Clear Skies Team Toy Review

General Information:
Release Year: December 2006
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $6.99 (Average depending on retailer)
Accessories: None

Tech Specs:
"We fly free." These three Mini-Con robots are as different as any three individuals can be except for one thing: their love for soaring through the crisp, blue skies of a living world. Across the Universe, countless worlds are infested with Decepticon mining crews stripping resources to fuel their engines and spewing smoke and filth into the skies. Wherever this happens, you can expect to find the Clear Skies Team, waging a private war to destroy the Decepticons and save the skies they love.

The Clear Skies Team is one of the second wave of Mini-Cons released in the Classics line. This set is composed of entirely new sculpts, both vehicle and beast to make one unique set of Transformers. Some may wonder why two jets wound up with a dragon of all things. The real story is that for a time, Hasbro had considered releasing the current waves of Mini-Cons as two packs, similar to the waves of redeco Mini-Cons released for Cybertron. In the end however it was decided the 3-pack format was the best one to use - hence a beast teamed with two jets.

Nightscream Review

Tech Spec Stats:

Strength: 6 Intelligence: 10 Speed: 6.5 Endurance: 7.5 Rank: 4 Courage: 9 Fireblast: 7 Skill: 6

Beast Mode:
Once a name associated with a bat from Beast Wars, Nightscream is now the name of a dragon Mini-Con. Like some of the Cybertron beast-based figures, Nightscream has an aesthetic that looks almost techno-organic, but he is really meant to be a purely mechanical beast. His general shape is more of a European style dragon than an Eastern one. He stands on four legs, has an elongated neck and tail with a wide wingspan. He is not blocky at all. Instead, every part is very sleek, smooth and curved with very few angles.

It is always pleasing to see a good chunk of sculpted detail on a figure this small, and in that respect Nightscream delivers. The head sculpt is quite intricate, with some lines set in a row under the eyes, lines going across the snout and horn like details that sweep bck on the sides of the head. The neck has several lines dividing it into segments along the top and bottom. The way they are layered resembles armor plating. This layering of lines continues down his body on a large scale (such as on his chest area) and on a smaller ones such as the legs. His wingspan is a lot larger than I would have expected, roughly four inches wide! each one is curved slightly with several angled designs on the top that look like armor plates. On the underside are several tubes that look like bones with metal membranes inbetween. In the middle of the wings are two claws on each side. The dragon's tail is curved, also with several segments. The design of this beast mode is consistant without looking dull which is always good to see.

Nightscream's colors really remind me a lot of Beast Wars Transmetal 2 Megatron. His primary plastic colors are orange and red. His main body is mostly red, while his neck, wings and tail are orange. Black and yellow are used for paint applications on his underside and smaller details such as the horns near his front shoulders and the Autobot symbol on his right side. The eyes are painted metallic green, which really looks nice against the red.

Nightscream has five points of articulation in this form. That includes one for each wing and the mouth being able to open and close. The design keeps the legs as solid pieces connected to the main body, but he looks good in a standing pose or in a "flying" pose. His Mini-Con Powerlinx port is at the base of the tail.

Transformation to Robot mode:

  1. Swing the sides of the main body down and extend each one to form the robot legs.
  2. Rotate the tail around (if it pops off just pop it right back into the ball joint).
  3. Rotate the robot chest around then up.
  4. Straighten out the arms.

Robot Mode:
Nightscream's robot mode reinforces his resemblance to Transmetal 2 Megatron. His right arm is formed from the dragon neck/head (while Transmetal 2 Megatron's was on the other arm). He also has the wings mounted on his back (perhaps the most logical place for them on any dragon based Transformers figure). The rest is rather unique. His robot head design has the typical "helmet/face" design, but the sides of the helmet angle out to the sides a bit. The chest is rather small (not surprising considering it squeezes between the two sides of the body in beast mode. The left arm is his tail that looks like a whip weapon in this form. The waist is very thin, but does have some sculpted detail that look like armor plates layered on top of each other. The legs are formed from the sides of the beast, and I like the way the horns from his shoulders become the front of the robot feet. Thanks to the front beast mode legs serving as the heels, Nightscream has excellent stability. One detail I really like are a series of raised, jagged details on his chest that resemble claws.

A bit more black and yellow shows up in this form. The robot face is painted yellow and black is used on the chest. I would have liked to see some sort of paint application on the wings, but overall he looks good.

Nightscream has ten points of articulation in this form, which is pretty good for a Mini-Con. His arms are connected to ball joints, so his range of movement is great and each leg can bend at the knees.


