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Transformers Generations
by yo go re

Remember when Harmony Gold sued Hasbro? Well, the case was dismissed two months later - in fact, it was dismissed with prejudice, which means Harmony Gold can never sue about Jetfire again. So naturally, at Toy Fair 2014, Hasbro unveiled a new Leader Class toy.

Jetfire is ancient and powerful, but he would prefer to stay hidden in the background rather than on the front lines. He is a peaceful robot at heart, preferring the stately, ordered excitement of science to the frenzy of battle. But the reckless ambition of the Decepticons and the senseless violence of their war sickened him, so he left Cybertron to go into hiding. He slumbered in peace for years. Reawakened by the arrival of the war on Earth, he decided once again to enter the fight - this time on the side of the Autobots, and this time to end it for good, whatever the cost.

For legal reasons, the Generation 1 versions of this character in the toyline and the cartoon didn't look at all alike, which means that we spoiled fans expect any modern version of him to homage both. This toy starts in on the cartoon design with its head, featuring a humanoid silver face and an angular "helmet" encasing it all.

The body is an amalgam of styles. For instance, look at the chest: the blocky cockpit in the center is pure cartoon, but the angled vents on either side of it? Toy. The armor over the hips is the way he was drawn in the animation, and so are the lower legs - the knees and the armor going down the front of the shins in particular, but also the red sections on the sides of the legs, to an extent. Apparently all that attention paid to one source was getting to be a bit much, though, because the large, arching feet are a feature of the old figure! Ha! But then, just when you think you've got it all figured out? The shoulders come from 2007's Classics Jetfire. Surprise!

As a Leader Class toy, Jetfire is appropriately huge. His feet are angled, which means you have to pose him with his legs spread slightly, but his head still brushes up against the 8½" mark (and that's not even counting all the kibble on his back). He has two hinges in each ankle (a fact I didn't realize at first, which made posing and converting him frustrating), ratchet joints in his knees and hips, swivels at the top of the thigh, hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, a swivel neck and a balljointed head. Pretty dynamic, for such a big guy.

Jetfire is armed with five different guns: two pairs, and one unique. The unique one is a launcher, firing a black missile with surprising strength. The others are just red blasters (chromed, unfortunately), but the instructions show that they can be combined in various ways, even into one gigantic super-gun! It's ridiculous, but it's the fun kind of ridiculous, and you can safely ignore it if you want to.

So far, we've really only covered one homage: the old cartoon. But like we said, fans expect the toy to honor both versions at once, so this toy still has work to do.

It was The War Within that introduced the idea that Jetfire's "toy" face was a battle mask he wore over his normal face, and this toy follows suit. The mask just snaps onto the front of the head, leaving him with a blue eyeslit and an angled silver mouthplate (plus tall black antennae over his ears). When he's not wearing his mask, it can be attached to his gun. His missile launcher gun, not the other ones.

The other guns can be attached to the robot in various spots. For instance, the larger two go on the legs, at which point they cover the things that were shaped like the old cartoon design, and mimick the shapes on the old toy. The smaller guns go on his arms, but that's kind of an obvious placement that doesn't necessarily need to be inspired by anything. He definitely looks a lot bigger and meaner with all the extra pieces on.

Converting Jetfire takes some getting used to. The nice thing is, if you've got the FAST Pack on the robot's back, you don't need to take it off - it's designed with a swivel point so it can be turned to face the right direction without being removed. That's clever! Heck, you can leave all the mounted weapons in place, if you want.

Rotate the forearms in, then raise the arms and unhook the shoulders; this will allow you to lower the chest and head, so you can then fold the arms together in the middle. Fold the feet away, rotate the shins, then swing the chest down and the legs up. Turn the head around, open the shoulder flasp, and flip the entire torso backwards - be careful, though, because it's a tight fit and some people have reported the plastic around the metal pin cracking. Close the shoulder flaps, fold down the nosecone, and move the tail into position. Reverse order of instructions to convert back to robot.

Jetfire's jet mode is a jet. The original Macross Valkyries were based on the F-15 Eagle and the F-14 Tomcat, but this new design owes a lot to the F-22 Raptor, as well. The "turbo thrusters" on the top are very ornate, and, unfortunately, vac-metallized. Seriously, Hasbro has a real problem with putting chrome on everything this year. As one of our readers posited, it's like they heard fans praising Takara's decos, and thought we liked the chintzy crap more than the accurate paint. Of course, the red is already wearing off (because vac-metallizing sucks in every imaginable way), but it's easy enough to fix.

If you want a jet that's more plain, you can take off all the guns and whatnot, and just have a "normal" aircraft left over.

The wings on the plane are articulated, allowing them to sweep forward (that's the F-14 ancestry showing through). At their widest, the wingspan is 10¼" (slightly longer than the jet is from nose to afterburners), and the upright tailfins break 3". The guns that fit on the underside have slots that allow the rear wheels to still poke through and reach the ground, and the landing gear in the front can be folded into the nose. The cockpit opens, and there are two small seats in there; they'd be functional, if there were any figures small enough to fit them.

Other than the vac-metallized parts, Jetfire is pretty awesome. He's fun in robot mode, makes a nice jet, and switching between the two modes is easy to master. Plus all the removable armor and weaponry makes it like having two toys in one. Well, more than having a Transformer is typically like having two toys in one. So four toys in one, I guess. He's bigger and more detailed than Classics Jetfire, and surprisingly is pretty plentiful in stores. This mold is apparently going to be repainted into Thundercracker, which seems like a weird choice, so why not go ahead and get it now when its use still makes sense?

-- 12/23/14

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