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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Clay's review of: Smokejumper and Dreadwind

Name: Smokejumper and Dreadwind
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Aerial superiority/advanced tactical bomber

First, the short review. When you're meandering around on the internet with money to blow, get re-releases of old G2 molds if you want to be happy later.

Now, the long review...

Back in the later days of G1, there were a subgroup of transformers called powermasters. Each bot came with a much smaller humanoid/bot that allowed the larger bot to transform. There were about three autobot car powermasters, and Optimus Prime/God Ginrai. On the decepticon side was a dual powermaster-triple changer-spy monstrosity, and a pair of jets.

The two jets, named Dreadwind and Darkwing, could something previous transformers could not--they could combine to form one vehicle mode, but could not make one larger robot. (I actually still have these two even today). By G1 standards, they were highly posable with arms bending in two places, but other than that, nothing of real significance.

Fast forwarding a few years to Generation 2 in 1994, the concept of combining vehicle forms was revisited with a pair called Smokescreen and Dreadwing. Unlike the powermasters before them, they were not equal in size. Instead, Smokescreen was an adapted cyberjet, and Dreadwing was a new mold built around the smaller jet. Instead of some funky pseudo-vehicle thing like their predecessors, the two new toys actually combined into a realistic B2-Stealth Bomber. The molds were reused in a very limited release named Megatron (colored black), and again in the Japanese line, Beast Wars the Second (1998) as Bombadier and Starscream. Five years later, the molds were issued a third time as part of the interim between Robots in Disguise (2002) and Armada. The box itself actually has the Armada artwork, but but uses the RID logo instead. The molds have more recently been used as part of the Robot Masters line in Japan, but that's another review.

Anyway, now for the toys themselves.

Smokejumper:
Smokejumper is the little cyberjet that docks with Dreadwind and forms the rear of the B2. Earlier I said he was an adapted mold, and that's because his wings had to be made small enough to fit inside the larger plane. Not a big deal, considering it's not actually supposed to fly, so he gets brownie points in my book for a minimalist style. He uses the same color scheme as his buddy--dark green, light green, grey, and a translucent red for his eyes and cockpit. He is a bit bigger than the rest of the G2 cyberjets, and uses the same transformation scheme that we now have in the Energon Starscream mold.

As for his robot mode, he's pretty much what you'd expect for a cyberjet: articulation up the wazoo, well proportioned and balanced, and cool glowing eyes. There are two missle launchers that mount on his legs during jet mode; during robot mode, they can be held in his hands, mounted on his elbows (there is a tiny hole drilled into each arm for this), or held by Dreadwind.

The only thing that worries me about him is the possibility that his arms will break while transforming him. It's never happened, and they all seem to be made of a proper kind of plastic for the high stress job, but it still irks me every time I play with them.

Dreadwind:
The big fella. Dreadwind has four modes--a B2 stealth bomber, a slightly different B2 stealth bomber when docked with Smokejumper, a pseudo-tank, and of course a robot mode. In order:

1) The B2. The missle turret folds up into Smokejumper's dock to be a jet engine facing the rear of the plane. The six extra missles (three per wing) are stored in little hardpoints on the underside. There are corresponding buttons on the top that, when pressed, release the extra missle like little bombs. Cool beans.

2) The B2 with Smokejumper. The missle turret folds under the plane as an engine facing forward. Two little lander gear wheels fold down to keep the balance, and the little plane docks in the back and locks in. Pulling the plane out slightly releases the wings on a spring trigger, leading to...

3) The tank mode. The tips of the wings fold up, the landing gear folds up as well, and the turret swivels back up topside. What were the little fuel tanks previously have a little spring-trigger button that extends them to tank treads. The turret can move around and be positioned independantly from the tank, just like a regular turret. Kudos to the designers thus far.

4) The robot mode. I'm not technical writer, so I'll cheat and skip describing the transformation itself. However, I will say that it's fairly simple while still being satisfying. He still has those glowing cyberjet eyes, and great articulation. The missle turret migrates neatly to his shoulder, and can be positioned with his head just like the Predator's shoulder cannon! The only real downside is that he is a little top heavy, but that's easily circumvented by folding the wing tips down and letting them help in the support. Subtle, yet effective. The only other detracting feature is that the missles on the wings tend to separate easily, meaning play with him must be done carefully. Or with glue.

Miscellaneous items of note: They come with stickers! There are 14 missles, all of which can be launched from their storage positions! Yin and Yang! The large balances the small! Yay! Also, the tech specs are actually printed on the inside of the box as opposed to being cards inserted with the instructions. Oh, well... no tech spec scans for this review!

Transformation: 5 - Not too easy, but not too hard.
Durability: 8 - All of the would-be fragile parts seem to be made of fairly solid plastic, so I wouldn't expect any of them to break easily. Fourteen missles is a lot to keep track of, though...
Fun: 9 - Again, the only thing keeping them from a 10 is the missles detaching from the wings so easily.
Price: 7 - I paid $35 for my set still boxed, not including shipping. Considering they started out as a Target exclusive for $25 a year and half ago, that's not too bad at all. (I actually paid about the same for a Nemesis Prime! In this relative instance, that's good for these guys! Bad for prime!)
Summary: 10 - They're two well-thought-out molds that can be had fairly cheaply, and come with lots of neat little details. If you can't find the RID versions, they've been released a fourth time just recently as part of the Robot Masters line in Japan. Four times in 10 years isn't too bad at all.

 
 
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