Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Birthday...the actual day, anyhow

So, my birthday went pretty well. TF wise, the only thing new to pick up in town was an exclusive ROTF Legends class 4-pack at Kmart. I never (or very rarely, actually) buy TFs there because they usually cost more than Walmart/Target and often get them (much) later, but they're the onyl one's selling this set, and unnlike with most TFs, they get their exclusives on shelves fast.

So I picked up a set. All 4 are molds I already own, but only one is intended to be the same character as the first version.

That would be Jetfire. This version of the character is the only one with an actual Autobot symbol; between that and his new colors sheme (a very nice dull silver with black trim and gold details), this is probably supposed to be some divergent-timeline Jetfire from a world where he doesn't die at the end of the movie and formally joins the Autobots. At any rate, I now can display the black version with the rest of the Decepticon movie legends without guilt.

Blades is a repaint of ROTF Springer and the other Autobot of the set. A clear G1 homage in both name and appearance, Blades is mostly white and red with some grey plastc thrown in too. The bot mode is mostly white, with the majority of the red paint only being highly visible in V-22 mode. One thing I should point out is that this mold was designed for Springer, who was intened at one point to be in the movie (he even has a Robot Heroes figurine). One of the Wave 4 deluxe toys, Blazemaster, has many similarities to the Springer design in his bot mode, and I thought that either Springer himself or Blades would be acceptable repaint options for Blazemaster. While no repaints of that mold have surfaced yet, someone at Hasbro was clearly thinking along some of the same lines as me when designing this Legends class Blades repaint. At any rate, it's very appropriate and works well.

Spinister is a Blackout (2007 Movie) repaint, and probably the best looking version of the mold. I own 2 other versions - the 2007 original and the Allspark Power Desert repaint. Actually, if you took the desert version and replaced the tan plastic with the very dark purple (almost black) of Spinister, you'd be able to imagine what Spinister looks like. They have very similar paint apps (purple strips here and there). Overall, it looks like Spinister is sporting the official Decepticon colors and he looks good doing it. Also, Spinister is another G1 homage, although mostly just in name. The G1 version's colors are not very close to this new one.

Lastly, there's Thundercracker, the original reason I bought the set. He's a Seeker repaint of the 2007 movie Starscream mold, and he looks pretty sharp. His colors closely mirror the voyager version (also from the 2007 line). One key difference is the head; this mold has the Starscream head design seen in the movie, whereas the larger Thundercracker has the more G1-looking head mold shared with the G1-style 2007 Starscream and ROTF Skywarp. They did manage to paint the head the same colors as the larger toy's head (black) and ultimately it looks fine. I'd been using the Stealth Starscream repaint as Skywarp for over a year anyway, and he also has the difference in head designs. Not a big deal, I suppose.

In summation, this is one of the few ROTF Legends exclusive sets that actually seemed worth getting to me. None of the repaints are "half-baked" like the Sideswipe and Mudflap in the Walmart Fearswoop set or the Ironhide and (again) Mudflap from the Target Straightaway Shootout set. They're mostly new characters (compared to the original mold releases, anyway), adn the one that's not is clearly different looking from the eariler summer release (Jetfire). THe set will also attract Seeker collectors (like me), aerial mode enthusiasts (like me), and folks excited by the return of Spinister (me, not so much). It's a bit pricey, but worth it if you like legends toys.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Birthday haul: 2009 edition/Leader Jetfire review

Ok, so I still haven't seen Leader class Jetfire on a store shelf. I ordered him, along with Blazemaster, Arcee, Thrust, and Long Haul from Hasbro Toy Store's site late in August and got the box soon after.

I've opened them all as of last Friday (although my birthday is tomorrow), and they're all pretty great.

Jetfire himself, of course, was the big chunk of cash in this set and physically the largest, too. IN fact, his SR-71 alt mode is one of the biggest aircraft transformers I own (or that exist - I don't know if even Cybertron Supreme Starscream is this long). In that regard, this toy is a great example of what can be done with the Leader size class. The robot and combined modes (with ROTF Leader Optimus, of course) are pretty great, too.

