Cliffbee.com: Movie Thundercracker Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Thundercracker
Series: Movie Tie-Ins
Allegiance: Decepticon
Alternate Mode: F-22 Raptor Fighter Jet

Thanks to Tiby for loaning me Thundercracker for this review



JET MODE
Height: 7cm Length: 21cm Width: 15.5cm

   A light blue F-22 Raptor fighter jet with rust red lines on the edges, including the wings, tailfins and stabilisers, Thundercracker features a black nose composed of soft plastic and a transparent orange canopy. He's a repaint of Starscream designed to resemble G1 Thundercracker, although the blue here is much lighter and the red notably duller. There are big black missile launchers sticking out from underneath his wings. Thundercracker also carries six grey missiles under the wings, which can sit either under the wingtips or in the launchers. The colours aren't terribly realistic without being that close to the colours you'd expect on a Thundercracker toy - he's stuck between two worlds.

   Thundercracker's F-22 mode isn't as realistic as I'd hope for, even allowing for the colours. There's just too much breaking up the jet mode, not least of which is a giant gap in the middle of the fuselage which allows his automorph to work. As interesting as the automorph idea is, it doesn't justify a gap like the one we see here. The missile launchers are big and prominent - and they're not realistic. The missiles can sit in racks under the wingtips, which looks credible. There are visible hinges running down the middle of the wings, which are more obvious than I'd like. The moulded details are generally pretty good - the sculpted seams, bodyshape and inside of the cockpit (with seat) are all well done. The undercarriage isn't very convincing - there's no wheel under his nose - instead there are two wheels under the fuselage while the rear wheels under rather unconvincingly underneath the missile launchers. The robot head sticks out at the back - and while the face is underneath the head is, well, a head. Add the head to the missile launchers, and there's just too much junk underneath.

   So you're probably wondering why Thundercracker has so much getting in the way of the jet mode being a jet. There are two reasons, and frankly neither is compelling. The first is his automorph feature and the second is the missile launcher gimmick. The latter does work fairly well, but I'm really annoyed that the toy has to make so many compromises to make it work - frankly it reminds of some of the larger late G1 "European" toys - and the weaker ones of that era. The idea is that as you roll the jet along, the missiles fire from his rotating launchers. If this were a tank, I'd like the gimmick a lot more. But he's not a tank, and the image of a stealth fighter lumbering along firing missiles along the floor is not terribly impressive.

   The missile gimmick isn't a bad gimmick as such - in fact the idea is actually pretty good - but it's misplaced here. While many movie toys put emphasis on the Transformer and the detail of the modes, this gimmick really steals the focus of the toy, which bugs me. The idea is that as you roll Thundercracker along the table and little tabs underneath push the triggers for the launchers. In truth it works well on surfaces such as carpet but not so well on a hard surface - for that he'd need rubberised wheels. The effect _is_ impressive, but I think it would have been more appropriate on a Fast Action Blaster.

   While there are some nice details here and the idea of a Thundercracker tribute always catches my attention, this jet mode is not up to the same standard as most of the movie toys. The basic idea is right - there are quite a few realistic details and the proportions are good, but the missile launchers ruin the effect somewhat while the transformation seams on his wings and the awful gap in the fuselage really sabotage things. The Gatling style gimmick on his launchers work well and the retractable storage racks for the missiles under the wingtips are really quite cool, but there's just too much in the way of this being a good jet mode for these things to save a mediocre F-22. The colours are halfway between the tradition colours of Thundercracker and a more realistic blue fighter, but they don't really achieve either goal.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Whilst you don't have to remove the missiles, I strongly recommend it. If they're in the launchers, you're going to fire several of them. They _can_ stay in the racks, but since they'll want to be in the launchers once you're finished, it's probably easier to remove them and stow the racks now.

