Masterpiece Thundercracker Toy Review

in 2012, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Generation One, Masterpiece, Seeker, Toys R Us Exclusive

Masterpiece

General Information:
Release Date: August 2012
Price Point: $69-74.99 (depending on location)
Retailer: Toys R Us Exclusive
Accessories: Missile racks x 2, "Hologram" pilot figure, Megatron gun clip, Display Stand, Display Stand arm

*Images and text below from The official Transformers web site:
THUNDERCRACKER looks down on those who cannot fly with sneering disdain, often going out of his way to attack creatures that cannot fly, just to prove his superiority. It was this attitude that led to him being recruited into the original Seekers squadron alongside STARSCREAM® and SKYWARP®. Though his loyalty to the DECEPTICON cause is less than total, the fact that he is allowed to indulge his impulse to assault those he considers inferior keeps him flying for MEGATRON®.

The power of this unbelievable Masterpiece THUNDERCRACKER figure cannot be denied! This highly articulated and posable DECEPTICON figure stands tall on his display stand, his weapons at the ready. His canopy opens and his nose-cone swings open when you convert him to fighter jet mode, and his hidden missile pods give him fighter power AND firepower! He comes with 2 different heads so you can change his look depending on what kind of trouble he's about to cause for the AUTOBOTS. Take your TRANSFORMERS adventures to the next level with this incredible Masterpiece THUNDERCRACKER figure!

The Masterpiece line continues to move forward as Toys R Us exclusives in the United States. In the Summer of 2012, the latest addition to this line was Thundercracker, the classic Seeker from Generation One! Using a retooled version of the original Masterpiece Starscream sculpt from Japan, this figure was extremely hard to find at first but became more widely available about two months after its initial release.

Robot Mode Images:

Robot Mode:
Packaged in this mode, there is no way you can't help but be impressed by the look of this figure. He looks like he jumped right out of the cartoon series into a box while getting some extra super detailing in the process. The basic body form of this figure is based on the G1 cartoon. The head is flanked by the air intakes from the vehicle mode, the cockpit is in the center of the torso, his wings are mounted on the back with weapons mounted on his arms. His chest has two rectangular panels on either side of the cockpit area and his head design has a central crest with two rectangular sections next to it with two vent like panels on either side of the "helmet" section.

It's important to remember this sculpt was used for the first line of Masterpiece Seekers (including Starscream and Skywarp), but it was heavily modified for this release. Some of the changed details include:

  • The weapons on his arms are now attached via a ball joint based arm instead of being separate accessories.
  • The sides and rear stabilizer sections are no longer one long piece hanging off his hips, instead the lower legs now have those sections on them.
  • The head sculpt is new, with the vent panels on the sides that can push in as part of the transformation.
  • There are now new heel pieces that flip out from the booster area.
  • The wing tips no longer curve at an angle, instead it is larger and angles sharply up, giving each wing a fine point.

One thing that Thundercracker hasn't changed is the amount of detail sculpted into the figure. It's incredible. Every single section is full of eye candy. The chest panels on either side of the cockpit have circular fans inside of them. The sides of his torso and the waist all have raised panels on them in various shapes. The legs also have a ton of line and slightly raised panel details. Even parts like his forearms have some interesting detail patterns including irregular shapes and circles. The head sculpt is a new one, with no "face switching" option like Starscream had. Instead, it is a single face with a relatively neutral expression, but the head looks just like G1 Thundercracker from the cartoon. It's fantastic!

Thundercracker borrows his color scheme from his G1 incarnations. His main plastic colors are metallic blue, silver, black and gunmetal. The blue makes up most of the figure form his wings to the weapons, upper arms and most of the legs. The silver is found mostly on the center of the body forming parts like his chest panels, waist and the air intakes on either side of his head. The black is used for his forearms, a callback to G1 Thundercracker's forearms being made from black pieces in the G1 toy and the gunmetal color is used to form the foot and heel pieces. It's a really nice combination of colors and makes him instantly recognizable as Thundercracker.

