Review by Ginrai
Jetfire has always been my favorite Transformer. Well, that's not entirely true. Optimus Prime was my favorite Transformer until Jetfire came out in late '84. I was a smart kid and I generally preferred scientist characters on TV and in movies. Egon was my favorite Ghostbuster. Naturally, I gravitated towards Jetfire, the scientist/explorer robot who turned into the coolest jet I had ever seen. When he showed up on TV as Skyfire, I wasn't too bothered that he was a less cool jet... he was still the same guy.
Then there were the comics! He looked like the TV show character, but was colored like the toy! And let me tell you, I have always loved bright colors, especially orange and red. Don't believe me?
That's me in the orange shirt circa Easter 1986 or 1987. I've blurred my sisters and cousins to protect the innocent.
I was wearing obnoxious, attention getting clothes and desperately clutching Jetfire, despite my grandma and aunts and mom all attempting to stop me. I distinctly remember my grandma yelling, "You will regret this years from now!" NOPE. STILL DON'T. I loved Jetfire so much.
Of course, the original Jetfire toy hailed from a little Japanese show called Macross that started airing as part of Robotech here a year or so later, but that's another story. Anyway, there was a really fun story arc early in the comic series The Transformers, written by Bob Budiansky, with art primarily by the legendary Herb Trimpe. The Decepticons steal Optimus Prime's head, which contains the Creation Matrix. This was originally described as a computer program that allowed the creation of Transformers life, but was later retconned into a physical object based on the Matrix of Leadership from the animated movie. Anyway, then-Decepticon leader Shockwave takes over an aerospace manufacturing plant and forces the workers to build new Decepticons and gives them life with the Creation Matrix in Prime's head. He builds the Constructicons and brings them to life. Then he builds Jetfire, but Optimus has already transferred the Matrix to human sidekick Buster Witwicky's brain so Jetfire is only a mindless drone.
The Creation Matrix gives Buster insane migraines but also supernatural powers. He understands how machines work and can disassemble them with his mind. He has telekinetic powers in addition to innate knowledge of anything mechanical. PLUS he can give machines life. Shockwave sends the lifeless Jetfire to kidnap Buster to get the Matrix back, but Buster TAKES OVER JETFIRE, disassembles him in mid-air, and later GIVES HIM LIFE. I would fantasize about being Buster and taking over Jetfire and giving him life and making him be my giant robot jet friend. I loved Jetfire so much that one year for Christmas, my parents gave me a cheap acoustic guitar and my dad painted Jetfire on the guitar for me! So you have to understand how excited I am for this new toy of Jetfire, MY GIANT ROBOT JET FRIEND.
Now this is certainly not the first new version of Jetfire.
* Transformers Generation 2 Cyberjet Jetfire (1995) - A mysteriously urban camo gray and sky blue jet based on the NATF, a proposed naval fighter based on F-22 technology.
* Transformers Robots in Disguise Decepticon Skyfire (2001) - A weird gray and purple Decepticon that looked nothing like any Jetfire or Skyfire before or since.
* Transformers Titanium Jetfire (2006) - An awkward toy based on the Transformers: The War Within comics.
* Transformers Classics Legends Jetfire (2006) - A recolor of a little cheap Thundercracker that turns into a Su-37 in colors resembling the original Jetfire.
* Transformers Armada Jetfire (2003) - A futuristic space shuttle with a Minicon sidekick, inspired by the late '80s Japanese exclusive Transformer Galaxy Shuttle. This toy also came in several variants with the Japanese toy in different colors and with more paint, the quite blue Powerlinx Jetfire recolor, and a gold vacuum metallized chrome exclusive.
* Transformers Energon Jetfire (2004) - Another futuristic space shuttle, this time riding on boosters inspired by the FAST packs on the original toy.
* Transformers Cybertron Jetfire (2005) - A green cargo plane that looks nothing like any Jetfire before or since. It was actually a different character in Japan named Dreadrock. There was also a smaller Legends of Cybertron toy based on the same design, a Happy Meal toy, and Sky Shadow, a tan and black recolor of the large toy.
* Transformers Animated Jetfire (2009) - The orange part of a duo of transforming/combining jet twins.
* Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Jefire (2009) - An old man robot with a beard that transformed into an SR-71 Blackbird. It came in several flavors including the fancy Leader class toy, a cheapo Legends class toy in several different color schemes, a simplified Fast Action Battlers toy, and a non-transforming Robot Replicas toy, as well as keychains, non-transforming diecast cars in the shape of a Blackbird (don't ask), and as part of Optimus Prime's combined mode in various places.
If you want to get technical, we can also count:
* Transformers Robots in Disguise Storm Jet (2002) - A Beast Machines Jetstorm toy in Jetfire colors.
* Transformers Energon Sky Blast (2009) - A toy based pretty closely on the television show Skyfire design but portraying a different character.
* Transformers Robot Masters R-Blade (2004) - A recolor of G2 Jetfire in original Jetfire colors representing a robotic Jetfire fan who copied his idol's colors
* Shattered Glass Starscream (2008) - An alternate universe good guy version of Starscream in Jetfire's colors.
* Transformers Gum Skyfire (2009) - A cheapo Kayaba candy toy based on Classics Jetfire.
* Transformers Bot Shots Jetfire (2012) - A goofy super deformed toy from a spinoff game.
* G.I. Joe and the Transformers Jetfire (2013) - A recolor of the non-transformable G.I. Joe Skystriker F-14 Tomcat-based toy in Jetfire colors.
* Kre-O Transformers Jetwash (2014) - Lego-like character based on the original 1980s Jetfire toy with a different name for some reason.
* Hero Mashers Jetfire (2014) - A non-transforming action figure of Jetfire designed to swap parts with other Hero Mashers toys.
There's even other silly branded merchandise like statue mini-busts, Attacktix game pieces, and even a Jetfire pocket clip! But none of stuff really satisfied the desire for a new, contemporary Jetfire. The first one to come close was:
* Transformers Classics Jefire (2006) - With this toy, the designers at Hasbro and TakaraTomy attempted to combine both the Skyfire television design and the Jetfire toy, but ended up with something clunky and weird. Without the helmet on it made for a decent-but-tubby Skyfire (or comic Jetfire) in robot mode, but the jet mode was kind of pathetic. The gun it comes with sure looks a lot like Skyfire's gun from TV, though!
It is only now that we have a proper modern Jetfire. I'm really pleased with the look of the toy! Unlike Classics Jetfire, this toy has a small, clean mask that clips on to provide a Macross-inspired head without totally ruining the proportions of the robot.
Much like the original Jetfire and the Macross toy it was based on, Generations Jetfire has detachable armor that connects to the legs and forearms, as well as a booster pack that attaches to the back. While Classics Jetfire did not come with leg armor, the armor on the arms and the backpack were a lot closer to the Macross design than these are. That doesn't particularly bug me, but I don't really like that the armor on the legs has guns pointing permanently up. If these guns were fired in robot mode, Jetfire would shoot himself in the gut or armpits or something. It's also worth noting that Jetfire has an entire unexpected joint on his booster rocket backpack! You can spin that around 360 degrees so you can have the cones at his shoulders or the rocket exhaust parts. That's a pretty neat effect.
With the armor off, the toy is much less colorful, but is actually quite close to the Skyfire television model. Here, compare to a still from the cartoon:
As you can see, it has a similar look and colors, from the head to the big beefy shoulders to the red L and inverted L shapes on his hips.
Early promotional images showed the the toy with additional paint applications (the red line originally went all the way across the chest, red ankle cuffs), but the final Hasbro toy did not have these. The Japanese edition has them, but honestly the mostly white legs and the line only on the center part of the chest is more accurate to the television show.
Articulation is pretty good, though the immobile wrists are a bit of a letdown. You get up-down ratchet joints at the shoulder as well as an in-out shoulder joint cleverly hidden by shoulder detail. You get bicep swivel and a ratcheting elbow. The head is not a ball joint, but it's hinged to look up and down and can spin 360 degrees. When you have the Macross mask on, the antennas/head lasers can interfere with the rotation.
It's worth mentioning that a pretty big flaw of this toy is the honeycomb sections on his body, which make the toy lighter (and therefore cheaper to produce in an age of rising petroleum costs). While I'm not overly bothered by the hollow spots on his inner thighs or the undersides of his hands/wrists, the outsides of his forearms look terrible. Either keep his arm armor on or I recommend looking into this fan-created upgrade kit designed to plug the holes.