However, the toy does have a number of drawbacks. First and foremost is the glaring disparity in alt mode between robot parts and SR-71 parts; basically, the alt mode is a SR-71 with Jetfire attached to the bottom. The effect is very similar to last year's Universe Silverbolt, who also turned into a long, thin aircraft with a block of robot underneath. However, it was much more forgiveable on that toy, even if the effect of Jetfire's undercarriage kibble is somewhat mitigated by his interesting transformation. There's also parts that exist only for the combined mode that are very much in the way in both robot and jet mode, specifically the 2 grey connectors that stick out in front of his shoulders (these connect to Optimus' back) and the abdominal plate/belt for Optimus, which just hangs off of Jetfire's back and gets in the way of stowing his legs in jet mode. Jetfire's also very cheaty when it comes to his transformation. Because there are virtually no shared robot/jet parts, that means that the parts in robto mode that are supposed to come from the SR-71 are totally fake and sort of redundant. The most glaring examples of this are the canopy helmet and the ramjet thighs. I blame most of this (particularly the thighs) on the necessity of combination, as both smaller versions of Jetfire (FAB and Legends) found a way to keep the thighs and the ramjets as the same pieces. Lastly, Transformation to SR-71 mode is not very fun. The "wing" panels above the head that become the root of the plane's neck are not fun to get in place and frequently pop of their ball joints. Also, ramjet sections do not connect very well to the rear fuselage - when you've got one solidly connected, it will come undoned again when you get the other in place. Very annoying. Also, the chines (sharp edges) of the fuselage are pretty sharp for a toy and can cause a bit of pain if you're squeezing the foreward fuselage halves together.

Also, while the ramjet sections are limbs in their own right and very fun to pose (don't forget, in the movie, Optimus flipped them around to use as cannons!), but the joints are very weak and do not support the large engines very well.

Gimmick-wise, Jetfire's ok. He has the same basic Mech Alive feature as ROTF Leader Megatron - slide down a lever on his chest, and internal gears and external armor plating move around (along with the head) while he says, in his very Scottish accent, "Jetfire's my name." However, like with Megatron, this also makes his head loose and difficult to keep in one spot. Luckily, his "whiskers" are posable and just stiff enough to make him look left or right if positioned correctly. His forehead is a fake SR-71 canopy (the real one splts in halve and is part of his arm kibble) with a red light behind the windows; there's another red light inside the chest (on the interior torso block) that's left of center, possibly to represent his spark/heart. It's also red. Both light up whenever the electronics are activated. He has three sounds other than his speech: a swooping aircraft sound (made by pressing a button on the aft fusealge), a nondescrpit mechanical moving sound (next to the swoop button, but typically only accessible in combined mode when panel covering it is in gun mode) and a very nice transformation sound when you transform his torso (in either direction).

He has 3 removable weapons: his gatling gun-shaped missile launcher, his landing gear cane, and the gun formed from his rear fuselage and landing gear for combined mode with Optimus. I think I like the missile launcher the best. It's an out-and-out weapon, and as such doesn't look so obviously kibble-based as the bigger gun does. Plus, he can use it in all three modes, not just one.
The cane is somewhat difficult to keep in place either in hand or as the nose landing gear wheel.

Overall, he's pretty cool. One funny thing about him is the stark difference between his appearance and characterization: he looks just as demonic/evil as ROTF Megatron (more vampiric, really,, but evil all the same) and has no less than 4 Deception symbols, but in the movie (and on the packaging) he's an Autobot. A rather helpful and friendly, if cantankerous, one, too. While the toy might be able to go back and forth between robot and combined mode, in the film Jetfire sacrifices his own life to combine with Prime so that Optimus can have enough power to defeat the Fallen. Pretty stand-up guy, really. But don't give this toy to a little kid. He looks like the damn devil and will be a pain to transform.