Leader-class Autobot Jetfire
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
"With the All Spark gone, we cannot return life to our planet. And Fate has yielded its reward: a new world to call home. We live among its people- hiding in plain sight, but watching over them in secret. I have witnessed their capacity for courage, and though we are worlds apart, like us, there’s more to them than meets the eye. I am Optimus Prime, and I send this message to all Autobots taking refuge among the stars: We are here, we are waiting."
--epilogue from “Transformers” (2007)
With those words, a beacon was sent, alerting the cosmos to our presence in a way we never imagined. Some Autobots responded, but more Decepticons- learning of the death of Megatron- came to seek revenge, to take the throne of their faction for themselves, or simply to see that their leader was truly gone and wonder what would happen next. Two years after the All Spark Cube was destroyed, the Autobots have sought asylum in the United States, and they work closely with its government to form N.E.S.T. (Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty) to cooperate in tracking down arrant Decepticons hiding on Earth and keep the human race unawares amidst growing conspiracies. But with increasing alien activity across the world, it is suspected that the Autobots themselves may be encouraging Decepticons to come to Earth by their very presence here, and the relationship is beginning to become strained. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky has gone to college, but on his first day he begins uncontrollably spouting gibberish like his great-grandfather over a hundred years earlier. It is discovered that he now retains, deep in his mind, the full knowledge of the destroyed All Spark Cube! Learning of this, the Decepticons steal the last shard of the All Spark, and rebuild Megatron. Teleporting himself to another dimension, Megatron consults with his master- an ancient and evil traitor known as The Fallen, who is the leader of all Decepticons. The Fallen plans to harvest Earth’s Sun for Energon at the cost of destroying the planet as he would have thousands of years ago were he not driven off by the Dynasty of Primes- the original leaders of Cybertron. But to do this, The Fallen must recover the long-lost Matrix of Leadership from the secret Tomb of the Primes- which Sam now holds the only key to finding- to activate the Solar Harvester. And the last surviving descendant of the Dynasty- Optimus Prime- is the only one who can stop The Fallen now…
Jetfire is a proud and honorable Cybertronian who originated from the earliest era of his civilization- the Dynasty of the Primes, who ruled a galaxy-spanning empire with justice and peace for thousands of years. This ever-expanding race was limited only by how much Energon they could harvest from stars. Using their ability to instantly self-teleport through space bridges, the Seekers traveled between solar systems, searching for suitable planets on which to build Solar Harvesters. Jetfire was one of these Seekers, and he took great pride in his work, knowing that he was responsible for finding uninhabited worlds on which to feed his people. Unfortunately, one of the Primes became impatient and betrayed the solemn rule that they had set down- to never destroy a planet with life- by building a Solar Harvester on a world called Earth. Suddenly the peace-loving Cybertronians were enveloped in a civil war which tore it into two factions- the Autobots and the Decepticons. The betrayer, known now only as The Fallen, ordered all loyal Seekers to stay on Earth to keep looking for the Matrix of Leadership and call for him to return. Over the 19,000 years he searched, however, Jetfire had become incensed to the ceaseless violence, and knew his single voice would not stop the Decepticons. And so he abandoned his colleagues and hid himself on Earth from both Cybertronians and humans. As a result of not replenishing his energon- the life-blood of his race- Jetfire’s body began to lose its integrity and slowly rust & decay. The isolation and lack of energon also began to affect his mental facilities, but Jetfire never lost his will or spirit in his old age despite the slow loss of his body’s cohesion. As human technology developed, he continued to disguised himself, and coincidentally was placed- without his conscious knowledge or being discovered- into a display of famous aircraft in a national museum! Proud as he was of his heritage and the glory days of his race, old Jetfire hoped that one day Cybertron would stop fighting with itself and come get him…
[SR-71A Blackbird (#61-7972) on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum]
Jetfire’s vehicle mode is based on Lockheed-Martin’s SR-71A Blackbird supersonic spy plane. It was a first-generation stealth vehicle designed to spy at the highest altitudes for an air-breathing jet engine on the Soviet Union, and could supposedly accelerate past Mach 3.2 in order to evade missile fire. Unfortunately, breakthroughs in radar technology only a few years later made the Blackbird stick out like a sore thumb… because its exhaust at speed eventually developed a larger radar-cross-section than the plane itself did! Regardless of this set-back, the Blackbird performed without being shot down once over enemy territory (12 planes were lost, due only to accidents) from the 1960s to the late 1980s when it was retired for lack of funding. Now out of the public eye for many years, the Blackbird’s rather unique capability has been reexamined several times by the US Congress & military leaders for use in regions where instant reconnaissance is needed over the time-consuming task of moving predictable satellites and deploying slower-but-cheaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (U.A.V.) drones. Only two fully-functional Blackbirds remain in use by N.A.S.A. The surviving 18 were dispersed to various American museums… including one to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center built for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in 2003.
