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Mini-Con Dirt Digger Team

Transformers Classics
by yo go re

Originally the Classic Mini-Cons were going to be sold in two-packs, like they were for most of Cybertron. But then Hasbro looked over the budget again and switched to three-packs. The most noticeable symptom of this change is usually scaled-back paint apps between the prototype and production phases, but sometimes you get a set where two of the toys seem like they were made to go together, with the third one being the odd man out.

"Mud slinging is our job, and we love a job well done." These guys might look like down and dirty backwoods brawlers, but in reality they are highly efficient 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.

Oil Slick is some sort of 1970s muscle car. The front end is a bit too long for any real models, but the general flat, boxy shape is the same. The car is 2½" long, and although the detail is minimum, that is as it should be. Cars don't have a lot of extraneous detail - all that stuff is hidden beneath the exterior body panels. This little car has sculpted door handles, tail lights, turn signals and reflectors, which is all it needs.

The transformation is handy. Split the front end of the car and move the halves out to the side. Pull the back end away from the body, and rotate the pieces outward to form legs. Spin the waist around, fold out the hands and swing the arms down. with his big shoulders, the robot is 2¾" tall, and his Mini-Con port is now hidden by the roof of the car.

Other than the car doors standing tall on his shoulders, Oil Slick is a well-designed robot. His head is covered by a squarish visor, though the lower part of his face is quite human. The weird paint choice of orange and purple is a bit less garrish in this mode. Honestly, what's up with that? It almost looks like splattered mud, so why not paint it brown? In any case, the little guy moves at the hips, waist, and two points in each shoulder. If you want to think of his claw and sawblade hands as joints, too, you can.

Next we have the yellow and purple motorcycle. 2¼" long and just over 1" tall, Dirt Rocket is a typical sleek Japanese bike: all curving lines and weird angles. The seat and the big chunky wheels are black, and the windshield is a dark metallic blue. They even spared a silver paint app for the exhaust pipes and headlights. Still, yellow and purple? Very ugly. The Mini-Con ports blend in nicely on the sides, though.

Transformation is pretty easy. Split the set to form arms, rotate the front of the bike down to be legs, and pull the head up out of the gas tank. See? Easy. But sadly, the robot form doesn't look to good.

The main problem is the legs. Not only does the design make them look hollow, they're poorly proportioned and badly articulated. The windshield serves as the "feet," but they're not flat enough to keep Dirt Rocket standing - especially not with the heavy rear wheel hanging off his back. To get him to stand, you have to bend him so far forward that it looks like he's going to fall that way instead. Wow, thanks. I know it has to be hard to turn a little motorcycle into a little robot, but that's no excuse for doing it badly.

Finally we have Grindor, the winner of this set. How can you not like a Transformer monster truck? Transformers? Destructive power. Monster trucks? Destructive power. It's the most natural combo since peanut butter and chocolate. In fact, that's probably why they made this one only 1¾" long - any bigger, and even Unicron would have to fear the power of Grindor.

Grindor's transformation is pretty cool. The front of the truck splits and the pieces fold back over the tires to become the legs, while the rear of the truck (and its giant shock absorbers) pull out to become arms. Then just fold the head up and he's done. Amusingly, the official photos on the back of the packaging show him mis-transformed, having skipped this final step.

The robot mode has a really nice look. With the truck's tires serving as the bulk of his legs, he looks very powerful. There's good detail on his arms, right down to the individually sculpted fingers. His head is pretty cool, as well, with a huge lower jaw that makes him look like a construction-themed TF. Standing just over 2" tall, Grindor has balljointed hips and shoulders, which gives him some nice poseability.

The Dirt Digger Team is a decent buy, but the inclusion of Dirt Rocket really brings it down. It seems pretty clear that Oil Slick and Grindor were the two originally intended to be paired together, and our friends at ReproLabels.com have figured out why: those two were based on famous real-world vehicles. Oil Slick is The Dukes of Hazard's General Lee, while Grindor is the monster truck Gravedigger. And Dirt Rocket? Dirt Rocket is just the third wheel.

-- 11/20/07

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