As Hasbro scrambled to fill out the ranks of the 1985 Decepticons, many of the molds available to them seemed to fit better with the Autobots. Thus, they turned to an old standby, the Decepticon Jet design. Refitted with new wings and weapons, Dirge was a new addition to the team. He transforms into a McDonnel Douglas F-15C fighter with fictional cropped delta wings and canards.
Dirge’s mold started its life in Diaclone, as the Jet Robo Acrobat Type and Super High-Speed Fighter Type. These jets were realistic F-15Cs and included small plastic and die-cast drivers that could ride in the cockpit. A promotional image with prototypes for the new seekers shows Skywarp using Dirge’s wings, molded in bright red. Dirge’s body wsa was designed by Takayoshi Doi. His US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy jet-plane was filed on December 27, 1984 (U.S. Patent No. USD293804 S).
Dirge’s alternate mode uses the same F-15C body as all the other Decepticon Jets, with the modifications made to the mold after 1984’s first production run. He features a gray translucent canopy, and delta wings with wingtip devices, and canards extending forward along the jet intakes. Dirge is primarily cast in blue, with copper-orange wings, and black accent pieces. His weapons have been replaced with long, thin guns mounted under the wings. The long delta wings are transformed slightly differently than most of his peers. The instructions suggest removing the wings and pegging them back into opposite sides, hanging down instead of inverted. His instructions show the nosecone being tilted backward like the 1984 Jets, but since his in-fiction appearances leave it pointed up like a cone head, many fans prefer to replicate this with the toy. This has the added benefit of better balancing the rotating cockpit section if it suffers from looseness (see Collector Notes, below). Dirge holds the unique distinction of being the Seeker Decepticon Jet with the fewest accessories, less than half the number than earlier members.
Like all the “Seeker Jets”, Dirge is prone to a couple common problems. The first is a tendency for the cockpit’s main hinge to become loose with wear, causing the head to slump back in robot mode. The mold had even been modified to form a tighter fit, but it still possible for this looseness to occur with wear. Fortunately, this can be somewhat remedied by storing his landing gear wheels-up inside his cockpit, the heavy diecast wheel counterbalancing the nosecone. Alternatively, he can be transformed with the nosecone on top of his head, like his in-fiction appearances. Furthermore, the tabs that clip his fists on may break, leaving a large hole in the cuff of the fist.
Amazingly, Dirge has no noted variations over the course of his original production run. His reissues are remarkably similar to the original.
Redecos & Retools
As one of the Seekers’ body-type, Dirge has been recolored and retooled innumerable times:
- Diaclone Jet Robo F-15 High-Speed Fighter Type, 1983, Japan and parts of Europe
- Diaclone Jet Robo F-15 Acrobat Type, 1983, Japan and parts of Europe
- Starscream, 1984, using the High-Speed Fighter Type deco, reissued in Japan in 2001 and 2007
- Thundercracker, 1984, using the Acrobat Type deco, reissued in Japan in 2001 and 2008.
- Skywarp, 1984, with a new black deco.
- Thrust, 1985, with new wing and tail molds, reissued in Japan in 2001
- Ramjet, 1985, with new wing and missile molds, reissued as an event exclusive in Japan in 2001.
- Generation 2 Starscream, 1993, with a new deco, new launchers and missiles, and a sound-box that attaches to pegs on the back of the jet
- Generation 2 Ramjet, a redeco of Ramjet with the launcher and soundbox changes from Starscream
- e-HOBBY Starscream Ghost Version, 2001, Japan, a version using translucent plastics, an orange canopy, and minimal decoration
- e-HOBBY Starscream Black Version, 2001, Japan, using black and gunmetal gray plastics and gold highlights
- Starscream Secret Version, 2001, Japan, a lucky draw figure limited to 5 pieces and using colorless translucent plastic for all plastic parts excepting the black pieces
- e-HOBBY Sunstorm, Japan, 2003, in a new yellow and white deco