G1 Thunderwing *Proofed, Ganon, 1/17/18*

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G1 Thunderwing *Proofed, Ganon, 1/17/18*

Post by Tetsuro » Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:23 pm

Name: Thunderwing
Faction: Decepticon
Function: Aerial Espionage

"Cover yourself with lies and no one will find you."

Despite the rather cold reception of the Pretenders in 1988, Hasbro seemed to be determined to milk the concept for all it's worth the following year with the introduction of four new Pretender subgroups. In fact, all the new toys in 1989 were either Pretenders or Micromasters. However, even the year before we already received the Pretender Beasts, as well as the Vehicle Pretenders who went unceremoniously ignored by fiction. The Vehicle Pretenders were an odd couple, not so much because both factions only got one each, but because their shells were just cars, they were more like transforming robots piloting non-transforming vehicles... which makes them a precursor to Action Masters I guess? In a way, the Mega and Ultra Pretenders of '89 seem like a logical continuation of this approach, with the latter in particular taking the idea to it's logical extreme, by not only featuring shells that transformed between vehicle and humanoid modes, but that shell would fit inside another, non-transforming vehicular shell. Unfortunately, the only two Ultra Pretenders both suffered from massive quantities of gold plastic.

That leaves us with the Mega Pretenders which were the slightly more sensible intermediate subgroup, with a transforming robot that fit inside a transforming humanoid shell with no gold plastic. Three Mega Pretenders were made, two Autobots and one Decepticon; while Vroom joined his Vehicle Pretender predecessors in playing the role of Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Fiction, Crossblades' sole claim to fame was his hi-and-die appearance in "Rhythms of Darkness!". Which leaves us with Thunderwing as the sole Decepticon torch carrier for his subgroup, and as for his fictional appearances, well...

Thunderwing was, along with the likes of Nightbeat and Bludgeon, one of the breakout characters to be introduced during Furman's era in the Marvel US comic; characters whose toys probably left something to be desired, but are still highly sought after by collectors today, largely thanks to their portrayal in print. While he got slightly more mileage in the UK, in the US stories he is mostly remembered as a key character in the Matrix Quest where he lead the Triggercons and Decepticon Double Targetmasters in the trail of various Autobot groups trying to locate the creation Matrix, believing that he himself should be the one to possess it, going a bit bonkers along the way and eventually meeting his end after being possessed by the very Matrix itself.

Rather amusingly, Thunderwing was one of the vintage Transformers I had decided not to buy when I first began collecting, on the basis of his aftermarket pricetag and simply not being that big a fan of the character. The fact that the only comic I ever owned where he actually appeared was in a cameo as a corpse might be a contributing factor. But, that was in 2006, and here we are. Funny how things change, eh?

Inner Robot:
The true Thunderwing is actually a diminutive robot about the height of a constructicon. He's got blue for head and toes and black thighs, purple arms, and the rest of his body is kind of off-grey plastic. No die cast here folks, we are way past that era. The sole painted detail is his golden, humanoid face, but he does have some sticker details on his knees and shoulders. His one accessory is a big rifle that matches his arms in colour.

To transform him - pay attention now, blink and you'll miss it - snap his legs together, folds his head into his chest, rotate out his wings and flip out his stabilizers. There is a hole on top of to plug in his gun.

Much like all Pretender robots, Thunderwing's transformation is painfully simple. While the '89 Pretenders manage to come off slightly less idiosyncratic compared to their predecessors, the arms hanging below the wings doesn't really help to sell it. In fact, you could probably swing the arms under the fuselage for the jet mode, but there are small notches on the bottom there that seem to imply some sort of wheels or landing gear.

This is where we get to the goodies, right? This is the Thunderwing everybody recognizes. Angry golden face full of sharp teeth, the dead black eyes, the hook nose, the black crest on his forehead, the black and green details on his torso, all of which suggest some kind of techno-organic nature - and all of which is painted details, waiting to be scraped off by a child or a careless collector.

But ah, the artist took plenty of liberties to streamline the character's transition from toy to character model for the pages of the comic. In spite of his humanoid appearance and lovingly rendered details, Thunderwing's Pretender shell is decidedly blocky. The legs in particular are guilty of this, and one look at him from any angle besides his front makes the gigantic half of a jet he's wearing for a backpack quite obvious, with the entire cockpit just hanging off his back as an awkward flap... to say nothing of the fact that his head and torso aren't quite up in line with his legs, giving him a rather hunchbacked appearance. And he doesn't really have a full head, just the front half of one, and it's hollow. And there's a big hole in his torso behind it.