There isn't a ton of deco on this figure, but frankly he doesn't need it. The face is painted silver with red eyes, matching the look of the character from the G1 television show. Red is also found on an angled pattern on his shoulders. While this doesn't come from G1 Thundercracker, it does match a detail on Generations Thundercracker. It's cool to see this figure pay some homage to other versions of the character as well. The fans inside his chest panels are painted gunmetal grey, working nicely with the feet, heel and thrusters on the lower legs. Inside the air intakes on either side of the head are red triangles based on the stickers used in the G1 toy. Perhaps the most dynamic looking details on this figure are the red and white line details on his wings, with Decepticon symbols in the middle of each. It's a very striking detail and really draws your eyes in. Overall, Thundercracker looks great and I really appreciate the G1 based detailing.

Thundercracker has thirty five points of articulation in this form. That's right, thirty five. This includes twelve points of articulation in each arm. This factors in the ability of the thumb and pointer fingers to move independent of each other. The other three fingers are one piece, but the fingers can also bend in the middle. Each leg has five points of articulation and the added heel pieces really give him some needed stability. His wings can move back a bit if you think they get in the way, and I love the way they look angled up to the sides a bit, giving the figure a very dynamic look.

Like the old skool Transformers Thundercracker represents (in updated form), his main gimmick is transformation, so there aren't any wacky light up or spring loaded mechanisms here. The closest thing to a "gimmick" here are his chest panels, which can flip up to reveal missile pods inside with six (non launching) missiles. Each missile is painted red. Sure Masterpiece Thundercracker isn't full of gimmicks but he is a highly detailed and articulated figure with an awesome sculpt.

There's only one minor issue with this figure. The left wing doesn't lock in place entirely the way the right wing does. Instead, it hangs back slightly, which is more of a joint issue than anything else. I haven't heard that this is a running issue with the figure so it may just be mine.

The modern day Masterpiece figures aren't heavy on die cast metal. In fact, outside of some connector hinges and rods this figure is plastic. Don't hold that against it however. They key to "Masterpiece" here is not the amount of metal in the figure but rather the complexity and detail in the figure.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. On each lower leg, lift up the panel on the back of the leg and swing the heel piece in.
  2. Rotate the front part of the foot around then swing it up to cover the thruster on the lower leg.
  3. Push the section on each lower leg with the stabilizers down.
  4. Swing out the horizontal stabilizer pieces.
  5. Push the two legs together.
  6. Fold the fingers on each hand into a fist.
  7. Straighten out each arm.
  8. Push the vents on either side of the head back.
  9. Pull the top part of the figure up.
  10. Disconnect the back panel from the nosecone section.
  11. Swing/rotate the nosecone through the hole in the center of the torso.
  12. Press the sides of the robot head in so it can pass through the ring inside the nosecone section.
  13. Open the cockpit window and swing the chair down, then close the cockpit.
  14. Connect the nosecone to the cockpit section.
  15. Swing each of the side panels up and connect them together.
  16. Swing the panels that form the side panels that go over the hips up.
  17. Fold each robot arm in against the middle of the body, the arm remains straight but the fists angle towards each other.
  18. Swing the wings and middle panel back.
  19. Straighten out each wing and flip out the edges of the wings.
  20. Push the lower leg sections up.
  21. Press all the panels on the top of the jet mode together.
  22. You can attach the missile racks to the underside of the wings or rotate the rifles from the robot mode and attach them to the holes.

Vehicle Mode Images:

Vehicle Mode:
In Generation One, Thundercracker took the vehicle mode of an F-15 Eagle. The original Thundercracker figure based its vehicle mode on the F-15, and the same was done for this sculpt. Many of the key features of the F-15 are intact including:

  • A long nosecone with an extended cockpit cover.
  • Air intakes that flank the base of the cockpit section.
  • Wings with a section on the ends cut off at angles, this differs from the original Seeker Masterpiece release of this sculpt which had pointed edges on each wing.
  • Twin horizontal and vertical stabilizers on the back.
  • Twin boosters in the back, with corresponding curved sections in between the two vertical stabilizers.
  • Weapons mounted under each wing (in this case the more 'realistic' ones are two missile racks).

In addition to these larger details, there is a ton of sculpted detail running over the surface of the vehicle. Running along the nosecone are square and rectangular line patterns. On the top of the air intakes are vents surrounded by line detail. There are also tiny circular details set in rows looking like sections that have been bolted down. Even the rear boosters are highly detailed, with layers of panels sculpted in making them look like they could actually move. Overall it's a gorgeous sculpt and it instantly catches the eye.

