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Transformers Generations
by yo go re

Oh boy, a new toy of an obscure '80s Decepticon leader who only ever appeared in the comics, not the cartoon! Yeah, because that turned out so well last time.

Jhiaxus longs to end the conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons. Not for peace, but because he views their battle as a stain upon the universe. To him, they're a bunch of obsolete models who should be replaced by superior beings able to rise above the urges of war.

Pronounced "gee, axe us" (writer Simon Furman's estimation of the chances Marvel's Generation 2 comicbook faced re: cancellation), Jhiaxus was the main antagonist of the comic. His cultured, controlled demeanor was a shift from Megatron's scenery-chewing anger, but he got crazier and crazier as he realized that he was not as evolved as he thought, and had the same genocidal urges as the others.

(Of course, that was the Marvel continuity - the IDW continuity is its own beast. There he's a scientist who tried to engineer advancements of the Transformer race, including combiners and females.)

This toy is a repaint of the recent Generations Starscream, which was done as an homage to SS's Armada design. Why was G1 Starscream cosplaying as Armada Starscream? Because reasons. Why is Jhiaxus cosplaying as Starscream? Because he was wearing "reactive armor" that immediately let him replicate anyone he fought. Good excuse! The design of the robot is definitely similar to the Armada Seekers: a wide, flat, horizontal chest; boxy "air intake" shoulders; rectangular forearms with pointed sections on top (and even Powerlinx ports on the sides!); and crazy angular legs with flat planes all over the place and tailfins poking out the front of the shins. To be fully accurate, the wings on his shoulders would have to point up, not down, but that's minor (and since they're on balljoints, you could do that if you want). Besides, these wings are unique to him.

A few improvements have been made since the original Armada mold came out in 2002. For one thing, the hands on this mold are larger than they were on the old one - we don't mean proportionally larger, we mean this 5" toy's hands are literally physically bigger than the old 7" one's. Obviously he doesn't have a giant spike of kibble jutting out of his back, and while he does still have the two big missile launchers laying on his shoulders, they can be rotated down to rest against his back. Progress! Plus, the nosecone now be folded away, rather than leaving him with a dangling robo-wang.

Making Jhiaxus from Starscream is not without precedent: in the comics, he was consistently drawn with Seeker-style kibble, including the head. The strongest parallel there were the vents over his ears, and those are present here. So are the ridge that ran over his head, and the tubes that plug into the sides of his chin. Also, he appears to have fangs.

Of course, the articulation on this toy is far superior to the real Armada toys. Jhiaxus has hinged ankles and knees, shivel thighs, balljointed hips, hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel and hinge shoulders (with sculpted bits that slide out of the body to make it look like the arms are still attached), and a balljointed head. There's something wrong with the left elbow on mine, where it doesn't want to bend up as far as it should, and it feels like the plastic is being warped when it's forced.

While the Starscream version of this mold came with swords (homaging the way the Armada mold's wing became a weapon), Jhiaxus has a pair of ornate grey guns. They can be held in either hand, or plugged onto the wings for storage.

Converting Jhiaxus is not terribly difficult, but there was a problem with mine: there's a peg on the missile launcher apparatus that is supposed to fit into a square hole on his back when they're tipped upward (and also in vehicle mode); for whatever reason, the peg on this figure would not fit into the hole; I had to shave some plastic off before the toy would work properly. Kind of annoying, really, but at least it was an easy fix.

In the comics, Jhiaxus had a white and yellow body, and a red head - both Marvel and IDW. For some reason, the new design has reinterpreted that as "orange as *&!$@." It's a vibrant, dayglo orange, with grey accents and a metallic blue cockpit. These colors seem to have been inspired by the 2003 KB-exclusive Universe toy, but why? Why were those chosen in the first place, and why homage them now instead of sticking closer to the comics?

Jhiaxus has a different cockpit and nosecone than Starscream did, which is why it can be folded away into the robot's torso. The rubbery nose is black, and the glass over the cockpit appears to be armored. There is retractable landing gear in three spots under the plane. It has a 5½" wingspan, and is the same length from nose to tail.

The two missile launchers on the fuselage are shaped like the Armada Seekers', but the front half is now more angular than round. And just like on the old toys, they really fire missiles! This time you don't need a Mini-Con to plug in an flip them over, however: just press on the clear section at the back, and the missile fires via friction (and an interior lining slides forward). It's tough to make them fire, but that means it will be tough to lose them.

Naturally, Jhiaxus comes with a reprint comic that has him on the cover. His is More Than Meets the Eye #27, which doesn't feature him very heavily, but at least he has things to do in it - that's more than we can say for some characters, eh?

The last time Hasbro released a forgotten Decepticon leader that nobody but fanboys recognized, it was quite the disappointment. Even with a few quirks of construction - ie, the stiff elbow and the mis-sized peg - and the odd choice to make him orange, Jhiaxus is a much better toy.

-- 10/28/14

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