|Orion Pax & Dion Review Capsule|
|Orion Pax & Dion are repaints of the reissued toys Kup and Wheelie. With no new sculpts, paint made these toys "new" again by recreating two characters from the classic episode "War Dawn" adequately. While neither will be mistaken for dead ringers for the original animation models, both look excellent as toys in and of themselves. With two weapons, three robots, and several alt modes between them, how can you go wrong? Nifty if you love fan wanks and have cash to blow. Our sample was obtained via Entertainment Earth. It's available direct from e-HOBBY for 3,990 yen plus shipping, which supposedly ranges up to $20 or so. Sells for $40-$65 at most importers.|
Having repainted every freaking mold so far with virtually no exception, Kup and Wheelie were due for the repaint treatment with the brand new Orion Pax with Wheelie set. Taking a mold that was more or less futuristic in 1986 repainted for the 2005 collector market is surreal, especially when considering that this toy was supposedly based on a vehicle mode once thought to be commonplace in 2005. While we can only wish, we are glad to see it make a return appearance. As it's pretty cool overall.
Orion turns from a futuristic (or Cybertronian) pickup truck to robot. And happens to look a lot like Kup. Dion goes from... whatever he is into a robot that looks a lot like Wheelie. And finally, Barrelroller is a recolored Recoil, and looks pretty spiffy now that he's supposedly some sort of forked lifting tool.
With three robots in three sizes, there's a lot to like here. Basically because this would have made a great gift set if sold in the USA, which, it seems, it won't be because Hasbro USA is more or less done with reissuing old die-cast Transformers for the collector's market.
The details on Orion Pax aren't exceedingly different than those on Kup. Obviously, there's some coloring changes to invoke the future Autobot leader, and when it comes to coloring, it performs admirably. With the labels providing some of the deco-- and it being the same basic label sheet that came with Kup-- paint is really what makes the details pop out. Rather than being a straight color swap, Orion has tons of new details all over the place. His legs are a pale blue grey with Optimus dark blue boots. Adding a little dark blue to the hands and with tucking most of the grey bits to the backside of the robot, which is one of the very handy things you can do with a Transformer. It's not like you can just hide a color on your average action figure, but here, it works and works well. The added splotch of yellow on the windshield area is a nice bonus, making this just a little bit more colorful than it needed to be and making it just that much better in the process.
In terms of articulation, Mr. Pax is an old timer in more ways than one. His head can tilt forward and back a little, and his arms have limited movement as they can rotate at the shoulders and wrists, and bend at the shoulder and elbow. It's not a bad example of 1980s Autobot engineering, but there's no way this figure can sit or ever be placed in a dynamic action setting. He can wave, though. Other than that, he's like most G1 toys, a nice looking statue.
Dion is interesting because, as you no doubt have noticed, he looks nothing like Dion from the cartoon. However, he looks a lot like Wheelie-- not just because he's based on the Wheelie mode, but because they painted his face to resemble the original animated Wheelie (grey face, blue eyes) and that's a nice, interesting way to go because, let's face it, you can't make a Dion out of Wheelie. It's not like repainting Cybertron Hot Shot to G1 Hot Rod and going "hey, that's pretty good." It's like repainting Bumblebee to be Shockwave. Obviously, it doesn't quite fit.
Since it's a 1980s mold, that's about where your expectations should lay. It's a fantastic little mini-bot and is as good as or better than your average Mini-Con these days. He has little sculpted hands hidden on the inside of his arms, and he has an awesome flip-up translucent blue visor, but there's no mistaking this as anything but a weird car that's been reshaped into a robot. Sometimes, the design of a robot-- even Orion Pax/Kup-- will let you see the robot mode for its own sense of being, and not merely as something standing up funny. Still, Dion's a fun little toy and if you can get one cheap independently of Orion Pax, if the price is right, you should totally do it.
One's a truck-thing, one's a car-thing.
And neither of them can do a single thing. Other than roll, really. Orion Pax can roll around nicely, and his front wheels have real rubber tires-- a nice touch, to be sure. The only interaction the toy has with its accessories in this mode is that you can place either gun-- the Targetmaster one or the regular one-- in the hole in the "trailer." It looks like that if they really wanted to, they could make an Optimus-style trailer to connect to this vehicle, and that's a really good thing.
What I really loved about this vehicle was the use of grey to invoke that the classic Optimus trailer was, in fact, present, and even more how the color completely vanishes in robot mode. Who needs subspace, when all you need to do is put the grey behind the robot? It's a great example of how to make color work for you in a situation where you can really force perspective on what can and can't be seen as articulation doesn't really play into the design of the toy.
Dion's vehicle mode sports no action features, although it's notable that now with his blue visor, you can make out his face a little. He's a neat little car, completely solid and without any problems with it falling apart. As he doesn't do much, well, just enjoy the pictures. He's a good toy, that's for sure.
Your last bonus item in this set is Barrelroller, a repaint of an old Targetmaster toy. The bio info for this toy indicates it's a fork lifter tool, but let's face it-- it's a friggin' gun. The set also includes a remake of the original Kup gun, but in a grey plastic.
It goes from gun to robot. That's pretty much it. The colors are swapped from the original release, and the yellow eyes gives this a vibe similar to old Leader-1 toys or the Mini-Con Overrun from Transformers Armada. It's pretty cool, and the robot itself looks neat enough where we wish you could just buy Targetmaster guys like this for your other robots.
This toy came packaged in a generic and frequently reused e-HOBBY G1 Autobot box.
It's interesting that the special Japanese toys come in faux-American boxes. But there's really not much to them-- they carry the spirit of the original packages but are so generic, there's not much you can expect from them. At least they're disposable.
G1 toys are hard to review because their success as an exciting part of your collection relies entirely on the enthusiasm which you bring to them. Does the idea of repainting a Transformers: The Movie character to barely resemble a Generation 1 character that appeared in one episode sound appealing? For the prices you're likely to pay, it had better.
For a fan thing, it's pretty cool. Depending on how limited it ends up being, this could end up being a highly sought-after set like the "anime" colored Astrotrain or the legendary Mini-Bots redeco set. Or it could be an overproduced train wreck. Either way, we're very fond of it and we feel collectors who like G1 that don't have a lot of G1 and don't mind spending a little bit of scratch on an item of this nature will like it. Fans sick of repaints and all things Optimus Prime may not enjoy it, though. But, as we said, we very much like it.
...although, like all recent G1-themed rereleases and repaints, it costs a lot.
Reviewed and photographed by Adam Pawlus
Sample obtained at Entertainment Earth in October 2005
Reviewed on October 17, 2005.