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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Clay's review of: Robotmasters Skywarp and Thundercracker

Names: Skywarp and Thundercracker
Function: Aerial Warriors, Starscream's minions

The final Robotmaster release brings things full circle. Not only have they fulfilled the old scheme of giving different toy repaints their own characters to be associated with them, but they've also come back to the original packaging to complete the nostalgia.

These are repaints of Starscream, obviously, so I'll save some time by not starting the review from scratch and point you to the RM-12: Starscream review for the synopsis of the toy design itself. For these two, I'll focus on the extras and the points that my opinion has changed about in the past year since I wrote the other review, and hopefully not echo myself too much.

A word on that packaging: it's 1984-styled box, brought somewhat up-to-date by omission of the tech spec/character bio (these are provided on the collecter card inside). The top-right corner of the box is a label proclaiming them "Robotmasters Edition", but otherwise there is no mention of the two having anything to do with the line. The box, instructions, and technical card as well make no mention of them being "Robotmasters 25", either. No comic is included as was with all the other Robotmaster releases. Obviously, they're still part of the line, but it seems as if Takara decided to have a bit of yesteryear flavored fun for the final release.

Also, just for a gentle jab, it's necessary to point out that the picture on the back of the box, even after 20 years, is inaccurate: Starscream still can't bend his knees. :P

A bit of legal stuff, too: the copyright stamps on these two, just like Starscream, Beast Megatron, and all the other new molds in Robotmasters (even the remolded G2 Tank Megatron), explicitly omit any mention of Hasbro having a piece of these. That seems to strongly suggest that these will not exported for retail outside of Japan, so if you want the toys, don't be waiting for that. Of course, it's possible that Hasbro will express interest in them at some later point, but then they would have had their copyright stamped onto the mold to begin with instead of having to add it on later.

Jet Modes:
The new seekers follow the original color schemes to a tee. Of course, these two always had more believable color patterns than Starscream. None of them match up with actual F-14 decor (of which this is very little anyway), but I can't help but think that a black jet with purple highlights would scream "shoot me after the red, grey, and baby blue jet!". Thundercracker can of course sneak by as the color of the daytime sky, but that's just not quite as fancy as a black jet.

Robot Modes:
The two robot modes are once again well done and faithful to the originals. The nicest thing about the Robotmaster mold is still the simplified accessories. No longer are the mighty Dececpticon warriors slaves to little baggies containing their hands, missles, landing gear, and wings! Everything for either mode is self contained within the toy itself. There are the little silver missle packs that attach to the robot chests, but even those can be left on in the jet configuration.

The articulation still isn't quite as great as the other figures of the line, but I've really eased my harshness on that account from when I first aquired Starscream. While it is quite limited, it's still a vast improvement over the original with elbows, hips, and the like. That, coupled with the lack of loose parts, is what really makes these newer toys preferable to the originals.

Unlike the primary line attempts to recreate old characters (Energon Downshift/Wheeljack, Rodimus, etc), these are spot on replicants of the original toys. Not only can these foster childhood reminiscences, but they also can do it without all the faults that made the originals pieces of crap. Very, very little imagination is required to identify these as the G1 Seekers, not as they were, but as they should have been. Now, if only Megatron had been a tank... hey, wait!

And a final note on the mold for the curious: yes, you can flip the plane noses up to have the conehead look, so it's entirely plausible for Takara/Tomy to modify the mold to release it as Dirge, Ramjet, and Thrust. But with Robotmasters apparently over and done with, don't hold your breath.

Transformation: 10. A great design of yesterday, improved.
Durability: 10. Little bomb shelters, they be...
Fun: 10. I should mark it a little lower since I can't chew on the nosecones like I used to with the originals, but I think I'm past that now.
Price: 7.5. Not cheap for toys this size. RM Starscream is expensive outside of Japan, and his soldiers seem to be no less popular. Not quite twice as much Starscream, but near there - around $40 for the set.
Overall: Tough to give them a concrete score. I really like them, and as they complete the original three seekers, they do have an iconic draw to them. Still, they are only available in Japan, and as such are somewhat pricey for those of us not in Japan - perhaps more so than some people are willing to pay. Still, they can be had for less than their reissue counterparts would cost, so if you want some original transformers, but don't want the problematic toys themselves, then these are your best bet.
 
 
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