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Numbat and Zeoman review: Dirt Digger Team

Name: Dirt Digger Team
Allegiance: Decepticon / Mini-Con
Sub-Group: Mini-Con

Quote: ‘Mud slinging is out job, and we like a job well done.’

These guys might look like down and dirty backwoods brawlers, but in reality they are highly effective spies and information warriors. All too often, those engaging the Dirt Digger Team in a battle of wits have found themselves sorely under-prepared. If you've got a dirty secret, these three will dig it up and show it to the world at the worst possible moment. They specialize in breaking the spirits of their enemies through a constant flow of false information.

With the return of the Mini-Con Teams in a major way, the Classics line delivered doubly for me. As a collector primarily of the smaller Transformers, Mini-Cons are a personal favourite. A definite group – Mini-Cons have characteristics and style which do actually set them apart from other small Transformers. For me the key is the way Mini-Con designs have evolved beyond the normal Transformers aesthetic requirements, freeing them to have all manner of innovative and unique Transformations!

From the earliest photos, I knew the Dirt Diggers were an absolute must on my collection list of 2007, regardless of the Movie releases and a budget! Grindor was the initial attractor, but, let’s face it, Oil Slick is rather cool too and I couldn’t help but be intrigued as to the transformation process for Dirt Rocket. The team would appear to be the dark side of the Armada Race Team. Plus, they seem to have the feel of the G1 Stunticons, somehow… It’s intangible, but it is there.

How do they deliver? After all, there is a total package to consider, including the articulation, which can suffer at the expense of the transformation in Mini-Cons, and no shortage of other figures out there this year!


GRINDOR

Alternate Mode:

Pretty easy to see why this fellow caught my attention. I just love practical off-road and work vehicles. After all, I (numbat) drive one myself when working off-road! (Nice 1993 Land Rover Defender 90 pick-up called Larry, as it happens.) But, such alternate modes have been rare in Transformers lines in recent history. There are plenty of sporty 4x4s comparatively, but I’m not so keen on pointless 4x4s!

Grindor, however, is a fairly no-nonsense off-roader. At 2” (5cm) long, he is nevertheless rather bulky, with a raised wheelbase and running boards to aid the ants’, mites’ and ticks’ ingress and egress. The colours are dull – a flat grey-blue base and wheels, with yellow windows, and slightly brighter green for the running boards. The rear shock coils are picked out in yellow, but the structures are not positioned so as they could be considered functional, no matter how far you try and stretch your imagination! But it’s a nice touch on a tiny toy. The Decepticon insignia (as Mini-Cons seem a little more decisive these days), is emblazoned in silver, and a green splash pattern makes the ensemble a little more appealing to kids, without being too garish (for a change!). It’s just a pity they neglected to paint the rear window yellow to match the rest of the design.

He has two Mini-Con ports, side-by-side on his underside.

All in all, great wee alternate mode, with few negatives bar the position of the coils. Certainly excellent fun to play around with for this ecological conservationist!

Robot Mode:

Grindor’s transformation is brilliant. It just has to be said. The rearrangement of vehicle parts is superbly innovative – the collapsing and stacking of the bonnet and wheels is so much fun, you wouldn’t believe! I’m serious. For such a small figure, the robot mode is rather different.

Standing 2 ¼” (5.5cm) tall, he is a bruiser. You can see it in his stance, and painstakingly detailed face. The face is totally inhuman, with a heavy clamp-like ‘jaw’. The colours remain the same, with grey-blue dominating, green bringing out the leg frame and shoulders, and yellow adding a flash at the top of his head and along the forearms (formed by the 4x4’s coils – he’s got springs for arms!).

Alas, he suffers from balance problems (liking to tip backwards, due to the large amount of truck jutting behind!), and has limited stance, due to the design of the shoulder joints. Still, articulation is good for the crazy transformation and such a small figure.

I am very satisfied with this guy!


DIRT ROCKET

Alternate Mode:

Dirt Rocket is one large motorbike! He measures 2 ½” (6cm) in length, putting him at a ridiculous size compared to his team-mates. That aside, detailing is nice, keeping a very sleek look which just screams to be trashed! The base colour is a slightly dirty yellow, with a metallic blue windscreen, and silver exhausts and headlights. The wheels are black, as is the seat, while metallic purple (again, dirty) adds a geometric pattern (like glass shards) to break up the yellow. A Decepticon insignia is printed on the fuel tank.

