Release Year: July 2007
Retailer: Botcon 2007 Exclusive
Price: $329 for Botcon 2006 registration that included boxed set, $279 for members of the fan club
Accessories: Missiles launchers x 2, Missiles x 2
Dirge is one of the Decepticon Seeker jets reintroduced into the Transformers universe via the Botcon 2007 Timelines "Games of Deception". While there have been other Transformers released in recent time with the name "Dirge", this is the first that is meant to be the original grim G1 character reborn in a new body. This figure is a redeco of Classics Ramjet. I recommend reading the review for that figure for a detailed look at the toy and its mechanics. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.
During Generation One, the three original Seeker jets (Starscream, Thundercracker and Skywarp) all shared the exact same sculpt. The only thing that differentiated the three in their initial releases were their decos and stickers. Later, when Takara and Hasbro wanted to use the three basic bodies again, they knew something would have to change. To do this, they created new wings and weapons for each of the second wave of Seekers resulting in Dirge, Ramjet and Thrust all looking quite different from their fellow Seekers. Because of this, many people wondered why we did not resculpt the wings (or replace them altogether) for Dirge as we did with Ramjet. The fact was that it all came down to cost. With new head sculpts and a never-before-done wing sculpt for Thrust in the works, we had to decide whose resculpting was most critical. In the end it was decided that while these wings do not match the exact wings of the G1 Dirge figure, they can be interpreted as a logical evolution of his original design while Thrust's wings were simply too distinctive to ignore.
The first call that had to be made with Dirge was what interpretation were we going to follow? In the original figure, he had gold wings and black weapons. However in the cartoon, the gold was portrayed more as an orange (the same with his comic book appearances). Since we were sticking with a more "media based" depiction of the character, we opted to go with his cartoon/comic book look. The result was the use of metallic blue and black plastic as his primary colors. The clear plastic parts (such as the cockpit) are done in translucent plastic. Paint applications are done up in blue, orange and black. Black is used for smaller details like the cockpit's trim areas and the nosecone. Orange is used on the inner parts of the wings, both on the top and bottom, leaving the black edges as a really nice contrasting trim. Finally, the blue is used for parts of the nosecone (since it's not all cast in blue plastic). The shade is a tiny bit lighter than the rest of the blue, so it stands out a bit.
Tampographs finish up the details in this mode. On either side of the nosecone are orange triangles and red rectangles. These are designs lifted straight from the original Dirge figure and simplified. On the wings, there are white and red angled lines running from the middle to the back. Similar details are found on the underside of the wing edges that angle downward. These details are also lifted right off the G1 Dirge figure. In particular I dig the ones on the underside of his wings since this is the closest we could get to replicating a similar detail on the vertical fins at the ends of his wings in the G1 figure.
The final piece of the deco puzzle that completes the vehicle mode is the location of the heat sensitive rub sticker. While this is somewhat coincidence (since it's placed where Ramjet has it as well), the location the sticker is placed on (the left side towards the front) is the same place the G1 Dirge had his sticker. The end result is a really nice looking figure whose colors are so distinctive that (at least to this fan) you can easily dismiss the lack of wing retooling and enjoy this updated Dirge.
Like his vehicle mode, Dirge's robot mode takes most of its color cues from his G1 counterpart. The same primary plastic colors remain: metallic blue and black. Blue is used for the legs, upper arms and parts of the torso while black is used on the chest, lower arms, missiles, missile launchers, and feet. Bright red, orange and silver make up the paint details. On the sections on either side of his head are small triangular details with lined sections underneath. The triangles are painted red and the lined sections are orange, more color inspiration from the G1 figure. Whereas the G1 figure used silver stickers to paint up parts such as the waist, here silver paint is used instead to good effect. The bright red is found on his waist, knees and on the inner parts of his feet - again these are details carried over from the G1 figure.
Dirge shows no mold degradation. All his parts move well and his joints are still tight. The missiles also still launch a good distance as well.
Despite not having been retooled at all, this is such a strong sculpt to begin with that the figure is already fun and earns high marks on its own. The color scheme pays slavish homage to the original toy, and while some say that may lack a certain originality, I think we achieved what we wanted: an updated version of the character that was still distinctly recognizable as the original Dirge. As with all exclusives that cost a fair bit to begin with, I do highly recommend this piece - but only to those who can afford it. Dirge can easily cost you over $100 on the aftermarket right now, so be aware that this will cost you a pretty penny. For the high end collector however, I believe this is worth the purchase!