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Series: Fans Project
Allegiance: Decepticon
Year: 2015

Prelude: Legal stuff first as always. Dinoichi is not a figure released by Hasbro or Takara-Tomy and thus not officially a Transformer. He is from Fansproject and meant to portray the G1 Victory Dinoforce member Kakuryu, but for legal reasons he can’t be called by that name. Instead he is named Dinoichi, which translates as Dino One. Consequently the other three Dinoforce members announced so far are named Dinoni (Dino Two), Dinosan (Dino Three), and Dinoshi (Dino Four). The final two don’t have names yet, but following that logic I assume they will be called Dinogo and Dinoroku.

Robot Mode: Dinoichi is a stocky, powerful-looking robot who has a sort of generic evil warrior robot look. Looking at him from the front he offers no clue as to what he transforms into, he just looks strong and dangerous. His primary weapon, a grey triple-barreled rifle, fits nicely with that image, as does the rather subdued paintjob. In terms of the resemblance to the Kakuryu toy, the robot does a good job, though the figure is, of course, far bigger and more intricate than the Micromaster-sized original.

Articulation is pretty good, the only limitations being Dinoichi’s stocky build. He can still pull off all sorts of poses without any problems. For additional firepower has two big weapon pods – actually the feet and fists of the combiner mode – which he can attach to his shoulders in two different ways. They can either serve as gun pods with the gun barrels pointed forward, or as missile pods, as panels on the other side open up to reveal sculpted missile tubes. Seeing as I love shoulder-mounted weapons, those look pretty good to me.

The only slight downsides to this robot mode are the chest panels, which don’t quite close properly. It’s not a big thing and doesn’t hinder the robot any, I just noticed it. Also, not so much a downside and more of a characteristic of the design: looking at Dinoichi from behind offers a very, very strong clue into what he transforms. Overall, though, a good robot mode. Not spectacular, but solid.

Alternate Mode: A rather minimalistic transformation turns a humanoid robot into robotic monster. Dinoichi basically just swivels his upper body around, unveiling the big monster head, and folds in his robot head. Flip out the claws, turn around the feet, and you’re done. Here, too, the resemblance to Kakuryu’s monster mode is pretty good. The monster itself... well, it’s a monster of some sort. Big head with big horn and teeth. It retains the full articulation of the robot and... yeah, that’s pretty much it. Personally I think I’ll leave Dinoichi in robot mode most of the time and not bother with this alternate mode, but it does work as intended and homages the original. So mission accomplished.

Combiner Mode: Dinoichi becomes the head and upper torso of Sauros Ryu-Oh aka Dinoking. I’ll do a separate review of Sauros Ryu-Oh once I’ve got him completed.

Remarks: In the west we had the Pretender Monsters, six Micromaster-sized robots in Pretender shells made from a rubbery substance that has, in most cases, very much degraded by now. The Pretender Monsters never appeared in the cartoon and only had very small roles in the comics until IDW used them as the prototype combiner team. In Japan, though, the figures were used as the Dinoforce, same robots but with dinosaur Pretender shells instead. They were Deszara’s primary foot soldiers in the Victory cartoon, meaning their main job was to serve as whipping boys for Star SaberRoad Caesar, and Landcross.

Side note: Fansproject is also offering dinosaur-themed Pretender shells for their version of the Dinoforce, which is an armored triceratops in Dinoichi’s case. They’re sold separately and I probably won’t bother with them, but if you want to go for that one hundred percent vintage Dinoforce feeling, you can do so. Oh, and we’re probably going to see the entire Fansproject Dinoforce group being repainted in the colors of the Pretender Monsters / Monstructor team, too.

Overall I could probably copy and paste what I’ve written about quite a few individual third party figures that are part of a bigger combiner. Dinoichi is good and solid with no real flaws, but the only reason to buy him is because you want the whole thing. The price tag is hefty and the homage rather obscure, so think carefully whether you want to invest in all six figures you need for the combiner and whether you want the Dinoking version or the more colorful Monstructor variant. Me, I liked the Dinoforce in Victory and what I’ve seen so far looks good, so I’m going for it. Probably not for everyone, though.

Rating: B
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