Just as we saw in the robot mode, Thundercracker is mostly blue plastic in this mode. The rear vertical stabilizers are black and the nosecone is soft black plastic. The cockpit is cast in translucent yellow plastic, a callback to both his animated appearance and the G1 figure. In terms of deco, the designers decided to have some fun here. There are many details that serve as callbacks to the Generation One Thundercracker. This includes the two large Decepticon symbols on his wings, the red and white stripe details on the wings and vertical stabilizers as well as the set of details (including a triangle and rectangle) on the top of his air intakes. Having so many details that come from the G1 figure really helps solidify this as a Masterpiece incarnation of the G1 Seeker.

G1 homage decos aren't all this figure has to offer. Printed in black are two shout outs to Hasbro designers ("LTC Joe "Big Daddy" Kyde" and "CPT J. "Dragon" Sass"). Also found on the cockpit section (on both sides) is the letter/number combination "D-24" (a reference to G1 Thundercracker's Japanese number designation). On the sides of the figure you'll find a tampograph of Generation One Reflector in camera mode with the words "Say cheese!". On the sides of the vertical stabilizers, there is a picture of Thundercracker holding G1 Soundwave in tape deck mode with the word "Sonicboom", adding a really whimsical touch to the figure. The deco is fantastic and I really appreciate the extra fun touches.

Thundercracker has the ability to use either of his weapons in this mode. You can rotate out the arm cannons from the robot mode and attach them to the holes on the underside of each wing. A small tab adds some extra stability. You can also fold the arm blasters in to make room for the missile racks. They don't figure, but they do look great. Each missile rack is cast in blue but the missiles are painted white with silver trim, which contrasts really nicely against Thundercracker's dark blue color.

Thundercracker's cockpit cover and lift up, revealing a sculpted seat and control panel inside. There you can seat the "holographic pilot" figure. This figure is cast in a seated position with a pilot's helmet and breathing tube coming out from the helmet. The figure is vacuum metallized silver, giving it the appearance of a glowing, but not quite "real" pilot. On the end of the nosecone, you can swing the end to the right, revealing a circular detail underneath. This represents the jet's built in radar. Want more "realistic" detail? The middle panel right behind the cockpit section can be lifted up. This is an air brake, a feature found on the real life F-15! I love these two details because they go that "extra" mile to provide realistic detail in the jet, making it truly worthy of the name "Masterpiece".

Back when this figure was first released as Masterpiece Starscream, it came with a clip that can attach to the underside of the nosecone. This allowed Starscream to attach the "Megatron gun mode" accessory included with 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime (a previous Masterpiece release), simulating a scene from the original Transformers series. With this piece being part of the mold tree for this sculpt, a blue clip is included here as well, so if you have that accessory, feel free to attach it!

If you want to display this guy in this mode, the base included with the figure makes it a snap. Slide the clear arm piece into the base on the right side, then attach the tabs on the underside of the jet to the hole towards the end of the arm. It holds really nicely and is very stable. The base itself is the same one originally included with Starscream. It has holds to allow you to attach the missiles. It's cast in black with the words "Thunder" and "Cracker" printed on it (not together as one word). Among the details on the base is a Decepticon symbol colored in vacuum metallized purple. It's a really great looking base and I'm very glad the designers put extra effort into it to provide layers of details (including tubes, panels, vents etc.) instead of just having a plain rectangle with a post on it.

I have a lot of love for this sculpt, but I do ofer this one warning. The horizontal stabilizers on the figure are attached to the main figure by very thin rods. Don't use excessive force or I'm sure they'll break! The pieces pop off fairly easily, but snap back on just as easily.

Final Thoughts:
Masterpiece Thundercracker is a fantastic figure. He looks great in sculpt and deco, his detailing is amazing and his articulation is awesome. There are some minor issues (such as the one wing being more loose than the other and the thin rod on the stabilizers) but overall this is an awesome figure for the more discriminating collector. His price tag isn't cheap however. When first released, he was $69.99, already high. Now he's $74.99 at retail. Recommended, but only for more hardcore collectors with some cash on their hands.