Transformers Classics (Jetfire Review)

in 2006, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Classics, Generation One

General Information:
Release Year: December 2006
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $9.99 (Average depending on retailer)
Accessories: Rifle, Missiles x 2, Booster pack, Battle helmet

Images:

*Image from the official Transformers web site.

Tech Specs:*
Motto: "Victory lies in the conquest of unknown mysteries."
JETFIRE was once famous across the face of CYBERTRON. As a great scientist and explorer, he was the first to journey to the black depths of deep space, and the only one to ever face and defeat the star pirates of the Blot Nebula. It was because of his status as a hero that his sudden disappearance was greeted with worldwide dismay. He was discovered millions of years later, frozen deep within the Arctic glacier on Earth, and rose immediately to the challenge presented by the DECEPTICONS. He is among the mightiest and bravest of the AUTOBOTS, diving into battle without a moment's hesitation, the stuttering roar of his particle beam repeaters drowning out all other sounds.

Strength: 6 Intelligence: 10 Speed: 10 Endurance: 5 Rank: 10 Courage: 9 Firepower: 7 Skill: 9

There are some Transformers from the G1 era that inspire a bit of awe from most fans whenever you refer to them. Some of the names are obvious such as Omega Supreme or Fortress Maximus for their sheer size. The story of Jetfire is a different one however, and one that will most likely not be repeated any time soon. During the rush to expand the 1985 Transformers line beyond the scope of the sculpts Takara and Hasbro had developed, Hasbro sought out transformable robots they could add to expand the line. One of the sculpts/molds they chose was the Veritech Valkyrie fighter from Robotech. Given a new deco and the identity of Jetfire, this went on to become one of the most popular Transformers toys out there thanks to its sleek form, a ton of accessories and partly die-cast construction. However, because the actual molds for this figure belonged to Takara (and later Hasbro) competitor Bandai, the look of the character had to be changed for his appearances in the G1 cartoon and comic book. Taking it one step further, he was given a new name in the G1 cartoon: Skyfire.

For a long time it seemed unlikely fans would ever see another Jetfire figure based on the G1 design (although the Energon Sky Blast was a nice homage in its own way). When it came time to reimagine certain G1 characters in the Classics line, the designers at Hasbro saw a golden opportunity to bring back Jetfire in toy form.

Vehicle Mode:
The original Jetfire figure was based on the (then) popular F-14 Tomcat fighter jet. It featured both horizontal and vertical fins along with wings that could vary their position forward and back. When the toy's look was modified for the animated series, the designers actually made the character much bulkier and turned his jet mode into a more squared off looking carrier vehicle that could take on passengers in its underside compartment. When creating this updated Jetfire, the designers decided to work in a compromise that would take elements of both G1 Jetfire and Skyfire into account.

The front end of the jet carries influence from the Skyfire design. Instead of a smooth, pointed nosecone this one is angled in the front, coming together in a V shape at the front. The whole section looks very much like an elongated rectangle. however, once you reach the middle and rear portions, the design smooths out a lot and becomes a lot more rounded, especially in the rear sections leading to the thrusters in the back. There the back sections actually raise a bit into tube like shapes. The wing designs carry influence from both Skyfire and Jetfire. While they have the shape and functionality of Jetfire's wings, the width is more suggestive of Skyfire.

The underside of the jet is where the designers got to have some fun, free from the restrictions of really conforming to the design of either Skyfire or Jetfire. As with most jet-based Transformers the underbelly is where most of the robot parts wind up. However this time around, the designers have found ways to integrate those parts into the jet design. For instance, on each side a missile launcher is mounted on the lower robot arms. Here they are weapons hidden under his wings when they are swept back. When looking at the jet flipped over you will also see the robot fists. Each of these can hold a half of the robot mode's rifle, giving him added firepower in this form. He has three pieces of landing gear, one under the nosecone and two towards the back.

Being based on such a popular character, it would not do Jetfire justice if his new incarnation did not have a lot of detail work, and Classics Jetfire has that in spades. If you look at the nosecone it has vents at the very front. From the top of the nosecone all the way back to the thrusters there are sculpted lines forming shapes ranging from rectangles to trapezoids to circles representing various parts of the jet and armor plating. Taking it one step further, there is a ton of tiny details such as circles for bolts and small vents towards the middle of the jet. In a detail inspired by the Jetfire toy, two dual lasers stick out on either side of the nosecone, an influence from similarly designed lasers found on the G1 Jetfire toys'head.

Part of what made the G1 Jetfire toy fun were the added attachments you could put on the basic figure to give him extra firepower and speed. Two of these parts were large thruster pods that you would mount onto the top of the jet. These bar shaped pieces were connected in the center by a rectangular piece and each had a large thruster at the back. The designers created a very similar piece for Classics Jetfire, but instead of being three separate pieces, the parts are all one solid piece that snaps onto the back of the jet via two clips. The design of this piece is just as intricate as the jet itself. The middle section has several layers of details including vents in the front, a grille on the top, armor plates and a platform with a cross hatched floor at the back. The boosters themselves are very sleek looking, sweeping forward slightly at the front and then angling back towards the rear. If you slide the raised sections in the middle back, cannons flip forward revealing a two barreled blaster on each side. The raised sections in the middle now look more like targeting scopes, making for a fantastic looking piece that adds even more firepower. You've got to give any Autobot with ten blasters and two missile launchers a bit of respect!

