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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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numbat's review: Legends Jetfire

Name: Jetfire
Allegiance: Autobot – formerly Decepticon
Sub-Group: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Legends (Wave 1)

Jetfire originally appeared as the toy version of a character named Skyfire in the G1 cartoon series. Due to copyright reasons, it was not possible to release the toy as Skyfire, and so Jetfire was born. Jetfire / Skyfire was a Decepticon originally, but after being trapped in ice for millions of years, he decided that the Autobot ideals more closely matched his own, and switched sides. Although the name Jetfire has been reused a number of times throughout Transformers lines, the overarching good element tends to have been emphasised, presenting a link between other Jetfire characters, whereas the complexity of a previous allegiance to the Decepticons has not be revisited – until now!

When I first heard the rumour that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (ROTF) was to feature a Decepticon that transformed in to a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, I was chuffed. This was far and away my favourite jet as a child (as I’m sure it was many kids growing up in the ‘80s), and I had been very fond of the Gobot Renegade Snoop figure and G1 Overlord growing up. Given the fact that the Blackbird had been mothballed, I really hadn’t expected to see another Transformer take on this form in a realistic film. Which, of course, raised questions – why would it take this form?

Later, it was leaked that the Blackbird was a Decepticon called Jetfire. This sent my brain whirring – had Bay just selected the name because he liked it and assigned it to a Decepticon? Or was the old thread of Jetfire being a turncoat being revived for the film?

I am very happy to say that all of these questions were resolved quite satisfactorily in the film – and that Jetfire has regained his complexity. However, he also has become a geriatric robot (again, actually explained – slowly decaying through energon deprivation), hiding in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Jetfire further develops his character, sacrificing himself to help Optimus Prime defeat The Fallen (which this little figure actually allows you to recreate with ROTF Legends Class Optimus Prime).

Jetfire was one of the more compelling and fun characters in the film, and a worthy reuse of the name.

However, transforming into a Blackbird presents problems in an action figure – it’s not the most convenient shape to form a robot from. Couple this with the exceptionally complex movie design, and the toy designers at Hasbro really had a challenge on their hands with making a Leader Class toy, let alone a Legends Class figure. But, all things considered, they have done remarkably well.

Alternate Mode:

After my rambling introduction, we all know that Jetfire transforms into an SR-71 Blackbird. Measuring 3¾” (9.5cm) from nose to tail, Jetfire is roughly 1/345 scale in this mode.

However, that implies a degree of measurable realism that the figure does not really have. Compromises in proportions have been made to allow for a representative robot mode. The result is something that looks like a cross-between a Blackbird and a Flying Wing (like the Northrop B-2 Spirit – aka stealth bomber). The result looks less like a Blackbird than the Gobot Renegade Snoop, which was available in 1986! However, the designers can be forgiven, as the complexity of the robot mode design really necessitates some concessions.

Other than the crazy proportions, and the feet dangling from the engines, a lot of effort has been put in to detailing this figure. There are countless panels, and a few red lines – pinstripes in size. Unfortunately, ‘silver’ plastic has been used for the engine fan intakes, clashing with the black plastic used everywhere else. The cockpit canopy has been painted as one silver blob – which is a shame, as the individual windows have been painted on the faux canopy on the robot mode. There are also tabs sticking up from the surface of the wings, breaking symmetry (two on the left, one on the right as they slot together in transformation) and the sleek look with the help of a third, central tab (used to combine with ROTF Legends Optimus Prime).

If you turn the plane around, you will get an upside down Jetfire head staring back at you – however, it’s black colours, mechanical struts and dull red eyes are fairly inconspicuous, and the chin has been placed perfectly for the tail of the jet. The underside reveals the robot arms and back / shoulders (which have been painted a dull metallic blue, confusingly, as they should really be black!). The arms do blend in rather well, thanks to clever moulding and the presence of landing gear – it’s unfortunate that this effort has been wasted by that ‘silver’ plastic once again!

Although the landing gear does not work, a tripod made of three protrusions allows the Blackbird to be displayed – an improvement on Movie / ROTF Legends Starscream.

Although that must read like a litany of misdeeds on the designers’ part, the mode is actually rather fun and doesn’t look too bad, until you decide to start picking it apart. Great for kids, and those of us who will play with our Transformers, and are fans of Blackbirds. Not the greatest achievement in terms of realism though.

Robot Mode:

Legends Jetfire has a unique and rather clever (if simple) transformation that provides hours of fun (in your face lights-and-sounds and other silly gimmicks! – although watch out for those legs popping off!). The result, standing 3” (8cm) tall, is an impressively film accurate achievement in toy design. This, coupled with the level of articulation (shoulder ball joints and helpful hinges allowing further horizontal movement, hip ball joints and a further two useful hinge joints in the knees and ankles), excellent balance (and so poseability) and a little moulded cane in the left hand, encourages you to forgive any issues with the Blackbird mode.

