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Blackjack's review: Thundercracker and Skywarp

Name: Skywarp and Thundercracker
Functions: Air Warriors
Series Code: TakaraTomy Encore #11
Alt modes: F15 Eagle

"Strike when the enemy isn't looking."--Skywarp's motto
"The deadliest weapon is terror."--Thundercracker's motto
"Don't think. Just shoot."--Skywarp, Megatron Origin #4
"No prizes for guessing what comes next!"--Thundercracker, Infiltration #6

I love Seeker jets.
Starscream. Skywarp. Thundercracker. Dirge. Thrust. Ramjet. Sunstorm. Acid Storm. Never mind them having the near-exact same molds. Never mind versions of the original three appearing in G1, Armada, Cybertron, Animated and Classics. Never mind Starscream.

I just love the Seekers.

And the Encore series got of all excited when they were going to reproduce Skywarp and Thundercracker, two of my all-time favourites. A fan of Decepticons, jets, military vehicles, Seekers, Season 1 and 2 characters and Transformers in general, I could not resist taking these two home. Along with the Minibot five-pack, I took the aerial duo home.

Since we're not in a hurry I'll do an explanation about the two aerial Seekers. In the first year, three Seeker jets--Starscream, Skywarp and TC are introduced. For some reason the treacherous Starry always gets the spotlight, with Skywarp and TC (Thundercracker) playing dumb goons. However, through the various interpretations the two are actually very interesting characters and fan favourites at that. And they have sleeker paintjobs than their white-and-red leader.

We'll go into TC's history first. Why him first? Because I say so. Thundercracker is the blue jet. In the Marvel comics TC is nearly impossible to distinguish from Skywarp, mainly due to Nel Yomtov's small palette. Anyway, most of the Transformers in early G1 have 'superpowers'. TC's is the sonic boom, but whether in the TV show or the comics he never uses it more than once. Or twice. It's hard to tell. Thundercracker usually only appears as crowd filler or such. In the comics he met his end alongside Skywarp fighting an Underbase powered Starscream. Somehow he is revived in the UK Earthforce and in the G2 comics, but his role is minimal. In the Animated series he had more or less the same role, and is among the half-dead Decepticons ejected from Astrotrain. Thundercracker is recreated as Scourge but Scourge is an entirely different character from TC. In Dreamwave and the modern IDW TC appears as a rather major supporting character. His G1 profile describes him as a rather reluctant Decepticon who doesn't like to kill mercilessly. But he loooooves to spread fear. Weirdo.

The name Thundercracker has been used in Machine Wars where he is a jet alongside Skywarp and Starscream. Later in Armada, to avoid using 'Super Starscream' and all that, the redecoed Starscream toy is introduced as an entirely new character as Thundercracker. Then in Cybertron TC appears as a major character with a big kick-ass gun, and has a function like Beast Wars Waspinator. Surprisingly in Cybertron he is not a repainted Starscream. In the Movie series toy line he is, however, a repaint of Screamer. In the Movie sequel comics TC surprisingly is loyal to Stars, and became promoted because of it. Clever guy. In Animated one of Starscream's clones--the tough one--is coloured like TC.

Next up, Skywarp. Not to be spelled Skywrap. Skywarp is a more major Seeker than TC in the Generation 1, but that's only because of his ability to teleport. Oh, and he's dumb, following Megatron. But his tech specs has an intellect rating of 9. Why? Because they switched Skywarp and Starscream's tech specs, dammit! But Skywarp being smarter than Screamer is actually fitting. Anyway, Skywarp's teleport ability is used VERY often, unlike TC's unimpressive sonic boom. In the Comics he met an end at the Underbase powered Starscream's hand. In the comics he is reformatted by Galactus--I mean Unicron, into either Cyclonus or Armada. Either Bombshell (or a clone of him) or him became Cyclonus, and the other became the unseen Armada. My theory is that Skywarp became Cyclonus, as Bombshell is mainly an untrustworthy roach who was never loyal to Megatron in the past, unlike Skywarp. So Skywarp is Cyclonus. But you're free to believe what you want.

The name Skywarp appeared in Machine wars as a TC repaint, and as the Japanese version of the Beast Wars combiner Silverbolt. A teleporting eagle. Cool. Next Skywarp is the one from Universe, then a remold of Thundercracker/Starscream in Armada. Next Skywarp is a repaint of TC in Cybertron. The newest Skywarp to bear the name is the Coward Starscream clone.

Both Seeker jets transform into F15 Eagle jets, a rather sleek jet in its time. TC's blue-black paint job is my favourite, and the plastic it is molded with somehow is very glossy. Skywarp's black-purple paint job is good and not an eyesore with garish colours as some later G1 toys, say Spinister or Squeezeplay or the Seacons. Urgh... To be fair their characters are interesting enough.

They do a good job of hiding the robotic kibble except for the head if you look at the bottom. But it is great and impressive for a toy twenty years ago. The main distracting point is the gap between the two fuselage turbines or boosters or whatever those things are at the back but it is needed for a gap between the legs unlike what Jazz has...

Anyway, excellent jet modes. Comparing it with a modern interpretation of the mold, namely the Classics Acid Storm, there's not much difference aside from better detailing and a gap-less back.

I can't see much difference between these guys and their originals, but then I never had the originals to compare with. They come with stickers to liven it up, but the stickers for the eyes doesn't fit. Honestly, can't Takara Tomy paint them on?

The numerous detachable pieces are all still there-- the landing gear, the wings, the tail fins, the smaller wings at the back... And the two cannons. Oh yeah, they are great weaponry to compliment this excellent jet.

Sufficient to say, the two-pack was a bit expensive, and could use some retools, but the jet modes are fantastic.

Judging from the size, Skywarp/Thundercracker would be a Deluxe sized toy if released in modern times. Just as Meister would be Scout and Minibots would be Legends.

The original Seeker jets' robot modes were famous for being, um, well, ugly. They look very cool in the character designs and fictional appearances though.

Poseability is limited. The legs are stationary (although those boosters make wicked ankles) and the head is unable to turn. But the most glaring fact is that the hands are nothing, little stumps of plastic with fists attached during transformation onto it.

In short, it looks quite boxy... And just the way it looked in G1. The cannons attach to the shoulders, and the wings are impressive, sweeping like wings. This is probably the weakest part of the toy(s).

Overall, I like the jet mode better, and I recommend this for G1 enthusiasts everywhere and die-hard collectors, not one who likes to play with their transformers. For me? They serve as neat displays on my Transformers bookcase. (Especially with Kremzeek hanging out inside Skywarp)

DURABILITY 5/10 it's very very easy to loose the landing gear and wings. And to bite off the rubber noses.
TRANSFORMATION 4/10 whoever has watched Transformers for more than two months and have not figured out how Seekers transform should check their IQ.
PRICE 4/10 way too steep.
FUN 7/10 It has entertained kids for 25 years and is still doing so. Poseability, however, leaves something to be desired.
OVERALL 5/10 not too shabby, but other than fans like us no one would buy this--especially with the truckload of Universe and Animated toys coming in. Other mainstream fans should probably buy the Classics versions.
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