Thursday, October 31, 2013

Transformers G1 Victory: Gairyu D-323 (Dinoforce)

Gairyu, the Ankylosaurus of the team, was the very first Dinoforce toy I acquired. He's also the one I'd like to upgrade at some point in the future.

As you may be able to tell, Gairyu's box is has seen better days and I'm missing all of the paperwork. All I have is a partially used sticker sheet, and the one sticker still on the sheet is unusable as there is another sticker placed on top. One end of the box won't close properly due to the plastic tray inside that is slightly warped. There normal wear to the edges and corners don't bother me too much, however the box isn't as white as some of the others. At least all the parts / accessories are included and the toys themselves are in great condition.

Gairyu's U.S. equivalent is Bristleback. Gairyu comes packaged with his Ankylo gun and one of Dinoking's fists. He can form either arm of Dinoking.

These additional images of the box reiterate what I was saying about it's condition. Not terrible, but I'd like to pick up another one if I'm ever given the chance.

Back of the box features everything you expect to see on the back of a Transformers box. Battle scene artwork, check. Artist's rendering of character, check. Cross sell image, check. Tech Spec info, check.

Right and Left sides

When you look at the shell the dinosaur doesn't look at that intimidating, but whomever supplied the artwork did a stellar job at showing just how tough looking this type of dinosaur is.

Depending on the end of the box that is opened depends on which "side" of the tech spec card you'll see.  The previous two posts I shared had the front of the card scanned.  This black/white/purple image you see here is essentially the back of the card.

I've made mention to the breakdown of the plastic that leaves parts of the shell slimy to the touch. Usually the culprit is the "skin" areas, but if you look closely at the Gairyu's head you'll see some small spots. I even went back and looked at Bristleback and could see a few small spots appearing on that shell as well. Bummer.

Just like the rest of the Dinoforce members, his shell can hold his weapon as well as Dinoking's combiner piece. The fists in particular look cool when attached to the shell as the fist has a small gun on the backside. When attached, Gairyu has a little extra out Autobots!

The best thing about Gairyu's robot / "beast" mode is the lack of gold plastic! Yes, you know by now of the dreaded GPS and how the U.S. version of this toy is incredibly brittle. To store the toy in the Pretender shell or to use as an arm for the combiner, you have to fold the legs on the side of the body to effectively make a rectangle. At least this time around I could take a breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy messing around with the toy without having to worry about it crumbling in my hands. To date I still don't know what his "beast" mode is supposed to be. The "wings" on his back really puzzle me.  

There are supposed to be a sticker on the sides of his legs (the white rear section in "beast" mode). Obviously mine were on the toy at some point because I can see some old sticker residue. These are very prone to wear and tear due to the transformation sequence.

Gairyu isn't my favorite Dinoforce member, but since he was the first of the 6 I acquired he does hold a special place in my collection. In fact he was one of the first Japanese G1 toys I acquired period. Bland dinosaur Pretender shell, bland robot and weird alt mode = just not that interesting of a toy, however two thumbs up for white plastic (versus gold).

Goryu D-322
Kakuryu D-324

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Transformers G1 Victory: Goryu D-322 (Dinoforce)

Goryu, the leader of the Dinoforce - the last member of the team I was to acquire. I don't know if it is because he is the team leader, because his shell is that of a tyrannosaurus rex, or just my luck that this guy is so hard to find. When I did finally come across one for sale, I got him for a song.

One of the more memorable characters in the group, Goryu is the leader of the Dinoforce team...and not a very good at his job. He demands respect from his troops and the Decepticon Breastforce, but the latter is something he'll never achieve. In the Victory anime, Goryu is often seen riding on the back of his Pretender shell versus commanding it from within.

It goes without saying how excited I was to finally find and buy Goryu. Once he arrived in the mail I was even more excited to see that his stickers were unapplied. When you buy from an overseas auction site it's not always easy to know 100% what you're getting as asking questions is just about impossible. While the stickers was a nice bonus, I was disappointed to see the gold paint on the t-rex's chest was just about all gone. More on that later. Goryu's U.S. equivalent is Icepick. Goryu comes packaged with his Tyranno Gun and Dinoking's foot. Outside of the Constructicon Scrapper, Goryu is the only combiner leader that forms a leg of their combined form. He can form either the right or left leg, but is primarily used as the left leg.

Evan though the dinosaur shells vary in size, all 6 individual boxes are the same size. Each shares the same design, iconic purple grid, awesome character artwork and the abbreviated transformation sequence found on the top of the box.

The back of the box is one of the more busiest that I've seen on a Japanese G1 release. I'm not sure why Takara had to leave such a large section in the bottom right corner. With the Victory battle scene, artwork of the t-rex shell and Dinoforce line-up, everything just feels to tight and compacted for my tastes.

Right and Left sides

Goryu's art on the bottom of the box is large and in charge.  How come cool art like this is always slapped on the bottom of the box where it can easily go unnoticed?

The "front" of the tech spec card, as pictured above, can be found on the box's right side interior flap.  Being one sided, the purple chromatic "back" of the card can be found on the left side.  I didn't want to cut the tape on the other side of the box and besides, I have no intention of butchering the box to remove these cards.

Goryu's Pretender shell is impressive. His entire back is covered in silver and gold armor and the spikes on his helmet give him that extra sense of toughness. However the gold paint on his chest has just about rubbed off. From what I've been told this is fairly common, just like the oiliness of the shell. Are the two problems related? I would tend to think so, but I don't know if it's ever been proven. I wish the paint apps in the mouth were done a little better too. I'm fine w/ the white teeth, but the inside of the mouth should have been painted black, or even left green.

Like the rest of the Dinoforce team, the removable plastic piece on the shell has pegs to hold both his weapon and Dinoking's foot piece.

