I managed to hold out for a long time against the tempting in-rush of third-party Transformers. I actually first caved back when Fansproject revealed their “Not-Insecticon” Causality figures. The problem was, I waited to buy all three once they were all out. That turned out to be a stupid move because the first two sold out everywhere and now all I can find are the “Not-Deluxe” “Not-Insecticon” repaints. Re-issue those bitches, Fansproject! Re-issue them and I will buy them!! I pledge you my monies! Nonetheless, my favorite Transformers combiners have always been the Aerialbots and the Stunticons. When TFC showed off the first images of their own versions of the Aerialbots, I simply couldn’t hold out any longer. And so, with some Christmas money in hand, I ordered the first figure in Project Uranos: F-4 Phantom aka“Not-Fireflight.” And since the whole “Not” business is getting on my nerves, for the purposes of the feature, we’ll just call him Phantom.
Because this is my first experience with a third-party Transformer, and because this thing wasn’t cheap, I’m going to milk it for two features. Today, we’ll check out the packaging and the jet mode, and tomorrow we’ll look at the transformation and the robot mode. I’m not even going to bother with the arm mode until I’ve got enough of these figures to put something together.
But, before we get into the presentation, let’s talk size. In both robot and jet forms, Phantom is on par with Hasbro’s recent Voyager Class figures. Now, my own preference for G1-style Aerialbots would be to have the limbs be Deluxes and Silverbolt be a Voyager. I just can’t get my head around a figure like Fireflight towering over my Classic Autobots like Jazz or Prowl. But when you’re paying $100 a pop, you want something more substantial and so I’m fine with displaying these guys as a stand-alone team. And assuming TFC does make good on their promise to get around to doing a certain team of evil cars, I’ll be happy to have these two teams in scale with each other.
Phantom comes in a window box, which is roughly the same height as the Prime Voyager Class packages and a little bit wider. The figure is packaged in robot mode with his single combiner part (Uranos’ hand) and two fuel pods in the tray to his left. Phantom is secured in his tray with twisty-ties, but once they’re undone the box is very collector friendly. Phantom just requires a little mis-transformation to lay back in his tray for storage.
The matte deco on the box is quite professional looking and very attractive. The front features the Uranos logo in silver foil lettering down the right side and a very Pat Lee-inspired piece of character art. The side panel has a full drawing of the character, which is awesome because when I get a complete set, I can store them boxed in a bookcase and see which is which. I’m not a big fan of Pat Lee’s art in my comic books, but the homage works well enough here as box art. The back panel shows photos of the toy in its three different forms. There are also faint line renderings of the toy in the background of the various panels of the box.
Inside the box, there’s a cardboard insert with a very cool line drawing on the back. You also get a baggie that contains a nice profile card with character art and tech specs. And there’s a fold out poster and a single folded sheet of color instructions, printed on both sides. Alas, the instructions only show transformation from jet to robot and from jet to combiner arm. Considering the figure comes in robot mode, you’d think that would be the conversion they show. Either way, Phantom is a pretty easy Transformer to figure out. All in all, TFC certainly went the extra mile on the presentation. It still feels like a retail-grade package, but the artwork is particularly nice and little extras like the poster and the card are welcome. Even the instruction sheet is far nicer than what you get with a Hasbro Transformer. But enough about the presentation, let’s get to the goods. As is tradition around here, I’m going to start with Phantom’s jet mode. Keep in mind, folks, that I’ve already applied my repro Autobot insignias, which are obviously not included in the package.
I’m something of a military hardware buff, and while tanks and helicopters are my first loves, I dig me some warplanes as well. As a result, I’ve got a plethora of images from books in my library to compare Phantom’s jet mode to the real thing. Despite the outlandish (but very G1 accurate) color scheme, the toy is a pretty solid likeness. The configuration of the nose and cockpit are spot on, as are the intakes on each side of the canopy. The wing tips can correctly be angled at an upward incline, and the engines are positioned properly. About the only thing I can nitpick here is that the dorsal tail fin should be a tad bigger. The toy is replete with sculpted panel lines and you can even see the seats in the cockpit through the yellow tinted canopy. I should also note here that TFC included some tiny plastic plugs to cover up the screws on the dorsal side of the jet mode, which were installed prior to shooting the pictures. They’re completely optional, and chances are if you’re a Transformers collector then you’re used to exposed screws, but they’re a nice bonus nonetheless.
If you flip the jet over, you can certainly see some robot shenanigans going on, but everything is nicely recessed into the undercarriage. I’d have to say that Phantom has a lot less robot kibble hanging off of him than most of Hasbro’s Jet Transformers (I’m looking at you Prime Dreadwing!!!). Additionally, Phantom’s jet mode is tight and dead solid.
So, there is one little flub in the design. Phantom has folding landing gear for when you want to display him in jet mode. Unfortunately, they don’t offer enough clearance for the fuel pods that clip under each wing. You can choose to display him without the pods, but if you want the pods on, he’s going to be sitting on them rather than the landing gear. I’ll grant you, for a toy as expensive as Phantom, this seems like a silly design oversight, but I’m not crying over it.
Phantom’s color scheme is a nice homage to Hasbro’s original G1 toy. This toy shows off a little more of the off-white than red. Also, the blue and yellow striping on the wings is a bit more tastefully subdued here, but it all works fine for me. I’m particularly pleased with the shade of red plastic used and the tampo markings look great. Some diehards may bitch that the tail fins aren’t red, but a little divergence in the deco like that doesn’t bother me at all.
And with a sigh of relief, I can say that I’m very pleased with Phantom’s presentation and his jet mode. The quality is excellent and everything looks great. Tomorrow, I’ll check back in and we’ll look at his transformation as well as his robot mode.