Monday 13 March 2017

Toybox REVIEW: 52TOYS Beast Box BB-01 DIO

Release Date: Available now (China), March 2017 (Japan)
RRP: 1512 yen (Japan)

Created by Chinese company 52TOYS, Beast Box is a line that’s quickly taking Asian toy collectors by storm. Currently available in four different flavours (BB-01 DIO, BB-02 Ghost Dog and then DIO B.B.P.D. and Neon Blue variants), these cube-to-dinosaur transforming figures have become the subject of many stop motion videos online – catching the eye of collectors across the world. Although the line is currently only available from China, a Japanese release is coming at the end of March 2017 (with preorders already available via Amiami) followed by a possible US release in the near future. Eager to get my hands on one as soon as possible, I scoured the internet to bring readers an English language review of the line’s mascot figure, BB-01 DIO, just ahead of Japanese release.

The packaging is nice, small and straight to the point. DIO comes in a small cardboard box with a large translucent window to display the toy inside (the “check it” next to the window is a great little touch), which is stored in cube mode. The front features the Beast Box logo as well as some really nice artwork of DIO, which extends around the spine to sit with the character’s tech specs. On the back are the transformation instructions, laid out on an eye-catching grid with detailed line art of the figure. What’s more exciting though is below, as 52TOYS have also included a sneak peak at some of the other designs coming to the line. With a gorilla, a mammoth and a triceratops to choose from, all of which look just as brilliantly designed (if not more so), this line is definitely going to have some big things (in small packages) going for it in the near future. 

The insert backing card also features a cool technical analysis of DIO, highlighting some of the robot’s “weapons” and features within the Beast Box fiction itself.

Open the box up and you have your “Beast Box” – a small plastic cube whose design aesthetic gives off a definite Portal vibe. Meanwhile DIO’s colour scheme of yellow, grey and white screams “construction”, so the end result is a futuristic looking cube that wouldn’t go amiss on some space age building site. With the exception of the feet, the dinosaur features are hidden really well in this mode and the cube shape itself is pretty seamless in design – especially when compared alongside some of Zyuohger’s cube animal offerings. 52TOYS have also done a great job when it comes to branding this thing, with both their name and website tampoed on together with DIO’s name. Rather than coming across as vain it really fits the overall design of the toy, as well as making the manufacturer extremely easy to remember – particularly handy if you happen to just come across a picture of it online but don’t know how to start looking for one.

The transformation is a fairly simple process, but involved enough that it feels a substantial gimmick. To start simply pull the two sides of the cube slightly away from the core to form the legs, bringing the front sections down to fully reveal the feet (the front of which need twisting to the side). At the back of the body simply flip the tail up for it to spring into place, while at the front the head can be pulled forwards to reveal the neck. The final step is to bring the arms down and flip out the claws, which can be a little bit fiddly due to their extremely small size. Once completed your cube is now an articulated robot dinosaur! The simplicity and elegance of the transformation means it’s fun to constantly flip the toy between the two modes, and with everything locking into place nicely both forms are equally solid in design.

(Since posting this review it's also been pointed out to me that the legs actually extend for further height, which is a step easily missed out in the transformation despite being clearly marked out on the packaging. The additional height is minimal, but enough to make BB-01 feel considerably less squat.)

DIO roars to life in its dinosaur mode! And have you ever seen such an adorable little robot T-Rex? The general size and proportions are very reminiscent of Gon, the small orange dinosaur that features in the manga of the same name (or better known worldwide for his appearance in Tekken 3). In this mode the colours and moulding become all the more apparent, as well as new little quirks like the piston-like neck and “headphone” ears. The slight underbite and half-closed eyes add some much personality to the design too, making DIO seem like a right irate little dino robot. And in fairness – if you had arms that small you’d probably be annoyed too.

The level of poseability the toy has is pretty great for something its size too. From top to bottom the figure has a hinged jaw, ball jointed head, collapsible neck, pin-jointed arms, claws and tail, hips, knees and finally tilting front feet for additional balancing. This array allows for plenty of “realistic” robot T-Rex posing, from having DIO on the hunt to curiously investigating his surroundings. Admittedly elements like the knees and feet are articulated as a byproduct of the transformation and as such a bit more limited, but all in all it’s a pretty wide range for something of this stature and price point.

I genuinely can’t stress enough how much I love Beast Box BB-01 DIO. This tiny, transforming cube dinosaur has melted my heart, and in one fell swoop a tiny company by the name of 52TOYS have absolutely outclassed Bandai when it comes to transforming cube animals. Small, affordable, sturdy, articulated, packs tons of personality – these are just a handful of the reasons anyone remotely interested in transforming toys/robots/dinosaurs/all of the above should think about picking up a Beast Box. Importing them from China may prove a little awkward (and pricey) for now, but come the end of March when they’ve been officially released in Japan getting a hold of one is going to be so much easier – and I fully expect them to fly off the proverbial shelves.


Alexx said...

I preordered some on sight, so I'm glad you prize it so highly. Really looking forward to it now!

Shohan khan said...
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Unknown said...

What are those skeleton dinosaurs