Transformers Combiner Wars: G2 Aerialbots Box Set by Hasbro, Part 1: Silverbolt and Powerglide

I was expecting to have the third wave of Titans Return Deluxes to start looking at today, but UPS had other plans and they won’t arrive until tomorrow. Not to worry… I’ve been saving the Combiner Wars Generation 2 Aerialbots box set for just this occasion. Hasbro unloaded a bunch of these sets off their website a little while back for the ridiculously low price of $30 shipped. And seeing as how much I loved the G2 Stunticon set, I simply couldn’t resist. My plan is to cover this set just like I did those G2 Stunticons, in four parts, but I’m not going to do it in a straight shot. I’ll just keep coming back to these when I’m hard up for content, so getting through this set is going to take a while. For today, lets kick it off with a look at the packaging, Silverbolt and Powerglide!

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The six figures come in an enclosed box with some beautiful landscape-oriented artwork on the front and lots of pictures of what’s inside. Primus knows, the Combiner Wars packages haven’t been my favorite, but this elevates it to a new level. You get a bitchin’ shot of G2 Superion shooting off his knuckle cannons with Cybertron in the backdrop. This feels like something special and it’s aces! On the other hand, unlike the Takara sets, there’s no opening flap or window, which makes it feel a little less premium. Open up the box and the goods are laid out on a clear plastic tray in their separate vehicle modes with their weapons and combiner parts around them. Considering I went the Takara route for the original CW Aerialbots, I like the idea of owning this set to represent Hasbro’s take on the packaging.

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Flip the box over and you get this portrait-oriented shot of G2 Superion in all his colorful glory as well as smaller shots of each of the four figures in both robot and alt modes. Fantastic!

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And wow, check out Silverbolt! His Concorde alt mode casts off its mostly white G1 body in favor of this blue deco with red accents. The body of the jet has a truly distinctive light metallic blue finish unlike anything I’ve seen before. It’s paired with the high gloss, deeper blue wings and tail fins with red showing up on the tail dorsal fin and in a few other spots. I’m not sure if they actually attempted to match the blue plastic with the blue paint and failed, but I really like the subtle two-tone effect here. Besides the impact of the color change, what strikes me most about this toy is how much work Hasbro put into the repaint. I was expecting something quick and dirty, but what we got shows some true care.

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Extra flourishes include the G2 Autobot symbol on the one wing and “5” on the opposite, both framed with a pair of silver triangles. There are also “5’s” printed on the dorsal fin and a white and blue checkered “V” stamped just behind the cockpit area. Finally, you get some high gloss black paint on the engines. It’s a gorgeous repaint of a very solid alt-mode, which brings out the sculpted panel lines in a way that the original white plastic didn’t. Again, the quality of paint here is just superb!

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Transformed into his robot mode, Silverbolt trades a lot of that blue real estate for more red, in this case bare red plastic that still has a bit of a glittery, metallic finish. Also thrown into the mix is more black and a little silver on his abdomen. It’s a pretty well balanced deco and it’s topped off with a G2 Autobot emblem stamped proudly on his chest. Obviously, I identify more with the G1 colors and those will always have a place in my heart, but I cannot deny that this is one damn attractive figure!

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I particularly love what the colors do for this head sculpt. The face is still silver with a very high quality look to the paint. His “helmet” is now blue, and his eyes are painted a gorgeous shade of red.

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You get the same rifle and “shield” combo, which will combine to form Superion’s gun. The rifle is a little too long for Silverbolt and the shield is pretty worthless, but otherwise, I love still love this toy and it looks fantastic in the new G2 colors. Unfortunately, I can’t say I have quite the same enthusiasm for Powerglide, though. I don’t have a lot to say about him, but let’s start with his alt mode.

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The original release of this Legends Class figure will go down as one of my favorites in recent years, so I have a lot of love for this mold, even if the alt mode is difficult to hold together. The G2 version is almost a palate swap of the original only here the light tan plastic is replaced with gray. It’s that gray swirly stuff, that I’m not all that fond of, but it’s not too bad in small amounts like on this little guy. That having been said, the deco here isn’t my favorite. I just feel like the smaller amount of red overpowers the silver. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either.

