Revenge of the Fallen Dirge Toy review

in 2009, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Movie (2007), Revenge of the Fallen, Seeker

Revenge of the Fallen

General Information:
Release Date: November 2009
Price Point: $12.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Missile launchers x 2, Missiles x 2

Images:

*Note: While the official photos show the figure much greener than it really is, my photos came out showing it much more blue than it really is, so the actual color is more of a balance between the two.

Text from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
DIRGE thought the heart of enemy territory — N.E.S.T. Headquarters — was the perfect place from which to launch a secret campaign of terror. A single slip-up revealed his presence, and brought his plans crumbling down. Now he’s running scared with BUMBLEBEE and ARMORHIDE on his tail. He’s too frightened to land, but so terrified of running out of fuel that he finds himself breathing a sigh of relief every time he touches down.

Recreate exciting movie scenes or stage your own living room battles with this DECEPTICON villain! In robot mode, this fierce fighter features MECH ALIVE spinning “thrusters”. When you’re ready to send your DIRGE figure chasing after his enemies, convert him to fighter jet vehicle mode and use his two launching missile accessories to rain down destruction from “above”! Ages 5 and up.

Dirge was first announced at Botcon 2009, and while he looked very promising, I was eager to get him in my hands before deciding on whether he was a cool figure or not. One thing was for sure from those initial pictures however, he is a new take on the Seeker design that is unique among the movie universe figures released so far.

Dirge represents one of the focal points of the "N.E.S.T." sub-line of "Revenge of the Fallen" figures that revolve around a story of Decepticons trying to infiltrate the Autobot/Human alliance. This is also one of the figures you would purchase to obtain a sticker that will help you order a mail-away Ravage figure.

Vehicle Mode:
Dirge's vehicle mode is based on the Harrier jet, one of the few successful vertical take off and landing vehicles used by several militaries throughout the world. This differentiates him quite a bit from the other Seeker based Decepticons in the movie universe who (for the most part) transform into F-22 jets. The Harrier design is fairly distinctive. Usually there is a rather short cockpit section with large vents on either side of the main section of the jet. The wings tend to curve downward at each side with the tail section set fairly far back. Each wing typically ends with a bit of a point at the end. Dirge has all these features but with some modifications.

Several parts on Dirge are designed to look more futuristic than the Harrier jets whose origins hark back to the 1960's. The detail that caught my eye the most are the tail stabilizers. Instead of being set vertically and horizontally, there are two large stabilizers on top set at angles and two smaller ones on the bottom also set at angles. This creates an "X" shape when viewed from the back that looks really cool. The other feature that really stands out on Dirge are the air intakes on either side of the cockpit section in the front. Most Harrier pictures you'll dig up on the internet feature a Harrier design with curved air intakes on either side, usually in a semi-circle shape. While curved, Dirge's air intakes are more triangular shape, looking flatter and more sleek than the semi-circles would. This flattened and more angular look also jives with some of the other details on the figure including the angled sections on his wings and vents found on either side of the jet's tail.

On a smaller level, Dirge has a really nice sculpt with lots of details. The most noticable are the series of lines making up shapes ranging from rectangles to polygons that cover most of the top of the vehicle. These shapes indicate the various points where armor panels join and help give the vehicle a more realistic vibe. Other cool details include a series of vent lines right behind the cockpit and curved tubes on the underside of the cockpit that I like to imagine as machine gun ports. Looking inside the cockpit you'll find a nicely sculpted pilot's chair complete with lines where the cushion on the chairs have seams.