Jetfire is primarily cast in white, red and black plastic - the same colors as the G1 figure. Most of the main body is white, with smaller sections such as his missile launchers, landing gear and thrusters cast in black. The red plastic is mostly found on his thruster backpack, making up most of the pods with white in the back and black making up the thrusters and cannons. Red paint applications are used in patterns that evoke the patterns used on G1 Jetfire while giving them a more sci-fi look with angled, jagged lines as opposed to straight forward stripes. Finally, his missiles and cockpit window are cast in translucent blue, offering some nice color contrast to the white. Many may think (rightfully so sometimes) that white is just a bad color to use on a figure because it's so bright. However the designers were smart and made sure to use an off-white color that doesn't glare and distract the eyes from the other details on this figure.

Jetfire has one of the coolest, strongest vehicle modes seen in a while in any Transformers line. It is brilliant how they managed to keep so many elements of G1 Jetfire and Skyfire in while not copying either one directly.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the halves of the rifle, the jet pack and even the missiles to avoid losing them.
  2. Swing the cockpit cover forward to open it up and reveal the robot head.
  3. Swing the nosecone forward so it points down.
  4. Lift up the panel on the back of the jet with the holes to clip the jet pack on it and swing it forward.
  5. Flip the jet over and swing each robot arm out to the sides.
  6. Pull the robot legs down.
  7. Separate the robot legs from each other and swing out each half of the robot feet.
  8. Swing the robot arms up on the shoulder hinges.
  9. Split the front end of the nose cone into halves and swing each half against the side of the nosecone.
  10. Swing the nosecone down to form the chest.
  11. Rotate the robot head so it is facing forward.
  12. Rotate the missile launchers on the lower arms and insert each missile back in.
  13. Swing the jet wings all the way up behind Jetfire's back.
  14. Attach the jet pack to the back.
  15. Connect the two halves of the rifle together.
  16. The helmet fits right over the regular head.

Robot Mode:
Just like the jet mode, Classics Jetfire's robot mode is part G1 Jetfire and part Skyfire. The overall shape is much more like Skyfire, with the wings swept up onto the back and rounded off parts such as the shoulders, arms and legs. A bit of the G1 Jetfire influence creeps in if you look at the chest, where the cockpit becomes the center of the upper body and the feet which are narrow and split in equal halves on the front and back. There is a bit more G1 Jetfire/Valkyrie influence on the sides of the chest, which are trapezoid shaped pieces pointing down. On the ends facing down are vents. A very similar detail can be found on the G1 Jetfire figure.

It is not surprising that most of the finer details on this figure lean more towards Skyfire's design. After all, Veritech Valkries are still in production as toys today (albeit using different molds than the old Bandai one) so by sticking closer to the Skyfire look, Takara and Hasbro avoid potential conflicts with their competitor. Perhaps the biggest influence from the Skyfire design is the robot head, which has a central crest, antennae like protrusions on the sides of the head and a robot face (rather than the Valkyrie visor eyes/mouthplate combination). However, those who are big fans of the Valkyrie need not fear as the designers came up with a nice way to pay homage to that design as well: a battle helmet! This helmet a highly stylized take on the traditional G1 Jetfire/Valkyrie head. It has a large central crest and a dual barrelled blaster on either side of the head. Small circles are found on either side of the helmet section near the mouthplate. The mouthplate itself is not just a flat plate, but rather it ends with a double layered chin piece. This helmet fits easily over the regular robot head and holds on really well. This was a fantastic way of paying homage to Jetfire's roots while giving the figure an added bit of play value.

Many of the details you could so on the underside of the jet mode now make up the primary details of this form. The top of the shoulders have vent like intake vents on them and his arms and legs are detailed down to small panels and rows of horizontal lines on the lower legs. These types of details offer continuity with the metal plate details on the top of the jet mode and by using a slightly off white color for the plastic, they are easier to see than they would be on a bright white plastic.

Just as he is heavily armed in jet form, Jetfire is no slouch in robot mode. He wields a two barreled rifle whose design is influenced by the rifle held by Skyfire in the G1 cartoon. On either arm are trapezoid shaped missile pods that fire missiles. These are influenced from the G1 Jetfire/Valkyrie design as well, which had similarly shaped pods that contained guns rather than missiles. If you use the battle helmet, you wind up adding four more blasters to Jetfire's arsenal. Perhaps the most impressive weapons are the ones mounted on his back! Slide the rear panels back on the jet packs and his guns flip up. Then you can swing the forward half of each booster down so they wind up being over-the-shoulder cannons!

There isn't a whole lot of new color detail added in this form, and really it isn't necessary since so much color carries over from the jet mode. Most of the body is cast in white, with smaller parts such as his fists and feet cast in black. The missile pods on his arms also have some red plastic in the front. The eyes on his battle helmet and regular head are blue, but the ones on the helmet are translucent blue plastic. A bit of yellow is used on the small circles on either side of his mouth plate. Some red paint is used on the outer edges of the waist and on his lower legs.

Jetfire has nineteen points of articulation including six on each arm. His head is on a ball joint, so it has exceptional articulation. He can look up and side to side, even with the battle helmet on! If you were to include the cannons on his jet pack, he gets two more points of articulation since each one is on a ratchet joint and can lock in three different positions. It's always great to see a lot of articulation on the figure, but to have weapon articulation as well is a fun and unexpected bonus!

Final Thoughts:
Like so many figures from this line, Jetfire is an inspired and fantastic update on a classic character. His unique origins make him a wonderful candidate for the "Classics" treatment and the resulting toy is pure Transformers love. Highly recommended!