Transformers Universe Fireflight Review

in 2004, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Generation One, Transformers Universe

Transformers Universe

General Information:
Price Point/Size: Deluxe
Retailers: General (K-Mart, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, Kay Bee)
Release Date: August 2004
Transformation Difficulty Level: 2 (Intermediate)
Accessories: Missiles x 2

In recent years, Hasbro has begun to recognize the fact that the names of the Transformers are an important factor alongside their look, decos and transformations. This has led to the reappearance of many names from the past that haven't been used in a while. One of these has appeared in Universe in the form of Fireflight. Once the name of an Aerialbot, this name now belongs to a Transformer who may or may not be the Aerialbot in a new body from some other universe. Included with this toy are two Mini-Cons: Thunderwing and Firebot, redecos of the Armada Mini-Cons of the same names.

This review will focus on changes made to these toys for this release. I recommend checking out the following reviews for a broader look at these sculpts and their transformations:

  • Spy Streak
  • Nightcruz
  • Emergency Team
  • Emergency Team (Redeco)
  • Air Military Team

Firebot

The Firebot sculpt has already been given five decos previous to this release, two in the US and two in Japan. This time around, he is mostly yellow. The octagon desgin on top is dark red. The windows of the vehicle are a really nice metallic flake brown, while the area on around the rear wheels is a reddish brown. The hose mounted on top of the vehicle is gray. This color scheme is simple, but it is fitting. We've already seen this guy as a typical red fire truck and a powder blue one. In Japan he has one version which is orange and another that was exclusive to a DVD set in yellow named Quench.
More recently, the mold was given a new deco as Cluster, part of the Micron redeco sets in Japan. This one follows Quench's design aesthetic by presenging us with a yellow fire engine, and for the type of vehicle this is, the yellow works well.

There are no real color surprises in robot mode, but we do get some nice painted detail. The three circles on either side of his chest are painted silver, and the robot eyes are painted orange. The mouthplate is silver as well.

The really nice deco comes into play in the weapon mode. Here, the missiles all appear to have been spray painted in red. So from the tip of the missiles, the red goes from dark to light around the edges, giving them a fiery appearance that looks fantastic.

Despite this mold having been used five times already, the mold has held up well. No parts feel loose or out of place.

Thunderwing

Thunderwing is another mold that has been used many, many times. In Japan, the mold was used in an "X-Dimension" set (done mostly in black) as Flame, then it took on a different gender as Twirl, a DVD exclusive figure and finally Seeker, a Micron redeco. Outside Japan, the sculpt has been reused once in the US for the Thunderwing included with Universe Ramjet.

Like Firebot, this color scheme is a very simple one. Most of the plane parts (wings, nosecone etc.) have been recast in a light, gold plastic. Edges and details have been painted in with metallic red (in almost a rust color). This is a rather plain set of colors, but it is enhanced by the metallic aspect of the rust color. In robot mode however, Thunderwing has an unexpected color: white. His lower arms and lower legs are white, offering a sharp contrast. Since the gold shade is a very light one, the white works well. The head is black with orange eyes, which looks strong and bold against the gold and white (and heck, black goes with everything they say).

Fireflight

So here we have the centerpiece of this set: Fireflight. This sculpt has been used twice before. First as the Vehicon Spy Streak and then as an Autobot, Nightcruz.

Vehicle Mode:
Fireflight's vehicle mode is a futuristic stealth jet. While previous incarnations of this sculpt have gone for decidedly dark colors, the designers chose to go the opposite direction for Fireflight. With colors that harken back to the Generation One Fireflight, what we have is a jet that is mostly off white with a a group of colors adding in detail. The most prominant of these colors is red, used for patterns on the nosecone and wings. The vertical fins on the sides of the jet are translucent pink, adding to the reddish colors splashed on the off white canvas that makes up most of this body. Silver is also used on the wings and nosecone, and together with the red, they form lightning type patterns that echo the patterns used on early Universe toys representing Enegon eminating from the Transformer. Here the effect is used sparingly, and because of that, it looks fantastic.

Other colors that come into play include gold on the Spark Crystal holder, blue at the rear of the jet and some dark gray with silver metallic flake peeking through on the sides. Fireflight's missiles are the same translucent pink color as the vertical fins, giving the figure some nice visual continuity. Personally I like to think of these as Energon weapons, but that's just me.

The only thing missing from this deco is a bit of wash, something that the previous incarnations of this toy did have. I'm guessing that the designers may not have wanted to ruin the pristine appearance of the off-white color, but I think some silver wash would have brought out the sculpted details very nicely. Still, the white is nice as it is not so bright that you cannot see the sculpted details which range from cut lines to tech details.

While Nightcruz lost the Spark Crystal to a solid colored ball, Fireflight gets the Spark Crystal back - but has an Autobot symbol tampographed on top of it in typical Universe style. I keep thinking that with Universe a hit and running into its second year, it's high time for Hasbro to just make an Autobot and Decepticon Spark Crystal for the line and be done with it. But I'm guessing that's not happening any time soon.

Robot Mode:
I've always thought that the Spy Streak mold was a nice one - but also one that should have been given a couple more goes in the design pool before being released. Conceptually I really dig it. Designed during the Beast Machines era, the design team was experimenting with different types of robots outside the norm, leading us to toys like Jetstorm and Motorcycle Drone who could become traditional "two arms, two legs" robots, but also could assume different forms. Being the last Vehicon released, Spy Streak was much more traditional in design than his predecessors, but he did have two very unique features - his arms. While imaginative and neat in many ways, these arms are also the main problem with the toy.

The left arm is a really big claw. In vehicle mode it's most of the vehicle's front portion. However, this isn't too bad. The left arm is just a missile launcher, with no fist, no real lower arm. Although on a ball joint, this is rather awkward as it is difficult to pose it well. Still, to give the designers credit, they made the leg joints very stiff so that the figure can stand properly without its big arms dragging it down.

Deco wise this is a really nicely done robot mode. The upper arms and upper legs are dark blue, which blends nicely with the lower arm pieces and the central body, all done in a silver metallic flake dark brown. The arms do have white on them of course from the vehicle mode. The lower legs are white as well, but look really cool with the silver and red lightning patterns. The chest piece is translucent pink, just like the missiles. With black paint in an "X" like pattern on the
chest piece, it looks really nice.

Final Thoughts:
Fireflight itself is a good mold (not great, but good) with a very cool deco. I like how the deco is very much the opposite of what we've seen before. The problem I have with this set is not so much the deco or even toy designs, those are fine. It's the price point. We have here a toy that would sell by itself at a basic price point of roughly $4.99 to $5.99 depending on the retailer. Then you add in two (not three) Mini-Cons, so that's worth roughly $4.67 (based on a 3 pack of Mini-Cons costing $6.99). Now take into account that there was no R & D necessary for this set, all the molds were done and have been reused recently. Yet this is in the deluxe price point range of about $9.99 to $10.99 depending on retailer. Now, the math may seem like this is just about right, but in reality, it's not. The normal costs of developing say, a brand new Enegon deluxe figure wind up putting the figure at a $9.99 - $10.99 price point. But without that development cost factored in, this seems like a bit of a stretch when nothing significant (like adding Powerlinx points) was done to the toy.

I personally like this set, but it's price is questionable. Unless you really, really dig these colors and can't live without them, I'd wait to see if you can get this on sale. Good looking toys, a tad bit unfair in price.