Kurgen's Review: Swoop
"Fear can hit targets unreachable to bullets."
(From TF A-Z)
Swoop knows that fear is the most effective weapon in his arsenal. It is the sole comfort he derives from the form given him by the Ark. Generally considered the most horrifying of the Dinobots, even his comrades shy away from him. This is a tragedy, as under the skin he is a kind, good natured mechanoid. Little did he realise, four million years ago, that the body resembling that of a Pterodactyl (sic) would also disguise his true nature.
In Pterodactyl (sic) mode, Swoop can fly at 250mph. He carries an air-to-air missile launcher under each wing, each missile capable of delivering a load equivalent to 5000 pounds of TNT. Although they are of limited range, Swoop's speciality is diving to low altitudes and releasing them from point-blank range. In Autobot mode, he also uses the missile launchers, plus a thermal sword capable of melting its way through most materials.
Although highy manoeuvreable and fuel efficient, Swoop is vulnerable to enemy fire owing to the relative fragility of his wings.
Fear?? Hmmm... as they often do, the tech specs really don't come out too much in practice. Anyway... It's Swoooooop!!!
Swoop is an obvious standout from the other Dinobots. He flies, he's slightly smaller in both robot and alt modes, and more vitally way back whe-yun, he was never put on sale in the UK. So he was as unreachable to us as Shockwave, Perceptor, the Constructicons, the Predacons, Fort Max, etc. And what a shame cos he was such a coooool character!! They'd have sold heaps of him! Take out Trailbreaker or someone like that! Not Swooooop!!
Anyway, a few months ago he came up on TF-land for 65 USD... cracking price, and he was mine at last, to finally complete my Dinos along with the similarly recently acquired Snarl (see separate review)
OK, first things first, I was a dinosaur know-it-all as a kid, and I can tell you that he changes into... da-da-DAAAA... a PteraNODON. Apologies for sounding like Ace Ventura, but the Lesser-Spotted Pterodactyl had a rounded head, long rudder-like tail and a short, toothy beak. The Pteranodon had a crest on the back of his head to help with steering, a smaller tail, and his name literally means "wings but no teeth"! They were later evolutions and among the biggest before they got ridiculous.
Swoop himself I knew first from the comics. He was very well developed in the UK weekly title early on, to the point where he was horrifyingly killed off at the end of #32, only to be shockingly brought back at the end of #45 to set off the whole "Dinobot Hunt" storyline. From there came the classic "In The National Interest" 4-parter from #74-#77, in which Swoop starred as a smart, sassy Dinobot, willing to do anything for the cause while being blokishy blase about it all. Even taking on Megatron to help a human film crew. That 4-parter was probably the best for the Dinobots, fleshing out their impressive start and really building on their characters.
After that they had a great little two-parter called "Grudge Match" in #135-6. This stemmed from #46, where Prime tells of how Swoop was once called Divebomb. Of course, when Hasbro launched the Predacons with their own Divebomb, Furman did a great swoop of his own to build up a grudge match where the Predacon had beaten Swoop-then-Divebomb back on Cybertron, only for Prime to save him. That story's in the 1987 Annual, and highlights Swoop's shame at being saved by Prime, who he'd always hated. In the later issues from the US pen and pencil of a tired Budiansky and weird Delbo, he became the typical mindless cretin Dinobot, here's your tooth-sharpener boss, now shall we off the kids type of idiot. Shameful... Furman got to grips with them all again with some nice little episodes in the Earthforce storylines. It was in the first 100 issues where the Dinos were some of the coolest characters, and Swoop was almost at Grimlock-level. Hell, he once even took on a stark-raving Galvatron, at the height of his powers!
Sadly, in the cartoons he was your typical dumb-talking Dino, albeit one created alongside Snarl after the other three, to help keep them under control. Me Swoop, no see nothing... indeed...
On to the toy! Accessories came in the form of his 2 wing mounted grey rocket launchers with uniquely red rockets, which could double up as hand-held items, with his Dino standard red sword, a thermo sword this time, complete with heating bar... well, that's what it looks like... onwards!
He's a flying lizard with big-ass chrome silver wings! Seriously, these are wide! In relation to his body, which when stood can go eye-to-beak with a mini like Cliffjumper and is no wider, the wings are massive, wider even than a seeker jet. An accurate guide to his wingspan? Stick Metroplex's shoulder guns in, and Swoop's wingtips would touch both barrels. Yup, height of Cliffjumper, width of Metroplex. Mad! It's tastily done though. Solid red 3-clawed feet leave him stable as you like with an accurate-to-original-dinosaur stubby chrome tail as a useful "third leg". All chrome is of the silver variety, no Snarl-esque gold bling here... The wings are smartly dressed with just the right amount of cable-type stickering and the rub-sign on the right one, as you look from behind. The solid die-cast metal red torso is only spoiled by what are obviously the robot arms, grey and black with hands etc clearly visible. This is a shame, especially when compared to the other Dinos where robot kibble is very minimal. Only Sludge's front Dino legs betray more robot features. Swoop's arms are just obvious, and they could have been hidden or had the forearms tuck away quite easily. A real let-down I'm afraid to say.
