Air Raid (Scout-class)
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
A boy’s first car should be a special event in his life. Finding the right girl is also important, and to do that, he needs a special car. But for Sam Witwicky, he is completely unaware of how special his car really is… until it drives away from his house all by itself… and changes into a giant robot! Sam soon finds himself as the key to ending an intergalactic battle between two factions of a race of alien robots which can change shape at will- the peaceful Autobots and dangerous Decepticons- as they fight to find and retake the powerful AllSpark Cube that created their race. But enemies lie in wait on Earth as well. While the Decepticons are already on our planet looking for their long-lost leader Megatron, the United States secret government organization Sector 7 already knows about the alien robots, and will do anything to keep them hidden. It is not until the great & noble Optimus Prime and several other Autobots crash-land on Earth in their search for the god-like Cube that the 10,000 year-old stalemated war begins anew- with the fate of both races in the hands of these intelligent, powerful alien robots in disguise… and a boy and his car.
This Autobot Air Raid figure is a Target-exclusive release for the live-action film “Transformers” (2007). It is a repaint of the original Autobot Skyblast from the “Transformers: Energon” (2005) line. Unlike regular Autobots and Decepticons, Skyblast was one of many neutral-party Omnicons who could wield powerful raw Energon weapons. All molds, details, transformation, and special features are the same between the two toys; only plastic colors and paint applications have been changed. So far as I know, this is the first repaint for this toy since its debut in the “…Energon” series.
Air Raid’s vehicle mode (back) is that of a space fighter. Actually, when looking at him from the top, he kinda reminds me of one of those air/space fighters from the classic top-down scrolling shooter video games like Raiden, though he’s a bit thick from the front profile to fly through the air. (Ah- the good old days of 2-D games… do they even make new ones anymore!?) He doesn’t lend much to aerodynamics- spotting a smallish nose with a black cockpit canopy which is flanked on either side by large paired light gray cannons, two tiny diagonal stabilizer tails along the dorsal section on either side of the Spark Crystal (more on that later), chunky surfaces along the sides behind the cannons which lead to paired rocket nozzles on the back, and larger stubby wings with raised Autobot logos along both the top and bottom of both. As opposed to the original’s white, red, yellow, blue, and gray, this repaint of Air Raid for the movie’s release is molded in pale green and light gray, and tan, black, and red paint added. All black ABS plastic- as opposed to color-coded transparent ABS- is used for the Spark Crystal cover and Energon weapons (more on this later) This was done to make Air Raid fit more comfortably into the movie’s regular line of characters, giving it a slight more ‘real-life’ appearance and style since some early jet fighters had a similar forest camouflage. One thing that was added to Air Raid is the appearance of a Sector 7 logo- a simplified image of the All Spark Cube and the designation S7- painted just beneath the Spark Crystal on his chest. This suggests that he may be an undercover operative within the ranks of S7 vehicles.
Lacking movable parts in vehicle mode (unless you count being able to pitch the paired cannons on the top up & down), on the bottom is a kind of special feature I can’t quite place- a set of large light gray claws that can swing down. Why? I have no idea. At first I thought the original Skyblast was part of a combining robot in “…Energon”, but that’s not so. Link with another set? No… Hold Mini-Cons from the previous line, “Transformers: Armada” (2004)? No, because it would have a Mini-Con mounting point instead if that was the case. A bit odd, but I can live with it. There are also two small light gray immobile stubs just ahead of the claws which act as landing gear when it’s on the ground. A good deal of the toy is covered in molded details, such as raised panels, intakes & vents, and lines that are carved in jagged patterns like those of a stealth fighter; a pair of tiny [laser?] cannons are molded just in front of the cockpit. On Air Raid, the forest camo obscures the panel details a bit more than expected.
Air Raid’s transformation is very easy to learn and execute. He even features what could be called an Automorph feature, though it was certainly not called that in the “…Energon” line. (This may explain why he was chosen to be part of the movie’s line of toys, though not all of the other repaints added have such a feature.) When the top section just in front of his legs is rotated around to become his chest, the nose of the fighter rotates around 90-degrees all by itself via an internal gear system, revealing the head! The only thing you gotta remember to do (since it is easily overlooked) is to spread apart the interlocking claws underneath.
Also, contrary to what appears on the box art, when the head is rotated around in robot mode, the nose of the fighter does not spin around to point downwards; this is an error in made during photography, and the toy is not designed to do this! The instructions seem to reinforce this. (The reason may be that the photography studio accidentally snapped the nose section off- as it is intended to do if too much pressure is applied- and simply reattached it the wrong way.)
Air Raid’s smaller robot mode (back) is more familiar to Transformers fans- blocky with rounded edges, simple to execute, clear details- than the designs in the movie, which had complex molds & details, highly complicated designs, and featured more steps for the transformations than average. In some ways, a relief from the seemingly chaotic robots seen on the big screen! Unlike just about all of the movie designs, Air Raid’s head does not feature a transparent backing for light to shine through, so his eyes are painted red- oddly, considering all G1 Decepticons had red eyes... The nose of the fighter hangs above his head, revealing that it is actually black ABS part that was only half painted. His chest is made up of the swiveling section holding his Spark Crystal and some intakes and the small tails. His arms are all light gray except for the inverted wings, with all of the paint details on the back. The legs are the rocket nozzles covered up with their own engine housing (I think), and each half of the vehicle mode’s claws rests on the outside of them. The blasters from the fighter become his feet, and the forward landing gear rearranged to become his heels. It is interesting to note that an early attempt may have been made to remold Air Raid’s feet as is evident by the figure spotted on both the instructions and on the box art. Most of the paint apps have been focused on the top of the vehicle mode’s parts, with the head being the only section of the robot mode getting any new attention.
