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numbat's review: World's Smallest Swoop

Name: Swoop [Bombardier] (World’s Smallest Transformers – Justitoys 2008)
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Bombardier
Sub-Group: Dinobot

Quote: “Fear can hit targets unreachable to bullets.”

Enjoys watching enemies scatter before him as he dives down from the sky... considers spreading fear his greatest weapon. This Dinobot's kind, good-natured side disguised by his horrifying form... even his comrades shy away. Flies at 250mph... air-to-air missile launcher under each wing fires missiles equivalent of 5000lbs. TNT, 8 mile range. As robot, uses launchers and 4000º C thermal sword. Fragile wings vulnerable to enemy firepower.

[Bio lifted from US G1 release. Tech specs on box identical, although presented in an unusual order.]

After Takara abandoned the World’s Smallest Transformers (WST) line in 2005, it seemed that the brief golden age of miniature Transformers had come to an end. Thankfully, a new company – Justitoys – announced that they were to continue this line with WST Dinobots! What’s more, these figures were to be in anime scale with the other WST toys (more or less), and would include diecast parts.

The first release, Snarl, while riddled with loose parts, showed great promise for the fledgling company, and the subsequent releases of Slag and Grimlock were as near perfect as could be hoped. Unfortunately, a long hiatus then followed between the double release of Slag and Grimlock, and the final release of Sludge in March 2008 (delayed from a release slated for September 2007).

I say final, as, technically, these four Dinobots were the main line to be released by Justitoys. However, from the start Justitoys had made fans aware that a fifth ‘mystery figure’ would be available, through redemption of tokens on the boxes of the other four Dinobots (a nice throwback to ‘80s toy collecting). From the very first announcement, it seemed obvious that this would be the miniature version of the much revered G1 Swoop figure. What’s more, this figure was to come with the missile launcher accessories for the other four Dinobots.

The reality of this release is that tokens only reduced the cost of the figure, if redeemed through selected retailers. However, this is a good thing as it allows other collectors who may not be interested in all five Dinobots to bag a tiny version of a toy I’m sure we all wanted as kids.

Which is why I was so excited about this release!

Living in Scotland, I never really had any chance of getting G1 Swoop as a child, although I was lucky enough to have the other four Dinobots (who I loved!). The WST Dinobots line already combined my love of these figures and miniature Transformers, and WST Swoop would allow me to finally own a the G1 toy at my favourite size class!

While ostensibly ‘knock-offs’, Justitoys production quality often surpasses the Takara WST figures. As such, hopes were very high for this final WST Dinobot.

Is he the crème-de-la-crème of WST figures?

Alas, he is not all sweetness…

[Note: due to the number of modifications necessary to make this figure work, I’ll include a brief section at the end walking you through.]


Alternate Mode:

Swoop transforms in to a pteranodon, which is a pterosaur (flying reptiles which were contemporaries of the dinosaurs). Now, back when G1 was made, pterosaurs were actually not considered dinosaurs, whereas now there are various debates in scientific circles as to the relationship between the two groups. However, that discussion is well outwith the remit of this review!

WST Swoop’s alternate mode is in scale with the other WST Dinobots, and measures 3 ¼” (8cm) from beak to tail while ‘flying’, or 2 ¼” (6cm) tall when standing, with an imposing 5 ¾” (14.5cm) wingspan.

Unlike the original G1 toy, WST Swoop is anime accurate in colour scheme. He has a blue body (as opposed to red), with gold chromed feet, missiles (again, as opposed to the red of the G1 toy), and lower jaw (which was also red on the original figure). These touches really bring the mould out in my opinion, and are stunning alongside the silver chromed wings. Red picks out the rear head crest and the missile launcher flanges (which are set against grey, with black rims around the barrel), and he still has the red stripes along the grey protrusions on his back (which become the robot mode legs). The top part of the head is still clear plastic, revealing the poorest mechanics of the Dinobots beneath. Alas, he has no eyes… But his beak still opens!