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The robot mode is more of the same, although I think I prefer the deco in robot mode a little more than in alt mode. You get an extra little bit of paint on his crotch piece and that glorious G2 Autobot emblem stamped on his chest. Unless my Transformers history is off, I don’t recall Powerglide ever getting an official G2 release and I feel like these colors aren’t quite in the spirit of the rest of the G2 Aerialbots. Still, it’s a decent repaint of a cool figure.

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When it comes to this Powerglide, I can take him or leave him, but Silverbolt is a pretty great looking toy for what could have been a quick and dirty repaint. I’m extremely impressed with what I’ve seen so far out of this set and I’m looking forward at checking out the limbs in the future. But as I said earlier, that won’t be until next year, because next Thursday I’ll start on the third wave of Titans Return Deluxes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I get a couple more of the bigger ones for Christmas.

Transformers Unite Warriors: Aerialbots (UW-01) by Takara, Part 4

Alrighty, here we are at the end of the week and the final part of my look at Takara’s Unite Warriors Aerialbots. It’s time to cobble this guy together and check out the results. I’ve already mentioned that this is a Scramble City style combiner, so you can mix it up and make any of the limbs arms or legs and yeah, you can pull limbs from the other CW teams as well. That’s all well and good, and I think it works great as a play mechanic for the kiddies, but for the purposes of this Feature, I’m keeping him in line with the way he combined in the old G1 days, because I’m an old bastard set in my ways.

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Hot damn, this guy looks amazing. As a big fan of the Stunticons, it gives me no pleasure to say that this updated Superion is everything that Menasor failed at being. But before getting ahead of myself, let’s talk engineering. The way Silverbolt transformers into the torso is not only unbelievably clever, but I think it’s the core reason why Superion works so much better than Menasor. Instead of just his robot legs forming the upper legs and his arms folding up into shoulders, Silverbolt flips upside down to make his arms the upper legs and his legs just fold neatly into the torso. This makes for a solid piece that doesn’t try to fall apart every time I pose him. The way the plates close up to form the chest and even the little upside Autobot logo near his crotch folds up and disappears is just fantastic and everything tabs together perfectly.

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The limbs are all pretty standard stuff, but they all work so much better than the Menasor limbs. Skydive and Air Raid have a nice symmetry going as the lower legs and they are as solid as anything. Because of the nosecones, you don’t really have the option of flipping them to the back for that G1 look, but honestly, I think this guy looks better wearing the jets on the fronts of his legs. It’s also great not to have the bulky knee bumps that Menasor suffers from. The arms are also nice and symmetrical, which is obviously because we’re dealing with repaints of the same mold. They look great, and little touches like the way the robot arms actually peg into place is something that would have been welcome on Menasor.

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As for the aesthetics, this guy is without a doubt the best looking Has-Tak combiner I’ve seen in person. Keep in mind, I’m holding out for Takara’s Defensor, which I hear is a strong contender, and I’m not counting Devastator because he’s in a whole different league. If I wanted to quibble, I’d say the legs could use more bulk, but he’s still pretty well proportioned. I have to admit I’m considering picking up one of the 3P add on kits to give him some bulkier feet and better hands, but what’s here still works just fine.

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While I wasn’t terribly keen on what they did with Menasor’s head, Superion’s is spot on perfect as far as I’m concerned.

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In combined mode, the coloring here isn’t a huge departure from the Hasbro release. You get the white bit on the chest, the antenna are gold, and the upper legs on this release have the gold and silver paint instead of being all orange. I like the coloring changes here better, but anyone looking to keep this guy in combined mode might not need to be bothered with going for the Takara release.

