Alternate Mode: Fighter Jet
Height: 8cm Length: 21cm Width: 14.5cm (23cm with wings out)
A red and white swing wing jet that's strongly reminiscent of G1 Jetfire. This toy clearly represents the G1 character of the same name - but it doesn't end there. Without going into too much detail, this isn't the Valkyrie Hasbro borrowed from Macross, instead this is a swing wing jet which closely resembles a Valkyrie. The other influence here is Skyfire - the cartoon only character from G1 whom Hasbro introduced to us to advertise Jetfire. Hasbro were unable to use Jetfire in the cartoon for legal reasons (Robotech beat them to the animated license), so the simlar themed Skyfire was created. It could be argued that Jetfire and Skyfire are variations on the same character (indeed, "Jetfire" in Marvel's G1 comics was identical in appearance to Skyfire). For the purposes of this review I'll treat the two separately, since they exert separate influences on this toy.
History aside, Jetfire is a red and white jet which resembles an F-14 Tomcat and a Valkyrie without being either. Much of the plane is white with red paint on the wings, tailfins and tailwings. His canopy is transparent blue and there are some black elements here and there, including the nose, twin cannons on either side of the cockpit and the guns stowed underneath the wings. There's an optional red backpack and optional missile launchers which clip in under the wings - if you them attached you've formed the "Super Mode". While this plane looks nice enough without the extras, I'd recommend leaving them on, which improves the Jetfire homage and adds some play value (which I'll come back to in a moment). The backpack sports two thrusters at the back and there's a rubsign on his portside wing. Unusually for a Classics toy, Jetfire actually has stamped Autobot logos on the wings.
About 70% of this plane is Jetfire, including the basic shape, red booster packs on his backpack, basic colour scheme and swing wing feature. The nose and canopy are those of Skyfire. Whilst it's fair to say that this plane is Jetfire, there's enough of Skyfire here for a double tribute - which I really like. It might seem trivial - although pedantic - to note the Skyfire elements incorporated into this toy, but he's one of the few recurring Transformers from the G1 cartoon to never see release as a toy in some form.
There are three wheels underneath, all of them can roll or fold away, which I'm happy with. The black guns underneath the wings are nothing more than the halves of the robot gun, hidden away, but they do add to the arsenal of this jet. The missile launchers each fire a transparent blue missile, and while they don't quite fit into the colour scheme of G1 Jetfire, the elements of blue help the Skyfire tribute. So there. The wings can swing out, as mentioned, while the backpack can detach - which allows you to bring the tailfins up from 45° to vertical. The red boosters incorporate flip-out black cannons, which are kept in their stowed position by clever sliders. It's easy enough to deploy these cannons while the sliders hold them solidly in place if you don't want them out. The black thrusters on the back actually sit on ball joints, which is impressive. Lastly, the twin cannons on either side of the cockpit can swing through about 270°, allowing Jetfire to shoot down at the ground or above him. These cannons are actually the antennae of Jetfire's head, but do well as cannons.
All told this is a pretty nice jet mode. There is some kibble underneath - the arms (which house the weapons) sit under his wings - but not enough to seriously hamper the jet mode. Regular readers of my reviews (or those who know me personally) will know I dislike the G1 Jetfire toy - which is partly because I like the Skyfire character. This jet might be a continuation of the Valkyrie, but it bridges the gap between the two G1 concepts well. The play value is great - there are quite a few weapons and action features, but Jetfire doesn't have any stupid gimmicks (such as a crappy sound which forces him to work around an electronics block). The colours and jet elements are nice, everything fits together well - both physically and aesthetically.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Whilst the transformation is clearly based on G1 Jetfire's, there are some changes. Firstly, remove the gun halves, stick them together and set aside. Stow the wheels. Unclip the forearms from the legs underneath, extend the legs and swing up his feet. Pivot his shoulders up into position. Open the canopy, lift out the head, rotate forward. Split the nose, set aside his helmet and fold up onto either side of the canopy, fold in the back edge of the canopy, fold the canopy down to form his chest, swing up the wings. Optionally attach the helmet and handgun.
