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with Speeder

Series: G1 Japan Zone
Allegiance: Cybertron
Categories: Powered Master
Year: 1990

Prelude: Many thanks to fellow TF fan BlackZarak, who loaned me his Dai Atlas for this review.

Robot Mode: Let’s start with the fact that Dai Atlas is a pretty big robot. By today’s standards he’d be a Leader-class figure and even there he’d be among the bigger ones. Like most G1 figures, though, be they Japanese or not, his posability is rather limited when looked at from today’s perspective. He can move his arms at the shoulders and elbows, which was pretty much standard for the time. The legs can move at the hips, but with the lower legs being a single solid piece, he can’t really adopt many dynamic poses. So basically he’s relegated to standing there and aiming his gun. Oh, and he can sit down, too.

Look-wise Dai Atlas probably isn’t for everyone. He’s very 80s-Japanese-Mecha, the stylistic resemblance to other G1 toys isn’t that great. Still, I like his look despite his blockyness, as I’m a big fan of the 80s Anime-look. This particular Dai Atlas shows some signs of his age, as several of the white parts have yellowed a bit, his torso is a bit unstable, and the wings on the shoulders (just clipped in) aren’t that terribly stable anymore, but overall, still a very nice visual.

Dai Atlas’ main gimmick, which is responsible for him being called a “Powered Master” is the tank threads on his legs. Powered by the batteries behind his orange shins, Dai Atlas can roll forward and backward on those tracks in both robot and vehicle mode. I’m not sure, but I think it’s the first battery-powered rolling robot I’ve ever seen in Transformers. There are lots of TFs that can roll in vehicle mode, but in robot mode? I think he might be the first.

Not much else I can say here. Whether you like the robot mode greatly depends on whether you like his visual style, I think. Me, I like him, so for me it’s thumbs up.

Alternate Modes: Dai Atlas is a quad changer with three alternate modes to his robot mode. The first one (in random order) is his jet mode. The jet is mostly white with some black, orange, and blue inserted for colour. It’s also on tank threads, so the aerodynamics are pretty much shot, but it still manages to look like it might presumably (in some sort of science fiction universe) fly. And since this is a Japanese toy, it has a drill right up front. Yeah, those wacky Japanese love their drill weapons. I wonder why that is. Anyway, a nice-looking science fiction jet.

With but a few changes the jet turns into a tank. You detach the wings, flip open the cockpit in the middle, add two weapons, and flip the robot arms around so they point forward. Done. Now you have a tank. A drill tank, to be precise, for it has a drill weapon up front. Did I mention how much the Japanese love drill weapons? I did? Okay, moving on. The open cockpit offers a place for Dai Atlas’ Micromaster partner Speeder to sit in, alternatively he (or another Micromaster) can stand behind the rearmost gun turret, too. The tank mode looks okay, but personally I prefer the jet mode. Both tank and jet can drive forwards and backwards on their battery-powered tank threads.

Dai Atlas’ final mode is a base mode. The legs of the robot become a platform, while its upper body becomes a tower behind it. The wings and additional ramps are added and voila, a Micromaster base. Speeder and other Micromasters can interact here by shooting down the ramps, manning the guns, or driving into the hangar/garage in the base’s centre. Oh, and the base mode is the mode where you have the least parts left over, only the vertical fin of the jet mode isn’t used here. For me as a fan of old-school citybots this is a nice base mode, though there are better ones out there.

Combiner Mode: Dai Atlas is designed to combine in vehicle and base mode with his fellow Powered Masters Road Fire and Sonic Bomber. Not having either figure on hand, though, I can’t really tell you much about these combinations. You can see them in the pictures of the box.

Partner / Add-On: Dai Atlas comes with a Micromaster partner, the white sports car Speeder. Speeder is a pretty average Micromaster, his transformation into robot mode simply involves flipping out the legs and pushing the car’s hood down to serve as a chest, that’s it. He can twist his arms at the shoulders, but they’re set a bit low, so it looks funny. A bit more colour would have done him good, too.

Dai Atlas has several add-on parts included which combine into a kind of gun-on-a-sled thing, which Speeder can man. Not a must-have, but a nice little extra. Bottom line, as a simple add-on figure Speeder is okay. No more than that, though.

Remarks: Dai Atlas first appeared in the fourth and final Japanese-exclusive G1 follow-up called Transformers: Zone, which only lasted for a single episode before it was continued in manga-form. In this episode Dai Atlas fought the 9 Great Demon Generals (pretty much all the Decepticon combiners from G1 plus Trypticon and Scorponok) and was appointed Cybertron Supreme Commander by former leader Star Saber.

The toy exemplifies the increasing trend towards “anime-ness” the G1 Japan-exclusives showed in the late 80s and early 90s. Dai Atlas could easily be at home in any given Japanese robot-based anime from that time. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fun activity toy that offers lots of play value despite its limited posability, but stylistically he doesn’t quite fit with most other G1 toys. Bottom line: a fun toy, but not a must-have for anyone who’s not a G1 completists or a Japanese Exclusive nut.

Rating: B
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