Phantom Wraith's review: Clear Skies Team
Clear Skies Minicon Team
When I first got wind of these three little guys, I absolutely had to have them. I've always loved jet Transformers of any kind, and these little guys have been the best yet to pull off the mode, Minicon wise. They don't have an alternate weapon mode, but each of them DO have individual tech specs, and quickly seem to take on a personality all their own. I've added functions based on their plane functions. Also, sadly, TFU seems to have a lack of updates lately, so I've had to refer to the tech spec sheet they came with.
Anti structural strike.
Steel Wind shares his alternate mode with several other recent Transformers(Cyb. Wingsaber, two of E. Superions limbs...). Something you're apt to see as certain planes gain more popularity. In this case, the model in question is an A-10 Warthog, used in Operation Desert Storm. (It took me FOREVER to find it) The coloring is quite well done, with steel Grey making up most of the body, and burgundy marking the intake, back of the fuselage, and cockpit. One thing I'd like to note right off the bat is that I'd like one of the modes to back up its stats, and Steel Wind has this covered in spades. His wings are peppered with missiles of different sorts, and he even has the A-10 auto cannon molded to his nosecone. I can just imagine this little guy coming thundering out of the clouds and unloading a plethora of explosions on some unlucky Decepticon...unless its Tidal Wave, who will wonder if it's raining...
Now, while his Alt mode is pretty pleasing ascetically, it does have one tiny drawback. If set on a flat surface, its eternally stuck in the take off position, because most of the toy's bulk is in the back. This just looks...sad, unless you have an aircraft carrier or airbase to pose him on.
This is pretty easy. Separate the front halves, and spin the forward part of the wings 180 degrees. Then fold them down so the 'feet' face straight up. Pull the engines out from the sides, and extend the fists. Next, fold the rear wings back, and separate the rear halves and voila..
Okay, heres where things start to go downhill. Steel Wind seems to have a bit of a clown thing going on...his feet are MASSIVE. The entire front half of the planes fuselage makes the feet, and sadly, they're serrated, so he can't even stand flat on them. His arms are kinda stubby, but they do have nice molded black fists, and at least his silver and black face stands out from all the Grey. It's just really sad. If our little friend didn't have a cubic aft ton of missiles on his legs, no one would even notice him.
Anti Air/Antipersonnel Combat
Thunderwing, aside from sharing a name with the recent comic book super transformer, also has a tried and true jet mode. The good old F-14 Tomcat, and in blue angels colourations no less. His entire body is cast in a deep navy blue, and bright yellow accents his paint scheme nicely. However, instead of a star, stamped on his wings is the Autobot logo, proudly declaring to all the Deceptions to just try and shoot him down. If they can catch him, that is. Theres not really much to say about this little mode. Silver is used to bring out the cockpit, and theres lots of little details on him. I guess the most interesting point is his near seamlessness. It took me a couple of seconds to figure out how everything turned and for a Minicon thats pretty good. The only thing I don't like is the location of the powerlinx point. They positioned it on the very back of the plane, as a kind of afterburner. Now, it can be turned but not straight down, so it limits who he can power link to without trying to imitate a rocket. Anyway, lets transform this lil' Smurf.
Again, split the nosecone of the jet, and fold each half up over the intake. Next, fold the rear fins down. Swing the forward wings toward the front, and pull each one so its facing down. Snag that little powerlinx point, and pull it up to reveal the robot head, then flip the entire back middle section up to fill the void you created in the front. Flip down the yellow parts and voila.
At first glance, Thunderwing didn't take me as much of a Minicon. You could only really pose his arms, and he just kinda stood there. But then I got to looking at him closer and noticed theres some great detailing. First off, his face, its kinda made to resemble the helmet of a pilot, or if you wanna really stretch it, the head of the Oz Aries from Gundam Wing. His visor eye is bright red, and his lower plate is painted metallic silver. On the sides of either arm are molded sections that might take some looking at, but can soon be made out as the robots arms, and even little fists. It's as if our little friend is holding two gigantic arm blades. Taking into account the massive speed he's boasting, I can imagine he'd be pretty effective at attacking the soft spots of larger tfs, or taking the head off an enemy Minicon.
Okay, admit it. This is the reason a lot of us pick up this three pack. Nightscream is the selling headliner for the Clear Skies, his alt mode being that of a European red dragon. Yep, that's right, big old flying lizard. Now, its not that I have a problem with this. Several of my Bigger Tfs just look blazing cool with him mounted to their arm, but that being said...why pair him up with a couple of jets? Theres no way on earth he'd be able to keep up. Anyway enough griping, after all, even as a standalone, Nightscream's not bad at all. His dragon mode is a color combo of red and orange, with nice scale detailing all over. Little applications of black have been added to give his spine some character, and poseability wise, his neck, mouth, wings, and tail all move. Thats pretty good for a Minicon. The fact that he probably breaths fire or spits acid makes him a pretty dangerous foe. Kinda like a hornet. Tiny, but I don't wanna tick him off. Anyway, let's put him in robot mode.
Okay, incredibly simple. Pull the critters sides down to form the legs. Pull the head down, and bracing the tail (careful, it pops off) twist the midsection around until the head faces the top. Bang, robot.
Skinny. Thats the first word that strikes me. He's thin, almost frail looking. His dragon arm kind makes up for it, and the other looks like it may use the tail for a whip, but for some reason, as a robot, he just doesn't impress me like the other two. Again, his face has nice detail, a red helmet framing a golden face and burning green eyes, but his chest, while painted beautifully with orange to bring out that techno-organic look, is just so TINY, and his long waist doesn't help. He kinda reminds me of the beast machines era tfs, and I was only really a fan of the Vehicons.. .Ah well, I'll just keep mine in dragon mode.
As a team, this one's pretty well rounded. You have your heavy hitter, your all-around guy, and your tactic expert. Nightscream and Steel Wind look good on most of my Autobot Tfs, but Thunderwing only really mounts well to my Cybertron Longrack. Sad, considering how good he'd look on some of the others.. Add this to the fact that Nightscream just seems so out of place with the two jets and you get the reasons for my final score.
1. Ridiculously easy, the only one I had to poke at was Thunderwing.
6. They look quite frail, but nothing has come off or fractured on mine yet.
5. This is a difficult mark, with a bit of imagination you can have fun with all three of these guys, but they are also limited in poseability and powerlinks.
8. About 8 bucks Canadian at the local Zellers. That's not too shabby.
9. A fun team, just be prepared to have Nightscream either stay behind or go alone. I guess you could also have him lead the Dinobot Minicons..