THE VINTAGE VIEW #5: Dinobots (part 4)

Some time ago I started the very exciting journey of assembling a mint set of vintage Generation 1 Dinobots. It all began with a rather unexpected Swoop purchase, but over the course of about a year I finally made it to this stage.

The sight of these five wonderful specimens all peaking out from their cardboard confinement was a real moment of collecting triumph for me, and in many ways has been one of the major highlights of my foray back into vintage G1 since I started. Yet as exciting as it was to see them together in such condition, there was no way they were going to stay like that.

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Over the course of the previous three articles (which can be found here, here and here), I’ve unboxed each of these beauties and documented them individually in the process. Each one has been a delight on their own terms, but truthfully it’s been this point that I’ve been most looking forward to, as now it’s time to take a look at the whole team convened and stickered up in their full glory. What a sight it is.

Glorious! I knew that this was going to be a bit of an adventure when I started, but suffice it to say it was worth waiting all that time to find these figures in such wonderful condition just for this moment. Seeing them all together and looking so striking is a true pleasure indeed.

Not that this is my first set of Dinobots, mind. I have owned the four land-based lads in various forms through the years, though never looking quite as resplendent as the examples seen here! Swoop is a revelation for me, especially as he’s been a toy I’ve had my sights set on ever since I was a little lad, so seeing how much he brings to the team as a whole is a real treat. He can be a tricky one to find in nice condition, but if ever you were in any doubt as to whether he’s worth it then take my word for it – he is.

So in many ways this is the culmination not just of a journey begun a couple of years back by adult-collector-me, but also one child-robot-enthusiast-me was determined to see happen decades before, back when my The Transformers: The Movie poster still adorned my wall. Needless to say we’re both very happy with the result.

After all, there’s just something about the Dinobots, isn’t there? No doubt a large part of it is due to their animation portrayal, almost as though being such lumbering yet somehow-entirely-lovable oafs is a good way to endear yourself to an audience! Their distinctive speech patterns and comedic timing have become one of the more memorable aspects from the original cartoon, and cemented them as fan favourites forevermore.

Yet it’s more than just that, as this team of toys would still be incredibly noteworthy even without the on-screen association. They’re such wonderful designs and feel so cohesive as a unit that it’s hard not to be impressed even from a purely superficial perspective.

Looking at them with fresh eyes now, it’s funny to think how much mystery there seemed to be behind these toys when I was growing up. I was consistently intrigued by aspects such as the golden translucent plastic with the moulded detail underneath – surely one of the most distinctive design elements on any set of Generation 1 toys. It certainly gave these plastic portrayals of the characters a very different look and feel to their on-screen counterparts.

Then there were the all-too-obvious handovers from their days in the Diaclone line, with their pre-Transformers origin of being non-sentient droids with small humanoid drivers making sense of the now-empty cockpit sections that fascinated me as a child. As I say, I never owned Swoop at the time, but I imagine the flip-out wheel inside his chest would have piqued my curiosity all the same.

Even now they can be a bit of an enigma in many ways, with plenty of weird and wonderful tales about how their colour schemes evolved during production, and enough evidence left behind on packaging artwork and the like to keep us all fascinated for years to come. As much as I do love my Swoop, I still take the occasional gander at the rather spectacular golden sample in his box photography and swoon.

Truthfully though there’s little to grumble about when a set comes together as nicely as this. For whatever flaws they may have individually (and there are some), there’s also little denying what a singular pleasure it is to see them in full line-up.

I will say though that having picked them all up in such nice nick I’m rather dutifully determined to keep them that way, which of course brings its own sense of responsibility and indeed a slight amount of stress. None of them is even in the least bit complicated to transform, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel a sense of caution whenever I’m rotating Slag’s legs, maneuvering Snarl’s waist or pulling on Swoop’s knees. They’re amazing to look at but they’re hardly the most robust toys in existence, after all!

There have also been a few concerns with sticker application along the way, and even now I find that Sludge’s decals are by far and wide the worst-adhering set of decals I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter. Even the usually-reliable Toyhax Stickerfixer hasn’t quite been up to the challenge (and besides, it appears to have been discontinued now, much to my dismay!), leaving me to finally decide to swap out one or two examples with repro equivalents, just for my own sanity, if nothing else.

Some collectors may balk at that idea but I’ve never been above the odd enhancement here or there to keep the collection looking as good as possible, and in this case I think it’s truthfully been for the best. And hey, despite the odd irksome quibble getting here, there’s no denying the true majesty of this quintet in their full robot form, is there? Behold!

Just breathtaking. I’ve always enjoyed the sight of the Dinobots in their humanoid modes if only because it’s not one that we get to see all that often in the franchise’s supporting media (I guess giant dinosaurs is what gets people to tune in, eh?), but even then I don’t think I was quite prepared for how much I would enjoy seeing them all together for the first time.

I think in many ways the “original trio” (according to the cartoon, anyway) are still my favourites overall, with Grimlock, Slag and Sludge all packaging a suitable wallop in both modes. Sludge especially remains a childhood favourite.

By comparison Swoop and Snarl are a little more awkward in many ways, but that’s not to take away from them at all as they remain truly-treasured members of the group. I do also adore that Swoop feels comparatively quite small compared to his teammates.

Really though, they’re best served as a whole, coming together in style to become truly greater than each could claim individually. It’s a small thing but even just the sight of their five red swords held aloft was nothing short of a fist pump moment, in my mind.

Once you start lining them up with other Generation 1 toys then there are all kinds of questions about scale and the like, but really – who cares? If that’s the kind of detail that causes you to lose sleep at night then G1 collecting is never going to be your bag to begin with. Better to just settle back and enjoy the toys for what they are. Observe!

So there we go, our Dinobot discovery is at an end. For me it’s been a real pleasure to rally this particular set of robo-reptiles, so I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride too. If nothing else, I can confidently state that we’ve ascertained one time-tested truth – giant robot dinosaurs are ace, huh?

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll join me next time when we’ll begin looking at a whole new vintage team!

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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