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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Blackjack's review: Air Raid

Name: Air Raid
Allegiance: Autobot
Size Class: Scouts Class
Accessories: Energon Star, Energon Spear (four pieces)

Cybertron has laws, and the Decpticons have broken almost all of them. It makes Air Raid sick just thinking about it. Respect for the law is what separates sentient creatures from simple drones. The Decepticons make a mockery of themselves and their fellow robots by their disregard for the law. Not for much longer, though, if Air Raid has anything to say about it. He's spent centuries hunting the worst Decepticon criminals from one end of the galaxy to the other, and he's not stopping until every last one is caught and punished.

Air Raid honestly did not really grab my attention initially. He was shelfwarming for a fair bit in the local toy store and I never really gave him a second chance until after Iíve experienced Crosshairs and Elita-One and decided to give these Energon-originated toys a chance. So after realizing that Air Raid comes with a massive spear (and not kibble-weapons of the other two Omnicon moulds I own) I ended up buying him.

Air Raid doesnít exactly a legacy character per se. Sure, heís an Aerialbot all the way back in G1ís second year and showed up a lot of times but heís the most boring out of the five Aerialbots, being the one that doesnít have any sort of personality beyond Ďoh he likes to fightí. To my knowledge this Air Raid is the first separate character from the original G1 Air Raid, though my definition of Ďcharacterí is apparently Ďhas a toy in a different continuityí.

Because beyond me giving him a personality in my head due playing with him as a kid, the only time Movie Air Raid has ever appeared in fiction is on a nearly non-speaking role in one of the Reign of Starscream issues where Air Raid is among a group of toy-only Autobots that Starscream murderkills.

Alternate Mode:
Air Raid transforms into a rather odd-looking jet. Itís very chunky and doesnít really look like it can take off. Itís vaguely aerodynamic and definitely looks like a jet enough to be billed as a Ďfuturisticí one, however. Air Raid is primarily cast in a nice shade of dark green, with a tasteful camo pattern being done all over his body in tan and black. The sheer un-uniformness of the camo deco has always impressed me. Other parts of him like the massive engines are cast in light gray, and two heat vents on his wings are painted white. Overall, Air Raid shares the general gist with Universe Acid Storm, and both happen to be one of my favourite paint schemes on a Transformer ever.

There are two embossed but unpainted Autobot insignias on Air Raidís wings, and a bright Sector Seven one on the center of his body. In my headcanon Air Raidís alternate mode is a Sector Seven experimental jet built in preparation for Transformer visits. He does look pretty armed to the teeth. His wing-tips are modelled like cannons, and two more sit on either side of theÖ the place thatís between the nosecone and the wings, whatever you call it.

On Air Raidís undercarriage is a folded pair of claws, which are free to swing open and close. Iíve read one of Dreamwaveís Energon comics, which featured Skyblast Ė the original usage of this mould Ė who used these claws to grab a Decepticon and then drop him from all the way in the sky. A grab-claw is an interesting and probably effective weapon for a jet, assuming the enemy survived being blown all the way to hell by Air Raidís weaponry. Regardless itís a fun little feature since it has quite tight joints and can afford to grip smaller Scout-class toys.

Air Raid comes with a fair bit of accessories, a carry-over from the original Omnicon mould. The difference is that instead of being cast in obnoxious clear plastic, Air Raidís stuff are all black. The energon star thing goes over the silvery Autobot insignia sitting in between his two tiny ineffective tail-wings, and I donít think Iíve ever detached it from him. Air Raidís spear in robot mode splits into four parts: the long handle, a smaller squarish piece and two spearhead halves. The spearhead halves slot onto the side of the wings, and the instructions recommend you to combine the staff-handle thing and the squarish thing (which has moulded detail to resemble an insane triple-barreled weapon). The wing things look mildly useful in a dogfight melee, but having a massive rod sticking forwards from under your nosecone canít do you any favours. Hell, the pressure from flying at high speeds would probably tear the entire assembly off, and thereís no practical use for attaching a long stick there other than maybe phallic symbolism.

Most kibble are pretty well hidden or incorporated into the alternate mode Ė his robot mode toes turn into gun barrels, for example. However, the head is very blatantly not-hidden under his nosecone, although itís hardly a big problem.

Air Raid is not the best jet in Transformers history, but despite looking nothing like a realistic jet it still manages to be charming and relatively cute yet threatening in its own way.