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As good as he looks, I’m happy to say he’s also a blast to play with. Not only can he stand beautifully, but I can grab Superion and treat him like an action figure without having to worry about the shoulders coming apart or the limbs mis-transforming. This guy is as solid as the day is long and that fixes the biggest complaint I had about Menasor. Indeed, the only downside here is that there’s no ankle tilts and if you put him in action poses on a smooth surface his feet are going to slide. On the other hand, if you put him on a carpet or a piece of poster board and the slipping and sliding isn’t an issue.

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As someone who scoffed at the initial pictures of these Aerialbots, and laughed at the combined mode, I’m so happy to be able to eat those words. I think a big part of it were the terrible first pictures. Hasbro, you really need to work on that stuff. Although, a lot of it has to do with just having him in hand and appreciating what they did here. Not only are the individual bots great figures, but Superion is absolutely fantastic. Even with all the great stuff they’re doing these days, I think this team is possibly one Has-Tak’s greatest achievements in recent years. Four deluxes and one Voyager, all perfectly fine as stand alone Transformers and yet merging into one solid and kickass robot, all while managing to maintain a solid homage to the G1 characters. And while I’m very glad I held out for the Takara release, the truth is that either way you go, Hasbro or Takara, I think you’re getting a superb set of figures.

Transformers Unite Warriors: Aerialbots (UW-01) by Takara, Part 3

Hey, it’s Transformers Thursday and what a coincidence that I’m right in the middle of a four-part look at Takara’s Unite Warriors Aerialbots. I’ve already looked at Silverbolt, Fireflight, and Slingshot and now it’s time to look at Superion’s legs: Air Raid and Skydive. Let’s start with their alt modes.

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While Slingshot and Fireflight were just repaints of the same jet, Air Raid and Skydive are completely different and extremely faithful to their G1 original counterparts. Skydive is a black and gray F-16 Falcon and Air Raid is an all black F-15 Eagle. Both jet modes look great, although the robot kibble on the bottom of these two strike me as being a lot more cumbersome than Fireflight and Slingshot. That’s not really a complaint, because all that kibble just feels right on these updates. Either way, these are great looking jets.

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I was never too keen on Skydive’s color scheme. I always thought the gray body and black wings looked odd, but it’s reproduced here perfectly. You even get the yellow lightning bolts on the wings and the Autobot emblems. I particularly love the gold paint applied to his missile clusters. What a beautiful little touch!

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Air Raid, on the other hand, was my favorite jet mode of this whole team. A sexy black F-15 that could give those Decepticon seekers a run for their money in the sky. And yeah, these guys are scaled pretty well to go with the Classic Seeker molds. The striping on his wings is a lot different from the Hasbro Air Raid. It’s more tastefully restricted to just some silver trim on the edge of the wings. The deco is rounded out with those nice, crisp Autobot emblems on the wings and nosecone.

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They each come with the same double barreled gun, with Air Raid’s cast in white plastic and Skydive’s in black. They can be pegged into the backs of the jets to upgrade them to some major firepower, but yeah it looks kind of silly. Thankfully these guns work great for them in robot mode.

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While their jet modes are totally different, these two guys share the same legs in robot mode with only the tail wings resculpted. The rest of their bodies, however, are completely different and they both look fantastic. Once again, they wear their jets on their backs in classic Aerialbot fashion and you can still angle their wings or sweep them straight back for a cleaner look from the front. A plethora of ball joints and hinges in the knees make them fun to pose and there isn’t a lot of kibble to get in the way of the action.

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I’m not all that keen on Skydive’s head sculpt. It seems to match the aesthetic of some of the CW Stunticons, but it doesn’t really feel like one of the Aerialbots to me. Not bad, but maybe just a little too modern for my taste. Air Raid’s head is a lot more to my liking.

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Having looked at all the individual robots, I have to say that as a team, this is one of my favorite assortments of Transformers that Hasbro or Takara has done in ages. That’s really saying something too, because they’ve been hitting it out of the park the last couple of years with the Generations line in general and the Thrilling Thirty in particular. And not to mention I wasn’t sold on these figures based on the initial reveals. Granted, I’m probably pretty biased in favor of these guys because of how much I love the Aerialbots, but in fairness I have the same love for the Stunticons and while I like those figures a lot, I don’t think they come close to the amazing and cohesive job they did on this team and I can’t even articulate how happy I am that they found a way to get us Slingshot in the end.

