Saturday, 20 May 2017

Revenge of the Fallen Dirt Boss

Ever have one of those times when you look at a figure in your collection and wonder why you bothered buying it? I don't often have moments of introspection of that particular kind, but I suspect the extended toylines of the live action movies - that is, the toys made of character not actually featured in the films, but developed as concept art or for the licensed videogames - probably account for the greatest proportion of those few I have.

Probably the finest example of this very specific breed of buyers' remorse would be Dirt Boss - one of the toys based on a drone from the videogame of the first movie. Some of those drones took on cool alternate modes, like jets and cars... Dirt Boss became a small forklift...

Oh well, let's get on with it...

Vehicle Mode:
Well, it's actually a fairly decent forklift - one of the small kind that you might see in a warehouse, rather than the larger kind you'd see on a building site... which is why the choice of an eye-searing not-quite-Constructicon green seems like such an odd choice. Not just because it's such an acid green it's almost fluorescent, but because the Constructicon reference is just plain inappropriate to a vehicle like this. You'd never see a forklift this colour in a movie or videogame warehouse, let alone a real-life one so, straight away, it's a terrible disguise. The drone this toy is based on was orange (at least, in the artwork I've seen), which looks great on the inevitable subsequent repaint, Deadlift. The secondary plastic colour is just as bad, but for a different reason - it's a bland, brownish grey that probably wouldn't look good on anything. It's used for the wheels and most of the top/rear of the vehicle, with acid green paint on the steering wheel section and the panels on the back of the vehicle. Supplementing this lovely choice of plastic colours is the gold paint used quite sparingly in vehicle mode - on the sides of the vertical sections of the forklift part at the front and on the 'Diamond plate' sections between the wheels on each side, and then the 'slotted' section on the raised grey piece on the back.

Despite its size, this is actually a reasonably detailed vehicle mode... though, in all honesty, these vehicles aren't exactly replete with intricate detail or sculpted curves in the way a car, truck or aircraft might be. Forklifts like this are in a very different league of detail and I'm actually surprised they bothered adding the 'Diamond plate' detail and treads on the wheels. On the other hand, the inside of the cab is very sparsely detailed because it's only really there to cover the robot's arms. The back of the vehicle connects via a transformation hinge to the chair, which connects via another hinge to the steering wheel, which is little more than a raised disk on a deeply unconvincing 'dashboard'. The little knob on the disk is a perfunctory attempt at realistic detailing, but I wouldn't call it necessary.

Being a new Scout class figure created specifically for the movie toyline - as opposed to a repurposed Energon figure -  Dirt Boss doesn't come with any accessories, and the closest thing he has to weapons are part of his vehicle mode...


Robot Mode:
Weirdly, when I look at Dirt Boss in robot mode, I get a bit of a MechWarrior vibe... at least until I notice he does actually have a head. The boxy body, arms with built-in weapons - the forks from his forklift mode are like tonfas with blades tagged on the fronts - and the skinny legs. He also rather reminds me of Atlas from Portal 2 becuase of what appears to be a large red eye on the torso though, again, the head detracts from the similarity... As does the still eye-searing colourscheme. The only thing that really breaks from his overall boxiness is the split cab frame that sticks up from his shoulders - had it been possible to compress them down, it'd just look like shoulder armour... as it stands, it looks as though Dirt Boss carries around his own bookshelves...

Being one of the smaller figures, he's not exactly packed with detail. In many ways, he's more comparable to a similarly sized Energon or Galaxy Force figure, albeit in colours that neither toyline ever dared to use as extensively. I'd more or less got the impression that the 'drone' characters from the videogame were intended to be pretty simplistic, but the figure seems substantially less detailed even than the model from the videogame - not least because the torso is very flat at the front. The arms and legs are molded in two different types of plastic - the upper arms and thighs use a slightly yellower plastic in which what little detail there is appears fudged, while the forearms and lower legs are more green and, while there's still not a massive amount of detail, it seems slightly sharper. Probably the most intricately detailed parts are his feet, which seems like a waste...