Poseability for such a small toy (he’s just shy of 4” in robot mode) is as expected from a basic & simplified Scout-class figure- acceptable, though sometimes lacking, but this makes him affordable at $7.99 to parents who can get their kids something small and quick while they are in the store, or for grandparents who may know even less about Transformers as a whole to get as a small treat to spoil them. The only ball-and-socket joints are at his hips, and there are no ratcheting/snapping joints. His shoulders can spin all the way around, but the tails on the chest can interfere if the arms aren’t bent out of the way a little bit first. The elbows are limited to one axis- forward only to 90-degrees. The hips can bend forward and backwards only 180-degrees. The knees cannot bend because his size neglects enough space for them due to how he transforms, but they can, however swivel side-to-side 360-degrees if you wish. Ordinarily the head on most Scout-class figures would be able to at least twist side to side a bit. However, because of how the nose retracts and how the head is part of his Automorph feature, Air Raid’s head cannot twist at all on its own. If it is twisted, it will snap against the mechanism inside his chest- but if this is done too much, it’ll strip the gears inside and the Automorph won’t work anymore!
One of the regular features/gimmicks of the “…Energon” line was that they all had a Spark Crystal [inspired by the first ones on the Transmetals-2 figures from “Beast Wars: Transformers” (1997-1999)]. These are tiny transparent domes no more than ½” in diameter located somewhere in both vehicle and robot modes, which showed their true allegiance- Autobot or Decepticon. Then a separate color-coded transparent ABS plastic Energon part could be affixed over the crystal to indicate that they were, em… ‘powered-up’ with Energon. (I don’t know how this was portrayed in the series, so I can’t comment on that.) Air Raid’s Energon part is a solid black coloring. (Man- it is hard to remove that part from Skyblast’s chest! All that you do is just pull or twist it off, but still--!)
(In case you are unaware, a spark is the soul or life-force of a Transformer which makes them more than just machines- extending them into truly living machines. All Cybertronians- big, small, young or old, powerful or not- have one. Optimus Prime touched on this briefly- almost exposing his own- in the 2007 movie when the Autobots are conversing outside of the Griffith Observatory.)
While all Cybertronians in the “…Energon” series had a Spark Crystal and overlapping Energon piece, most of them were also able to wield extra color-coded transparent Energon pieces which could be spring-loaded cannons, or separate parts merging later into larger combined blade weapons like axes or swords. The larger combined Energon weapon(s) could be utilized by all of the toys, though they were usually only meant to be used larger/more-powerful Deluxe-, Voyager-, and Leader-class figures. The separating weapons could usually be used also in vehicle mode as enhancements/add-on features. The holes in the hands have become standardized since the “…Energon” line ended, so all succeeding lines- at this point “Transformers: Cybertron” and Transformers: Classics (2006)- can use the weapons. (However, most of the figures from the 2007 movie’s line don’t have hands that can grip the Energon weapons.)
Air Raid’s combined Energon weapon comes in three parts. Unlike its “…Energon” counterparts, Air Raid’s Energon parts are not transparent, only plain black plastic. The first is a long-barrel rifle w/ targeting sensor. It is made of two separate parts itself that are designed to snap apart if too much pressure is applied. The rifle attaches under the nose of the vehicle mode, just beneath the cockpit. The other two are armored sections that slip over the ends of the wingtips, and act as additional armor or ‘fuel pods’, or huge cruise missiles… (There’s no correct answer here.) The pods can remain on the wings in robot mode, but the rifle must be removed from the nose before transformation is completed; it can then be placed in either hand. The combined Energon weapon takes these three parts and merges them into a giant spear, which can be wielded by Air Raid only in robot mode. (Trying to attach it in vehicle mode is rather difficult because of the angle it must sit at under the nose to avoid the retracted claws. You could extend the claws first, but then it still bumps into the main body of the fighter, so…) The Spark Crystal cover mentioned earlier does not interact with the weapon (s), but they can be used at the same time on him without interfering with each other.
I’m sure that when “Transformers: Energon” was on the shelves years ago, I may have seen the original Skyblast. Most likely, I turned my nose up at him then. Looking at the original online while I was researching for this review, I am reminded of why I chose not to get him then- those colors just didn’t work! (Some speculate that the “…Energon” Skyblast figure and its coloring may have been a tribute to the G1 character Autobot Jetfire. I can see a little of that there too; it does look slightly Valkyrie-ish, particularly in the chest…) So why did I get a repaint when I do that so rarely? Well, that explains the appeal of some repaints- they just work better than the originals. It’s a great toy with no real problems to it (that Crystal cover is still really hard to get off!), the mold details are great, and he moves well for a toy his size. Often times, the colors chosen for the toy can overshadow how great it can be. And other times, the opposite is true, great choice of coloring, but poor design, sculpts, or functions. And sometimes I see a repaint that is interesting, but I am satisfied with the original that I already have. So, more because it is a repaint that I agree with that helped me to know it better, and less because it is a repaint issued during the run of the movie’s lineup which did not appear on-screen, I recommend getting Air Raid.
(There was another Target-exclusive repaint of this figure released at the same time, called Autobot Skyblast, who was colored in more of an overcast-skies camouflage pattern- gray, sand brown, white, & black- with darkened transparent Energon accessories.)
|Posted 15 November, 2007 - 03:48 by EVA_Unit_4A|