To correct the latter, partially transform the Thunderwing robot back to his robot mode, leaving his head inside his torso, and fold the arms in front of him. Pop up the piece on the shell where the cockpit is attached to and grab Thunderwing by the crotch (ouch) and lift (double ouch) to open up the large compartent inside his torso. There is a particular technique into fitting the robot inside the shell, and my suggestion is to keep his lower legs angled away from each other slightly while his arms are angled towards each other. This will allow you to slide the legs inside the shell's and close the torso. There is a kind of slot inside the shell's backpack where the inner robot's shoulders slide into.

Much like other Pretenders, Thunderwing's arms are sort of hard rubber (fortunately unpainted, so at least you don't have to worry about paint wear there), and the two huge purple guns he comes with slide into his fists easily and snugly. He also has two purple plastic boxes hanging off his hips, but these are to facilitate his transformation.

Deluxe Jet:
This is what the instructions call it apparently. Also I've completely lost track of what the individual modes are all called; it's not like the vehicular mode combination is particularly complicated.

To transform Thunderwing into his large jet mode, remove the inner robot and transform it into it's vehicle mode again, but leave the stabilizers folded in. The shell transforms simply by flipping the torso up all the way like when inserting the robot, and closing the cockpit down on it; there is a small peg on the tip of the cockpit that plugs into a hole on the green belt buckle thingymabob. Fold the blue feet inside the lower legs and fold the legs up to fill up most of the undercarriage. There are small notches in the backs of his legs, much like those under the small robot, to simulate wheels, however in this case, the shell's shoulders protrude far too much for them to be of any use.

The shell's vehicular mode is... interesting, to say the least. While most of the back section is fairly straight forward with distinctly technological components, with tiny exhaust nozzles in the back, and large chunk of painted gold detail looks nice, the front section has parts of Thunderwing's torso exposed, although the blue cockpit - with only a sticker to play the role of an actual windshield, I might add - covers the more explicit details. It might be fetching a little far, but the pointed nose of this interstellar jet does evoke the hooked nose of the humanoid mode's face. The fact that the arms are plainly visible beneath the wings doesn't help, although the protrusion on the shoulders do sell the idea of them being some kind of guns. Speaking of guns, the two large guns of the shell also peg under the wings. The instructions tell you to peg them by the handles, but the two pegs on both sides of the guns that serve no purpose otherwise fits into the holes on the wings just as well, as well as introducing no further clearance issues. The rear sections of the guns have what look like exhaust nozzles, similar to those in the back of the jet. With the large guns attached, the rather short nose on this mode gives it an almost deltawing-like proportions. Nearly all of the shell's stickered details are here, namely on the wings, stabilizers, the aforementioned cockpit and even in the undercarriage (which is just the backs of his legs), featuring some kind of jet engines. Unfortunately, the poor sap who used to own mine seems to have put them on backwards.

To combine the shell's jet mode with the inner robot's jet mode, simply plug the square-shaped peg on the latter's back to the underside of the former's nosecone, and bam, you're done. Oh yeah, and you can plug the small rifle into the small hole in the back of the larger jet, although it kind of ends up pointing right at the cockpit dome.

While the added length does give Thunderwing's vehicle mode nicer proportions, it's still fairly obviously a small jet hanging off the nose of a larger jet, especially with the unsightly gap between the shell's undercarriage and Thunderwing himself. If you're thinking about simply folding the inner robot's arms back to cover the gap, I tried it and it doesn't really work.

At least the two components are colour-coordinated, and there is no partsforming involved, unlike some others coughCrossbladescough.

So there's Thunderwing, folks. Is he worth the entry fee?

Transformation Design: 3 - It's a Pretender, but with a transforming shell! Both are piss-easy.
Durability: 6 - It's honestly not breakage you need to worry about - although all of his joints are on pins which might rust - it's all that freakin' paint scraping off.
Fun: 6 - It's Thunderwing man! And as a Mega Pretender, there's at least, count it, SIX ways to display him! Articulation schmarticulation, even if actually playing with your toys isn't your thing (shame on you!), you still got plenty of display options for him at least.
Aesthetics: 7 - There's all sorts of details on the shell that makes it just nice to look at, but the inner robot is a bit naff.
Articulation: 1 - All you can expect from a Transformer toy circa 1989. Arms move and that's about it.
Value: 2 - I paid about £130 for mine, and that's for a loose but complete sample with very little paint wear. You might get one for much less if you're lucky - with newer, more modern versions of the character being released, the original really only appeals to vintage collectors.
Overall: 7 - This is a tough one, because we're talking about one of those fan favourites whose popularity transcends the quality of the toy itself. Were we to take him separated from his fictional account, we'd be left with something that isn't really anything special, but he'd also be a lot cheaper as a result, which would make up for it when giving him a score.

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Post by ganon578 » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:13 pm

Proofed and ready, unless you still would like to add pictures.

Nice review, by the way.

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Post by Tetsuro » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:58 pm


I'm feeling lazy and I think the old photos are perfectly serviceable as is.

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