Goryu has one of the more impressive robot modes of the group, an tallest. However without the stickers applied mine looks a little bland. I particularly like his head sculpt with the wide stretching visor.

Transformation to his robotic monster alternate mode is rather simple. Flip down the robot head to reveal the beast head. Flip and fold the white feet back and you're done.

I'm beginning to see the reason the animators never worked in these robotic alternate "monster" modes into the Victory series. The Terrorcons were one thing, but just what is this supposed to be? If you look at the hands, it appears he has some sort of claw hanging off the front of the fist. Perhaps this is where the idea of the U.S. Monster Pretender Icepick's shell came from?

Goryu is a fantastic and interesting toy. I was lucky to find this toy that was complete, to find one with the packaging in such nice condition and to find one with unapplied stickers. If only the gold paint on the shell's front were still intact, I'd say I hit the jackpot. 


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Transformers G1 Victory: Kakuryu D-324 (Dinoforce)

This has been a post I've wanted to bring to the blog for a very long time, but I've always been a little hesitant handling the toy(s). Over the next week or so I'll be sharing one of the most prized items in my Transformers collection, the entire Dinoforce team!

Early on one of the collecting goals I had set for myself was to collecting the various combiner teams, but not just loose and complete. I upped the challenge and wanted to collect the Japanese versions of all the combiners, including the exclusives. Now one may say I was crazy for giving myself such a lofty goal and I partially agree, but part of the fun of collecting is the thrill of the hunt. If someone has enough money they can easily purchase one of the combiner gift sets and be done with it. I wanted the characters individually packaged. 1) I like the look of the entire team together, individually packaged. 2) The chase to complete the team just feels more satisfying.

Thankfully I started this endeavor of mine many, many years ago when prices on the secondary market for Transformers in general weren't that crazy. In fact I pieced together my Dinoforce set for just under $600! Try accomplishing that feat in today's market!

In no particular order, we're starting off w/ Kakuryu. According to TFWiki, Kakuryu is easily the dumbest of the Dinoforce team. His U.S. equivalent is the Monster Pretender, Slog. Kakuryu is packaged with Dinoking's head and rifle, the Dino Blaster.

You'll have to excuse me for not re-packaging Kakuryu before taking the pictures. The less I handle the figure and the dinosaur the shell, the better I can rest! The box features a very familiar layout, though the addition of the space like stars in the black vertical stripe is a nice new touch. Unlike with the Scramble City combiners, the inner tray is made of a thin white plastic versus the familiar and more favored styrofoam. There is also a narrow small piece of plastic that is taped down over the tray to help hold the toys in place.  This piece is often yellowed. While I didn't photograph this piece, I do have it and thankfully is not yellowed.

The top of the box features a simplistic transformation sequence. According to the box, the inner robot is still a monster.

The back of the little box is kind of busy if you ask me. You've got the awesome Victory battle scene art, animation style art of Kakuryu's Pretender shell, all 6 Dinoforce members including Dinoking and his tech spec.

Right and Left sides

The often overlooked bottom of the box features a nice large image of Kakuryu's Pretender shell. Worth the price of admission alone!

I love the earlier Japanese releases that featured the tech specs as a small trading card. Towards the end of the G1 series in Japan the cards were moved to the inner box flaps. The "cards" were actually printed one sided, meaning you had to cut the tape on each end of the box if you wanted to remove them.

I've always thought the Dinoforce Pretender shells just screamed Dino-Riders. I guess it's all the armor plating that covers the dinosaur. Just like the U.S. Monster Pretenders, these shells are made of a rubbery plastic with a hard plastic shell that covers and conceals the robot inside. The problem with these shells, both U.S. and Japanese, is that it seems there is a chemical breakdown of sorts happening which leaves the shells very slimy to the touch. This is one of the main reasons that I don't like to handle the toy much. The shells also feature some gold paint applications that were applied directly to the rubbery plastic. This paint is much more prone to wearing off as opposed to the paint on the hard plastic armor bits.

Probably one of my favorite aspects of the shells is the fact that they can hold all of the accessories. Not just the individual robot's weapons, but Dinoking's combiner parts as well. I'm betting this helped a lot of Japanese kids from loosing the small guns and parts.

Kakuryu is small and blockish, but the black and white fits the mold nicely. The blue on the face really helps draw in your attention to an otherwise lackluster robot. Kakuryu forms the upper torso of Dinoking.

Another fear of mine was realized when I disassembled Dinoking for this series of reviews.I've circled in red what I discovered that nearly made a grown man cry. There are two tabs in Kakuryu's chest that are utilized in combining to form Dinoking. As you can see the left tab has a major stress mark. For this reason alone I urge you caution when combining or disassembling Dinoking...or even Monstructor. I know I won't be messing around with him anymore!

Just like with the U.S. Monster Pretenders, the Dinoforce robots feature a monster like alternate mode.  That's the best description I can come up with!

I do want to dispel a rumor or myth about Kakuryu. Unlike his U.S. equivalent, Slog, Kakuryu does NOT feature any gold plastic. Of course this is welcome news since most collectors are more than aware of Gold Plastic Syndrome (GPS). This toy is molded in black plastic, then parts of the mold painted a metallic gold.

I can't say I really have a favorite Dinoforce toy as they all are really cool. Simplistic, yes, but that is where the dinosaur Pretender shells come in to play. These toys don't come cheap anymore and as individual toys you may even find it a little underwhelming, but once joined with the other members and Dinoking is assembled there is great fun to be had!

Fun fact: Kakuryu did eventually join the Autobot cause as a Dinobot. He even participated in the Power Core Combiner program and was given his own squad to command as Grimmaster!