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.

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