   Open up the panels that hold his front wheels, and the panels immediately in front of these, slide back the legs, fold them out, close the wheel panels again. Lift up the canopy, open the panels behind it, slide this assembly up through that gaping whole, which will cause the wings to swing back and the shoulder struts to swing up, dragging the arms (his missile launchers) into place. Rotate the stabilisers, swing back his wings and fold up onto his back. Fold the nose onto his back, there's a little post that swings, clipping into his back. The nose actually locks the wings into place, which is nifty. Rotate the winglets down onto his shoulders, rotate the tailfins out to form wings of sorts (on the front). Swing out the hips, rotate his boots and fold down the feet. Fold down the cover of his head, rotate to reveal the face. Lift up his shoulders, place the missiles in his arms, open the talons on his hands.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 20cm Width: 20cm

   Again based on light blue, Thundercracker has black forearms with grey triggers and missiles, a black face with some silver details and amber eyes with a lightpipe. His elbows and thighs are grey while there is extensive silver on his chest along with the amber cocokpit. The canopy is about the only aspect of this robot mode that throwsback to the original Thundercracker - this is very much not a seeker. The colour scheme here feels a little forced - the colour scheme was designed to be Thundercracker in plane mode, but is a little messy here. It doesn't look bad mind you, since the blue, grey and black are all subdued, but the layout isn't quite natural.

   Thundercracker has a very unusual bodyshape and some aspects we don't normally see on jet Transformers. The chest is essentially diamond shaped, much like the wings of an F-22 - yet the wings are actually tucked away on his back. The fact that his wings are folded away is not only in contrast to the distinctive wings of the Seeker style, but also unusual amongst plane Transformers. The tailfins as wings on the front looks very unusual, poking out to the sides almost like shoulderpads. There are no hands - instead Thundercracker sports the missile launchers. While they do look impressive - and he's certainly well armed, it continues the dominance of gimmicks on this toy, which is out of sync with the standard movie toys. Having said that, they're less of a hindrance now than in jet mode. The claws formed from the three talons on each forearm look decent, although they can't actually grab anything. Thundercracker's entire body is very wide - from the shoulders at either side of the diamond to the gap between his legs.

   The play value then is fairly good. The launchers can again spin and fire in a Gatling guns style, or you can fire individual missiles manually if you like. The poseability is reasonable, although the play value centres on the launchers. His head turns, the shoulders rotate and lift out to the sides. The elbows lift and there are rotators halfway up the upper arms. The hips swing to some extend and can lift out to the sides, his knees rotate and swing back on ratcheting joints. The ankles are hinged with two toes on the front and back which anchor Starscream fairly well. The leg joints are generally stiff, which is good since he's quite top-heavy, and this allows stable posing. You have to be careful when posing the arms, since there are triggers on all sides of the forearms.

   I'm not a huge fan of the bodyshape here, but I will concede that the overall effect is quite thoughtful. The fact that the wings actually fold away yet the torso manages to form the same shape is impressive. The missile launchers certainly ensure he's well armed, even if his hands are reduced to rudimentary claws. The aren't any huge flaws in the mould here, but the colour scheme is centred on Thundercracker's jet mode. The unusual design won't please everyone, and there's almost nothing here that tributes the original seeker idea, which will displease some. The designer has achieved what was attempted here, without any major shortcomings.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of, although as mentioned he is a repaint of Starscream.

OVERALL

   A very unusual mould that doesn't really sit well with the more realistic movie toys. It's a very creative mould. While the robot mode essentially works, with effective missile rack hands, decent poseability and an innovative transformation, the fighter jet mode really suffers. The gap in the fuselage is awful, and more than anything else this holds back his jet mode. The missile racks really stand out more than they should in jet mode, and only compound the problems there. The colour scheme is designed around the weaker jet mode, so neither mode really satisfies me - the jet mode is weak and features colours which aren't quite G1 Thundercracker yet not especially realistic while the stronger robot mode has a slightly messy colourmap. I find the hair trigger launchers to be rather annoying - and with six easy-to-bump triggers, it's hard to avoid them. While the Thundercracker repaint is always something that interests me, this one is a regression compared to Starscream. And that's including a slight head resculpt - 4.5/10

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