Revenge of the Fallen Stratosphere Toy Review

in 2009, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Revenge of the Fallen

Revenge of the Fallen

General Information:
Release Date: June 2009
Price Point: $22.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: None

Images:

*Images and text below from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
When the AUTOBOTS need to be delivered to the front lines fast, they rely on STRATOSPHERE. His cargo bay has enough room for an entire AUTOBOT strike team, and his engines have enough power to get them all the way to the other side of the world in only a couple of hours. High altitude weapons allow him to deliver a punishing barrage against DECEPTICON targets on the ground as his comrades move in for the finish.

Recreate exciting movie scenes or stage your own living room battles with this trusty AUTOBOT defender! Featuring MECH ALIVE gearing, this mighty robot figure has moving internal gears! Convert to cargo plane mode to deploy an OPTIMUS PRIME mini-figure that packs mighty AUTOBOT power! No matter what DECEPTICON enemy is waiting for him, this super-cool figure is ready to take on the competition!

Military hardware shines in all its glory in the "Transformers" films thanks to the involvement of the real life military in producing the films. Many extras and vehicles aren't actors or CGI but rather real soldiers and vehicles being filmed courtesy of the various branches of the military. In "Revenge of the Fallen", several scenes involve humans and Transformers being transported in large cargo planes, no doubt inspiring the creation of this "off screen" character who transforms into a cargo plane: Stratosphere. It's kind of neat thinking that one of these cargo planes could have actually been a gigantic robot in disguise!

Optimus Prime:
In one of the coolest moments of "Revenge of the Fallen" Optimus Prime dives out of a cargo plane to parachute into battle. Keeping that in mind, the designers included a tiny Optimus Prime figure with Stratosphere. Measuring only about an inch tall in robot mode, this really brings home just how big Stratosphere would be in comparison to other Transformers, making him akin to large Transformers of the past such as Omega Supreme.

Robot Mode:
While he is based on Optimus Prime as seen in the movie, this figure can be said to be more of an interpretation of that character. Since he amounts to being an accessory, this Optimus Prime figure is not particularly complex or accurate to the CGI model. Optimus Prime's structure is largely what you would expect. His head has the traditional central crest and two antennae design, windshield windows on the chest and the rear section of the cab become the legs. In many ways, he is a lot more akin to the original G1 Optimus Prime figure.

The one part that is most like the movie CGI model is the head. The central crest is segmented, as are the antennae, a feature that is found on the movie CGI model. The faceplate is up and angles forward in the center with panels flanking it on the sides. The torso is formed by the front of the vehicle mode, so you can see the longnose truck portion of the figure that is associated with Optimus Prime in the movie now. His arms are a simple rectangular design, and his legs remind me most of G1 Optimus Prime's with segmented sections showing armor panels over parts such as the knees and lower legs. His rear vehicle wheels also wind up on his lower legs here, likening to him to G1 Optimus Prime even more.

Optimus is cast in dark blue plastic. Red, blue and silver paint are used for detailing. His arms, windshield, grille and faceplate are painted silver. The top piece of his torso is painted red and flames are painted in blue. The flames help bring him closer in design to the movie design which looks really nice.

While many parts move for his transformation, Optimus really only has two points of articulation: his arms. His head and legs can swing back and forth but they're really not points of articulation in a practical sense.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Swing the arms forward and up.
  2. Swing the robot head all the way back.
  3. Swing the robot arms on their hinges backward.
  4. Straighten out the toes.
  5. Swing the legs back.

Vehicle Mode:
Optimus' vehicle mode is based on the Peterbilt longnose truck used in the "Transformers" movies. In this form he is much more accurate to his on screen representation than the robot mode. The only distracting parts are his robot arms, which are on prominant display in this form. I do appreciate the detail level on this figure including the small notch in the center above the grille representing where his Autobot symbol is, and raised areas in the front representing his headlights. I also like the use of etched lines on the smokestacks to give them more detail.

The vehicle mode is largely blue, with black wheels and silver paint used for the windows and details on the front. The flame patterns from the robot mode carry over here into the vehicle mode, but they're the only ones present.

This little mini-figure is a cute and neat accessory to have along with Stratosphere, and I'm glad while his other accessory was excised, this was kept intact.

