"Movie Advanced" Autobot Dino Toy Review
Release Date: May 2014
Price Point: $25-30 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: Japanese Exclusive
Accessories: Blades x 2
In the "Dark of the Moon" live action movie several new characters were introduced to the live action Transformers universe. One of these was a character known as Mirage (aka Dino). There was no Deluxe figure released for the "Dark of the Moon" toy line, but in 2014, Takara Tomy would wind up releasing "Autobot Dino" as part of their "Movie Advanced" line. The name "Dino" is a reference to Alfredo Ferrari whose nickname was "Dino". See, in the movie Mirage transformed into a Ferrari 458. However, Hasbro and Takara Tomy were unable to obtain licensing to create a toy based on that vehicle, so it did not happen during the "Dark of the Moon" era.
When Takara Tomy decided to create a Mirage/Dino figure for "Movie Advanced", they still did not have the Ferrari license so they looked back to previous figures. They chose the "Revenge of the Fallen" Sideways figure (which was later used as Dead End) as the base figure and modified it for this release. Check out those previous reviews for my original thoughts on this base figure. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.
Dino is packaged in a bubble glued to a card. Dino himself is packaged in vehicle mode, something that has become increasingly rare over the years. The backing card has artwork of dino on one side (based on this figure, not the movie) with a "Transformers Age of Extinction" logo on the other side. The insert inside the bubble shows a photo of the figure with the name "Autobot Dino" in both English and Japanese. The side of the insert shows a cut away of Dino's artwork with the Transformers logo set vertically. The back of the packaging shows off photography of the figure in both modes. Surprisingly it not only has a tech spec write up for the character in Japanese but in English as well. He also has two cosells shown on the side: Jolt and Darkside Soundwave. While the packaging adopted many of the "Age of Extinction" package details, it has a wonderfully clean and modern look to it and I appreciated the tech specs being in two languages.
As mentioned above, Mirage/Dino transformed into a Ferrari in the feature film. However for this vehicle form his vehicle mode is more based on an Audi R8. Among the similarities to the Audi are:
- The general oval shape of the vehicle is a lot like the R8, including its curved front end with a severe angle going back towards the wheel wells.
- The grille in the front has the distinct, rectangular shape of the R8 with its curved corners.
- The side of the vehicle leads to a beveled section in the front area of the rear wheel well, a distinctive feature of the R8.
- The rear window shows tech details resembling an engine etched into the translucent plastic. This resembles the transparent engine bay on the back of the R8.
All that said, this is a very different car than the Ferrari. The Ferrari 458 has smooth curves and lines but its overall shape is more rectangular. It also does not have as high of a grille as the Audi R8 nor does it have the distinctive inward L shape on the sides. That said, I get why this car was chosen. It does have a sleek, distinctive look to it and it looks like if it were a real life car you would pay a pretty penny to buy one.
Dino is mostly red plastic in this mode, reflecting his primary color in the movie. The front headlights are cast in clear plastic. The front grille and wheels are black plastic. The windows are a translucent blue which is almost purple in color under certain lighting. The rear lights are also translucent, but they are painted with red in an "L" shape. The rear section also has an Autobot symbol in black in the center. One deco point which you don't see much nowadays are painted wheels, but on this figure the sides are painted silver and it really looks great. These colors only roughly align with the real life Ferrari 458, but the "spirit" of that car's colors are here. These colors work really well together.
Transformation to Robot Mode:
- Lift the top portion of the car up.
- Flip the car over and swing out each robot leg.
- Push in the grille in the front of the car and both front wheels will swing in to the center while a piece of the robot torso flips out.
- Swing out the doors and robot arm pieces to the sides.
- Swing the front of the car down and connect the clip on the robot waist to the black piece that flipped out in step three.
- Swing the panel with the robot head forward.
- Swing the back panel (the top of the car) against the back tightly and swing up each of the side windows. Then swing the rear of the vehicle into the trunk cover piece and tuck it against the back.
- Straighten out the robot arms and swing the door panels around in the back. You can rest them against his arm or have them up in plain sight.
- On each foot piece, swing the wheels around to the other side along with the panels next to them. You could (if you chose) use these panels as heel pieces to help him balance, but he doesn't really need them.
- Swing each piece from the heels down to form armor over the front of the lower legs.
- Separate the headlight sections of the hood from the middle to give the chest a segmented appearance.
- The blade weapons each attach to small tabs on the forearms. You can position them with the blades pointing forward or back.
In many respects the basic outline of Sideways and Mirage's robot modes shared many similarities. Both had torsos formed in part by the front of the vehicle modes, there were parts of the car doors hanging off their back and both had legs that angled back (though Sideways' angled back at a much more severe angle). Given all that I can see how the decision was made to use this sculpt for Dino. It isn't perfect, but it looks "close enough" to serve as the Autobot from the movie. To further bolster the visual similarity to Dino's on-screen counterpart, this figure features a new head sculpt. This one has an animal like appearance with thin eyes and a mouthplate that looks almost like a bird's beak. Mirage did not stay still very much on screen so it is hard to tell just how movie accurate the design is but it looks very close down to having strips of armor over mechanical bits underneath.
All that said there are definite differences between Sideways and Dino. The parts of the doors on his back are way up high instead of sticking out to the sides a bit. His chest curves inward more than outward. Dino's legs are also thicker than Sideways'. Dino also did not have wheels/saw blades on his arms.
All sixteen points of articulation on this figure are nice and tight, which is great to see after all these years. The right arm has a small saw which spins. His main weapons are two blades that attach to tabs on his forearms. This looks great but unfortunately they cannot really stay on if you start smashing him against other toys. It does however make for a great display element. Also the blades can be attached pointing outward or in as if he is retracting the blades.
Autobot Dino is a great example of making the best of a situation. Takara Tomy could not get the license to create a Ferrari based figure, so they did the next best thing. Sure there are design differences between Dino and his on-screen counterpart, but for me the figure is "close enough" and looks great in its own way. Unfortunately nowadays he is very expensive (I saw one auction where the seller was asking about $80 USD!). I would not spend that much money on it. Only get this if you really want to add the character to your roster and can get him somewhat near the original retail.
- Sculpt looks great in both modes.
- New head sculpt looks great.
- The deco is fantastic.
- Intricate, yet intuitive transformation.
- Figure does not represent the on-screen character 100%.
- The blade weapons do not stay attached very well.