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Skywarp & Thundercracker

Transformers War for Cybertron: Earthrise
by yo go re

Some of our readers don't like that every Transformers Tuesday is now BotBots, so if you're among them, don't worry: you're not alone. But rest assured, this isn't some choice made just to annoy; it's because of a lack of "real" TFs that are worth getting. Hasbro catering to the G1 fandom means we keep getting the same things over and over, and not always as an upgrade. Did you get Generations Ultra Magnus? You did? Then you'll love getting another one just three years later that's smaller, with fewer features, a busier sculpt, and way worse paint! Thanks, Siege!

But if you've skipped a character's last few releases, sometimes there is value to be found. Starscream and his brother Seekers have been released at a fairly steady clip over the years, showing up reliably in pretty much every line at some point. All three were in Siege, for instance, in Cybertronian "tetrajet" mode, but Screamer had been a Combiner Wars torso two years before that, and all three of them were retools of Thrilling 30 Jetfire back in 2015. However, if you wanted a realistic jet mode for them (without paying Masterpiece prices), you had to go all the way back to 2007's Classics line. So, y'know, 13 years seems like a sufficient gap to deserve another shot.

This two-pack is a Target exclusive. While Starscream is available by himself, Skywarp and Thundercracker are only sold as a pair. While the set had some notorious trouble poppinng in and out of stock on Target's website, it's finally begun making its way to store shelves for normal fans to buy. But should they?

Skywarp is a cheap and dirty thug who takes simple joy in catching friend and foe alike unaware. Thundercracker is an independent thinker who is not wholly convinced by Decepticon dogma. Together, they fight crime Autobots! This mold is Voyager Class, making it larger than the Classics ones were - the 2007 Seekers topped out only about as high as the chest-turbines on this one, so we're already looking at a more substantial body, no matter what.

The torso is blockier here, lacking as substantial a narrowing by the waist (the thing that makes the Seeker body look like a living
being rather just a series of mechanical objects stacked one upon another). The waist piece is smaller as well. The surfaces of the body are covered with little details, like most of the toys now, but the unknown sculptor has hit a lovely balance: enough greeblies to make the parts interesting, but no so many that it starts to look ugly. The feet are short but thick, and there are ridges on the shins suggesting details on the original G1 toy.

The head is that classic "Seeker" helmet shape, at once both round and square somehow. There are vents over the ears, the angled bits over the forehead, etc. There's more of a neck here than the Classics had, so he doesn't look stumpy. While Thundercracker gets the same face as Starscream, Skywarp gets a new mold with the mouth wide open.

Speaking of that neck, it gives the head a very nice range of balljointed motion. The body also moves at the shoulders, biceps,
elbows, hips, thighs, and knees. While the feet don't move up and down, there is a rocker hinge that allows the feet to be flat on the ground even if the legs are out wide. There were apparently originally plans for a waist swivel, but that had to be done away with for the conversion process. The jet wings have hinges that allows you to fold them away from the body slightly: you could point them straight back, if you wanted to for some reason, but really they just look nice with a bit of a bend to them, so they're not sticking out perfectly perpendicular to the body. There are the usual null-ray cannons plugged into the upper arms, and those can swivel about, as well.

Although this is a two-pack, the instructions only show how to convert one of the figures. What an unbelievable oversight! As is so often the case, some of the steps don't make sense until you see what they're trying to tell you to do.

Begin by folding the hands all the way back, then hinge the forearms up; fold the lower arm up onto the elbow, and hinge the forearm you moved before back into place, functionally shortening the arms. Raise the jet's nosecone off the robot's back. Split the chest from the back, rotate the cockpit around and put in in place against the back; fold the arms in to the middle, then reconnect the chest and back. Lift the waist flap. Tilt the ankles to the side, rotate the tailfins backward, and tilt them back into place. Fold the toes down. Push the legs together, hinge open the shins, fold the legs up to the torso, then close the shins and replace the waist flap. Finish by rotating the wings into place and plugging the null-rays underneath them.

The alt mode is a traditional F-15 jet. Like we said, we haven't seen that since 2007. As is always the case, there's a bunch
of robot kibble under the fuselage, but Transfans are used to that by now. Or at least we should be. The upper body is sculpted with various seams and panels to match the real vehicle. There's no landing gear for the toy - the piece that looks like it should fold down to reveal wheels is just the hinge that moves the nosecone off the head.

Both bots have their usual colorschemes: Skywarp is black and purple, while Thundercracker is bright blue with black details
and red and white stripes on his wings. Both of them have translucent orange canopies over their cockpits, and silver chests. The toys do not duplicate Skywarp's teleporting ability, or the way Thundercracker can generate sonic booms that can be heard up to 200 miles away - you'll just have to use your imagination for those features.

This set costs $60, which honestly isn't too outrageous, now that Voyagers cost $30 individually. And with nearly a decade and a half between these figures and the last ones that turned into jets like this, it's a definite upgrade that's worth making.

-- 08/25/20

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