Stratosphere

Vehicle Mode:
In the Transformers films, the cargo planes used are based on real life planes, but Stratosphere is a combination of a couple different planes. The primary inspiration for Stratosphere's vehicle mode is the Antonov An-225 with elements of the C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy mixed in to create a unique looking vehicle. Among the features of the Antonov that are present in this figure are:

  • The tail fins have a very angular design much like the Antonov's.
  • The underside of Stratosphere has a section that sticks out on the sides with wheel details. Swing up the panels on the side and you'll see a row of wheels on either side. The Antonov has similar wheels.
  • The wings sweep back at an angle that looks similar to the ones on the Antonov.

While the Antonov has three engines on each wing, Stratosphere only has two. This makes him more like the C-5 Galaxy, but the shape of the engines is quite different from any of the planes he's based on, with the cylinder casing of each engine extending out a bit on the top. The front end appears to be a fusion of the Globemaster's rather blunt nose with the smaller cockpit section of the Antonov added on top. Overall it is a really cool and unique looking fusion of different real life planes.

Most of Stratosphere's details are lines indicating the breaks between armor panels. On either side of his cockpit are air intakes and doors sculpted on behind them. Each wing has details representing panels of armor. The best details in this form are found on the underside of each wing where there are lots of tubes, wires and lines indicating the structure of the wing's support beams. I'm glad to see that while the rest of the plane looks very "clean" there is some tech detail worked into the vehicle mode somewhere.

Stratosphere is cast primarily in light grey plastic. Smaller parts in this form are cast in metallic grey (a darker shade), orange and translucent blue. The metallic grey is used for his landing gear and engines. Orange can be found on the hinge of his front landing gear. The translucent blue is used on the windws of the cockpit section on both rows. Paint applications are done in orange, silver, grey and black. Orange is found on the negines where they're used to color the front sections. The rings are solid but the parts that extend over are done in a beautiful spray op that shows just enough of the grey plastic underneath to look like the engines are super hot. Silver is used on the insides of the engines, contrasting very nicely with the orange. It can also be found on the smaller cockpit section on the top of the main cockpit in the front of the vehicle. Black is used for several details including the sides of his rear fins and two large Autobot symbols on the wings with wings on either side (resembling "Animated"'s Elite Guard symbol). The grey paint color matches the plastic used on a bulk of the figure and is used to paint large Autobot symbols on the sides of his tail fins against the black. The effect looks like someone took a stencil of the Autobot symbol, put it over the panel and then painted it black, which looks very nice.

Originally, Stratosphere was meant to include a small space shuttle accessory which will double as a weapon in robot mode. Pictures of this leaked out in early prototypes, but the shuttle was ultimately not included, most likely for cost reasons. This is unfortunate not only in that we get slightly "less toy" for our money, but it also leaves a conspicuous hole in the center of the vehicle between the wings where the shuttle would have gone. It was a nice thought however since the real life Antonov has been used to transport space shuttles in the past.

Stratosphere does retain his primary action feature however. Move the rear fins down and the panel on the back of the vehicle pops open. You can fit the mini-Optimus Prime in vehicle mode into this slot. He doesn't exactly "launch" since there's no mechanism pushing the mini-vehicle out, but it is a nice, dramatic effect and fits in with the aforementioned scene in the movie where Optimus departs a cargo plane to leap into battle. Thumbs up on this feature! Stratosphere has landing gear underneath the cockpit section that swings down. This lines up with two small wheels towards the back of the vehicle mode.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Gently separate the two halves of the section on the underside of the plane with the rows of wheels.
  2. Swing up each wing.
  3. Swing the section with the wings and cockpit up.
  4. Pull each half of the bottom section of the vehicle down to form the robot legs.
  5. By now you can see the robot arms. Swing each of them out to the sides.
  6. Swing the tail section down and collapse the cockpit section onto the waist section, connecting them by the central peg on the waist.
  7. Swing the rear fins down, then swing the wing panels on the sides down.
  8. Pull the smaller cockpit section up to reveal the robot head.

Robot Mode:
It's pretty hard to look at Stratosphere's robot mode and not think "Wow." whether you like it or not. Most of the time, Transformers are very solid looking in robot mode, often using bulk to convey power. In this case, Stratosphere is rather lanky in comparison to say, Voyager Class Megatron. A lot of what gives this impression is the somewhat unique body design. The chest section is formed by the front of the plane which then connects directly to his waist, he has no real mid-body in the traditional sense. Then we get right to the legs which are super long, leading to huge feet. Add on rather thin arms that lead far bast his hips and wind up by his knees instead. These odd proportions are funky, but to me they help achieve one thing: it gives you a real feel for how large he must be in comparison to other Transformers. The exaggerated limbs plus his alternate mode mean this guy would be huge, and the mini-Optimus Prime figure standing by him drives the point home nicely.

