"Timelines" Botcon 2013 Thundercracker Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: June 27, 2013
Price Point: $87 (In a two pack with Mirage)
Retailer: Botcon Exclusive
Accessories: Missiles x 2, Missile launchers x 2

The theme for 2013's Botcon exclusive boxed set is "Machine Wars". This was a relatively obscure line of "Transformers" figures released only in Kay Bee Toy Stores in 1997. This was a counterpoint to the main line, "Beast Wars" which focused on animals and creatures as the alternate forms for the "Transformers". "Machine Wars" focused on vehicles, mixing up previously unreleased sculpts with European exclusive sculpts given new decos, functionality and identities. Among the unreleased sculpts was Thundercracker, who was a "Basic" class vehicle (roughly equivalent to a modern day Scout Class figure) that transformed using a spring-based system to quickly convert form one form to another. This sculpt would later be used as "Robotmasters" Wingstun and later as Timelines Waspinator, "Robots in Disguise" Skyfire and "Beast Wars the Second" Dirge.

Using the "Machine Wars" version of the figure as inspiration, Fun Publications took the "Revenge of the Fallen" Dirge figure and gave it a deco inspired by the 1997 "Machine Wars" Thundercracker figure. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

Vehicle Mode:
Unlike his 1997 counterpart, Thundercracker transforms into a jet inspired by the Harrier Jump Jet. This vehicle is capable of vertical take off and landing, making it quite different than the jet the 1997 "Machine Wars" Thundercracker changed into. Several details differ from the real life Harrier however. For instance, the large vents in the middle section are much flatter and "V" shaped compared to the real life vehicle which has more curved, taller vent sections. The vehicle mode's rear stabilizers are also quite different from the real life version. Instead of a vertical stabilizer with two smaller, horizontal/angled stabilizers he has four, two small ones angling down and two larger ones angling upward. These details give the vehicle a sleek and slightly futuristic look while the rest of the vehicle still grounds it in the semi-reality of the live action movie universe the sculpt came from.

Thundercracker is cast mostly in olive green plastic. Smaller parts such as the front landing gear are brown instead. The cockpit cover is clear plastic, allowing you to see the sculpted chair and control panel details inside. Paint colors used on this figure include silver and brown (matching the brown plastic on the bottom of the vehicle). The silver outlines the cockpit area and brown is used for the middle section of the missile launchers and the ends of the stabilizers.

Tampographs are used to great effect on the vehicle. Taking the 1997 "Machine Wars" Thundercracker as inspiration, there is an extensive camoflauge pattern from the front of the vehicle to the back. This pattern takes the form of several "pixelated" looking shapes with brown in the middle and white on the outside. These can be found everywhere from the cockpit section to the nose and all the way to the back. On each wing is an Air Force Star symbol, complete with a blue circle with a star in the middle flanked by two white rectangles and a blue outline. White Decepticon symbols against a white triangle can be found on both sides of the cockpit and on the right side stabilizer in the back. Overall, this deco is pretty awesome and looks great. While the camoflauge pattern is a different style than the one found on the 1997 "Machine Wars" Thundercracker, the spirit of that design comes shining through.

In this form, Thundercracker's offensive weaponry consists of two missile launchers. Each is cast in green plastic, but the middle is painted brown while the front edges are painted silver. The back sections are painted black. The missiles are left unpainted so they appear as green. This combination works very well and matches up with details of the rest of the character himself in this "Machine Wars" universe.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the missile launchers and set them aside for now.
  2. Pull the wings down to the sides.
  3. Pull the air vent sections out to the sides.
  4. Swing the side pieces down and connect the halves of the waist piece on the underside of the jet.
  5. Pull the vent sections down and rotate them around to form the robot feet.
  6. Swing each wing down on the hinges and swing the wings forward.
  7. Pull the tail section back to lift up the panel in the center of the vehicle.
  8. Separate the tail section from the central panel.
  9. Swing the center part of the vehicle forward.
  10. Rotate the chest piece around so the silver details face front.
  11. Collapse the panel on the left arm against the forearm.
  12. Rotate the left arm around so the black and brown details on the shoulder face forward.
  13. Rotate the right arm around so the black and brown details on the shoulder face forward.
  14. Lift the cockpit cover up, rotate the piece inside to reveal the robot fist and close the cover.
  15. Pull the right forearm down to form the right arm.
  16. Push the black panel on the back of the torso piece up.
  17. Swing the side panels on the tail piece out to the sides, then clip them to the holes in the back piece you just pushed up.
  18. Swing up the small oval shaped piece on the waist against the chest.
  19. Attach the weapons to his wings for storage or on the holes on his arms to use as weapons.

Robot Mode:
Thundercracker was originally one of the Generation One Seekers, and thus he was one of the first Decepticons that laid down a template for generations of "Seekers" to come later. Generally these features included cockpit details on the chest, some type of turbine on the chest panels and four sided shapes that sat on or near the shoulders (usually flanking the head). It is interesting to see that despite the sculpt not really resembling the 1997 "Machine Wars" figure at all or even the Generation One Seeker mold, this design did incorporate all those features mentioned above, just in unexpected ways. There are panels behind the head on either side that look like the curved pieces on either side of the Seeker heads, there is a mini-cockpit on the chest and both sides of the chest have gears that look like turbines of some sort. This design connection to previous Seeker designs is really great to see, especially on a character that is meant to represent a G1 inspired Seeker.

Thundercracker is one of the Botcon sculpts that received a new head. This new head is not the "conehead" design seen on the original Dirge figure. Instead, this head is based on the 1997 "Machine Wars" Thundercracker figure complete with a curved "helmet" section, visor eyes, a "V" shaped crest design that comes up onto the top of the helmet and a mouth design that resembles a breathing mask like you'd see on a scifi version of a jet pilot's helmet gear. This head sculpt is very true to the original "Machine Wars" version but with exaggerated features that give it an extra heightened sense of design that I like a lot.

Like the vehicle form, this mode is mostly green plastic. However, exposed robot parts including joints on the hips, waist and ankles show some brown plastic, matching up with the brown paint color seen in the vehicle form. Black plastic is used for the head. Silver paint is found on the eyes, the panels behind the head and on the chest. Brown and black paint is used for accent designs on the shoulders and feet. These colors work nicely as callbacks to the camoflauge designs in vehicle mode but offer a nice splash of darkness against a relatively bright set of colors. Most of all, these colors are a nice visual callback to the 1997 "Machine Wars" Thundercracker.

Thundercracker's joints are all nice and tight and his missile launchers work without a problem. His new head turns and holds in place nicely as well. His "Mech Alive" feature which rotates his chest gears when you move his arms also still works nicely.

Final Thoughts:
Not everyone likes the asymmetrical design of this sculpt, and still others are not fans of taking a live action Movie figure and making it into "main line" figure.  I personally do not share these reservations.  The Dirge figure is a fun one and different than your typical Transformers figure design.  I also the think the deco on this figure is spectacular and the homage to a little known part of Transformers history is much appreciated. 

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