Tomorrow, I’ll wrap this whole thing up with a look at Superion!

 

Transformers Unite Warriors: Aerialbots (UW-01) by Takara, Part 2

Pressing on in what will be a four part look at the Unite Warriors Aerialbots, today we’re checking out the bots that form Superion’s arms: Fireflight and Slingshot. Yes, I know in the classic Scramble City fashion, these can be legs too, but in my mind there’s only one right way to form Superion and that means these guys are the arms. Let’s start with the alt modes…

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Of course, Slingshot was the one that was late to party, with Alpha Bravo standing in for him in the Hasbro assortment. They eventually released Slingshot stateside, but the Takara set includes him from the get-go. As far as the jet modes go these are just repaints of the same alt mode. It’s a little bit of a cheat as they weren’t the same jets in the G1 days, but if this is the sacrifice I have to make to avoid putting some whirlybird impostor in with my Aerialbots, then I’m fine with that.

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I like this alt mode a lot and with Fireflight being mostly red with white wings, the totally white Slingshot makes for a fairly distinctive looking jet. To help distinguish them a little more, I like to angle Fireflight’s tail wings up, which is totally inaccurate to the style of jet, but I like the subtle variety it creates. Otherwise, both aircraft have their own distinctive wing striping and they each have some nice and crisp Autobot emblems stamped on their wings.

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Yeah, you can see their hands peeking out behind the wings, but I’m over that. Also, each of these guys comes with the same gun, which you can mount under either wing, or load one of them up with both guns for some major firepower.

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Because these are basically the same mold, the robot modes also rely on paint to distinguish them from each other. This is a pretty classic Aerialbot design with the nosecones protruding from their backs. The wings can either angle out from their sides or be swept straight back for a cleaner look from the front. Either way, I think these robot modes are awesome.

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The fact that they moved Slingshot’s Autobot insignia to his shoulder makes that blank side of his chest a little odd. Otherwise between the paint and the new head sculpts, they work fine for me as separate characters. Slingshot’s head always had the most personality to me and I think they did a great job on it. As for Fireflight, I think that’s supposed to be styled after the G1 toy’s head, but I wish they had gone for the Sunbow or comic look. I don’t really associate a mouth plate with any of the Aerialbots. Still, it’s not a bad looking noggin.

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Again, they each come with the same gun, which unlike Silverbolt is scaled perfectly for these smaller guys. Yes, you can get creative and use the hand/foot pieces as accessories, but I don’t need to bother with that just to justify their existance outside of being combiner parts.

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As updates to the G1 Aerialbots, these are fantastic figures. They’re relatively simple and yet their alt modes and robot modes are both great. As a big fan of this team growing up, I would have had so much fun playing with these as a kid. Especially since imagination would only take me so far with the original G1 versions of these guys. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Slingshot, just for the better head, but the truth is I really dig them both.
Next time: Air Raid and Skydive!

Transformers Unite Warriors: Aerialbots (UW-01) by Takara, Part 1

Takara’s release of the Aerialbots arrived yesterday and I have immediately cleared the rest of the week to spend some time looking at these guys. I think the occasion merits it because, holy shit these are the Aerialbots and it’s taken every bit of resolve in me not to knuckle under and buy the Hasbro versions during the long wait for this giftset to release. Yes, I did wind up with Hasbro’s Air Raid, but that was just so I could get the rest of the Stunticons in that wave. Without the US releases in hand, I won’t be doing shot-by-shot comparisons, but I will talk about what’s different. So here’s the plan for the week. Today, I’ll be looking at the packaging and Silverbolt. Tomorrow I’ll check out Fireflight and Slingshot. Thursday will be Skydive and Air Raid, and on Friday I’ll wrap things up with a look at Superion. Let’s go!

