"Transformers Universe 2.0" Dinobot Toy Review

General Information:
Release Date: January 2009
Price Point: $10.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Tail/missile launcher, Sword/missile

Text from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
Within the chassis of DINOBOT beats the spark of a warrior. Victory won with honor is the highest aim to which he has ever aspired. It is an aim that seems more and more remote, the longer he spends under the command of MEGATRON. Duplicity is not the warrior’s way. As the battle on this strange, primitive world rages, it seems to DINOBOT that true honor may come only through the MAXIMAL™ way.

Get ready for a battle of prehistoric proportions! This awesome robot-to-beast figure converts from MAXIMAL warrior to PREDACON beast with the push of a button! Launch missiles in robot mode or unleash a vicious-looking Velociraptor dinosaur in beast mode. It’s a battle where only the strong survive – and only you decide who will win!

Figure comes with missile accessory.

Many Transformers fans mark "Beast Wars Transformers" as the line that saved Transformers from becoming "just another 80's fad" in the 90's. The show's rich storyline introduced us to many distinctive characters, but few made their mark like the Predacon Dinobot. Instead of being the typical backstabbing, power hungry bad guy, Dinobot was a warrior who sought combat and honor. When he met his end, Transformers fans were exposed to one of the most powerfully written (and animated) Transformers episodes produced to date. It is safe to say Dinobot is oneo of the most popular characters to have come out of the Beast Wars series. Given this, it was no surprise that he was chosen to receive a figure in the "Transformers Universe" line, and thank Primus, it's actually a new sculpt. The original Dinobot's sculpt was released in some form or another over a dozen times in the past decade or so, and it was about time the character was given a new figure.

Beast Mode:
It is no coincidence that two of the dinosaurs in "Beast Wars" were a T-Rex and a raptor, both creatures were featured in the early 90's, super popular film "Jurassic Park" and Kenner knew to take advantage of that fact. In the original "Jurassic Park", much ado was made about the "velociraptor", but in fact the creature designers of the film had modeled their "Velociraptor" based on its relative, Deinonychus. However, they did not exactly replicate the look of Deinonychus either (for dramatic reasons). It was this Hollywood-ized version of the raptor that the original "Beast Wars" Dinobot was based on. As years went by and more information about raptors was discovered in the scientific community (including raptors having had feathers), "Beast Wars" Dinobot became increasingly scientifically inaccurate, yet the image of the character from the television show was so enduring that the designers chose to use it as their base for this figure, which I believe was a good decision.

The original Dinobot figure was a fantastic toy for its time, and to this day I am rather fond of it. However, it was not without its problems including odd proportions and extremely bulky undercarriage junk where the robot legs were tucked underneath the body in beast mode. It seems these proportion issues were at the heart of this Dinobot redesign, and the results are more than pleasing. Rather than having Dinobot's robot legs shoved under his torso and his robot arms acting as the dinosaur legs, the dinosaur legs here are the robot legs as well and the robot arms are tucked under the torso section of the raptor. While the robot arms do still stick out a bit on the underside, they don't do so nearly as much as the original Dinobot's robot legs did in the same place. Also, while the robot arms are tucked under in an obvious fashion, the detail patterns on them emulate the criss crossing "skin" on the rest of the beast mode, helping it to blend in more than the original Dinobot's large, translucent orange bone-detail legs did.

As part of this resetting of proportions, Dinobot's head was shrunk down a bit in size comared to the rest of his body, and the legs are now longer thanks to also serving as the robot legs. The main body is not as wide as the first Dinobot toy and the tail extends very far back, a feature that is found on the
real life raptors. His beast mode arms are relatively tiny, and actually a tiny bit smaller than they should be proportionally speaking. Overall, I believe the designers were aiming for a more sleek looking dinosaur mode while taking design cues from the TV show model.