Dirge is cast mostly in blue-green and gold plastic. The blue-green plastic makes up most of the vehicle mode with the gold making up smaller parts including the rear landing gear. The cockpit cover is cast in translucent yellow plastic. Some smaller parts are cast in black such as his forward landing gear and the nosecone is cast in rubbery black plastic. Paint applications are done up in black, silver and gold. Black paint makes up a lot of details including the insides of the air vents and the two top stabilizers. Black is also used for the air vent behind the cockpit and a rather prominant Decepticon symbol in the middle of the vehicle. Silver is found mostly on the area that wraps around the base of the cockpit cover and on the cockpit cover itself where a line runs from right to left. Gold is found on the edges of the air intakes in the front and on the edges of the wings. Silver is also used to line the edge of the gold on the wings. For the most part, Dirge's colors are a fantastic homage to the G1 character of the same name. While the blue plastic on G1 Dirge was a dark blue, the blue-green is close enough and allows this character to distinguish itself while being a homage. The gold color on this figure is beautiful with a strong metallic shine to it. Combined with silver and black you have all the principle colors of G1 Dirge and it looks fantastic.

There are three pieces of landing gear on Dirge. Two are set in the center of the jet's underside and swing down. A black landing gear piece is located on the underside of the cockpit section. In a move that surprised me, the designers chose to give Dirge actual accessories behind some small melee weapon or a single missile. In Dirge's case he has two rather large missile launchers that mount under each wing. Each blue-green missile launcher contains one gold missile that can be fired by pressing the trigger on the launcher. The missiles are pretty big and I could imagine them looking quite threatening on the battlefield!

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the missile launchers and set them aside for now.
  2. Pull the wings down to the sides.
  3. Pull the air vent sections out to the sides.
  4. Swing the side pieces down and connect the halves of the waist piece on the underside of the jet.
  5. Pull the vent sections down and rotate them around to form the robot feet.
  6. Swing each wing down on the black hinges and swing the wings forward.
  7. Pull the tail section back to lift up the panel in the center of the vehicle.
  8. Separate the tail section from the central panel.
  9. Swing the center part of the vehicle forward.
  10. Rotate the black chest piece around so the silver details face front.
  11. Collapse the panel on the left arm against the forearm.
  12. Rotate the left arm around so the yellow details on the shoulder face forward.
  13. Rotate the right arm around so the yellow details on the shoulder face forward.
  14. Lift the cockpit cover up, rotate the gold piece inside to reveal the robot fist and close the cover.
  15. Pull the right forearm down to form the right arm.
  16. Push the black panel on the back of the torso piece up.
  17. Swing the side panels on the tail piece out to the sides, then clip them to the holes in the black piece you just pushed up.
  18. Connect the two halves of Dirge's "cone head" together on the top of his head.
  19. Swing up the small oval shaped piece on the waist against the chest.
  20. Attach the weapons to his wings for storage or on the holes on his arms to use as weapons.

Robot Mode:
I think like the Optimus Prime template design, the Seeker design has fast become one of the most reinterpreted and referenced in Transformers lore. Several previous toy designs have sought to take the basic Seeker template set down in G1 and reinterpret it either to create more "cartoon accurate" versions of the original characters or update the basic Seeker look for a new age. In the case of Dirge, the designers seemed to make it a point to take the "Conehead Seeker" design and reinterpret it using elements of both G1 and movie-universe styling. The result is a fascinating and very cool looking hybrid that definitely shows details of both design sensibilities.

First, a look at the G1 homagey stuff (you know you love it). Dirge features many design elements that are direct call backs to his G1 predecessor. These include:

  • The cone shaped head hails from G1, where an alternate transformation for the Seekers invovled turning the cockpit up instead of down, resulting in a distinct look for the three Seekers Thrust, Dirge and Ramjet.
  • The vertical rectangles on either side of the robot head are carry over elements from G1 where these were originally formed from the air intakes of the F-14 jets Starscream and company used as their vehicle modes.
  • The fan like details on the torso are references to similar designs on several G1 characters, recently seen in the Transformers Universe Starscream figure.
  • The center of the torso has a small, oval cockpit like detail, harking back to the days when the cockpit would indeed become part of the Seeker's upper body.
  • The ability for the missile launchers to mount onto each arm is a signature design element of the Seekers, were somewhat unique in having weapons mounted on each arm in robot mode in the G1 series.
  • The wings on each leg are references to G1 Dirge's wings being mounted on his legs in robot mode. Originally the G1 figure had long wings that extended so far down they looked like they were connected to his legs, so animators took this one step further an actually had them attached to his legs.

