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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Kamen's review: Silverbolt

Name: Silverbolt
Function: Aerialbot Commander
Subgroup: Transformers Universe Ultra Vehicles
Extra Equip: 2 1.5V AAA or R03 size batteries (included)

As the leader of a group of Autobot warriors known as the Aerialbots, Silverbolt shoulders a great deal of responsibility. He is a careful planner who never risks the lives of any of his men, unless it is absolutely necessary. All his care, however, hides a deeply insecure nature. Optimus Prime actually put Silverbolt in such a stressful position largely to distract him from his paralyzing fear of heights; a weakness he hopes the other Aerialbots never discover. He is a capable leader nonetheless, and has honed the Aerialbots into one of the finest Autobot units in the universe.

Newer fans of Tranformers may hear the name Silverbolt think first of a noble (if dopey) bird-dog. Older fans, however, will call to mind the stalwart commander of the premier Autobot gestalt team first appearing in the classic G1 episode “The Key to Vector Sigma”. Although not a regular character, Silverbolt and his Aerialbots stared in several episodes of the cartoon. This version of the character appeals to me in particular as the G2 repaint was one of my first Transformer figures. Now Silverbolt returns without his team, but in a size class that towers over his team but isn’t quite superion enough to look their combined form in the eye.

Alternate Mode:

Originally a “low flying” supersonic cargo jet that was modified (in the cartoon) to resemble a Concord jet liner, Silverbolt's Classics 2.0 update has him as a generic “fighter jet”. However, he retains his signature narrow, triangular profile. The detail put into the figure is impressive. Intakes, individual plating, spoilers, machine gun grooves, it’s all there. Even the nearly requisite undercarriage junk is streamlined and grooved to the point that is almost a non-issue. Almost. The figure has a large amount of junk, and no amount of detailing can make it look like it belongs. Silverbolt is not helped by the obvious nature of his junk either; the robot chest and arms are easily seen from any angle but the front, and a gaping hole in the rear of the jet reveals his robot head’s hiding place. Some of this is necessary and unavoidable, but after seeing the classic Seekers and, particularly, Jetfire, Silverbolt seems a bit of a throwback, even his G1 figure didn’t have quite this much undercarriage junk.

The main color of the figure is a bluish white and steel grey with darker grey highlighting some of the edges. Translucent blue plastic covers the cockpit windows, and appears along with translucent white and opaque orange on the thrusters. Black is used as a decal on the figure’s neck, writing “Bolt-25", and on both wing tips, writing “25" in the center of a silver Air-Force insignia (both are references to the 25th anniversary line due out in 2009--thanks to Nevermore for finding that info). Gold and safety orange peek out from the undercarriage, and the same shade of orange also colors the landing gear.

As an Ultra class figure, Silverbolt has plenty of gimmicks. We’ll start with the mundane and work our way up. Like nearly all jet figures, Silverbolt has retractable landing gear, which do roll, though not extremely well, but are fine for display. Silverbolt comes with a rifle (which bears a striking resemblance to his G1 weapon) and an orange missile. The rifle’s peg fits snugly in a hole beneath the plane’s cockpit. I think it looks kinda goofy there, but it offers a nice storage option. The missile does fire and travels a decent distance.

Now, then, on to the real gimmicks!

Silverbolt comes armed with several electronic features and the batteries to power them. All of his sounds are activated by pressing the maroon button between his thrusters. He has three distinct sounds that rotate in a specific order. The first is a machine gun sound that is accompanied by green LEDs that flash on both sides of the plane’s neck. Hold the button down and the sound and lights will continue until the button is released. The second press activates a short jet “swooshing” sound. A third and final press flashes the orange LEDs in each thruster port and sounds off a short thruster activation sound. I’m not a fan of this kind of thing, but it doesn’t detract from the figure, and I suppose it helps justify the Ultra price point.

Overall, Silverbolt’s vehicle mode is a nice update from his G1 mold, but considering the other transforming planes on the market, he doesn’t offer anything particularly great.

Silverbolt, maximize!

Ahem.

Silverbolt’s robot mode is just as detailed as his vehicle mode, if not more so. He is actually sculpted to give the impression of multiple layers, especially in the chest, which seems to be designed to allude to the chest piece of G1 Superion. In perhaps another nod to G1, Silverbolt appears very blocky and has almost no curves; however, his limbs are long (especially his fingers!), nearly gangly, particularly his legs, another nod to both his G1 figure and the stilt-like limbs the Superion toy ran around on. He retains the cockpit on his back and the wings behind his arms, though the orientations are reversed. A good show all around.

On of the few transformers to do so, Silverbolt’s color scheme is completely different from his alt mode. Maroon takes the lead, augmented by silver and grey, with gold throw in for good measure. Interesting fact, the color scheme matches almost exactly with G1 Silverbolt; however, this figure’s colors are dull shades. Although he does have worn appearance, the choice for subdued colors seems odd in light of the trend to give Autobots bright color schemes.

Despite the rampant nostalgia, the figure’s articulation is thankfully modern. Ratchets dominate his major joints, and bicep and thigh swivels grant him a wider range. His head is pinned, and, due to his transformation, his waist is stationary. For those concerned, the planes wings do restrict his limb rotation but only to keep them (and his head) from moving in a complete circle; he can still strike some dynamic poses, regardless. However, the plane pieces do make the figure top heavy, but not horribly so. His balance also suffers a bit because his heels don’t extend out very far, and one of mine likes to swing back into his foot of its own accord.

The gimmicks from his alt mode are modified slightly. Pressing the button on his back activates the machine gun sound, complete with the flashing LEDs on the plane’s cockpit. And that’s it. The button will activate no other sounds. However, when Silverbolt’s hips are extended or retracted the classic transforming sound will play and all LEDs will flash, including two green displays in his eyes. Once again, I’m not impressed, but he still has his gun and firing missile, so whatever.

Like his alt mode, solid, but nothing super impressive.

Transformation: Nowhere near the level 3 conversion the box proclaims, yet not as annoyingly simple as some other large figures. 3/10

Durability: His heels seem a little tender. Otherwise, no problems. 9/10

Fun: I like the character, so I’m a little bias. On the whole, though, I do think he’s a fun toy 8/10

Price: $25 USD Usually out of my price point, but Silverbolt (and Onslaught) are a special case. Still, I do feel a that I wanted a little bit more for the price. 4/10

Overall: A mixed bag. The figure is mechanically sound, but doesn’t offer much to justify either the size or the price, aside from electronic gimmicks, which are a dubious reason at best. As a Deluxe or a Voyager, I would recommend Silverbolt wholeheartedly. As an Ultra, I recommend you decide how much you like G1 Silverbolt before putting the money down for this update. 6/10 (+points for being Silverbolt)
 
 
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