I remember one of the elements of the original "Beast Wars" figures that really drew me in was the level of detail sculpted into the figures. The original Dinobot had a great "leathery" skin pattern with cross hatch lines, raised line patterns and other organic style detailing. This Dinobot carries on that tradition, with similar details from the head to the end of his tail. The head sculpt is largely based on the TV show's CGI model, complete with a ridge over the eye section and a rather thin lower jaw piece. Small details such as the teeth and musculature lines on the arms are worked in as well, giving Dinobot a distinctly organic appearance.

Dinobot features nine points of articulation in this form. His arms can move up and down and his legs can move out to the sides a bit, bend at the knees and his feet can turn. His lower jaw swings down and while not painted, you can see a tongue sculpted inside which is an amusing touch. Another detail I like a lot are the design of his feet and claws. They have the ridged design found on many birds (who some scientists relate to raptors) and his feet feature the distinctive large claw found on real life raptors.

Dinobot is cast in three distinct plastic colors: brown, gold and purple. Brown makes up most of the figure, including the tail, legs, head and arms. The gold parts are really from the robot mode, but they peek out here on his upper legs and feet. The purple plastic is also from the robot mode parts, but can be seen peeking out at his knee and ankle joints. Paint applications are done in white, light brown, black and gold colors. The light brown makes up striped patterns running from the head to the tail and on his legs. The white color is used for his claws, teeth and eyes. A black stripe is used on his
eyes to give the same eyes as the TV show model. His dinosaur arms are cast in soft platic, most likely due to the chance of those pieces being a potential hazard to younger kids.

Much like the design of the sculpt, Dinobot's color scheme seems to use the TV show model only as inspiration, but then goes flying off on another path altogether. This, to me, is the weakest point of this figure (in both modes, but more on the robot mode portion later). See, the problem is not so much that this is a bad looking deco, as decos go it's actually nice looking and the brown works well with the light brown stripes. The gold and purple peaking out are okay since the gold blends a bit with the brown and the purple is a very "Decepticon" color. However, despite what the packaging labels him as, Dinobot is not a Decepticon. He may be a Decepticon descendent, but that doesn't make him one. My biggest gripe is that Hasbro has had several opportunities over the years to create a Dinobot figure with a deco that matches the on screen one to some degree. I'm not asking for 100% accuracy (which I doubt can be done cost-wise) but give me...85% say and I'd be ecstatic. Here, the designers just seemed to say "Whatever" and throw the CGI model's colors out the window. I'm glad they stayed within the same color range of browns and tan colors, but it is still frustrating as a long time Beast Wars fan to see the ball dropped in this manner.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the tail from the section where the base of the tail meets the main body.
  2. Split the three panels on the tail apart to open it up and swing the end of the tail in.
  3. Move the raptor legs back and straighten them out.
  4. Rotate and push down each robot foot piece on the back of the raptor legs and then rotate them around.
  5. Swing the panels on the sides of the raptor thighs out, then circle them to the back, swing them downward and swing out the "teeth" designs and push those pieces against the lower legs, wrapping the "teeth design" segments around the lower legs.
  6. Push the legs and waist piece together in the center.
  7. Swing out the rib/side panels.
  8. Swing the robot arms out to the sides.
  9. Swing the beast mode head down.
  10. Swing the rib/side panels back up.
  11. Straighten out each arm.
  12. Rotate the fist out on one arm to slide the missile launcher over it.
  13. The missile can be used as a projectile or held in one hand as a sword.

Robot Mode:
After the first time I transformed this figure into robot mode, I just kind of stared for a while and finally thought "A lot of love went into this sculpt." Simply put, Dinobot's robot mode is the most show accurate to the CGI model to date. Starting with the head sculpt, it is clearly the Dinobot from the TV show, complete with the large central crest, a helmet with a "Y" shape opening revealing his face - and yes, it's a full sculpted face, not just a pair of eyes with a mouthplate (or just a paint app on the mouthplate for a mouth, as the Japanese 10th Anniversary version had). He even has the small vents on either side of the helmet and the wide V shaped lines on the crest. His arms have a curved, muscular appearance to them, but nowhere near as pronounced as the CGI model (where he looked like he had the build of a bodybuilder at times). His main body curves downward, giving him the humanoid proportions of the CGI model. Near the center of his body are bone like "rib" details, a feature found on the CGI model as well. The lower body is excellently sculpted, featuring the bone like design on his waist, legs with two layers of armor and lower legs with teeth like details wrapped around the lower legs. His feet even have the pointy parts on them found on the CGI model (influenced from the original figure as well). In another nice touch, his shoulders have armor sculpted into them, overlapping his organic parts - something the CGI model had as well.

