It took me longer than expected to get my Blackbird, the third release in TFC’s Project Uranos series, but it’s finally here and I’ve had some time to play around with him. He’s a bit of a controversial figure because he’s a deviation from the original concept. Despite being a Silverbolt homage, TFC decided to base him off of the famous SR-71 Blackbird spyplane rather than a Concorde. The decision further begged the question, would he be black like the SR-71 should be, or would he remain true to the G1 character’s color scheme? And what’s with that smaller Transformer he comes with? He forms the gestalt’s chest piece? That’s not very GeeWun! It seemed like whatever TFC did they were going to alienate some people, but I tried to keep an open mind.
I’ll gladly concede that I would have preferred TFC stuck with the Concorde design, as it fit the character better. Besides being a jet that was afraid of heights, Silverbolt was a lot more reserved than the other Aerialbots. Quite frankly, most of the Aerialbots were dicks and Silverbolt wasn’t, nor was he as quick to jump into battle. I always thought it was cool that his personality was reflected in him being the only one of the team that wasn’t a military jet. On the other hand, homages or not, I really dig when these third-party releases bring something original to the table. I also enjoy the idea of having a more cohesive team of military jets as my re-imagined Aerialbots. As for the color scheme, I think they made the right decision. But I’ll come back to a lot of that later… for now, let’s check out the packaging and the alt modes.
With two releases under my belt, I’ve come to know what to expect from the Uranos packaging. However, Blackbird is the largest of the figures and he also comes with a companion figure, so I was interested to see if TFC mixed things up at all. Nope. What we have here is the same basic deco and design as the other window boxes. It’s just bigger. That’s a very good thing, because I really love everything about the presentation on these guys and Blackbird’s box raises it to an epic and impressive scale. The package features the same cool artwork and line-drawings on the front and sides, and the photos of Blackbird’s three forms on the back. There’s also an amazing color line-drawing inside the cardboard tray. Blackbird comes packaged in his robot mode and Phantom Ray comes in his little alt mode. Inside the box, you get a collectible card with his character art and stats, a fold out poster, and a color instruction sheet.
Straightaway, I love Blackbird’s alt mode, and a lot of that has to do with my love for the stylings of the real aircraft. It’s certainly an attractive design and TFC did a nice job reproducing it in toy form right down to the little panel lines. There’s a fair amount of seams and hinges, but you’ve got to expect that in Transformers and I don’t think they detract much from the aesthetics. Aircraft purists will scoff at the unconventional white body and yellow trim, but I’m glad they went with the G1 color scheme, because it was clearly needed to drive this homage home. A couple of repro Autobot insignia on the wings and he definitely looks the part.
Blackbird rests nicely on three sets of folding landing gear and he has two cool chainguns situated under his cockpit. From the top down, this is a great looking toy, although mine had one annoying quirk. The two plates that lock together behind the cockpit simply would not stay together, and left a huge and f’ugly gap. This was seriously pissing me off. I must have played around with it for a half-hour trying to see what I was doing wrong, but that gap would not go away. Finally, I shaved a little off one of the pegs inside the plates and now they mesh perfectly. I’m not a fan of having to tinker with a $130 toy to make it right, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Some may be vexed by the fact that you can see the bulk of Blackbird’s robot form simply by looking under the jet. Honestly, this doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Just as whores will have their trinkets, so Transformer jets will have their kibble. There are two different configurations that his legs can peg into under the wings. One places them more toward the center, the other more toward the back. I prefer to keep them toward the back, since the wings and engines hide them a little more when viewing the jet from the side. But whatever you do there’s going to be a lot of baggage down there. Case in point, after I shot the pictures, I realized I forgot to fold in his feet, but given what all is down there, little tweaks like that don’t even matter all that much. It’s like trying to hide an elephant under a washcloth.
As with Phantom and Eagle, the quality of the plastic here feels really nice. This is a hefty and very solid toy. There’s no noticeable mold flashing and the paint apps are all precise and clean. Let’s move on to Blackbird’s little robot sidekick…
Phantom Ray’s alt mode is an X-47 Drone and he’s a pretty simple little guy. TFC played a little fast and loose with the accuracy on him. He’s a lot more angular than the actual aircraft and while he holds his alt mode fairly well, he doesn’t peg together quite as solid as his larger bot-buddy. He does have some wheels, although they are set so close to the undercarriage that he might as well just be sitting on the ground. There’s a socket underneath him that can peg into the top of Blackbird via the folding peg, and the two look pretty good when joined up. Ever since I was a kid and saw the Space Shuttle being ferried on the back of a 747, I’ve always thought the idea of aircraft riding piggy back on another was pretty damn cool, although you’re mileage may vary.
I’ll be honest, that gap in the back scared the shit out of me, but thankfully it was an easy fix and so far, I’m very pleased with this guy. Blackbird’s jet mode is big, well-constructed, and a great looking toy. I really like how he scales with the other jets. He’s definitely bigger, but he’s not so much bigger as to feel too out of their league. Phantom Ray is… well, he’s not much to write home about, but he is a cool little accessory and I do like the way he looks pegged onto Blackbird’s back.
Tomorrow I’ll be back to transform these guys and check out their robot modes.