THE VINTAGE VIEW #4: Dinobots (part 3)

We’re back once again on our voyage of vintage Dinobot discovery! If you have yet to embark on this quest with us then it all started a while back when I revealed that I had, over time, managed to assemble a fairly minty-looking set of boxed G1 Dinobots. During the last two parts in this series we’ve taken a look first at Slag and Sludge, then at Grimlock and Snarl.

Which can only mean one thing – it’s time to take a tantalising look at the final team member, the infamous Pteranodon, Swoop! Here he is in all his boxed glory.

If you’ve read the first entry in this series then you’ll know that it was actually Swoop who started this whole endeavour. I picked him up almost by chance, after I struck up a conversation with a fellow collector and they mentioned that they had a very nice MIB copy of the toy and enquired whether I might be interested. Well, having never owned a copy before my interest was well-and-truly piqued, and it subsequently became a mission to source the remaining Dinobots in a similar condition, before taking the plunge and unboxing them one-by-one during these articles.

All that means that Swoop has actually been in my possession for quite some time now (going on two years!), just waiting for the day when he might finally be set free and allowed to soar! In the meantime that box has been tempting me greatly this whole time, for as much as I have loved going over the other Dinobots in top notch condition, it’s been this guy that I’ve been most looking forward to.

The box itself is crumpled here and there as you can no doubt see, but that bothers me not a jot as it’s the contents that I’m most focused on. There is some interest to be had with the artwork though, particularly as there’s quite a bit of variation with the final product inside. The most notable difference is that the toy photos and the box art on the front both depict various parts as being gold where on the finished toy they’re actually red. This is true for the alternate mode feet, the missiles and the lower half of the beak, all of which suggests that the model that was photographed was cobbled together from bits of the pre-Transformers Diaclone toy instead. That version rather infamously had a blue chest instead of this version’s red, and all of this colour swapping has meant that Swoop’s various fictional appearances have also varied quite a bit during those early days!

As well as the box art, here you can see the character’s depiction in the Marvel comics and the original cartoon. It’s interesting to note that the comic is the most accurate to the actual toy’s colour scheme overall, with red feet and missiles as well as the red chest also found on the box art. The cartoon model eschews this, opting to entirely copy the blue and gold scheme found on the Diaclone toy. Madness! This sort of confusion wasn’t uncommon for a lot of Transformers toys from this early era, and by no means does it detract from how appreciating the toy as it actually is – observe!

It’s always a funny feeling, handling an old G1 toy for the first time all these years later. In some cases the reality can never quite live up to all the expectations that might have been built up after decades of seeing the thing depicted in catalogues and toy photography, all the while wishing that it could be in your possession. Yet with Swoop there’s a lot to immediately love, so charming and striking as he is.

As with the other Dinobots, my copy was obtained with stickers unapplied and still intact on the sheet, so that’s something we’ll look at in just a moment. His weapons are all present & correct bar one missile, as the toy would originally have come packaged with an extra which I don’t seem to have. It’s at this point that something occurs to me – whilst the toy in front of me is no doubt in very good condition overall, I’ve somehow exaggerated its status as being “supremely mint” in my mind during the period it’s spent residing in its box whilst I looked for his teammates. The initial experience of unpacking him yet again was tempered somewhat by noticing a couple of small flaws here and there – nothing so earth-shattering that I should be worried, but just enough to give me a moment’s pause.

The worst offenders are the crumpled stickers adorning his chest, both of which are factory-applied. I was initially amazed that I hadn’t noticed this when I first obtained him, but then it occurred to me that actually I very likely had but it’s just that my standards have become all the more honed during the subsequent search to complete the set. Whilst I’ve become increasingly focused on finding copies of the other Dinobots minus these kinds of flaws, it somehow slipped my attention that the one who started it all was slightly (ever-so slightly) imperfect to begin with. I also noticed that the pin between his knees has the presence of a bit of rust, which again isn’t something I would perhaps deem as acceptable where he to make it into my possession today.

So hey, it’s a learning if anything. An indication of how our goals evolve over time. Fortunately both of these problems can be fixed, as the stickers can be swapped out for repros and the pin can be replaced (though I may need to get creative with that solution), and none of it takes away from what is otherwise still a very gorgeous specimen overall. And besides, I’m still thrilled to be examining my first ever G1 Swoop!

So here he is, all stickered up, and I have to say that I’m already well back to being totally enamoured with him! As with the previous Dinobots, the full complement of decals makes all the difference to the overall look, adding much-needed pops of colour. I particularly appreciate the green highlights added to the mix.

I’m especially taken in by this mode’s Pteranodon head, which manages to look both menacing and utterly adorable at the same time! In fact the whole alternate mode is just wonderful, with nice proportions and interesting detailing. It’s a curious side note to mention that Swoop is technically the only member of this team who doesn’t transform into a dinosaur, as Pterandodon actually fall into the group known as pterosaurs, but hey – he’s still a Dinobot!

Wonderful! I had great fun setting this chap free with these photos, as it was a genuine thrill to finally experience him for the first time after all these years. As much as I am looking forward to correcting the faults I mentioned, there’s still no taking away just how magnificent he is overall.

Right, time to check out the robot mode! As with his Pteranodon form the applied stickers here have really added a lot of extra pizzazz.

I have to say that it was an interesting experience applying the decals, however. Most of them were very easy to do, with obvious placements and an unobtrusive sculpt, allowing for them to easily adhere as intended. However I think a couple of them must be the smallest G1 stickers I’ve ever come across, particularly those tiny little red squares on his hip sections. Bear in mind that this is a very small toy to begin with (certainly more than he appears to be in photos), and the stickers in question are suddenly about the size of a tiny freckle! Very easy to lose, very challenging to apply (and the less said about that offensive tail sticker, the better). I’m pleased with the results, however.

In terms of weapons Swoop features his two missiles launchers, which can be either kept on his wings or held in hand, and his trademark red sword. On my copy the missiles have a habit of popping out all too easily, but will stay put with a bit of attention!

So yeah, flaws be damned – this guy is still wonderful. Oh, and just check out that handsome head sculpt! It may have been entirely reimagined for his fictional portrayals but there’s still something to admire about that visor. It’s a very pretty toy overall and I’ve throughly enjoyed my first experience of it.

In terms of comparisons I always get a laugh out of seeing how tiny the G1 Dinobots are versus their modern 3PMP equivalents. FansToys Soar has long been a favourite of mine, as he does a cracking job at depicting the character as we know him from the cartoon – blue chest and all. There is also a red chest variant, of course.

Likewise the blue chest was favoured by Justitoys for their unofficial “World’s Smallest Dinobots” version, although it otherwise does a remarkable job a recreating the original toy on a significantly smaller scale. They really do look quite cute together!

So there you have Swoop – the one that started it all! He may have one or two tiny faults versus my current almost-unobtainable standards, but that doesn’t make him any less glorious. Just look at him go!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll join me for the final part soon when we’ll be taking a look at the whole team assembled!

TTFN

About Sixo

Transformers photographer & blogger from the UK with quite a well-known carpet. Collects both vintage G1/G2 and Masterpiece/3P.

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