Cliffbee.com: Robotmasters Thundercracker Toy Review

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Name: Thundercracker
Series: Robot Masters
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Air Warrior
Alternate Mode: F-15 Eagle Fighter Jet



FIGHTER MODE
Height: 6cm Length: 17cm Width: 12.5cm

   A light blue F-15 with silver air intakes and a black nose, as well as black tailfins and rear thrusters and an orange canopy. Thundercracker looks very similar to his animated version, and is a markedly different colour to the dark speckly blue G1 Toy. The colour layout is otherwise faithful to the original toy save for a small central black area that was blue on the original (and was painted grey on Starscream. This is a good colour scheme and it's the first time we've really had a cartoon-accurate Thundercracker. There are three stamped Decepticon symbols on this jet - one on the nose and one on each wing, facing backwards.

   Considering that the original Diaclone based toy was a fairly good representation of the F-15, it's not really a surprise that this is a better F-15. The improvements are minor, mind you. The wings now sit flush against his fuselage, the front wheel retracts rather than simply detaching. The wings, tailfins and tailwings are all permanently attached now as well - to me this is the biggest improvement. This might sound like a minor thing, but the number of wingless seekers out there is amazing - so it overcomes one of the biggest hurdles in finding the character. The last thing they've fixed up is the gap between the engines - there's now only a seam.

   There's not really a lot of play value here. The front wheels retracts, the cockpit opens without really revealing much more than a cavity and the bombs under his wings can rotate or detach. This is actually slightly less than on the G1 toy - which had missile launchers rather than solid bombs under the wings. Having said that, those launchers were terribly ineffective and Thundercracker doesn't have missiles that can get lost.

   In this mode Thundercracker has some minor improvements on his G1 version, making this a better jet mode. The most notable change is the distinctly different blue, which will appeal to cartoon fans. While I like the original toy I'm really glad to finally have a toy that matches the cartoon - even if that version was based on the speckly blue toy. The play value is about what you can expect from a fixed wing jet. The real point of this toy is the robot mode, so this plane mode is as solid as it needs to be, really.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Pretty much the same as the original, with four major differences. The head rotates, so that you no longer have his face under the nose. The fists fold down as his forearms rotate, rather than having to be added. The wings are on double joints, allowing clearance for his arms without needing to detach and lastly the boots slide down, giving Thundercracker actual thighs.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 12cm Width: 12cm

   A blue robot with a silver torso, Thundercracker sports silver pillars formed from the air intakes on his shoulders, the blue cockpit (with orange canopy) on his chest and black feet and hands. This is of course the Thundercracker we know from the G1 cartoon - he even has the whiteface with red eyes that the cartoon version has. This robot mode is distinctly different from the original's, with the face _and_ blue shade quite obviously changed, yet it's still obviously the same character. With upside down Decepticon symbols on his wings as in the cartoon, this toy is a dead ringer for the animated character. While I wouldn't call this colour scheme superior to the original, it's certainly nice to have a toy representing the cartoon version, and is a vast improvement on the horrible Actionmaster Thundercracker.

   Thundercracker is clearly inspired by the cartoon, and is very show accurate. Probably the only major departure from the cartoon is that this toy has the horizontal tailwings on it's ankles like the original - since there wasn't really anything else that could be done with them. The wings on his back are at the right height - slightly above those on the G1 toy. The weapons on his arms, based on the G1 launchers with long missiles, attach just above the elbows joints and look pretty good there. You also have the option of plugging the guns into his forearms, something that wasn't an option on G1 Thundercracker.

   As you have probably worked out, this toy is really all about the enhanced robot mode. So you'd expect articulation, after 20 years of toy technology. Thundercracker's head is on a ball joint, as are his shoulders while his elbows are hinged with swivels above then. There are also swivels in his thighs, although this represents the only jointing in his legs - although ball jointed hips do allow for some posing. The large heelspurs formed from the tailfins make the few leg poses stable, but also restrict how the legs can be posed. So the arm and head are articulated but the legs are a little disappointing. This toy is unsurprisingly more poseable than original, and also more poseable than the eyesore Actionmaster.

   I don't really mind the limited leg poseability, since knee hinges would have meant gashes in the engines on his jet mode, unless the hinges were placed mid-thigh. Considering that Thundercracker is only a deluxe - and a slightly small one at that - I think they've done a pretty good job of making a robot mode that _looks_ like the cartoon with any articulation at all. The wings are set back slightly, thanks to the double joints they rest on, which means you no longer have to tilt them back when lifting his arms.

   Aside from the largely unavoidable lack of poseability in his legs, the other flaw in this mode is the somewhat disjointed arms - the holes on his forearms appear to be a way of saving plastic, although as mentioned the guns can plug in so they're not totally useless. Plugging the guns in will prevent him from bending his elbows - I'd have preferred solid forearms without this option, since the lasers aren't something he every held in his hands in the cartoon. Still, at least we have the option. The holes are far less visible on Thundercracker than Starscream or Skywarp since his forearms are black.

   As with most Robotmaster toys, Thundercracker has some unusual extra weapons. In his case they come in the form of twin silver cluster bomb racks, which attach to his chest and have flip lids. If the lids are closed it just looks like he has chromed breasts, so I'd recommend leaving them open. I personally prefer the look of the toy without them. I'm not really unhappy with these things - just unimpressed. Sure, I don't like them, but it's nice they were included, and I have the option of ignoring them. They _do_ look better than on Starscream, mind you, since they're chrome on silver rather than chrome on red. Silly maybe, but at least they're no longer awkwardly clashing with the chest.

   The flaws introduced this time around are easily outweighed by the improvements on the G1 toy - and the forearms are far less of an issue than on the other two versions of this mould. The colours diverge quite a bit from the original toy, but are very show accurate and that alone makes this robot mode worthwhile for me. The poseability is impressive when you consider the constraints imposed by the existing transformation. Admittedly, by modern standards this isn't the best robot mode out there - but considering it had to copy an existing bodyplan, it's a job well done.

VARIATIONS

   None as such, although as mentioned Thundercracker is a repaint of RM Starscream. Thundercracker was sold in a two-pack with Skywarp.

OVERALL

   The most rewarding of the three Seekers that share this new mould, since Thundercracker's animated version was markedly different from the original toy, and this Thundercracker is a great match to the cartoon. All three are cartoon-accurate, but the wider difference makes Thundercracker the most interesting from a nostalgia point of view. Considering the limitations the designers had to work within, the mould is very well done and is far more poseable than the original. The flaws of the mould are less apparent on Thundercracker than his two brothers. While he's bundled with Skywarp, I'd recommend Thundercracker over the others, although all are good. Whether or not you want two (or three) of the same mould is up to you, but it's certainly a worthwhile mould. Recommended for fans of the character or the seekers - 9/10

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