Steel Wind Review
Tech Spec Stats:
Strength: 8 Intelligence: 7 Speed: 7 Endurance: 9 Rank: 4.5 Courage: 7 Fireblast: 8 Skill: 6

Vehicle Mode:
For Steel Wind's vehicle mode, the designers went to one of the forms that several Transformers have taken over the years: an A10 Thunderbolt. Military buffs or long-time Transformers fans will recognize this vehicle right away between its nosecone with weapon mount and the distinctive twin boosters in the back. The one thing I love about this figure design is how insanely well armed Steel Wind is. He has the typical cannon mounted onto the underside of the nosecond, but on top of that he also has four missiles on each wing of varying design. Each wing has three different types of missiles, two medium sized and two large sized ones. Unlike the real life vehicle, the center of each wing seems to have an additional booster on it. Landing gear is sculpted into the wings and the nosecond. The reason for this is based on his transformation scheme which this review will cover later.

True to his name, Steel Wind is mostly cast in silver plastic. He has some reddish-brown sections painted along the nosecone and the front of his turbines. On the left side of the nosecone is a red Autobot symbol. The cockpit windows are painted light blue.

There is no posability or action features to speak of with this vehicle mode. His Mini-Con Powerlinx point is located right in the center of the vehicle's underside.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing each rear vertical fin back.
  2. Split the front half of the vehicle.
  3. Rotate the forward half of each wing around.
  4. Swing the halves of the nosecone up to form the robot legs.
  5. Straighten out the robot legs.
  6. Swing the rear boosters out and forward.
  7. Split the tail section of the vehicle and swing each section down to reveal the robot head and form the arms.
  8. Use the tabs on each booster to push out the robot fists.

Robot Mode:
An interesting transformation often leads to an interesting looking robot mode, and Steel Wind is no exception. His legs/feet are probably the strangest part. Since his legs are mostly made up of the wings, he looks like he has a pile of missiles on his legs. The cockpit halves become his feet, and they wind up extending out to the front quite a bit (watch your step around this guy). The upper body is partly composed of the section with the Mini-Con Powerlinx point. However, instead of leaving this section blank (and boring), the designers added in a spider web shaped set of line details. The tail of the vehicle essentially becomes his shoulders with the boosters becoming his lower arms. I was really impressed that they built fists that slide out of the boosters rather than just not giving him fists at all. Often with Mini-Cons the designs call for some odd appendages, nice to see this one lean towards normal somewhat. The head design is a neat one, with a high brow and a big nose leading to a rather serious looking face.

Steel Wind has six points of articulation. The arms and legs are on ball joints allowing for a good range of movement. His large feet allow for good support and stability.


Thunderwing Review
Tech Spec Stats:
Strength: 6 Intelligence: 8 Speed: 7 Endurance: 7 Rank: 4 Courage: 7 Fireblast: 6 Skill: 6

Vehicle Mode:
In vehicle mode Thunderwing is an F-14 jet. Telltale features are the shape of the nosecone and cockpit section, the dual vertical fins on the back and the dual horizontal fins. The line details are fairly standard, mainly following the paths set by the various parts such as the wings and nosecone.

The colors used on Thunderwing are very much like the ones used by the world famous Blue Angels aircraft. The primary colors of this figure are blue and yellow. Gold is used for detailing on the wings that resemble wings with a triangular symbol in the center surrounding the Autobot logo. Yellow is used on the nosecone and the horizonal fins on the back. The cockpit is painted metallic silver.

The wings are the only part that are meant to move in this mode. Both wings can sweep forward and back.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing the rear booster and panel up.
  2. Swing the rear, horizonal fins up.
  3. Swing each of the sides with the vertical fins back.
  4. Split the front section in half and swing them out to the sides.
  5. Swing each half of the nosecone out to the side and rotate them down to form the robot arms.
  6. Swing the panel with the robot head all the way back.

Robot Mode:
Thunderwing definitely has an interesting transformation leading to this robot mode. However, the robot mode really isn't as stunning as I think it could hae been. It's sculpted fine, with a cool "visor eyes" face, arm and fist details sculpted into the sides of his arms and som enice line detail on the chest. Unfortunately overall he looks like he's missing something. One reason for this impression is the center of his chest, where there is a panel carved out with nothing in the middle. Previous to this I would have expected a Mini-Con symbol to be sculpted onto that panel (but none of the Minis from this wave have them). Barring that I would have imagined an Autobot symbol being tampographed onto that or something. The way it has nothing just looks very plain and odd.

Thunderwing really only has two points of articulation, both on his arm. His legs can bend sideways, but that's about it.

I think a bit more effort could have been put into the deco on this figure and that would have (somewhat) made up for the lack of articulation. Oh well, they can't all be winners.

Final Thoughts:
Thunderwing is definitely the weakest of the trio in this team. That said, overall I like the overall idea of the team and having yet another beast-Mini-Con (and a cool one to boot) is nice. I'm also impressed by some of what the designers tried to do engineering-wise with these guys. Overall recommended.

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