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Transformers Combiner Wars
by yo go re

Master combat tactician.

That's the only informational text on the back of Skydive's card, so let's swing back to Generation 1 for some more info. Skydive is more interested in reading about jet fighters than being one. He's more likely to have his face stuck in a book about World War II air battles than to be in the air himself. It's not that he's a coward - he's just fascinated by the science of aerial warfare. But even though he's a somewhat reluctant member of the Aerialbot team, he is invaluable - his knowledge of aerial military tactics is without equal. The other Aerialbots constantly look to him to plan strategy, a responsibility Skydive sometimes finds to be daunting given his extreme modesty. His biggest fault, if you could call it that, is he doesn't realize how smart he really is. At least everyone else around him does.

Despite the fact that the Skydive is consistently referred to as "he," the head has a very feminine design. It's based on the art seen in the 1980s cartoon and comics, not on the original toy. Skydive's head served as his connector peg, so it needed to be square; the art had no such limitations, so he was drawn with this sort of sloping helmet.

At first, the other details of his body seem to have been invented whole cloth. The 1986 toy was as unremarkable and blocky as every other Aerialbot. But if you really get in there and examine it, you can pick out some parallels - granted, everything is extremely exaggerated, like a caricature of a caricature of a caricature, but still. The original toy's chest flared out slightly; the new one's shoulders jut out twice as wide as his waist. The original had large panels over the knees, and ridged line running down to the feet between half-hexagonal indentations; the new one has those things, but they're far more ornate than they used to be. One of the coolest new features is the pair of tiny guns mounted on his shoulders. They're easy to overlook, they're only useful in robot mode, but they're a nifty little detail.

They're also not his only weapons. He has a large gun with two pointy barrels (not, as I initially thought, a double-rocket launcher), and a smaller double-barreled rifle that's possibly meant to be an update of the "nega-gun" he used to carry. And he's got enough articulation to pose with them nicely, thanks to a balljointed head, shoulders, and hips; swivel biceps, waist, and thighs; and hinged elbows and knees.

Generation 1 Skydive turned into an F-16 Falcon. These days that would require the toy to be officially licensed, so this update's altmode is a cross between an F-16 and an F-18. He's got the right colors, though: grey body, black and gold wings and tailfins. The original had gold lightning bolts on the wings, not just gold areas, but if that bugs you, Reprolabels already has a set to fix it.

There's one step to the conversion that's a little bit confusing and totally unclear in the instructions. The robot's arms do not hinge down the way you'd expect; instead, they push straight back, then rotate down into place. Until you figure out what they're supposed to do, it's hard to guess. There's no landing gear, just solid chunks of plastic that touch the ground. They're not even shaped like wheels! The mini rockets under the wings are cool, though.

The theme of 2015's Transformers is "Combiner Wars," so no surprise that Skydive can become a limb of Superion, just as he did in the '80s. Also, just as in the '80s, he can become either an arm or a leg, "Scramble City"-style. The packaging shows Skydive serving as the left arm, though you can obviously make him whatever you want. The large black gun can turn into either a hand or a foot, depending on your preference.

Other than Silverbolt, I couldn't name any of the Aerialbots. But Skydive is a pretty cool character, according to the info that Hasbro didn't bother to include with him. In fact, here's a little more: the information-storage capacity of Skydive's cerebro-circuitry is greater than most Transformers'. This enables him to record instantaneously any flying motions he sees, and, within the limits of his design, duplicate them himself. Thus, he's able to simulate the techniques of World War II aces he's studied on film as well as the gliding patterns of birds he's watched in person. He is possibly the most skilled flyer of all the flying Transformers. How cool is that! He'd be worth getting even if he wasn't part of a Combiner team.

-- 05/12/15

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