The tips of the nose and engine intakes are soft rubber, but are still very sharp-pointed and will poke your eye out!
The red tail number on the toy, 17972, matches that of the real airplane on display in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (which is #61-7972).
Additionally, on the left side of the cockpit canopy is the following:
LT. COL BRAWLEY
Warning This Aircraft Contains A Seat Containing An Explosive
Change The Maintenance Manual Before Removing
Was this a real person? I don’t know. But I do wonder if the warning isn’t Hasbro’s idea of a double-entendre to Jetfire’s ‘indigestion problems’ as seen in the movie…? (If it is, good for them for the subtlety!)
Like any decent Transformer that has had the disguised form of a fixed-winged aircraft in the last 20 years, once you look at Jetfire from the side or plain-old flip him over, you are immediately confronted by an absolute mass of robot parts with no attempt at integration or streamlining. This toy illustrates Transformer robot kibble at its worst.
Jetfire’s gun/missile launcher can be attached under the nose.
There is a small pentagonal button at the end of the fuselage that, when pressed, activates a single light-and-sound effect: the sound of a jet whooshing past, and red LEDs near the back underneath and half-way under the neck blink on-and-off several times.
The main gimmick for all of the fully-transformable figures from the 2007 “Transformers” toy line was Automorph Technology™: as one part of the toy was being moved, another section would activate and move by itself via internal gears, springs, and levers. (Usually this applied only going in one direction for transformation but not the other.) For the 2009 “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” toy line, the Automorph feature has been replaced with Mech Alive, which is not involved in transforming the toys. Rather it is a gimmick that functions only in robot mode to better imitate, in some fashion, the intricate movements and mechanics of the immensely-more complex CGI character(s).
Some figures are being reissued from the 2007 line since no significant changes were made to the character in that time-span, and will still include their original Automorph feature, but not the newer Mech Alive feature because they were manufactured two years previously.
Since this is a brand new toy which was not released in 2007, the “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” Leader-class Autobot Jetfire has the Mech Alive feature, but not an Automorph Technology feature.
Transformation process - Robot Mode to Vehicle Mode
His cane can be attached to either hand, but it will not support any weight on its own! (It's here more for display purposes than to stabilize Jetfire.)
His ‘old-man whiskers’ and beard are made of soft rubber, but do not detach. His head sways side-to-side loosely rather than as part of a dedicated neck joint because of how it is integrated into the Mech Alive feature (see below).
Jetfire’s legs are always bent like this, and will never extend straight-out even though there are functional hip, knee, and ankle joints specifically for posing.
The multi-barrel cannon/missile launcher can be attached only to the left forearm.
Mech Alive is a special feature included in almost all transformable figures from “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”. In robot mode, specific parts of the figures body can be animated beyond simply posing it- panels shift, gears spin, and in some cases there is light-and sound tied in. This brings out a new level of detail to try matching-up against the immensely-complex designs of the computer-generated characters seen in the movie.