The bike balances upright, while the wheels are still able to turn if pushed along a flat surface. However, you are in danger of scraping the bottom of the bike.

As with Grindor, there are two ports – one on either side of the bike.

It’s a nice bike alternate mode at a small scale. Still, I have always been dubious of bike transformers… (Although Cy-Kill… now there was a bike-former…)

Robot Mode:

The main reason I fear bike-formers are the robot modes. To me, they invariably fall flat in some way or another. Therefore, Dirt Rocket was the figure I was least interested in. But, I was in for a surprise here!

The transformation is relatively simple, but fun. I love how the front wheel splits so easily!

The resulting ‘bot stands 2 ¾” (6.5cm) tall, including his ‘hat’. Yellow is the colour of the day, with black arms, silver face, and the geometric purple pattern concentrated around the chest and lower legs. Front on, you see the exhausts rising on either side of the head, which is quite cool. The face is rather human, and well sculpted. In conjunction with his sort of standard pose, he looks like a total mental-case!

He has excellent articulation, but, as ever, there is a downside. After all, he’s already doing remarkably well for a bike-former, in this reviewer’s opinion. The detractor here is the rear wheel protruding from his back. As with Grindor, Dirt Rocker is thrown off balance. However, this aside, he is rather nifty – and great for play or display in either mode.


OIL SLICK

Alternate Mode:

The ‘obvious’ one, turning into the classic car, Oil Slick is an attractive figure. The design screams ‘70s / ‘80s, and the red actually works well, with the black windows and Decepticon insignia. The front grill is grey, as are the wheels. The purple flames on the bonnet work well, breaking up the monotony of the excessively long nose! Molded detail is lacking, but that is consistent with the car design. Measuring 2 ¾” (7cm) long, he is the largest of the trio.

Fun to play with, and suitably evil on display, Oil Slick cannot be faulted in alternate mode.

Robot Mode:

Oil Slick has the simplest and most traditional transformation, but with a few twists that really add to the figure – but they’re for you to find out.

The big fellow stands 3” (7.5cm) tall including his shoulder pillars, making him the tallest of the group, despite Grindor’s bulk.

Red dominates, while grey picks out the waist and ‘hands’.

The design is really cool, with the upper body basically a ‘Y’ shape, with the arms coming out the top prongs. The head is nifty, with a silver lower face and purple helmet with a letterbox visor. I can easily imagine him the cold nutter on the battlefield (or alleyway, Streets of Rage style – you either know what I mean, or don’t), dance-floor (techno and ‘80s classics), or spinning discs. His arms are rather huge (a forerunner to the Movie’s Barricade), with one ending in a grappling claw – and the other a hunting knife! ‘Pop!’ and there goes Nightscream’s head! Definitely the highlight of a great design!

Articulation is good, again, but as with his fellows, Oil Slick suffers from a poor centre of gravity, limiting poseability.

Still, a very fine member of an excellent Mini-Con Team.

If this is truly the end of the Mini-Cons, then they have gone out on a high-note – delivering on what they do best: tiny Transformers with innovative transformations and unique robot modes. I doubt there will ever be another group of Transformers with such playability, and the Dirt Diggers are a prime example!


Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 8 – Not taxing as such – they are Mini-Cons! But they deserve a decent mark for the innovation. Not ideal for wee kids though.
Durability: 7 – They seem sturdy, but I fear for the plastic used on Dirt Rocket (it feels brittle), and the pins in Grindor. Still, most major joints are reattachable on these chaps!
Fun: 9 – These guys are excellent fun! The only thing preventing a ’10’ is their universal balance problem. Perhaps they drank too much diesel…
Price: 7 – Mini-Cons feel overpriced at £6 ($12) in the UK, although at $6 (£3) I’d feel otherwise! But I realise exchange rates don’t quite work that way. So… Well worth it for a Mini-Con team, compared with some of the competition.
Overall: 8 – The best Mini-Con team in a long time. If you enjoy Mini-Cons, wee Transformers, or unique transformations, then this set ought to be in your collection, even if you are saving yourself for the Movie line. Even if you’re not a major wee Transformers fan, you can’t go far wrong adding the Dirt Diggers to your collection.

 
 
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