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The package features a large window box with all five Aerialbots on one glorious tray in their jet modes. The artwork on the front panel is fantastic, projecting a gritty look at Superion ready for action with the individual jets flying in the background. Most of the fine print is in Japanese, but there’s enough English on the box to make it almost pass as a western package.

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The front flap is secured with magnets and lifts up to reveal a window showing you the goods inside. Each jet comes with their weapon beside them and the four hand/foot pieces as well. It’s all collector friendly, so long as you’re careful when cutting the tape on the tray. Getting all the jets in this one big box was a big incentive for me to go the Takara route, as it reminds me of the old G1 giftsets, which I have salivated over ever since I was a kid. We’re kicking things off with Silverbolt, so let’s look at his alt mode…

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Silverbolt retains his original Concord jet mode, which I’ll concede I prefer over the SR-71 update that a certain 3P gave him. For me, the fact that he’s once again a civilian jet just jibes better with his personality. Yes, this new version is still a plane with a folded up robot on his undercarriage and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Even when I paid $100+ for TFC’s Blackbird, I was happy to see they didn’t change his robot kibbly nature. It’s the charm of the design and to change it would be sacrilege.

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In keeping with his G1 alt mode, Silverbolt’s jet mode is mostly white with some yellow paintwork on the windows and a little gold on the tail fin. Most of the other coloring can be seen underneath him. You get some gorgeous Autobot logos on his wings and his nosecone, all sharp and outlined in silver. He can rest just fine on his robot kibble, but there is a folding front landing gear if you desire it.  You can also plug his huge rifle underneath. It has its own molded bit of landing gear too. It does add some impressive firepower to the jet, but I think it looks rather silly.

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Silverbolt’s robot mode is fantastic. The truth is I tend to judge most G1 homages these days on how close they are to their Sunbow counterparts and Silverbolt is as close as I can ever expect these things to get and still transform. The paint apps characterize the big difference between this figure and Hasbro’s. The orange on the biceps, midriff, and upper legs are now a more appropriate yellow and he has gold plates on his knees. He also has some nice silver paint picking out the wings on his shoulders. The center part of his chest is now white, allowing him to have a more traditional red Autobot emblem (as opposed to silver), although he’s missing the silver panels on either side of his chest. So, in terms of the number of apps, it’s a question of a little give and take, but overall I enjoy the coloring on this figure a lot more, mostly because of the yellow.

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He has a load of jet kibble on his back, but he wears it well and it leaves him a remarkablyl clean sillouette from the front. The wings can fold all the way back to tab into the nosecone section if you want. I like to angle his wings out a bit to keep him from looking too clean. There are some pegs on his back if you want to store his gun and don’t mind adding a little more bulk to his backpack.

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The head sculpt works really well for me as G1 Silverbolt and here’s where there’s no discernible difference between the two figures. He has some nice silver paint for his face and while there’s no light piping, the eyes are painted a bright azure blue and they really pop. Silverbolt has kind of a goofy look on his face, which characterizes him pretty well for me. Oh yeah, see those two gold rods peeping out of the holes in his chest. Those are Superion’s antenna. That’s pretty awesome!

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Silverbolt includes his super long rifle, which doubles as Superion’s gun, so you can imagine that’s its rather over-sized for him. Despite it’s ridiculous length, it still works OK for him as a weapon. You can also clip the second piece of it to his other arm as a shield, but I think that’s stretching things a bit. The other option is to peg the rifle into his forearm as an arm cannon. I can’t say it suits the character all that well in my eyes, but it does create the illusion of shortening the barrel and making it more easy for him to wield.

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I adore this figure and I couldn’t ask for a better “over-the-counter” retail version of Silverbolt. Even if he weren’t part of a combiner, I think he’s loads better than the Ultra Class version of Silverbolt that we got a few years back. And while I still dig my 3P Silverbolt a lot (he still works best as my Masterpiece scale stand in), I have to admit that had this figure been available back then, I wouldn’t have had any need to pony up the big money for an unofficial version. This guy looks great and he’s fun to play with, and that’s really all I look for in my Transformers.  I hope that’s something that Takara and Hasbro will hear often and take to heart. Their best way of countering those unofficial releases is to keep releasing figures like this one. I know I’d much rather pay $20-30 for a toy like this then have to go four times that for somebody else’s version.