Swoop includes the landing gear of the original toy – with the feet flipping back, revealing two stands, and a single wheel hidden within the chest. To extend this, you have to pull the chest halves apart as you would during the transformation. And here is the first serious problem (if you weren’t unlucky enough to have to reattach the head and insert the pin straight out of the box, as I did!) – the chest halves are so firmly screwed in place that they do not slide. Not a huge issue if this were just about the landing gear (I mean, when did Swoop ever use landing gear in the cartoon?), but a serious problem as this means, straight out of the package, you can’t transform the figure!

That aside, one of the great bonus’s of WST Swoop is that he comes with his missile launchers, as already alluded to (indeed, he comes with the missile launchers for all of the WST Dinobots). This is particularly important for Swoop, as, unlike the other Dinobots, Swoop’s launchers are used frequently in the G1 cartoon, and are part of his animation model. Alas, one of the great negatives with the figure is the fact that these launchers can’t be attached to the wings as they should be (as is instructed), due to the sockets being far too shallow! What on Earth were Justitoys thinking when it came to production values for this release?!?!

After modification with the launchers attached, though, the figure does look great – especially with the gold chromed missiles!

(Of course, the missiles do not fire – there are no springs – and you may have to file some of the missiles down to fit them in to the launchers.)

The only negative other than the number of necessary out of package modifications required are the sticker sheets – the bane of Justitoys releases. Yes, it’s great we have the option to decorate our figures as much or as little as we like, but Justitoys are categorically unable to produce sheets with clarity of detail or accurate cuts. As with the other releases, Reprolabels have stepped in and provide excellent stickers, which include tiny stickers missed by Justitoys and stickers to create an anime accurate head, to go with the rest of the body (priced at $4.50 [£2.25] before postage)!

As with the other Dinobots, I opted to apply stickers only so as to create an anime accurate version of the character. As such, I applied the Reprolabels head stickers, which cover the top half of the head in a very reflective gold (that matches the gold chrome very nicely), and give the fellow eyes and his Autobot insignia. They require precise application, but I would recommend it – it really does make the wee guy the spitting image of the cartoon character, and looks really neat on display.


Robot Mode:

As mentioned in the previous section, WST Swoop can’t transform straight out of the box! You need to loosen the body halves first so as they’ll slide apart. See the end section for brief directions for this. However, a transformer that can’t transform shows a fairly serious failing on the part of quality control, and is terribly disappointing.

However, when remedied, WST Swoop’s transformation is as the original G1 figure, and it’s surprisingly good fun! It’s rather different from the other Dinobots, by virtue of his utterly different alternate mode. I really enjoy playing with the guy!

The robot mode stands 3 1/8” (8cm) tall, and is slighter than the other Dinobots – as with the G1 cartoon. I love how the front of the Pteranodon head sits down the centre of his chest, and contrasts brilliantly with the gold Reprolabels stickers (left alone, the clear plastic looks a bit like a hole in his chest, unfortunately). Coupled with the upswept wings at his shoulders, Swoop is actually reminiscent of a giant Seeker. Of course, he does look too friendly for that… The detailing looks as fantastic in this mode as his alternate mode, and the head is particularly well done. It’s the smallest of the Dinobot heads, yet it’s received a higher level of detail that Grimlock, and the blue eyes and silver face paint applications are flawless (unlike previous Justitoys WST Dinobots). The blue of the eyes is totally solid and very bright as well – not watery / translucent against the black plastic as with some of the other figures. With the missile launchers attached, WST Swoop is the miniature spitting image of G1 anime self!

Swoop comes complete with his sword, which fits nicely into either fist, and makes him look that bit more menacing!

Swoop has slightly poorer articulation than the other Dinobots – with swivelling shoulders and bending knees and ankles (due to the transformation process). This does present limitations on display poses, but he looks great just standing there, frankly!

All-in-all, WST Swoop delivers like a Scottish summer: the temperature’s great, if you can stand the midges. Likewise, Swoop’s great, if you can stand the modifications. As such, I feel that, objectively, WST Swoop is the worst performer of the WST Dinobots, straight out the box, although, with required modifications, he is my favourite of the lot!

WST Swoop is a real fixer-upper.


