The Reverend's Review: KOToys Dairu & Zauru
The "Dino-Cassettes" (or, officially, "W Cassettes" - pun on the word "double) are an obscure curios among G1 Transformers, partly because they were never for sale outside of Japan. Why Takara decided to give Twincast/Blaster four more cassettes and combining ones at that is a bit hard to determine, too, but the best I can theorize is that since Soundwave/Soundblaster had a fleet of ten cassette toys available to him, someone felt the need to make up the difference on the Cybertron/Autobot side.
These cassettes have commanded absurdly high prices on the secondary market since. However, this review is concerned with the recent release of reproductions made by KOToys in 2011. As of this writing, only the labeled cassette versions are for sale. The reproductions come in the same colors as the originals, and as an aside, also come in very nice reproduction packaging.Name:
Dairu (sometimes anglicized as "Dial")Allegiance:
(Translated) "Very fast, can run up to 200km/h. Thumb sensors can detect sources of energy. A curious and very bright character. Occasionally gets carried away and suffers from major system failures. Armed with wave blasters."Alternate Mode:
Cassette mode looks the part at a glance. Mostly a light green, with blue stickers and a few black trim pieces. The cassette has molded teeth. The labels look okay, but the label sheet supplied by KOToys isn't cut perfectly and some of them don't quite fit in their intended place. The labeled version also suffers somewhat from the movements the parts make in transformation. Aside from the labels, much of Dairu's dinosaur form is visible in cassette mode - the forearms and head are quite obvious. He does his job as cassette (fitting inside Twincast) well enough, I suppose. There are better mockups of cassettes available in the line.Robot Mode:
This is really why you're reading this review, anyway, right? Dairu is usually held to be a representative of the Iguanodon species. Transformation is relatively simple and somewhat akin to G1 Overkill's, complete with a folding joint in Dairu's torso that allows you to spread his limbs out a bit more and give him some depth (although this does result in a funny crevice in his front. Dairu has long legs, short forelimbs, a lengthy tail (with an extension at the tip), and red painted eyes. He has two joints in his neck, one useful joint at the base of his tail, plus movement at the shoulders and knees. The ankles also move - mainly for transformation but you can still use them to get some useful posing, so I'll count them here.
The number of joints that Dairu possesses help make an interesting point here. Iguanodon, through the decades, has been portrayed in several different poses. In the late 1980s it was still common for reference materials to depict Iguanadon standing in the upright pose resting on his tail. Dairu can certainly assume this pose if you wish. However, research in that same decade was beginning to depict Iguanadon as maintaining a pose parallel to the ground, almost quadrupedal. Dairu, due to his hip and torso joints, can also assume this pose as well, although a loose hip joint can make standing him difficult. On my sample, one hip is quite loose while the other is not, but I can still get him in this position.
Dairu comes with two "wave blasters", essentially small pistols that mount above his forelimbs. They don't look bad, although they are a tad tiny. His long legs give him good proportions overall, but he does have a somewhat spindly appearance. And by the way, those (Iguanodon) thumbs mentioned in his Tech Specs? They don't appear to be represented. You'll just have to imagine those. The only thing about Dairu's appearance that really bugs me, though, is a small "lump" in the top of his torso that is meant to hold his head in place in cassette mode. On my sample, this protrusion looks really rough and nasty.Marks out of ten for the following:Transformation Design: 5
. Simple enough that you don't wish you had the time back, but not a simple unfold like Jumpstarters or first-year Pretenders. Durability: 4
. Those hip joints must get really loose over time, and probably hurts some play value. And all the limbs are quite thin. Watch out for the hip joints at the green torso, these are particularly skinny.Fun: 6
. Despite his faults, Dairu still looks like he has some playability. He's relatively large for a cassette Transformer, and his posable limbs mean he can actually rip and tear at some smaller Decepticons.Aesthetics: 3
. I don't think the cassettes in general make good display figures, partly because of their size and partly because their design often makes them thin. Dairu's soft colors do not help him in this regard, and his lankiness makes him somewhat unstable for leaving on your shelf in a standing pose.Articulation: 7
. This is a high score for a cassette, I know. But the three leg joints and two neck joints help Dairu out a lot in terms of making him look less awkward.Value/Price: 7
. KOtoys' current price was $39.99 for the pair of Dairu and Zauru. Certainly better than the originals' prices on the secondary market.Overall: 6
. As the "good guy" cassettes go, Dairu's an interesting pick, and probably worth the money just for the novelty.