Now, it's fairly easy to create a lot of these details. There are tons of Transformers out there with cockpits as chests and wings on some part of their back or legs. However, what makes Dirge really unique is how much effort was put into having non-obvious parts of his body form sections that appear to be based on sections of the vehicle mode. My favorite element is the head and torso. The head is actually its own separate piece that isn't even visible in vehicle mode, but he still has the distinctive "cone head" design and I love that. The other design element I love is the chest, which features vents and a "cockpit" on his chest while not actually utilizing the cockpit or air intakes to form the torso. Again these are parts that aren't even visible in vehicle mode, making them truly bits of a robot in disguise!

While G1 love abounds with this figure, there are many elements that definitely fit more into the "Michael Bay" school of Transformers design. The most obvious is the detailing on the robot head. Instead of a smooth face and details on the helmet surrounding the face, both of these sections have a lot of detail. The cone shaped helmet section has arrow like designs on the forehead resembling iconography used by air forces and two triangular shapes that look like small bits of a cockpit window. His actual face isn't smooth at all, but rather it looks like a set of smaller panels that come together to form a face. However, in a bit of a break from the movie universe use of insects as design influences, Dirge actually has two eyes, a nose and a regular mouth, which is quite a refreshing sight to see.

The chest design shows some movie universe influence as well. While it certainly reflects the G1 elements mentioned above, it also has angled details and angled sections that look like layers of armor over the inner workings of the fans on his chest. I also attribute the diamond shaped armor parts on his legs and the angled armor panels on his lower legs and feet as influences from the movie universe designs. There's nothing wrong with any of these elements, in fact they look really good here and show that the G1 and movie-universe aesthetic can actually be combined to form a really cool looking figure.

It strikes me as awesome that I just typed a couple paragraphs about the details on this figure but there are still more to talk about. Specifically there are some more sculpted details to be found on his legs including a piston near the knees and some wires on the inner thighs. His arms also have nice detailing including four fingers on each hand. I also dig the way the panel from the center of the vehicle form creates a bit of a shield on his left arm.

The same plastic colors that are found in vehicle mode carry over here but this time around we get to see a lot more gold and black plastic. Gold plastic makes up his forearms and thighs while black makes up most of the torso, head and upper arms. Black is also used for some smaller pieces such as the knee hinges. Blue-green plastic is used on most of the larger parts including his shoulders and legs. Translucent purple plastic is used for his eyes. While he is built for "light piping" the plastic is pretty dark so you'll need a pretty strong light to get the effect. Paint details are done up in silver, red and yellow in this form. Silver is found on the head and chest. Red is used for smaller details on his upper body including the insides of the vertical panels on either side of his head and details on the "cone" part of his head. Yellow is found on his shoulders and waist piece, standing out nicely against his blue-green plastic (and yes, the similarity to He-Man's Mer-Man color scheme is not lost upon me).

Dirge has twenty three points of articulation in this form. This includes four points of articulation on each arm and an exceptional three points of articulation at the ankles thanks to his transformation scheme. As mentioned before, his missile launchers can attach to his arms allowing him to wield "Seeker style" weaponry.

Dirge is definitely a strong figure, but there is one aspect that some fans may not like too much - he's not particularly tall. Deluxe Bumblebee is a little over a head taller than him, and his width doesn't exactly make up for it. Now, to me this doesn't matter much, especially since he comes with two missile launchers as accessories, but I would be remiss if I did not note it.

Final Thoughts:
Dirge is one of the strongest figures to come out of "Revenge of the Fallen" in the deluxe class. He takes elements of the G1 Seeker design and effectively works them into the movie aesthetic. While I do like the movie Starscream design, I have to admit I would have loved to see other Seekers with this body form in the movies. This is an excellent figure and worthy of adding to any Transformers collection. Highly recommended!