The Reverend's review: Superion
Superion (Aerialbot Gestalt)
: Air Warrior
First Cartoon Appearance:
"The Key to Vector Sigma" (Part 2)
"To live is to fight; to die is to stop."
A fierce and frightful fighting machine. Suppresses thought of the five Aerialbots that comprise him, directs his thinking to one purpose: destruction of Decepticons. Cold, aloof. Flies at 800 mph, range 5800 miles. Can demolish a battleship with one blow. Uses electrostatic discharger rifle. Difficult for him to adapt to new situations or be innovative due to limited mental functions.
Superion was the first of the Autobot combiners, making a spectacular appearance in both comic and cartoon as the faction's opposite of the Stunticons, and made frequent appearances in both the pre- and post-movie episodes of the cartoon. Riding on the promotional wave of both the first TF combiner (Devastator) and his counterpart Menasor, Superion enjoyed a degree of exposure that the later Defensor & Computron would not quite reach. He was also notable for being comprised by five Autobot jets - a welcome addition to ranks wherein only Skyfire and Powerglide had provided conventional air power prior. The component Aerialbots featured prominently in one of the fan favorite episodes of the series, "War Dawn" as part of Optimus Prime's origin story, and they would continue to appear all the way into "The Rebirth", where they were spectacularly shot down by Sixshot in probably the most blatant toy advertisement ever.
Alternate Mode (Aerialbots)
Air Raid (F-15 Eagle):
"If you look first, you may not leap."
Prefers streaking into a cluster of Decepticons to shooting at them from long range... says, "That always sparks their wires a bit". Tactically, most fearless Aerialbot ... just wants to have fun. Flies at Mach 2.5, range 1500 miles. Carries air-to-air heat seeking missiles, uses torque rifle whose beam applies 80,000 psi of rotational force. With fellow Aerialbots forms "Superion".
Air Raid takes the form of what was probably the 80's iconic fighter jet, and despite his smaller scale is the closest in appearance to the original Decepticon "Seekers". His jet mode is black in color on top, featuring the double tail and engines characteristic of the jet, with white & yellow sticker highlights on wings and tail, a grey canopy, and Autobot symbols on each wing. Like all the Aerialbots (except Slingshot), Air Raid has flip-down landing gear under his nose. He does not, however, have any visible weaponry in this mode, aside from the gun ports on either side of the cockpit. Transformation is simple and the same as the other three smaller Aerialbots - swing back nose and tail to form what the instructions call a "mini-jet", fold back the wings, pull down the legs and flick out the arms on each side. Air Raid is mostly white from the front, with a red chest plate and a grey masked face. The striped pattern from his jet mode carries over on his arms and kneecaps, and he has a "belt" sticker with an Autobot insignia in the middle. His arms, like the other three, feature ball-joints allowing for shoulder rotation, and he carries his clip-on "torque rifle" in this mode.
Skydive (F-16 Fighting Falcon:
Function: Air Warfare Specialist
"Only by studying the past can we win the present."
Would rather read about jet fighters than be one... fascinated by the science of aerial warfare. Can, within the limits of his design, duplicate the flying motion of anything he sees... maybe the most skilled flyer of all Transformers. Flies at Mach 2.6, range 1400 miles. Carries laser guided missiles, uses nega-gun that crumbles objects by breaking molecular bonds. Prone to mid-air stalls. With fellow Aerialbots forms "Superion".
It might just be my personal experience, but of the five Aerialbot toys Skydive seemed to be the most appreciated by kids, with his lightning-bolt designs on wings and tail, large rear engine, and unique color scheme. With a "tiled" appearance running down the plane's grey fuselage, nicely offset by the black wings, cockpit and nosecone, Skydive might be the best looking Aerialbot in jet mode. The rockets on each wing also give him "teeth" in this mode. His robot mode features black where the other Aerialbots opt for white - black arms, black head, big red chest plate. Interestingly, his instructions indicated that HIS "belt" sticker was to be placed "upside down" on his waist, which looks different than the other Aerialbots - so if you see that on a loose version, don't worry, it's not a mistake per se.