Modifications Required:

The only reason this figure isn’t getting an all-singing, all-dancing write-up is the degree of modification necessary for it to even function as a transformer. Anyone should be able to sort the problems, with a steady hand, and a set of electrical screwdrivers. However, I can completely appreciate that many folks would be nervous of tackling this themselves, while others justifiably will be royally peeved that they need to do anything so severe in the first place (enlarging a fist for WST Sludge is one thing – there’s a bit more to Swoop).

To bring Swoop up to scratch you need to:

- transform his robot legs, revealing the four screws which attach his blue metal body halves. Unscrew these until they’re quite loose, and the body halves easily slide, then re-tighten until there’s just a bit of resistance, stopping them from rattling about. They should still be easily moveable, though! (If the screws come all the way out, be sure to reclaim the small red plastic washer! It’s needed for the sliding mechanism, making it smooth and stopping scratches.)
- take a very small gauge flat-head screwdriver and drill out the sockets on the wings for the missile launchers. (Match the screwdriver against the pegs on the launchers – if it’s wider, don’t use it!!!!) Keep checking the launchers in the sockets, ensuring your not inadvertently making a wide socket, and to check depth. Note: You will lose chrome through this in the sockets only.
- You will probably need to file down the excess sprue plastic on the launcher pegs and missile pegs.
- You may have to thread the pin in Swoop’s neck, as I did (although this is not a problem with all of the figures). This just takes a steady hand – although I recommend a small piece of card against your thumb if it’s not as callused as mine!

You may then choose to decorate the guy with the Replolabels stickers – if you, use small tweezers to ensure precision application of the head stickers. They aren’t quite the right size / shape for the head, so be careful!


Dinobot Missile Launchers:

Of course, WST Swoop also comes complete with the missile launchers for his four dinosaurian comrades. Grimlock can hold his launcher happily in his fists as with the original, without modification. The other three are not so lucky…

- As with so many of Snarl's parts, the launcher is loose! It can't stay secured in the shoulder mount holes at all, without modification or at least a wedge.
- Slag's shoulder mount is very tight. Careful does it! (It’s easier to fit if you remove the launcher and then reattach after fitting.)
- Sludge requires his hand pegs to be shaved out slightly to hold his launcher - although nowhere near as much as for his sword. I've found that the slightly enlarged hole can still hold his rifle, while the hole large enough for his sword can't easily hold either the rifle or the launcher.

Note: None of the missile launchers contain springs, so can't fire the missiles. You get three missiles for each Dinobot (two spares for Grimlock, Slag, Sludge and Snarl, and one spare for Swoop).

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 8 – Simple, yet very nifty, with perfect results and a pure replication of the original G1 toy at miniature scale – once you’ve repaired him, that is…
Durability: 3 – Alas, at the apex of the WST Dinobot line, Justitoys have faltered! The figure requires various repairs and modifications straight out of the box if you want to ever transform him or attach his missile launchers, and that does not fill me with confidence for the future. Sure, he seems to hold together now, but that’s only because I made him that way!
Fun: 10 (after modification) – I can’t get over the wee guy! He’s so nifty! And all done up in anime colours, he is just perfect, and fills out the Dinobot ranks. But, he’s only this great if you are happy to fix him up yourself. Straight out the box, this guy could well be the biggest disappointment of your collecting career – especially if you’re unwilling or unable to modify him. I think he’d get a straight ‘0’ out of package. He does have the bonus of coming with the complete set of Dinobot missile launchers, though!
Price: 8 - Swoop will set you back $25.95 (~£13) from TFSource, minus postage. If you redeem the tokens from the other four WST Dinobots, you save $5 (£2.50), so it’s up to you if you think that’s a saving worth the mutilation of those beautiful boxes.
Overall: 5 – WST Swoop is a superb figure, who outshines the other WST Dinobots, bar Grimlock – but only after you take your tools to him. He’s likely to be the most popular of the line, due to the original G1 figure’s rarity, but he’ll leave a lot of disappointed collectors in his wake. So, if you are happy and competent with modifying wee Transformers, then this guy can be a straight ‘10’, with the Reprolabels stickers completing an anime look if you so desire! However, without being willing or able to modify / repair the figure, you want to think very carefully before you pay out for a tiny Pteranodon. If you are to own just one WST Dinobot, I would recommend Grimlock.
 
 
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