Series: Generation 1 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 250 mph... air-to-air missile launcher under each wing fires missiles equivalent of 5000 lbs. TNT, 8 mile range. As robot, uses launchers and 4000° C thermal sword. Fragile wings vulnerable to enemy firepower.
25 years have passed since 1984, the year Transformers first appeared on the screen, accompanied by a toyline that was destined to write a first grade success story all around the globe. The original series was followed by a number of sequels and spin-offs and thousands of characters were created over the years.
How did this happen? What prompted this decades-long success story? I think the answer can be found not only in the originality of the toys, but also in the uniqueness of the characters created back in 1984. If one asks a Generation 1 fan, which figures from the original series he remembers best, one usually hears the names of characters like Optimus Prime, the heroic leader of the Autobots. Or Megatron, the evil yet charismatic leader of the Decepticons. Maybe Starscream, Megatron’s rather self-centered second-in-command, who was always looking to become number one himself. Possibly Bumblebee, the little Autobot who served as identification figure for many kinds in the 80s.
But there is one group of Transformers, who has certainly left a lasting impression, maybe more than any other special team. The Dinobots. These five Transformers transformed, as one might guess from the name, into dinosaurs and were among the favorites for many fans. One of these Dinobots was Swoop.
As a toy Swoop has something of a special status among the Dinobots, because he is by far the most rare figure in this primal quintet. Even in the days of the Internet it’s hard to find pictures of the original figure. So it foes fill me with a certain amount of pride that I am now able to present a review of him.
If one looks at Swoop, one of the things that captures one’s eye is that, for a Generation 1 figure, he’s quite close in appearance and detailing to the character we saw in the cartoon. Whereas many of the early G1 figures put a much bigger emphasis on a realistic alternate mode, usually to the detriment of the robot mode, Swoop does not have any problems in this area.
The beak of his alternate mode sits on his chest, the chromed wings on the back, even the claws of the dinosaur, which can be found on the robot’s knees in this mode, are finely sculpted and give Swoop a very wholesome look, mixed with just the right amount of the exotic to make him interesting.
Only the color scheme does not quite fit with the cartoon counterpart. In the series Swoop had a yellow/golden beak, the toy’s beak is transparent. And whereas the cartoon character featured a blue torso, the toy has a red one. It doesn’t hurt the figure in any way. Quite the contrary, I think that this color scheme here allows Swoop to fit in much better with the other Dinobots.
Interestingly enough the color scheme of the cartoon character is a pretty close match to the original toy from the Diaclone series, where Swoop and the other Dinobots originally hail from. Why the colors were changed in the end can’t really be determined from today’s standpoint, but it would be kind of interesting to know.
Now let’s look at Swoop’s posability. In this regard Swoop isn’t really any better or worse than most other figures from Generation 1. He can swivel his arms at the shoulders and, due to his transformation, his head can nod forward and backwards. Apart from that he’s a brick. Interestingly enough it would have been easy to give him functional knee joints, seeing as Swoop actually has joints there. These are pushed into his legs during transformation though, so this opportunity was ignored.
In terms of armament Swoop can either carry two small missile launchers, which fit quite nicely into his hands, or a red sword. Both looks good him and fits the figure quite well.
The only other thing I can say about Swoop is that his robot mode is rather small when compared to the remaining Dinobots. That doesn’t take anything away from the figure’s high quality, either, though. For a G1 figure, Swoop’s robot mode is really well done.
After a rather surprisingly complicated transformation, Swoop becomes a mechanical Pteranodon, a flying dinosaur. There isn’t really any room for complaint here, either. Swoop’s wings are fully chromed, which makes them a bit more delicate than one would expect from what was originally a child’s toy. But the wings really give the figure a great look.
In terms of proportions there is no ground for whining, either. Swoop looks like a flying dinosaur of the Pteranodon species should look like (as far as we know). Big wings, long beak, a horn on the back of his head.
I especially like Swoop’s sculpted details. The little feet of the dinosaur are sculpted especially well. It would probably have been easier for the designers to simply give him a bulky robot foot or something, but thankfully they took the time to sculpt actual claws. Then there’s the beak of the dinosaur, which can open up.
That’s pretty much it, though, in terms of posability. You can bend Swoop’s wings upward a little and nod his head a bit, but both are simply residual effects from the transformation and don’t look all that good, either.
There is one more extra worth mentioning, though, which Swoop has carried over from his Diaclone days, which might well have increased the play value for the kids. Swoop features an extendable landing gear. You can twist the claws of the dinosaur in such a way that wheels point downward now. And by opening up his chest panel you can flip out a hidden front wheel.
I don’t really know much about the Diaclone series, especially about the background story. But I do know that the robots/vehicles were not sentient there, but rather controlled by pilots. So I assume that, in Diaclone continuity, Swoop was some kind of primal fighter jet or something.
Whatever the reason, this little extra doesn’t really improve or worsen the alternate mode any, but I think it offered kids a few more variants in how to play with this toy. So in closing I can only say that Swoop’s alternate mode might be a mostly immobile statue - something that he shares with quite a few G1 figures, by the way - but that is quite enough for this figure.
To sum it up: I find Swoop’s alternate mode to be quite well done, too. Two thumbs up.
How do you fairly rate a figure, which has done its parts to create one of the biggest success stories in toy history? It’s not simple. Looked at from today’s standpoint, I would not give Swoop a very high rating. From a current Transformer one would expect better posability and a few more extras here and there. Swoop has little to offer there, of course.
Also, there is a good reason why Swoop is so rare. Not only did he have a smaller production run than the other Dinobots, some of whom even made it to Europe, he’s also quite fragile. Every time I transform him I get panic attacks, fearing he’ll break. The beak, the shoulders, the knees, all these are parts which, even during normal transformation, tend to break. So it’s not a big surprise that it’s quite hard to find Swoops in good condition these days.
All these are aspects which make it hard to rate this figure. But Swoop’s qualities are to be found elsewhere. Not only was his design one of the most unusual in those days, he and his four comrades had a big part in making Transformers unforgettable for an entire generation of kids. That is something that must not be forgotten.
Besides, to me he’s more of a collector’s item rather than a toy, just like the other Dinobots. So I must admit, by rating of this figure is far from objective. Which is fine because I find no need to be objective here.
Of course I’d like to say “if you can get him cheap, don’t hesitate and snatch him up”, but that’s pretty much impossible, as even the knock-offs of this figure go for quite a bit of cash.
So I can only say that I award to Swoop, just like I do to all the other Dinobots,-among whom Swoop scores second place in my personal favorite list - first class cult status. For that alone I award Swoop a fully non-objective...
PS: I owe this figure to ebay seller thetoyaddict11.