"Generations" Leader Class Jetfire Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: Q3 2014
Price Point: $44.99
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Turbo thrusters x 2, Arm mounted blasters x 2, Leg mounted blasters x 2, Missile launcher rifle, Missile, Battle Mask

*Images above with asterisks(*) and text in italics below from Amazon.com:
Jetfire is ancient and powerful, but he would prefer to stay hidden in the background rather than on the front lines. He is a peaceful robot at heart, preferring the stately, ordered excitement of science to the frenzy of battle. But the reckless ambition of the Decepticons and the senseless violence of their war sickened him, so he left Cybertron to go into hiding. He slumbered in peace for years. Reawakened by the arrival of the war on Earth, he decided once again to enter the fight – this time on the side of the Autobots, and this time to end it for good, whatever the cost.

The science-minded Jetfire figure converts from a robot to fighter jet and back again. He's equipped with a photon missile launcher, arm-mount cannon, and detachable turbo thrusters. With a removable battle helmet he wears in robot mode, he's ready for anything the Decepticons throw at him. Battle him against your other Transformers figures!

There is one name in "Transformers" history that has a certain reverance all its own: Jetfire. Originally released in the "Generation One" series, this character's toy was a licensed use of the VF-1 Valkyrie toy from the "Robotech" series. This toy was loved by fans of both series with its sleek design, die-cast metal and impressive size, most fans to this day want it in their collection. Due to licensing issues, the character was renamed and redesigned as "Skyfire" in the cartoon series, but he was not forgotten. The character would appear in the Unicron Trilogy and even received a homage in the "Energon" series as Skyblast. Then in 2007 fans were given a treat when an updated Jetfire was released as a Voyager Class figure! Since then, the closest the character has come to be in the spotlight was "Revenge of the Fallen" Jetfire. So decades after the release of the original figure, Hasbro has created a new iteration of the character, this time drawing on his G1 counterparts as inspiration.

Robot Mode:
Before diving into the design of this figure, it is very important to note that in 2013 "Robotech" owner Harmony Gold sued Hasbro over the design of a non-transforming San Diego Comic-Con exclusive toy. The suit was settled, but that's recent enough that the designers had to keep this in mind while designing this new figure. The solution? Take elements of both the original "Robotech" design and the Skyfire design from the original "Transformers" cartoon series and mesh them together into a new design! The result is a figure that is instantly recognizable, yet unique in its own way.

The source design for this figure is the original "Macross/Robotech" design for the VF-1. Paying homage to that original source design are the following features:

The "Battle Mask" design that fits over the robot head has thin antennae that sweep back and visor eyes with a mouthplate. This is inspired by the head design of the original Jetfire toy, but it also changes the details significantly including giving the mouthplate a line in the center and making each of the anttenae single, flat pieces on either side of the head.
The general design of the torso has a "V" shape with parts angling downward from the chest to a cockpit piece in the center of the torso. This is not the actual cockpit of the vehicle mode however, but rather a "faux" cockpit (the real one is on the back in this mode).
The arms are designed to accommodate two of the weapons included with the figure. These are analagous to the weapons that clipped on to the arms of G1 Jetfire.
The "Turbo Thrusters" on the back of the figure are based on the "FAST Packs" from the VF-1, though the design of these are very different. They are thinner and have more ridged sections instead of being bulkier, smoother pieces with small details on the sides. The boosters at the end are thin cones as opposed to thicker, rocket-ship style boosters seen on the VF-1.