For the Leader-class Autobot Jetfire toy, it has two Mech Alive features:
- When the gold-painted leaver on his chest is pushed downwards, gears inside& pieces on the outside of his chest will move. Additionally, Jetfire’s head will sway back-and-forth a little. In his forehead and chest are two red LEDs that will flash on-and-off several times, and he will say, in a pronounced Scottish accent, “Jetfire’s my name.” (The voice most-decidedly does not match that of actor Mark Ryan, who portrays Jetfire in the movie and gives him a very-contrasting British accent.)
- Hidden inside his thighs are detailed silver cylinders which turn when his knees are twisted side-to-side. These can be viewed from the front and inner/outer sides, but not from behind.
The cylinders in the thighs are clearly a Mech Alive gimmick and I have added it to the list above even though it is not labeled as such in any promotional materials.
Aside from general body shape and his hunched-over profile the majority of details are not consistent with how he appears in the films. For one, while his jet engines do reside in his thighs, he has an extra pair hanging out behind his shoulders. And while his arms and legs more-or-less fit the bill, his forearms are stuck with the nose from the Blackbird… so he actually has a false cockpit on his head in addition to the split pair on his forearms! And the ironic part about his head is that, even though his eyes and the false canopy are both translucent, his eyes have been painted over red so that no light comes through them! For that matter, why does he have an LED in his chest? It’s also visible on the lower-back part of his jet mode in a weird location. On top of that, his false cockpit glows in jet mode when you can’t even directly see it! All of his joints ratchet very tightly, and the surface details are good even if they are inaccurate. One of the bigger problems with this toy, though, is excessive kibble in both modes. (I already covered the basics in vehicle mode above.) With the robot mode, he has a thick torso and a mass of plane panels and false engines all over his back, which seriously hinder balance and posing. In the movie, however, he has a thin torso with a few narrow panels across the back and top of his torso (implying feathers or wings, if you wish).
I have never really encountered a toy that resembled its on-screen counterpart quite like this one does. And it is in the details of the toy rather than appearance-wise: sharp-edges & points (I swear those plane edges are gonna cut your skin, they’re so damned thin!), rickety transformation that takes concentrated effort to complete (a lot of time is spent trying to get all those panels to line up correctly in vehicle mode), parts that unintentionally fall off (odd ball-and-socket joints, or stuff simply gets in your way), and an inefficient light & sound system (one spoken phrase, and lights in weird places)… all things that appear in the movie and oddly match his personality too! I tell ya that it is such a surreal feeling that it’s difficult to put into words here, and I can’t decide if TakaraTomy & Hasbro did all that on purpose or not! If it’s on purpose, then they surprised & impressed me, and made him more life-like than I imagined. If it’s not on purpose, then they made a toy that needed a lot of reworking, and all I can say to that is “Typical”. I am under the distinct impression that the Leader-class Autobot Jetfire toy was based on one of the earlier concept artwork pieces rather than the final design of the crotchety old warhorse we saw in the movie “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”.
General review of Robot & Vehicle Modes
So, Jetfire rips out his own spark chamber and sacrifices himself so that Optimus Prime can get a power boost in order to defeat The Fallen. Can the toy(s) do that...?
[Jolt: I accomplished more in one scene than Ratchet did in two movies.]
Power-Up Optimus Prime
The Mech Alive gimmick in both Optimus’ and Jetfire's chests cannot be accessed. However, there is a new sound effect (a heavy robot foot tremor? a weapon locking a round in place?) along the back of the sound box which can activate the LEDs.
The legs lose all poseability; even the slightest tweaking leads to disconnections and puts parts under risky pressure.
The ‘big gun’ on the right arm is hollow, and contains Jetfire’s cane and a thin panel from the back of his vehicle mode.
The missile launcher is typically attached to the left forearm (although, in the movie, the dual single-barrel machine guns are on his right forearm).
