Price Point/Size: Ultra
Retailers: Toys 'R' Us Exclusive
Release Date: May 2004
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3 (Advanced)
Accessories: Missiles x 2, Thunderclash, Terradive, Gunbarrel & Thunderwing Mini-Con figures
Transformers Universe has opened up a potential floodgate of store exclusive toys. Wal-Mart had a huge wave a while back, and Toys 'R' Us has gotten into the act with this multi-pack. The set includes a redeco of Armada Skywarp (along with his Mini-Con Thunderclash) and a redeco of the Air Military Team. This review will focus on the changes made to these toys for this release. For a good look at the mechanics of the toy, check out Armada Starscream's review.
Gunbarrel's color scheme is very similar to his Armada one. However, the shades used here are much darker and stronger. The silver/grey has been replaced with a darker shade of grey. The red parts on the jet and robot modes are much darker. On the chest there is metallic silver on the chest and robot face. The eyes are a lighter shade of orange. Overall, I prefer this scheme to the original since it is so much stronger. The darker colors are especially appropriate for a Transformer teamed with a Decepticon.
Terradive's new color scheme is interesting. Rather than being a variant of his original colors, these are based on G1 Skywarp's colors (and thus, Armada Skywarp's colors as well). Most of the body is black, and the blue parts have been replaced with purple. The main cockpit portion of the jet is orange. I love this color scheme, and part of me muses that it would have been cool had each member of the Air Military team been given the color of a G1 Seeker jet such as Thundercracker or Dirge. Out of all four Mini-Con redecos, this is my favorite.
Thunderclash's color change is the simplest one. His deco pattern is exactly the same, but all the purple parts have been changed to blue. The silver/grey is slightly lighter, but not significantly so. The orange on the eyes is also slightly lighter. I love the mold, but it's too bad the designers didn't take this chance to make this mold look better color-wise.
Thunderwing has a really nice metallic color scheme. His vehicle mode is mostly a metallic, dark copper type color. The robot mode incorporates some gold paint for details, and metallic purple for the lower arms and lower legs. This is my second favorite redeco out of the four Minis.
Much like Skywarp, the intent here seems to have been to pay homage to the toys' G1 namesake. In this case however, the attempt was a lot less successful.
The toy is mostly white. Red, silver and blue are used for detailing. Silver is used on the wings in a different pattern than any of this toys' predecessors had. The missiles and some smaller details are silver (such as the base of the cannons. The back edges of the wings and the front of the cannon barrels use blue. Red can be found on the rear horizontal fins and the cannons on either side of the cockpit. The cockpit itself is yellow. Oddly, the Decepticon symbols on the wings are not painted at all, and in fact the silver lines on the wings go right over the top of the symbols.
The problem here is that the color scheme is just too plain. I appreciate how the designers tried to use different patterns with the paint, but frankly they should have just stuck with what they had before. Also, the red used is a bit too bright. I prefer the dark red used on G1 Ramjet. Toss in the blue, and well, frankly Ramjet looks like the most patriotic Transformer since Ultra Magnus!
Things only mildly improve with the robot mode. Here we get some more details breaking up and contrasting spots. For instance, the lower portion of the chest is blue, and the rectangles in between are white and at the bottom, the missiles are painted silver. This looks cool, but that's about it. The upper arms and upper legs are grey, which offers some good color contrasting. A bit more red shows up on the head where the "helmet" around the head and the back edge of the crest is red. The face is black. This does look good, but it would have looked better with darker colors.
Functionally, everything is intact. I do credit Hasbro with including the sound chip with the toy, something they could have easily eliminated to save cost.
Part of me isn't very crazy about this toy because of the less than thrilling color scheme. However, I can't deny that for about $22, this is a really good bargain. One ultra sized figure along with four Mini-Cons is easily worth more than that (indeed, current Universe toys such as Autobot Whirl charge the same for less). Also, the Skywarp mold is fairly tough to come by at a reasonable price, so if you're just interested in that mold itself, this is a good alternative. Recommended mostly if you missed out on Armada Skywarp or if you're a completist.