The problem with the post-holiday season is that the toy pickings are slim, but I would have expected that to be over with by now. Apart from some potentially good clearance deals, most of the stores have diminished stocks and are in the process of resetting their departments. Case in point, this week’s trip to Walmart found half the action figure aisles nearly empty. Fortunately, there were a few new Transformers hanging on the pegs, so I didn’t have to come home empty handed. I already talked about Brawn, so this time we’ll look at Dirge and the Legends version of Wheelie.
Like Brawn, Dirge is a deluxe figure that is part of the Revenge of the Fallen line, but not really a character from the movie. Maybe he was in the game, I don’t know, but he’s obviously a fanwank back to the original G1 character in more ways then his name.
In jet mode, Dirge is a harrier jump jet and a pretty good sculpt. There’s robot kibble a plenty underneath, but from the top he looks really good. I’ve always been fascinated by this aircraft design ever since I was a kid, so straightaway, Dirge is scoring some major points. The panels in his fuselage are nicely sculpted, the clear canopy actually opens to reveal a tiny molded seat, the landing gear retract and he’s got a big honkin missile launcher under each wing, which are pretty reminiscent of the ones on the original three G1 Seekers (although, ironically, the original Dirge had long black guns instead of launchers so FAIL, Hasbro… FAIL!). The coloring is primarily dark blue with some gold trim on the wings, forward vents and missiles, and some silver trim around the cockpit. Dirge has a big black Decepticon logo stamped right on his back.
Dirge’s Transformation is a bit complex, but you should already expect that from the ROTF deluxes by now. Its definitely a unique transformation that results in a pretty unique robot form, but there are both good and bad ideas at play here. The worst two things about the figure’s robot mode are his right arm and the wings on his legs. The right arm is comprised of the cockpit and nosecone part of the aircraft. Its stubbier than his good arm and while it does have articulation, the nosecone interferes with the shoulder so that basically all it can really do is rotate up and down at the shoulder. It is, however, saved by the fact that you can mount one of his wing rocket launchers onto it and at least make it into a functional weapon. I’m a fan of symmetry in my robot modes, so this does throw off the figure’s aesthetics quite a bit. You can also mount his other launcher on his good arm, but it does interfere with articulation. It seems like you really can’t win.
The wings on his legs are just kibbly, and Hasbro obviously saw this because they designed them with double hinges in addition to the ability to rotate. The result is that you can come up with all different positions for them and choose the one you like best. The one I like best isn’t the one shown in the instructions, but it gets them out of the way and makes them look like armor plating rather than just bits of aircraft hanging off of him.
With those two issues out of the way, the rest of this figure has some good points. I absolutely love the sculpting on his chest and head. The center of his chest is made up of what looks like a diminished cockpit, but its obviously just a fake-out because, as already pointed out, the jet mode’s real cockpit is on his right arm. There are two gears on his chest that make up his “mech-alive” feature, which rotate when his arms move up and down. The head sculpt is detailed and very much in line with the movie style faces, although it reminds me the most of the Armada Thrust figure. He does still have a conehead and the two shoulder cowls from his original G1 namesake are present. All in all, considering how bad the other Deluxe movie jets have been, Dirge is at least a step up. Now, onto Wheelie!
I don’t have nearly as much to say about Wheelie. I skipped his deluxe version because I just thought it was ridiculous of Hasbro to make him in the same scale as figures like Bumblebee or Sideswipe because in the movie he was an RC off-road truck and just a few feet tall in robot mode. He’s much more suited to the smaller and simpler Legends class. I don’t usually collect the Legend’s class toys at all, mainly because they’ve gotten way too expensive. Don’t get me wrong, some of the toys are impressive for such a small scale, but paying five bucks for an oversimplified Matchbox-sized version of a figure when you can get the original deluxe for ten or twelve is just not my bag. And as much as I like Legends Wheelie, I still can’t help but be amazed I had to pay five bucks for this little thing.
His “vehicle” mode works well, because it looks simple and toyish. Its mostly blue with silver painted windows and it rolls along on its over-sized black wheels. There’s a fair amount of robot kibble visible in his truck mode, most notably his face staring out the back of the cab. Granted, since Wheelie’s face is a rather abstract, it isn’t so obvious unless you know to look for it. His transformation is easy, but pretty clever and despite how complex Wheelie’s character model is, this simple Legends class gets it down pretty darn well. In fact, the only complaint I have is I wish the arms shifted toward the front so that they would be more prominent. Apart from that I think Hasbro really nailed this one. If only it were priced at around $3.99 it would be a sure thing.