers and Coneheads... Hasbro/TakaraTomy were far too slow off the mark with these models and, in my opinion, their version of Thrust didn't look quite so good as FunPub's.

Dirge wasn't a major factor in my decision to get the 2007 boxed set - I was more interested in Thrust, Dreadwind and Goth Bumblebee Bug Bite - so, annoying as it is to now have two versions of Classics Dirge, I was happy enough to pick this one up when it became available. I do wish Hasbro had made it easier to get a complete set earlier on in the Classics/Universe/Generations line... surely by now it should be a no-brainer than any Starscream should be instantly repainted as Thundercracker and Skywarp... and that any one Conehead automatically demands that the other two are made..?

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