Functionally speaking, Dinobot shows off just as much dedication to making a good figure that takes cues from the TV show. On his chest, a small rectangle in the center can be rotated to show regular "skin" , a Predacon symbol or a Maximal symbol. This reflects the conflicted nature of the character who changed allegiance during the course of the "Beast Wars" TV show. I appreciate the option of having no symbol since that is the most show accurate look for the chest. His default hands are claws, with three on one side and two on the other, just like his television show model. However, functionally he needs a fist to hold his weapon, and thus his inner claws can pull out and rotate around to reveal a regular fist instead. This allows him to hold his missile launcher weapon and sword/missile weapon. These fist holes are not quite the standard size established back in "Energon" however, so he can't hold all other "Universe" weapons (I tried Silverbolt's and Tankor's) but curious, he can hold Classics Mirage's weapon. Also, his "claw hands" can hold the sword just fine, again providing a more show accurate look.

Dinobot's weapons are interesting. Rather than being a rotating/slashing weapon, his talk just splays out into a missile launcher now. Pressing the trigger on the bottom of the tail base fires the orange missile. When the missile is not inserted, you can see the area around the launch point is designed to look like the barrel of a gatling gun (which brings about thoughts of Rhinox's "Chaingun of Doom"). The insides of the tail itself are really nicely designed, with two of the points sticking out having vein details inside grossness...cool!) and one having mechanical piston and tube details. The missile itself doubles as Dinobot's sword, with a discernable hilt and layers of the spinning triangular "blades" seen on the CGI model. The missile itself is a bit short
however to be a true sword, and the top ends in a rounded point (a safety issue since it is a projectile). These sacrifices in design are understandable, and I just find it cool that the designers made sure that Dinobot's sword was not forgotten.

Dinobot has nineteen points of articulation in this form. Each arm alone has five points of articulation, including ball jointed shoulders and hinges for the halves of his "claw hands". His legs connect to the waist on a ball joint and his ankles are on ball joints as well. All these joints are tight and his is very posable.

A lot more gold plastic comes into view in this form. It is used for the head, robot fists, thighs and feet. More purple color shows up too in the form of joints on the knees and ankles. Translucent orange plastic is used for his light piping (as well as the sword/missile accessory). Most of the paint
applications center around providing smaller details such as silver on the outer parts of his legs and on his crest. The face is painted purple, matching the purple joints on his legs.

Given this design, I can understand how a truly show accurate color scheme would have been near impossible to create. However, the overall brown scheme really throws the look of the figure off here, and the purple frankly looks ugly with the brown. The blue color used on the CGI model in the TV show would have worked a lot better. Overall, the problem is that Dinobot is simply too dark. If the brown were a lighter shade, the colors would work nicely, but the last time I saw gold and purple put together like this they were serving as the colors of a church choir. Before that? It was on a Prince album. I understand the "Decepticon/Predacon" connotation behind the color purple, but it simply doesn't work here, especially with gold and a dark brown color.

Final Thoughts:
I hate reviews like this because they leave me very conflicted. In every way, I love this sculpt. It really shows careful attention was paid to giving the TV show model its proper due in plastic after thirteen years. What really messes a lot up with this figure is the deco. The deco looks fine in beast mode
if it were some generic dinosaur Transformer but in robot mode it just fails to excite me in any way. At the time this report is being written, only one picture of the Henkei! Dinobot and it is far more show accurate. However, I hesitate to recommend it over this one since you'll easily pay 2-3x US retail for the Japanese version. Ultimately I'd love to give this a "highly recommended", but I can't. It's a strong sculpt with some fantastic design elements, but falls short in the deco department, bringing it down to a regular "recommended".