Although Stratosphere is an "off-screen" character from the Transformers film universe, he uses some of the aesthetics that tend to pop up in this line. The most obvious example to me is the robot chest. Instead of just having the cockpit section drop down and form the chest, the side panels of armor actually slide out and forward, giving him the "layered armor panels" look that is found on so many of the robots from the movie. While it's not required to stand him up, his legs can angle backwards in a "chicken walker" position, something other Transformers in this line do including Sideways. My eye is also drawn a lot to his arms, which are complex in detail and have holes in certain parts revealing more parts underneath, repeating the "layered" look. His hands end in three fingers with a thumb, a recurring theme among the movie character designs where they do not have the traditional human-based five finger design.

On the other hand, many of the features on this figure could come right out of a traditional Transformers figure from G1 or even Cybertron. The wings that wind up on his back are smooth in design and harken back to wings winding up on the backs of Seekers or characters such as Jetfire from Armada. His waist and leg designs are mostly rectangular in shape, looking a bit less organic than some more curved parts found on other Transformers in the line such as Sideswipe. I really like this mix of aesthetics as it offers something for everyone in terms of combining both classic and movie Transformers design sensibilities into one figure.

Since most of his robot mode parts are hidden away in vehicle mode, a lot of new detail comes spilling out in this form. His head sculpt is really nice. The cockpit section forms a sort of cap on top of his head which wraps around to the back. His face is layered in design, with the eyes and nose area raised slightly above where the mouth is. His neck has tubes sculpted into it on each side which is a really nice little touch. Looking at his arms, legs and chest I have a hard time deciding which set of detail I love more. His chest has machinery details on the top portion, which look really cool and match up with the "armor over tech detail" aesthetic of the movie figures. His arms hav a lot of nice detail including fingers shaped like claws with detai lines set at angles running along them and gears sculpted inside the arms as part of his "Mech Alive" feature. The legs are mostly flat panels with layers of detail on top of them, but there are shining bits of sculpted detail including two pistons on his upper legs, springs at his ankles and even some wiring and tech details on the insides of his feet. The sides of his upper legs have some nice cross hatch patterns and circle details as well. Quite simply, this is one fantastic sculpt.

In this form, grey still makes up a lot of the plastic color, but beige, orange and a darker shade of grey come into play as well. His arms are mostly cast in orange with smaller grey and translucent blue parts used for the gears inside his arms. His legs are half cast in beige and grey with the feet cast in the same light grey as the plane mode. Orange, black and silver paint are used to fill in details. Black can be found on his legs where it is used to color the pistons. orange is used for smaller details as well, most notably horizontal details on his waist and upper legs. Orange can also be found on his face, coloring portions of his cheeks. Silver is used on the robot head where it fills in the face and the top of the head. Overall these colors mesh very well and they give visual continuity from the vehicle mode.

Stratosphere has an impressive twenty seven points of articulation in this form. Considering most Transformers average about sixteen to twenty, that's really extraordinary. A lot of this is concentrated in the arms and legs which have eight and five points of articulation respectively. Move his arms up and down and you'll see the gears inside turning, which is a really nice effect, especially with the gears cast in translucent plastic. The mini-Optimus Prime figure won't fit into the cargo chamber due to the way the transformation works, but it is cool to pose the two side by side since it adds a tremendous sense of scale to the character. Sadly, not having a weapon does hurt the figure in my eyes. The hands are clearly designed to hold something, and even if you didn't know about the aborted space shuttle accessory, the hole in vehicle mode and the notch in his hands give away that he was meant to have a weapon at some point. It's also kind of hard picturing a character this large without some type of hand held/mounted weapon, especially in the Transformers movie universe. So, I'll comfort myself by imagining that his jet engines can fire missiles and the raised tubes on both his hands are weapons of some sort.

Final Thoughts:
Stratosphere is a fun and fantastic figure. I love his unconventional proportions and appreciate the combination of classic and movie design elements. Including the mini-Optimus Prime figure was a fantastic touch but the excising of the shuttle/gun accessory was a very bad move in my opinion. Since the price point on Voyagers have gone up an average of $2-3, you need to justify that increase with value. I'm really hoping that at some point in the future this figure will be released as a redeco with the accessory intact. Recommended with the above reservations.