Fireflight (F-4 Phantom II):
"When I'm flying, no enemy is safe -- nor friend."
If Aerialbots needed pilots' licenses, he'd never have gotten his... a hazard in the skies. Doesn't pay attention to where he's going since he's too busy marveling at scenery. Flies at Mach 2.0, range 1000 miles. Carries flammable "fire-fog" missiles, uses photon displacer gun that effects sight by distorting light waves. With fellow Aerialbots forms "Superion".
The Aerialbots' resident daydreamer, Fireflight's jet mode differs slightly from the others in that his wings are UNDER his arms instead of above, making the stickers on his sides much more prominent. Largely red with white wings, this jet also lacks visible weaponry. However, the wings are extra detailed, featuring a slight upturn and a meticulously reproduced "edge" on each. . In robot mode, Fireflight looks a lot like Air Raid, although his stickers feature a blue and yellow stripe pattern. (I've noticed that knockoffs often feature arm stickers for Fireflight that are a blue-and-yellow recolor of Skydive's lightning bolts. Proceed with caution if you see these - the originals just feature a zigzag yellow line.) Like his compatriots, Firefight hoists a clip-on pistol.
Slingshot (AV-8B Harrier II):
Function: Ground Troop Support
"I'm even better than I think."
He won't ever win a Mr. Popularity contest -- incessant braggart, takes credit for exploits of other Autobots. Optimus Prime is supportive since he's hard-working and loyal, but he secretly lacks self-confidence. Vertical-take-off-and-landing aircraft, flies at Mach 1.6, range: 800 miles, extremely maneuverable. Sharpshooter -- has twin mortar cannons as jet, neutron rifle as robot. With fellow Aerialbots forms "Superion".
Another familiar jet from the period (does anybody remember that guy who saved up enough Pepsi points to sue them for a Harrier jet??), and a familiar character; probably the Aerialbot with the most screen time throughout the series. His characterization was a little heavy-handed, yes. It can be tiring to sit through the Aerialbots' episodes and listen to Slingshot's constant braggadocio. Still, the jet mode's quite nice, featuring etched lines in the fuselage, an orange cockpit, built-in landing gear on the underside (no retractables here), and blue stripe stickers accenting the wings and tail. Robot mode is a bit odd, being rather thin overall with a totally orange head and the thinnest arms of all Aerialbots. The thin arms complement a thin rifle, making Slingshot's weapon easy to pick out in the pile of Aerialbot weapons. Maybe this was part of the reason he always seemed to be belittling others - at heart he was just a skinny little wimp. There's a slight bit of extra shoulder movement available from Slingshot - he can shrug! He's also the only smaller Aerialbot who doesn't feature a "belt" sticker.
Function: Aerialbot Leader
"Don't look down, look straight ahead."
Scared of heights. Brave, grimly determined warrior, but he struggles to maintain that image in order to hide his phobia. Selected by Optimus Prime to command so he'd be too busy worrying about others to worry about himself. In jet Mode, speed of Mach 1.9, range 4500 miles. Carries electrostatic battery that releases bolt of up to 150,000 volts through his nose cone. Uses electrostatic discharger rifle in robot Mode. Combines with other Aerialbots to form "Superion".
When people talk about the Scramble-City combiners featuring leaders who were way oversized as opposed to their team members, they're often thinking of Silverbolt. As a supersonic transport plane, he looks a little odd next to four fighter jets, but at least he's somewhat in scale. The windows down his sides are actually long yellow stickers, so if you're shopping for a loose Silverbolt you do need to try to look closely at these and be cautious of too much wear. In robot mode, Silverbolt's tall and lanky, with gold-chromed upper legs and forearms and a red upper chest plate. He comes with a removable white chest piece... the toy catalog doesn't show it, but his box art and cartoon depiction feature him wearing this in his normal robot mode, and it does keep him from looking too boxy. He also has an alternate mode as a "launch ramp", which is complete via an extra "ramp" piece included with him (similar to G1 Onslaught) and can be attached to Metroplex in city mode. He doesn't have a mini-jet in robot mode - instead, his elongated jet-nose folds down his back.