Keeping the legal issues involved with the figure's design in mind, a lot more of the design elements owe their inspiration to the G1 cartoon/comic book model which differed quite a bit from the G1 toy:

  • The upper body design of having the wings sweeping up in a "V" shape comes straight from Skyfire whose wings stuck out in a similar shape on his back.
  • The head sculpt is based on Skyfire's head, including the large crest on the top of the head, the large "chin strap" piece and the raised circles on the sides of the helmet section.
  • The cockpit section in the middle of the torso is not just a callback to the VF-1 design, but also Skyfire in that it is not rounded but angled.
  • The shoulders are large cylinders, inspired by Skyfire's shoulder design.
  • The waist area is a direct callback to Skyfire, complete with "L" shaped sections that indent a bit with circular details inside.
  • The design of the knee armor brings it partially over the thighs. This is also a design element found on Skyfire.
  • The sides of the lower legs have beveled sections that extend outward. These parts are inspired in part, by the leg armor on the G1 Jetfire toy but also a similar design on Skyfire's legs.
  • Each foot has a raised rectangular section near the "toe" area. This calls back to a similar design on Skyfire's feet.

Combining all the design elements above creates a figure that is instantly recognizable as Jetfire/Skyfire, but has its own unique look thanks to the more intricate details such as the mechanical elements inside the cockpit window on the chest, the raised circular design inside the "L" shapes on the waist and the unique designs of he weapons. While the functionality of the weapons is inspired by G1 Jetfire (meaning they can attach to the arms and legs), their designs are unique, with many more angles and narrow barrel designs than the weapons used on G1 Jetfire. Overall this figure looks great, and at nine inches tall (minus the Turbo Thrusters) he cuts quite an imposing figure!

True to his G1 roots, Jetfire is cast in mostly white plastic with smaller parts cast in black and translucent blue. Red is the main paint color used on the figure. You'll find it used on larger sections like the armor on the sides of his lower legs and the waist as well as smaller bits such as some horizontal lines on the chest. Silver is used on the robot face and for the mechanical details inside the cockpit. His eyes are translucent blue while the crest is painted dark blue. A bit of red is used for the sculpted Autobot symbol inside the cockpit on his chest. The deco is very clean and simple, but it works perfectly for the character.

While few fans have had issues with the deco on the figure, the weapons and Turbo Thrusters are another matter. Each of the weapons is sculpted nicely, but each one is vacuum metallized red. The red is appropriate since that's one of Jetfire's main colors. However the vacuum metallized look sticks out in a rather jarring fashion. Some fans like it, others don't and I have to say I find myself leaning towards not liking it. I think the phrase "it's too much" fits here and it subtracts from the G1 authenticity of the figure. Indeed, some fans have actually taken to removing the vacuum metallized paint to make the weapons a solid red color instead. The Japanese release of Jetfire does have "solid" colored weapons, which I think look much better.

Jetfire has twenty points of articulation. This includes four in each arm and five on each leg. I found the head articulation interesting. Instead of a ball joint (the most common type of articulation for a Transformers head nowadays), the neck is one point that rotates around and the head itself is on a hinge that allows it to look up and down.

While the weapons may be a bit gaudy in color, they are super fun functionally speaking. Each weapon has 5mm peg, allowing it to attach to the sides of his forearms, the legs or in his fists. The weapons can even attach to his "Turbo Thrusters" as they have 5mm ports on them. You can also combine the weapons with each other, allowing for a variety of configurations of his weaponry and Thrusters. The largest weapon is a rifle that also acts as a missile launcher. Press the button on top and the spring loaded missile fires. I like the cross functionality of the accessories and it does make the toy fun to play with.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons, Battle Mask and Thrusters. Set them aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  3. Swing the feet back so the toes are pointing down.
  4. Swing the shoulder sections down to the sides.
  5. Pull the head/chest section forward.
  6. Swing the legs out to the sides, swiveling them on the waist pieces.
  7. Swing the arms up to the center and connect the shoulder panels together. Then swing each arm down.
  8. Lift the cockpit piece on the back of the robot and swing the section with the rear stabilizer fins back and down.
  9. Rotate each of the legs so the landing gear points down.
  10. Swing the legs up and attach the tab on the legs to the corresponding notch on the rear stabilizer fins.
  11. Swing the chest/head section forward, making sure the tabs on this piece are in the up position. Then tuck it under the front end of the vehicle form. Press it into place and swing the tabs down.
  12. Swing down the cockpit section.
  13. Attach the Thrusters to the top of the vehicle.
  14. Attach the smaller weapons to the underside of each wing.
  15. Attach the larger weapons to the sections with the landing gear on the bottom of the vehicle.
  16. The missile launcher can be attached to any port, but the underside of the nosecone is the main area it is meant to attach to.

