Second only to my love of the Masters of the Head, Target, Power, and Micro variety is my love of the Mini-Cassette sub-group. Enough so that the tipping point that made me pre-order the upcoming Soundblaster and Twincast Encore releases was the fact that Soundblaster would be coming with Mini-Cassette versions of Wingthing and Enemy; Twincast with such remarkably obscure pieces of Transformers history as Stripes and Nightstalker.
Spoiler warning! If you intend to, but haven’t yet seen the Japanese series Transformers: Headmasters and somehow made it 24 years without learning of the shocking events of the second episode “The Mystery of Planet Master”, skip ahead.
Those other folks gone yet?
Good, we’ll catch up to them in a moment (time travel!)
After the death of Soundwave and Blaster — a condition that is only temporary, something only Steeljaw appears to understand at the time — they are rebuilt into Soundblaster and Twincast. In the cartoon they continue to soldier on with their respective army of mini-cassettes, but in toy form Twincast got a little boost in his numbers thanks to the Japanese exclusive W-Cassettebots.
I had heard a little bit about these “astonishingly rare” Japanese exclusive Dino-cassettes but was unaware of the fact that they were also Combiners. I actually only caught up to that fact when they appeared on the alternate cover to Spotlight: Blaster in 2008.
In May of this year an Ebay auction for just two of them, Dial and Saur, ended at $370. That was minus their weapons and about half of Saur’s stickers. Another auction, for a mixed lot of Transformers in which Dial and Saur can be found amongst the images, ended at $622.85. Needless to say, much like their artificially overpriced boss, Twincast, these were never going to make it into my collection.
That is until Takara decided to re-reissue Twincast (he was reissued once as an e-Hobby exclusive in 2006) and someone decided to do
high-end replicas knock-offs of the W-Cassettebots.
Even the packaging is a very good recreation. For the purists out there, there are still tons of telltale signs that easily distinguish these from the originals. Different groups have taken upon themselves to put out guides to spotting these differences to make sure nobody smart enough to read gets snookered into spending hundreds of dollars on a counterfeit.
These guys are given the sub-sub-grouping of W-Cassettebots with the “W” representing their ability to combine. “W” being pronounced “Double-U”, for those that don’t quite grasp the very tenuous association. There were actually four sets of combining Mini-Cassettes released, but the two of them exclusive to U.S. retail and only offered as mail-aways in Japan never officially received the “W-Cassettebots” association.
All four of the W-Cassettebots transform from Mini-Cassettes into dinosaur robot modes and then combine into a humanoid robot mode. Dial and Saur combine to form Legout. Until someone can tell me what the heck “Legout” is supposed to mean, I’m going to put it down to the fact that he comes from the same country that gave us Kirk, Loafer, and Rodney.
However, robot dinosaurs are still what’s cool, so these guys will take their place on the shelves in their individual robot forms.
Saur, on the left, is adorable and Dial, on the right, looks rather effective in his role of “Cybertron Natural Resource Scout”. “Dial” is actually a bit of a naming controversy. “Dairu” really doesn’t translate into anything that makes sense. Perhaps it’s meant to be “Dile” as in “Crocodile”, but even that’s a stretch. If only they had added a “y”, he would have been “Dai-ryu” (something to effect of King Dragon?)Oh well, until someone from Takara clears it up, I’ll stick with Dial. It makes as much sense as Legout.
Of course, as cool as robot dinosaurs are, it’s pretty damned funny that these guys transform from extinct animals to an extinct sound recording format.