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Transformers: Prime
by yo go re

Thunder! THUNDER! Thundertron, HO!

Ages ago, Thundertron swore that the creatures that caused the destruction of his world would pay for their crimes. Since then, he has wandered space in search of his revenge. His ship is primed, his crew is willing, and at long last, Cybertron is in his sights.

For the record, he's after all Cybertronians: Autobots and Decepticons alike. He's the leader of a third faction, introduced in the Exiles novel, called the Star Seekers. The novel goes out of its way to hide Thundertron's identity through most of the story, then gives him a grand reveal right at the end... and yet he's a new character no one's ever heard of. To paraphrase Morbo, drama does not work that way! It's especially glaring since all the other members of his crew are new versions of characters from other continuities, but Thundertron is nobody.

Since he's a new character, Thudertron doesn't have to homage anything in particular. So instead, he's a pirate. A straight-up, no foolin' space robot pirate. He's got wild hair and a big bushy beard - so big and bushy, in fact, that it's tucked into his coat and still sticks out at the waist! There's even a panel on his forehead that duplicates a pirate hat! Amazing!

The character was designed by Emiliano Santalucia - yes, "He-Man artist" Emiliano Santalucia. He's got the sketches on his blog and everything. The pirate theme continues nicely on the body. All his kibble arranges itself to look like a greatcoat, complete with triangular shoulder details and a flared lower edge around the legs. His lower legs can kind of look like pirate boots if you squint at them, and oh yeah, he's got a peg leg! Seriously, he's missing his right foot, and just has a pointy stick down there. Pirate!

Articulation is very nice. In general, we're just saying that: articulation is nice. More specifically, Thundertron's articulation is nice. He has a balljointed neck, balljointed shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, and a balljointed left ankle. Lots of other pieces move too, but those are for converting, not posing.

As a Voyager Class Prime figure, Thundertron comes with one of those spring-loaded, light-up weapons that everyone hates. Seriously, just like Dreadwing's gun, this is a decent accessory that's just effing ruined by Hasbro putting in an action feature. The weapon Santalucia designed was a big wicked blade (perfect for a pirate) that had a cute little lion's head that acted as a basket to protect the hand. The final product has all the same details, but it's molded in translucent blue, so you really can't appreciate them. Thanks to the action feature, it has no hilt and he can't actually hold it in his hand. He can't wield it, he can't pose with it, and it just generally looks rubbish. It could have been a great accessory, but now its best hope is that you can disassemble it and come up with something good on your own.

Thundertron has a claw weapon that plugs into the back of his arm, just like on the original sketch. It's a nice little piece, but there's an unintentional bonus, too: remove the piece from his arm, swivel a few pieces around, and it looks like a mechanical parrot! You can even perch it on Thundertron's arm, if you're careful. It's completely unofficial, but it's there. You can also use it as a foot if you want, I guess.

Judging by the giant lion face on his chest and the fact that his one remaining foot is quite clearly a claw, you can probably guess that Thundertron's altmode is a mechanical lion. At the time that made him unique, but since the entire theme of the third season is "Beast Hunters," a non-vehicular mode is getting more commonplace.

The lion mode isn't amazing, but then, Transformers lions never are. Seriously, go look: Lio Convoy, Prowl/Lio Junior, Leo Prime; none of them are what you'd call "great" Transformers. There's only one Japanese lion-bot that looks cool, and he's not a Transformer. Thundertron doesn't look bad, and that's sort of the best he can hope for.

Since he's not an Autobot or a Decepticon, Thundertron gets a different faction symbol: in keeping with the pirate thing he's got going on, it's a Cybertronian skull and crossbones. There's a lot of kibble tucked into his chest, but you have to admire the way they fake his front legs - the upper leg and lower leg aren't actually connected, rather just being positioned near one another to fake it. Well done, designers! For some reason he ends up with wings in this mode.

Apparently there are simple mods you can do to turn Thundertron's sword into something that's not unmitigated crap - thus taking care of our one real complaint with this figure. The lion's not awful, the robot's pretty cool, and overall, this is a good Transformers release.

-- 04/16/13

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