Vehicle Mode:
The original VF-1 fighter that G1 Jetfire was based on used the F-14 Tomcast as the basis of its design. It shared many features of that jet fighter including the dual horizontal and vertical stabilizer fins in the back and wings that could sweep forward and back. Keeping in mind the aforementioned lawsuit, the designers worked to change the vehicle mode enough that it won't violate any trademarks, but will still echo the design of G1 Jetfire in this form. The result is a really cool looking jet that is both familiar and futuristic at the same time.

Using the F-14 as the starting point, the designers elongated the cockpit/nosecone section, making it thinner and bringing the nosecone to a sharper point. The air intakes on either side of the cockpit are different than the ones on the real life jet and instead have horizontal lines angling backward. The wings on the jet have a layout inspired by G1 Jetfire including large wings on the sides that can swing forward and back. There are also vertical and horizontal stabilizer fins on the back of the jet. However, these parts have very different shapes than the G1 version. The wings are much wider than the ones on G1 Jetfire and the fins in the back have more angular designs. In terms of referencing the G1 Skyfire cartoon omdel, Jetfire features two large boosters in the back, a detail featured on the G1 Skyfire animation model. I like the way the vehicle looks like it is a descendent of the original G1 Jetfire but a distinct vehicle all its own.

Another design callback to G1 Jetfire involves the Thruster accessories. The thrusters are attached to a central piece cast in white plastic with a raised circle on top. This is a direct reference to a part on G1 Jetfire that had similar features. When you attach the other weapons to the figure he also recalls the look of a fully armored VF-1S fighter from Macross, but the actual design of the weapons differs quite a bit from its Macross source so they serve to differentiate this figure from its predecessors.

Aside from big design elements, there are some sweet, more intricate details. One of my favorites are small machine gun ports on either side of the cockpit/nosecone section. Also, Jetfire has two seats and a control panel sculpted inside the cockpit. You can open the cockpit cover to get a better look at them. Sadly they do not fit Diaclone "pilot" figures (I figured it was worth a shot, but they're too big).

The vehicle mode is mostly white plastic. Soft red plastic is used for the tip of the nosecone and translucent blue plastic is used for the cockpit cover. Black plastic is found on the back of the figure in the form of the thrusters and robot feet (which stick out a bit in the back). Black is also used for the individual panels of the air intakes in the front. Red paint is used around the edge of the cockpit section and is used for stripes on the wings and stabilizers, calling back to G1 Jetfire's design. In another callback to G1 Jetfire's toy, a giant Autobot symbol is found on the top of the nosecone in red with a silver outline. The silver outline in particular is worth noting because the stickers on G1 Jetfire had silver foil outlines on them, so this pays homage to that design element.

Jetfire has 5mm ports under his wings and on the Thrusters, allowing you to attach weapons to various parts of the figure. You can also attach one of the weapons to a 5mm port under the nosecone though I personally find that looks kind of awkward. For you Macross/Robotech fans out there, you can sort of make this mode into a "Gerwalk" (think of it as a pair of robot legs and arms with a jet on top). The legs can swing down and be rotated and you can swing the arms forward but the arms are upside down so they're on the "wrong" side for a true Gerwalk mode. Still, it's a fun extra bit of play pattern I think some fans will enjoy.

Final Thoughts:
Jetfire is a fantastic update of a well loved Transformers character. It also acts as a fantastic first entry for "Generations" into the Leader Class scale. Even without the weight of a G1 predecessor, the figure is fun and awesome looking in its own right. Highly recommended!

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