While the torso is molded in the horrible desaturated brown plastic, Hasbro tried to liven it up by adding some gold paint outside the circular 'eye' section and on the two raised rings surrounding the red 'eye' itself... but the metallic paint basically blends in with the plastic unless the light catches it just so, making it seem like a bit of a waste of the limited budget. There's no paint on the arms other than what was visible on the lift mechanism in vehicle mode, but the shins and feet feature a fairly generous coating of gold on the fronts and outer sides, along with a mostly circular detail on the outsides of the knees picked out in red. The lower legs end up looking a little strange because the gold paint doesn't continue on the inner surfaces - where the minimal tech detail continues - or at the back, but that's more the fault of the acid green plastic than the missing paint, because it makes such a strange contrast.

While a forklift is generally only dangerous if its operator isn't paying attention, Dirt Boss comes - ahem - armed with this forks, which look as though they could be pretty vicious mêlée weapons. It's possible the red circular detail on his chest could be some sort of weapon as well, but I've never played the games, and it's not as if Hasbro bothered to give Dirt Boss much of a bio.

The head is very much not in the movie style and, unlike the model from the videogame, it actually has a face. Here again, it seems more like a delayed Energon or Galaxy Force figure rather than something designed for the movie toylines. It's an odd mixture of styles in that the 'helmet' almost channels the insectoid look of the movie Constructicons, but then there's a very humanoid-looking face slapped in the middle, looking pretty grim and zombie-like due to large, bulbous red eyes and a down-turned mouth. He doesn't look especially threatening in stature, but the dead-eyed look suggests he'd be surprisingly savage in close combat...


Dirt Boss's transformation is pretty much at a Beast Wars level of simplicity - fold back the feet, bring up the legs, straighten out the arms backward, then flip the vehicle's side panels forward and push them down to conceal the head, then bring the seat and steering wheel forward before clipping everything into place. The most fiddly part is plugging the tab on the forearms into the slot at his ankles. I find it a little frustrating that, while everything more or less stays in place in vehicle mode, the joint that slides the vehicle panels into place between modes doesn't actually clip into its robot mode position, so his head tends to sink down into his chest with the slightest nudge. These vehicle panels don't even clip onto the folded-up cockpit mass that sticks out of his back though, despite only being loosely hinged into place, it feels rather more secure than the panels disguising it from the sides.

But if his panels are floppy, it's a refreshing change to find that all his ball joints are good and tight, meaning he can hold a pose better than many figures larger and more complicated than himself. Shoulders, elbows, hips and knees are all ball joints - again, very Beast Wars - while the wrists and ankles are hinged - the latter being a double joint, albeit rather pointlessly so, as the feet can't support this back-heavy 'bot very well when fully extended. His arms have pretty much unrestricted movement, and the positioning of his forks means they don't tend to get in the way of anything (other than, say, a Superhero Landing Pose, where one of the forks would have to be folded up into its vehicle mode position to allow the fist anywhere near the ground), but the hip-mounted wheels do restrict the outward movement of his legs. 90° of spread between them is more than adequate, though, especially when you consider that his feet aren't exactly molded for wide stances. The way the figure is put together, it looks from the front as though his head should be able to rotate, but a quick look at the back reveals that the front it screwed together with a piece that extends up from the part that raises and lowers the shoulders and vehicle side panels. Similarly, while there would have been space for a waist joint, there isn't one.

For a Scout - a class of figure I rarely bother with these days - with such a mundane vehicle mode, Dirt Boss is actually quite fun. He presents a stark contrast of a vehicle you could see in any sort of warehouse or depot, loading pallets of all kinds of everyday things into trucks and vans... and a robot that would use its arm-mounted pneumatic forks to rapidly and forcefully stab his enemies in the gut, then slowly chop bits off them with an unwavering calm, yet wide-eyed expression on his robotic face. It would, of course, be rather more chilling if his paint job wasn't so lurid. The high-vis colourscheme almost dares you to overlook him, as he putters about in vehicle mode, probably stealing something vital to the Decepticons' plans. The floppiness of the vehicle panels in robot mode, and the ridiculous backpack knock a few points off but, it's actually reasonably successful for its size, and for a design that was taken from the games rather than the movie. Not a vital part of one's collection, to be sure, but amusing nonetheless... though perhaps not amusing enough to quell this buyer's remorse...

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