Despite their small size, the four smaller Aerialbots often seem to be favored by toy collectors for their arm posability and well-designed jet modes. While their hand weaponry isn't the most eye-catching, they do make a nice strike force on the ground and the jets can be arranged in play in formations. They stand well in display, too, although Silverbolt tends to be a little more difficult to keep balanced. The poor guys, they must draw straws to see who will have to stand closest to him and get knocked around when he falls on them...
Robot (Gestalt) Mode:
Let the combinations begin! With all Aerialbots in robot mode, put the arms of each of the smaller four into their housings on the sides of their bodies. Push up Air Raid and Skydive's legs to make them shorter and more stable, and then attach the white footplates to the holes between their heels. Rotate Silverbolts legs out to the sides, push in his fists and leave his arms pointing straight down, and fold up his feet. The holes now evident in the bottom of his legs are meant to accept Air Raid and Skydive's heads. Similar holes can be found on each of Silverbolt's shoulders, so pick up Slingshot and Fireflight in turn, swing their heads down to the 90-degree position and plug them in on either side of Silverbolt. Superion's fists attach to the holes between their heels. A red hip piece fits neatly in a notch on Silverbolt's chest plate, and Superion's head slips over Silverbolt's. (In the usual Scramble-City fashion, the limbs are technically interchangable, but Slingshot makes a really skinny leg.)
Behold the gangly Superion! Heh. Some TF collectors call Superion "Chicken-Legs" because of the relative thinness of Silverbolts legs. But those same chicken legs are free to move forward as part of Silverbolt's transformation, making Superion one of the few gestalts that can kick. Unfortunately that joint (and the joints that allow Silverbolts feet to move) can become weak over time, making poor Superion a tad unstable for display. His torso is rectangular, but not quite as much as Menasor's, making him look a little more versatile. His coloring overall is white and red. The toy version's head reminds me a little of Egyptian statues, with its molded chin and lips, although the cartoon and comic depictions opted for a "muffler" over his mouth. His shoulder joints aren't as prominent as Menasor's either. He can carry Silverbolt's rifle - probably the smallest gestalt weapon ever, but it works. He's got some nice trim on his body, too - the chest plates of his leg components combined with Silverbolt's chest armor and stickers really do look nice, and he's got one of the better gestalt heads of the line with its unique coloring. Silverbolt's arms are very visible, but if that bothers you rotate them back at the elbow. Having minijets on all his limbs evokes the concept of rocket flight, too. The big downside is that Superion might be the most fragile combiner in the G1 line - the limbs' minijets' supports can grow weak over time as well and are very easily broken. Play with him, but don't drop him - you'll regret it. Kick Defensor around instead if you're into that, he can take the abuse better.
Transformation: 4 - All the Aerialbots have simple transformations, though they do require a little care due to the ball joints in their shoulders and the inherent weakness of the joints that hold their "minijet" parts on.
Durability: 4 - Silverbolt is a sturdy fellow, but the other four feature multiple weak points. Handle with care.
Fun: 7 - Although the weaponry in their robot modes is a bit unimaginative, the Aerialbots themselves might be some of the best of the Scramble City mode. The jets look good in "formation", the robot modes are excellent for the era. Superion himself is a little funny looking as combiners went in G1, but he has his strong points and his ease of assembly is a big plus.
Price: I got almost all of these as a kid, so I'm not sure what they're going for. The smaller "limb" Aerialbots usually seem to go for under $30 complete, although a good Silverbolt with all included parts is probably on the steep side.
Summary: Devastator was more intricate, yes, but on the Autobots' side, Superion is a strong contender among the combiners. Just be careful with him.