Robot Mode:
In pure coincidence, Air Raidís transformation features a geared system that fits with the theme of the 2007 Movieís ďAutomorphĒ gimmick. When you rotate the chest piece into its place, the nosecone (and the head) rotates as well. The headís transformation annoys me for reasons I will cover below, although the rest of his transformation is executed pretty well. The result is a very clean robot mode, if not one that particularly fits well with the Movie aesthetic. I do quite like his look, though. It has that nice balance between sleekness and bulkiness that makes Air Raid look like he can hold his own in a fight even if he doesnít hit particularly hard.

The headsculpt has a cocky-looking expression that fits the character well, and I do like how his two helmet-horn things are different looking, and one of them is actually one of those microphone-things. However, Air Raidís nosecone is connected to the back of his head by a bar, and the nosecone is held into place by the transformation which places a chunk of it behind the torso. So Air Raidís head articulation is nullified. You can straighten the nosecone, but it looks ugly thanks to the connecting bar being very visible, and turning Air Raidís head will cause uncomfortable clicks as the Automorph gears move by themselves in a way not intended to, and itís just screaming that it will break. Really wouldíve done better without the Automorph gimmick.

Air Raidís articulation is relatively poor. His head is disabled, as I said. His thighs are on ball-joints, but his knees are unarticulated unless you count bending laterally as articulation. The shoulders are on a rotary-hinge combination joint which is cool, and the elbows are hinged, but their articulation is relatively limited as well thanks to the thickness of the arms.

My favourite thing about Air Raid is the spear, though. The instructions try to milk the fact that you can disassemble it for all itís worth, basically citing an Ďalternate weapon formí or whatever where Air Raid has spikes on his wing kibble, and is wielding a pole and a triple-barreled cannon, but it looks stupid since the alternative is this awesome-looking spear. And compared to Crosshairs and Elita-One, Air Raidís spear is obviously a spear and not a bunch kibble parts looking like a weapon.

Air Raidís spear can be held at two spots, at the very tip of the pole, or at a little handle that juts out near the base of the spearhead. Itís also compatible with most robots that have that 5mm fist hole or whatever. Thereís also a Minicon port so the spear can plug into any Minicon-compatible robot, which is odd but unobtrusive is suppose. Air Raid looks pretty badass just holding it, and you can manage some cool poses, but the limited articulation doesnít let the spear-wielding Air Raid to manage as many poses as it can. It doesnít matter to me as a kid, though, since heís a spear-wielding Autobot bounty hunter with jet boots and a daredevil personality so heís freaking awesome despite his flaws. As an older collector? I still think Air Raid is freaking awesome despite his flaws.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 4/10 Iím torn. On one hand, Air Raid has a clean, simple transformation that results in one of my favourite robot modes and a serviceable alternate mode, but the transformation scheme causes so much articulation problems in robot mode that I canít help but give it a bad score.

Durability: 9/10 Beyond joints getting loose I donít think Air Raid is fragile at all. Heís certainly survived a lot of falls and rough playtime. The gears might be a problem but to be honest as a kid I moved Air Raidís head to pose him all the time and the Automorph still works fine.

Aesthetics: 7/10 I really like Air Raid. The robot mode is the better of the two, and even in his pudgy alternate mode, the camo deco really makes him stand out as a nice-looking futuristic jet instead of the rather banal Skyblast. That alternate mode still looks kind of bad, though.

Articulation: 3/10 Yeah, the knees and head are trash, and while he has great articulation elsewhere I still find posing him with his spear to be more of a challenge than it should be.

Fun: 10/10 I had real fun with Air Raid as a kid, I can tell you. He was one of my favourite and main Autobot characters in my small collection back then and I have a lot of fond memories of him. Besides, look at that massive spear!

Price/Value: 9/10 Six dollars well spent.

Overall: 5/10 Air Raid is one of my favourite toys of all time, and still probably will be, which makes me pretty surprised to be finding so much problems when I sit down and write this review. I honestly expected this to be a quick Ďgreat little toy, 9/10í affair. He is a great little toy, donít get me wrong, but with all the problems with articulation and the rather meh-looking alternate mode, I canít really recommend him. I absolutely love that robot mode and that massive spear, and he certainly has the best paint scheme as compared to either Energon Skyblast or the horrid Movie Skyblast, but thereís no denying that while the spear is awesome, and the robot mode is a great display piece, the toy as a whole is pretty problematic.
 
 
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