The beard and crazy whiskers are all there, as is the faux cockpit on the head (windows individually painted). As mentioned, he does have metallic paint on his shoulders and back, with more revealed on his feet. It isn’t intrusive – you hardly notice it – but that is a little weird. It does match the colour used for some of his robot mode parts in the film, so the feet are forgivable – but the blackbird parts on his shoulders should be black (at least the pinstripe red markings have been reproduced). It’s a shame they didn’t use this colour for other, more relevant parts. Such as his arms – which are that pale ‘silver’ plastic. Ach well, never mind. He still looks great!

There is a scratched Decepticon insignia on his back. However, this is unlikely to represent his renunciation his Decepticon allegiance, but rather that it’s just worn with age and long, slow decline (and, as a piece of trivia, the Legends Class figure is packaged as a Decepticon, whereas the Leader Class figure is packaged as an Autotobot – probably in an attempt to keep the switch a secret, as the Legends figure was released prior to the film, whereas the Leader Class figure was released after the film in most places).

The only piece of plane kibble is the front fuselage of the blackbird hanging down between his legs like a tail. Still, they had to do something with it. I kind wish it could split in half, and be stowed to the sides, out of view. However, the main reason for this desired split is for the combined mode, as discussed below.

All in all, I love this guy’s robot mode. He’s top notch, and an impressive miniature version of an endearing character.

Combined Mode with ROTF Legends Optimus Prime:

I was concerned when I first heard that Prime and Jetfire combined – combining seems to be getting taken a bit far these days, and I always preferred it when it was a rather specialised ability (the Constructicons for example). Added to that the incredible size issues, and the different original faction allegiances, the idea just didn’t site right. However, as it transpires, Jetfire and Optimus Prime do not have the ability to combine in a traditional sense.

Instead, in ROTF, Jetfire makes the ultimate sacrifice, ending his own life so as Prime may use his components to form a weapons system to defeat The Fallen (although, to be fair, at the point Jetfire makes this choice, he doesn’t look to have more than a few minutes left to his existence – he’s missing over a third of his torso…). This almost requires that the combined form look disjointed – a load of robot and Blackbird components tacked on to Prime in a new configuration – and that’s exactly how it does look.

The Legends Class toys allow for combination between ROTF Legends Optimus Prime and Jetfire. This is the first time Legends figures have been able to combine (although ROTF Legends Devastator, unreleased at time of writing will take this much further). However, as this really is a case of parts stuck to another robot, it really looks like a Blackbird stuck on the back of Prime. The use of black plastic in Prime’s upper arms makes for a degree of unity and great film accuracy than would otherwise be possible (especially had the more Prime accurate grey been used), but it doesn’t help that much.

There really is no transformation involved – therefore, to have any degree of film accuracy, you have to invert the Blackbird, so as the nose points to the ground – otherwise you end up with it sticking straight up into the air, looking totally ridiculous and nothing at all like the film design. However, had the Blackbird fuselage been able to split in half, it could have been folded over Prime’s shoulders like in the film, and resulted in a far better likeness.

Still, hats off to the designers even including this feature (which is unlabeled and not described in the instructions). It looks fairly cool, but is not a mode I use often or would be inclined to display.

All in all ROTF Legends Jetfire is an inventive and fun Legends Class toy, with a great robot mode and passable, if poor, alternate mode. Despite his failings, he has so many plus points that I would highly recommend him.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 9 – I love this transformation. It’s unique and great fun. Plus you can combine him with Prime, albeit in a half-assed way. It’s just a shame the Blackbird mode suffered so much, and the addition of a splitting front fuselage to would have added so much.
Durability: 8 – Despite his legs propensity to popping off during transformation, he feels sturdy, with likely stress points being attached with ball joints, allowing for easy reattachment.
Fun: 8 – Jetfire is excellent fun, with superb articulation, great transformation, and detailed robot mode. Plus he can combine with ROTF Legends Optimus Prime! Still, the Blackbird mode is not the best…
Price: 6 – Transformers figures have leapt up in price recently, with the shelfprice of Legends Class now around £5 or $5 depending on whch side of the Atlantic you live on. However, Argos in the UK offer a four pack bundle deal for £12.99, working out at £3.25 per figure – bargain! (If you do go for the Argos bundle, check that you don’t have any doublers before you head home – the first set they brought out to me consisted of two Springers and two Jetfires! And, with so many Legends Class figures hitting, there’s no guarantee you’d get the ones you want.) I have also recently found ROTF Legends Class figures at £2.99 in Sainsbury’s – almost original Cybertron prices from 2005! At that, the value would certainly be a 10!
Overall: 8 – ROTF Legends Jetfire is a surprisingly fun wee figure. The original and innovative transformation combined with the excellent robot mode really make this figure stand out. It’s just a shame about his warped Blackbird mode, and standard retail price.
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