Zauru (often anglicized to "Saur")Allegiance:
Cybertron (Autobot) Function:
Water Source Development (?)
(Translated) "Very strong in the deep seas, and can carry out work from depths of 1,500m. Tail can shatter a high rise building. Usually very placid, even though he has the greatest strength. Unexpectedly he loves squirrels and small birds. Armed with cannon guns."Alternate Mode:
Zauru's cassette mode is dark blue, which does help obscure the black legs used in dino mode. He has red/orange labels here and is a closer match to a real mini-cassette, although the labels again don't fit together that well and look a bit weird. He also has molded teeth on one side of his cassette reels.Robot Mode:
Zauru unfolds easily into a sauropod dinosaur, with the long neck and tail of the species offset by short, stumpy little legs. He has painted red eyes and possesses a fair amount of molded detail on his non-labeled side. He carries chromed "cannon guns" on each rear hip. Zauru has joints at the base of each leg, two at the back of the head, two at the base of the neck and three in his tail. My sample has a very loose tail, but this doesn't hurt the posing much - putting his tail upright looks pretty strange anyway. Posing, however, is almost pointless as Zauru can't really do much but stand around with his neck either upright or lowered closer to the ground. With some care I could get him to stand with one front leg pawing at air. That's really about it - I guess he's more like Ramhorn, either he shoots weapons from a distance or he's ramming into things. When he's not messing around with squirrels and birds. Unlike Ramhorn, his weaponry is small and generally uninteresting - he'd have looked better with some larger, wider guns.
Zauru's description indicates he operates best underwater, although the notion of sauropods being aquatic is generally undermined these days and they're currently thought of as only hanging around in relatively shallow water. Be that as it may, I don't think he fits in that well with the other Autobot cassettes because Steeljaw and Ramhorn look so much stockier and stronger. Still, scale issues aside, he doesn't look so bad squaring off with Overkill and Slugfest.Marks out of ten for the following:Transformation Design: 3
. Mine is loose enough that it almost transforms itself when I pick it up. The movements required are quite obvious. Durability: 5
. Aside from the effects of loose joints, Zauru's got his long, projecting neck and tail. They're sturdy, but still thin. I have had a limb pop off, but was able to press it back in place.Fun: 4
. Well... he works, but I don't think he's as inspiring to the imagination as his fellows. Aesthetics: 3
. Zauru's small size and dark coloration don't help him stand out, and the tiny weapons don't boost his score here.br />Articulation: 4
. Very few usable joints. Posing his neck and head is pretty much the breadth of it.Value/Price: 7
. KOToys' current price was $39.99 for the pair of Dairu and Zauru. Certainly better than the originals' prices on the secondary market.Overall: 4
. Eh. While he's unique, he's not particularly special.
(Translated) "Has a built-in supercomputer which records all information regarding the Cybertrons. Uses his shoulder mounted wave blaster weapon to paralyze the auditory systems of any Destrons. Exact opposite character of his older brother Decibel, he is cheery and easy going. His hobby is listening to rock music."
Legout? What the heck does that mean? Either its a reference to a dance move, an injoke about his arms looking like legs, or maybe its a corruption of another term I'm not identifying. Well, either way. When I compared Slamdance and Squawkbox in an earlier review, I said that Slamdance was generally the better looking of the two, while Squawkbox probably had more play value. Legout, sadly, doesn't best either of them at anything. Zauru's neck and tail form his legs while Dairu's legs make his arms (although they still look like legs). His head is too small and set way too far back on his torso while his shoulders and flat arms are up front. He can't move his arms forwards - the best he can do is flap them at his sides. The small chromed weapons don't do much for him either, although having the wave blasters mount behind his shoulders gives him a very slight amount of depth. Just enjoy his component parts and leave Legout to the imagination, he'll look way better in your mind's eye. I guess he can fall apart on cue when Rumble starts pounding the ground...Marks out of ten for the following:Transformation Design: 2.
Right idea, but it didn't work out. KOToys' labeled version also means that the stickers rub when transforming Dairu and Zauru into the parts for Legout. Durability: 2.
The Legout mode brings some of the thinnest pieces to the forefront.Fun: 2.
Aside from the wave blaster weapons behind the shoulders, there's nothing here to offer.Aesthetics: 2
Spindly and ugly. Don't bother.Articulation: 2
Uhh. He can make snow angels?Overall: 1.
Enjoy Dairu and Zauru for what they are. Leave Legout behind.