Transformers Animated Activators Dirge Toy Review

in 2009, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Generation One, Seeker, Transformers Animated

General Information:
Release Date: June 2008
Price Point: $8.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: None


Activators are a sub-line of Transformers aimed at providing simpler transformations with a fully functional and posable Transformers figure. Activator transformations are primarily accomplished through the pressing of a switch or tab and manipulation of a few extra parts. Such transformations are much akin to the early "spring loaded transformations" used in many Beast Wars Transformers figures.

The original wave of Activators included Starscream, one of the feature characters in the television show. The figure was later given a new deco to represent one of Starscream's clones: Thundercracker. Now the figure has been given yet another deco, this time the clone involved is Dirge. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this review, but you can check out Starscream's review to read about the sculpt and mechanics of the figure.

Robot Mode:
The original G1 character Dirge was one of the Decepticon Seekers, whose base body was a variation on the design of the first group of Seekers that included Starscream and Skywarp. His colors were metallic dark blue with gold wings and some black details.

Animated Dirge seems to be a bit more "inspired by" G1 Dirge rather than just taking the G1's character's colors. He is cast in three primary colors: blue-green, black and light gold color. The blue-green color makes up much of the body including the shoulder armor, legs, waist and the weapons mounted on his arms. Black is used for his head, forearms, feet and the landing gear on his lower legs. The yellow color is mostly found on the back including his wings and the back of his lower legs. As you can tell, these aren't the exact same colors as G1 Dirge, however one can see how the colors are inspired by G1 Dirge, using a shade of blue and the lighter gold fit into the lighter colored palette of the "Animated" universe. Personally I would have preferred the metallic blue plastic be used for a proper G1 homage, but I can also see how this color fits in well with the "Animated" aesthetic.

There are quite a few colors used for paint apps in this mode. The colors used are silver, black, orange, dark red and gold. The silver is found on his face, replicating the paint job found on Starscream. Black is used for the panels on his chest on either side of the cockpit. Orange is used for the cockpit window, with black bands filling in the edges and the strip that crosses from one side of the cockpit to the other. Dark red is found on his wings and the stabilizers on his lower legs. This same red is used for his eyes, in keeping with the theme of giving all Decepticons red eyes. Finally, the gold color is used to paint the middle section of each foot. Overall it's a nice, detailed paint job and I have to say that it is a very unusual palette for a Transformer in this day and age. Indeed, his colors remind me a lot more of the Decepticon Skyquake from the 1990's who had green, red, gold and black in his color palette (and he was a jet to boot).

All of Dirge's joints are tight from the elbows to the knees, so it is gratifying to see that even after three uses there is no mold degradation going on.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Swing the shoulder armor down.
  2. Rotate the blasters on his arms so they point upwards.
  3. Holding the chest piece, swing it up and lock it into place.
  4. Bring together both halves of each foot.
  5. Connect the tabs on the back of his legs into the curved vent sections on the top of the jet mode.
  6. Swing up the rudder pieces on the back of his legs.
  7. Line up the robot arms so the blasters point forward. They will attach to the tabs on the underside of the wings.

Vehicle Mode:
Dirge's vehicle mode looks dramatically different than his robot mode, largely due to the fact that a lot more light gold plastic is exposed in this mode. The entire top of the vehicle is cast in the gold color, with only the horizontal stabilizers at the rear, his weapons and the cockpit/nosecone section showing the blue-green color that dominates the robot mode. Paint applications are done in the same colors as the robot mode, with red stripes on the wings as well as red paint used on the edges of the forward air intakes and the vertical stabilizers. One color addition is light yellow, added to the tab you press to activate his transformation. I'm guessing yellow may have been used instead of more gold to draw attention to the piece since it activates the transformation of the figure.

Final Thoughts:
In thinking about whether to recommend Dirge or not, there are two levels of consideration. First is that he is the third use of this sculpt. Your tolerance for redecos could be tested here quite easily, and even if you do like redecos a lot he is perhaps the least "cool" looking one. His color appeal is a bit G1-homage based with a healthy helping of being different from his predecessors.

Second, for collectors who value hard to find figures, Dirge definitely qualifies. I never saw him in stores and had to rely on a friend to get mine. When released along with Cliffjumper, he was hard enough to find that he was going for double his retail price on ebay, so there is some collector value there even if you just want to leave him on card for display. Overall, I would place him as "recommended" due to being a nice figure with a good paint job and his collectability, both of which are factors that appeal to me.