As in the movie (and because nothing covers the arms on the toy), both of Optimus’ swords can still be deployed.
With the exception of perhaps the most-recent toy lines (I’d say from “Transformers: Cybertron” in 2006 onwards), any combo involving more than two components required some degree of parts- other than weapons- to be removed and moved to a different location by ‘magic’. This is especially true for Power-Up Optimus Prime in “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”, which has carefully avoided some of the various series’ TV clichés such as mass-shifting and outrageous toy coloring. So Jolt tears Jetfire’s body apart (does Ratchet do anything useful in these movies!?) and put all the components onto Optimus in a way they were never intended to, while magically making it all work. (And, if you watch carefully, he didn’t use all of Jetfire’s mass for this, as he was easily double Optimus’ size to begin with. Additionally, his spark chamber is still glowing on the ground…) So- how ironic is it that, after 22 years of multi-part combos, a character who actually needs to be taken apart and completely rearranged into order to achieve the exact same effect now has a toy that does not come apart! Except for the various panels on Jetfire coming off exactly when you don’t want them to, and the crappy-hollow cannon on combo’s right arm, Power-Up Optimus Prime is virtually unrecognizable as a Leader-class scale-toy! Perhaps the panels on his chest and jet engines behind his shoulders in any way identify him as the same form… and even those look wrong!
And I haven’t even gotten to the part about having to transform and combine this monstrosity… For Leader-class Optimus Prime, Jetfire, and this combo, I would get stuck at one point that the instructions didn’t quite elaborate enough on, and I would be forced to get onto YouTube.com and seek out others who had come before to sort it out. The same happened here, specifically when attaching Jetfire’s back to Optimus’ back. You gotta wiggle and press and twist and pray that those pegs go into the holes while also making sure you don’t break anything as your fingers whiten up from frustration and the parts whiten up from stress fractures. Then, you gotta figure out how you can get the foot extenders into position without throwing everything else off, including that shapely little tab under his crotch (I kid you not). And by the end, you’re just thankful that you can simply swing and ratchet the arms over Optimus’ shoulders. (The nose of the Blackbird actually does end up there… the only part that they got right on this combo, to a degree.) And you immediately realize that his legs won’t move when that giant sound box (and the equally-oddly-placed red LED) ends up by his ankles just so that they can give you one new sound.
The remade Optimus Prime figure is a marvel of toy engineering which greatly surpasses its 2007 predecessor even if it was difficult for kids to comprehend how to change him. But this Jetfire figure is most-definitely not up to the same spec, putting all kinds of restrictions and complications into a figure that certainly deserved better! Now, to be fair, if they were to make Leader-class Jetfire to the exact scale that he was in reality, then the Blackbird would have been about 3’ (1m) long to Optimus’ 9” Peterbilt 379 long-nose truck, and the former would have been a hell of a lot more expensive than $50 off the shelf. That being the case, I think it would have been to TakaraTomy and Hasbro’s service to create a thin skeletal framework for Jetfire’s body, have all his components lock onto/around this structure, and then when need-be they could be removed and attached to Optimus in the right places like the jigsaw puzzle it is/was. This would have allowed for Jetfire to still transform on his own without removing anything, and preserved the fragmented way in which his dozen-plus parts were mixed up for Power-Up Optimus Prime. This method would also have pushed the figure into the $60+ range, I’m sure, but would have preserved his size to what it is now, and provided for a much more satisfying combination in the end.
In the end, is it worth getting the Leader-class Autobot Jetfire set? Cluttered & mismanaged transformation(s), a poorly-integrated combo, bad vehicle mode, poor lighting-and-sound effects, and almost no on-screen accuracy (robot mode is maybe the most-tolerable of the three, in my opinion)… I’d say no.
Transformation process & review of Power-Up Optimus Prime
|Posted 1 January, 2010 - 23:17 by EVA_Unit_4A|