Height: 20cm Width: 15cm
A white robot with red and black here and there, Jetfire has a silver face with transparent blue eyes and the transparent blue canopy on his chest. The standard robot mode - which lacks the boosters, helmet and missile launchers, is mainly white and closely matches the Skyfire-inspired Jetfire in the IDW comics. The wings stick up from behind his shoulders, with the stamped allegiance symbols visible. Adding in the extras gives Jetfire some more colours, with the red backpack, black launchers on his forearms with blue missiles and the black gun.
The basic robot mode looks very much like Skyfire - the face, chest and gun are very much like those we saw in the G1 cartoon (and the later comic). Whilst there's still some Jetfire here - namely in the feet which resemble those of the original Valkyrie-inspired toy - the basic robot mode is all about giving us a Skyfire toy. It's been twenty years since the cartoon introduced Skyfire - about time we got a toy to match. Mind you, adding on the extras allows this toy to match the original Jetfire toy. The boosters open up and fold out to form over-shoulder cannons, and while the cannons aren't exactly traditional, they do still look like the boosters of the original toy. The missile launchers aren't traditional either, but the helmet is. With black double-antennae on either side and a simple mouthplate, it does a good job of turning Skyfire into Jetfire. The helmet is a little big - since it has to fit over the top of Skyfire's head - but there's not too much the designer could have done about this. Considering that this is the only major compromise, this robot mode does a great job of bringing Skyfire & Jetfire back together.
It almost goes without saying that this toy has a lot of play value. The detachable forearm mounted missile launchers each fire blue missiles while the boosters reveal the black cannons. These cannons feature soft plastic tips and flip out quite powerfully. The poseability is pretty good, the feet and heelspurs can close (they're ratcheted, both the feet and heelspurs move together) while the knees have both hinges and rotators. The hips swing out to the sides and while they don't actually swing, there are hinges immediately below them allowing Jetfire a wide range of leg poses. The wrists rotate while the elbows are hinged with rotators. The shoulders swing and lift out to the sides and the head turns, rounding out good poseability. I suppose it would be nice if his waist turned, but I can't see how this could be achieved with the cockpit embedded in the torso.
On the whole this is a great robot mode. There are no stupid electronic gimmicks, many of which do little more than limiting the articulation of a toy. The only gimmick (of sorts) is the battle armour, which turns the basic Skyfire-inspired robot into a more traditional Jetfire-inspired figure. Granted the battle helmet looks a little big, and if you want to get picky, the tops of his shoulders should be painted black to match the comic depiction of this concept, but on the whole Jetfire doesn't make a lot of compromises despite the ambition of trying to bring Skyfire and Jetfire together. Considering how well this figure achieves just that - while still having a decent looking robot mode and useful poseability, I'm really impressed by this robot mode.
Takara's Henkai version is a closer match to Skyfire, since the original Jetfire toy was not sold in Japan. Classics Dreadwind, a BotCon 2007 exclusive, is a repaint of this toy.
In a way this is two toys in one - Jetfire not only manages to represent the original Jetfire toy but also the cartoon Skyfire and comic Jetfire as well. Granted, all were based on the same basic concept, but the two were distinct enough that one could consider them different characters. Whilst I've no interest in _that_ debate, this toy does a great job of bringing the two versions of the concept together, and without suffering as a toy in its own right. The jet mode and robot mode are both strong with respectable play value - the launchers, boosters, undercarriage, swing wings, poseability are all givens to an extent - but there are a lot of Transformer toys that lack movement in these aspects. The colour scheme and layout allow the tributes to work while the poseability makes for a cool robot mode. I'll admit I'm biased in that I've always wanted a Skyfire toy - but the fact is that this is a good Jetfire period - that it also works so well as Skyfire and brings the two together just makes it an even better Transformer - 10/10