What you can do with Swoop is flip up a small wheel, almost landing-gear style, from under his chest, which will poke through a ready-made hole and leave him sitting like a landed plane. It's solidly done because the feet act as rear plane wheels and he's stable there and looking good, it has to be said. The claws can fold back too to reveal rear kinda pegs which will also act as landing gear. The back is all grey and black. These are the robo legs, which don't look out of place as possible boosters. No-one's gonna believe Swoop gets airborne after giving it a good flap so one must demise that alternative propulsion is needed.
Finally, Swoop's head is well-crafted but flawed. Grey neck which bends all the way back with a clear plastic head and top beak bearing the autobrand. The yellow eyes look good but it's a weird combo when you bring in a red plastic under-beak and crest. It's just not... quite... right. Snarl's, Slag's and Sludge's heads, as well as Grimlock's neck, all use this slightly brown tinted translucent plastic that I think looks great. Why not use that, even for the beak? The crystal clear plastic just does nothing for Swoop because you can see his black robo-face in there, even if that doesn't pop out to say hi which it will frequently do as the dino face just doesn't click over the robo face securely enough. It also adds nothing to the look in robo mode and I don't know why they used clear on him. A big shame.
He's still cool though, this is a pterosaur after all. The beak can be posed gaping open or slammed shut and will stay there, it's accurately toothless and well sculpted to suit the original creature. They actually weren't officially dinosaurs, don't you know...
Nice and simple this one, it's clear how he goes, unlike some other Dinos there's no mystery where the bits are. Robot legs come down from the back, and neatly slide over the black hinged bits to give a good solid knee joint. Out come the feet and he can stand with stability. Fold the wings to half their span, then wonder where the beak goes... Ah yes! Swoop's torso neatly slides apart down the zipper line. That's where we found the landing gear for the Pteranodon, remember? Down goes that wheel, followed by the beak to give him the autobrand right on the heart. Try and pull out the black shoulders without breaking the wings and there you have arms. Then extend the arms... ah no you can't. Damn... ah well, last but not least, pull back the head rudder and say hi to Swoop the robot!
He's got a good silhouette, classic seeker style with those wings out the side, the head rudder works and the legs swing independently from the knee down. Good style. At full height, he's chest-high to the other Dinobots, so eye-to-eye with your average Autobot car e.g. Prowl, Jazz, Wheeljack. Not a bad size but he could have been a little bit bigger. Again, it only serves to put him out there as "the fifth Dinobot".
From the feet up, well they're black with nice gold stickers, grey and black below the knee, with the red Dino claws serving as weird knee-caps. It works though, it looks better than you'd think. He's got a bar connecting his knees which is a bit prominent, but at least it's not further down like on Jazz and co. He's very two-legged. Chrome thighs with red insets, that red metal torso... and then the arms. Arms are a common G1 failing, but this shows a distinct lack of effort. They are WAY too short. While Cliffjumper was out for Dino height comparison, I checked the arm lengths. Identical. WHY?! They could so easily have been made to slide forward to give Swoop more reach. A real shame. Finally, the face is a little Jazz-esque, with one black eye-piece above a definite, grey, mouth and chin. Set against the red Dino head rudder it works OK.
The weapons look way too big against such piddly arms. The launchers just don't seem to stay in anywhere, either in the wing-holes or in his fists, and the red rockets keep coming out. Maybe it's just my model, but I gotta just give up with the launchers, sadly.
To summarize, I AM happy with him. A great character is just about done justice, with a few grumps. His body coulda been just that big bigger to be closer to Dino height, and as I've said the arms really let it all down in both modes. He stands well though and does look good in either mode. The dino mode works well with the only gripe being the colour/clarity of the beak and the fact that it comes away from the robo face way too easily. He's my final Dino though, had to be got, and the fact that he was never available on this island and doesn't crop up on eBay too often makes him a nice rarity that I'm proud to own.
Marks out of ten for the following:
6/10. Very simple but clever enough. The sliding knee hinges are great, as is the landing gear. The lack of thought gone into the arms, length of them, lack of disguise in Dino mode, lose him points.
7/10. Body is well solid, wings can always be a nightmare but these are well screwed-on. Care needed. The force necessary to pull out the arms feels like you're gonna tear it all apart. Head rudder vulnerable.
8/10. Great to swoop around, ha haa! Lack of arms detracts from his punching ability, but Dino mode is first class.
7/10. Losing points for the transparent beak which could've looked so much better in the other Dino heads' colour. Also the arms and over-sized weapons lose him points, but still nice.
5/10. Bendy knees, nodding head (both modes), shoulders. That's it. G1 baby!
6/10. Quite rare. Never released in the UK. Doesn't come up on eBay much, so price could go up during bidding. TFLand charged up but he was worth it.
8/10. He's still a Dinobot, and they were always must haves for me. Old UK comics boys like me probably had far more regard for the character than those stuck on a US Marvel or cartoon diet. He was cool under Furman, ironic as he wasn't available as a toy, so it's great to have him. He's unique, he's Swoop. Don't mess...