The hips have ratcheting joints going forward and backward and left and right. He can raise his legs behind him farther than most humans can. The knee joint is also ratcheted and he kick himself in the back. He can also high kick easily! The feet just go forward and back and do not have a left-right ankle tilt, unfortunately. They are permanently angled a little so Jetfire is meant to be standing with his legs somewhat apart. I would prefer the ankles to be straight or have a tilting joint, but this doesn't bother me very much.
Seriously, just give him Classics Jetfire's gun. It looks so much better!
The jet mode looks really beautiful and does not have a lot of junk hanging out on the bottom as many Transformers do. Like the G2 Cyberjet Jetfire figure, this is based on the unrealized NATF design. It was not just meant to be an F-22 with variable geometry wings, it was a new air frame based on the F-22 and the fly-by-wire and stealth technology in the F-22. Here's an artist's rendering that has been kicking around since a magazine article in the early '90s I remember reading and line art comparing the F-22 to the NATF that I believe originated from Lockheed:
As you can see, Hasbro/TakaraTomy made slight modifications to the NATF design, presumably to avoid paying licensing fees. The most obvious difference is the extra extended bit on the horizontal stabilizers.
Enterprising customizers have noticed that the extended part is marked off neatly with a panel line that provides an excellent place to cut. If you wanted to, you could chop that extra part off and sand down the edge and have a much more accurate NATF without a lot of effort.
With the armor on, the jet mode looks kind of weird. Like the G.I. Joe Skystriker recolor, the boosters just seem too small in proportion to the jet fuselage, especially when you're used to seeing how the FAST packs look on the Macross Valkyries. The vertical stabilizers fold out of the way, which is nice. The jet mode does not really resemble the Skyfire/comic Jetfire look at all, but the designers didn't really intend for it to, so I'm not bothered. You can either try to cram the forearm armor onto the arms underneath the jet mode body or just give up and mount the forearm protectors on the underwing hardpoints, which look okay. They appear to be missiles in this configuration.
You can mount Generation Jetfire's gunpod under the nose in jet mode if you like, but it looks frankly terrible and makes even less sense aerodynamically than the booster packs. I appreciate the attempt at added play value, but it's just ugly.
There are some nice details like the tampo printed silver Autobot insignia on the nose, the painted guns on the nose similar to the M61 Vulcan on the F-14 Tomcat (the F-22's M61A2 is hidden under a door on the top of the plane to increase stealth), and the painted, opening canopy! You can cram some Macross pilots in there or old Zoids drivers, but Dianauts from Diaclone are way too big. I'm hoping someone will make a Buster for me, pink T-shirt and all.
People have complained about the "false" canopy on the bottom. They said it was a lazy way to make the transformation simpler. They called it cheap.
I'm here to tell you that the blue canopy on the bottom of Skyfire is supposed to be there. While the animators sometimes forgot to color it in, you can see the blue canopy painted correctly on Skyfire's underside in every single episode he appears in except for The Ultimate Doom. Don't believe me? I did some screen capturing.
As you can see, the underside canopy is screen accurate. In fact, they even depicted Skyfire's blue underside canopy on the Transformers See & Read Storybook When Continents Collide.
Now is Generations Jetfire perfect? Of course not. The hollow parts are a bummer, I wish there was a waist joint and wrist joints, and I wish there was either an ankle tilt or the ankles were straight. The US release is a little plain due to lack of paint applications (even though this is largely accurate to the show). Another big drawback to the western release is the vacuum metallized chrome on the armor and gun. It looks tacky and was already flaking off in the package when I opened the box. Honestly, it makes Jetfire look like a Christmas tree ornament. I have slight nitpicks about the design of the armor and gun. But none of that matters too much. I have been loving Bandai's consistently great S.H. Figuarts line and Legacy Dragonzord is a modern diecast joy, but Generations Jetfire is my favorite toy of 2014, hands down. It successfully combines the sleek, sexy Macross look and the chunky but lovable Transformers cartoon design into a really fun toy that looks great, especially if you take off all that armor and plug those holes with the upgrade kit.
Oh yeah, and the back landing gear don't retract.
(C) 2014 Jeremy W. Kaufmann & CollectionDX
|Posted 29 December, 2014 - 00:54 by Ginrai|