Tomorrow, we’ll start looking at the limbs with Fireflight and Slingshot!

Transformers Combiner Wars: Air Raid by Hasbro

If it’s Thursday it must be Transformers time and today I’m ripping into a Hasbro’s second wave of Deluxes from their Combiner Wars line. Hasbro made the maddening decision to mix up the waves by including one Stunticon in the first case and one Aerialbot in the second and that means while I was mainly after the Stunticons here, the convenience of getting them all in one shot meant I had to pick up Air Raid. You may have expected me to jump right into the Stunticons, but I’m actually going to get Air Raid out of the way first. I’ve avoided buying any of the Hasbro Aerialbots in favor of Takara’s Unite Warriors version, but this will give me a little idea of whether that was the right choice or if I should just bite the bullet and pick up the Hasbro versions that are all available now.

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What’s this? A comic pack??? I honestly had no idea that Hasbro was going to be incorporating the comics into the Combiner Wars Deluxes, but I’m beside myself with joy that they are doing this. Here all along I was thinking that this delightful duo of comic and toy was getting retired with the Generations line. Needless to say that while I’m still not overly smitten with the packaging deco of this series, tossing in the comic as character art makes up for a multitude of sins. You could wrap the figure in a paper back and as long as there was a comic included, I’d be happy. Air Raid comes packaged in his robot mode, but as usual I’m going to start with his jet mode.

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Air Raid’s alt mode is what I believe to be an F-14 Tomcat and I sincerely hope someone will correct me if I’m wrong. With his black paint job, striped wings, and Autobot emblems on the wings, I think he looks pretty close to his G1 namesake, even if the model of aircraft may have changed. In fact, apart from his tail fins being a little too close together, I’ve got no complaints. Sure, he’s a jet with a brick of robot kibble hanging under him, but that is as much part of the homage as anything and I love it. Yes, I will concede a little disappointment that the entire story of this figure’s engineering can pretty much be summed up by flipping the jet over and seeing the robot with his arms and legs tucked in, but there’s enough here tugging at my nostalgia strings to make me very happy with this alt mode. Of course, newer fans who cut their teeth on the more complex Deluxe Transformers of recent years and expect more expertly crafted alt modes may find their mileage varies.

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About the only thing disappointing to me about Air Raid’s jet mode is the lack of any fun modular weapons. He is pegged under the wings and on the sides to take weapons, and yes you can peg his double gun into any one of those, but the result is a rather lopsided looking jet. It sure would have been cool if the gun pulled apart to form two guns to mount under the wings or on the sides of the undercarriage. Ah, well. There is a peg on the top of the jet’s back where you can mount the gun and make it look a little balanced, but I’m not a fan of the giant cannon mounted on the back of my F-??. It just doesn’t work for me.

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As peeking under the jet suggests, Air Raid’s transformation is as simple as pulling the arms out, unfolding the legs, flipping the jet up into a backpack, turning the head around. You can do it in just a few seconds, which definitely adds to the playability. As a kid, I always enjoyed being able to change my bots back and forth quickly.

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In robot mode, Air Raid is superb update to the old G1 toy. And yes, once again that entails having a robot with a jet on his back. I wouldn’t have it any other way! The proportions on this guy are just perfect and the way the combiner port on his chest is hidden in plain sight works beautifully. For whatever reason, I wasn’t a big fan of it on Dragstrip, but I love it here. You even get the same intakes on his chest that the G1 toy had, only here a little more pronounced and stylized. Even the head sculpt here is pure G1 love. Like all of these Combiner Wars Deluxes, Air Raid is a pretty good sized figure. In fact, he’s not all that much smaller than TFC’s take on the character.

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One of my early complaints about the official pictures of these guys was the lack of paint apps, but in hand I have absolutely no problems with Air Raid’s deco. The red and white deco is another great homage to the G1 character and the white plastic Hasbro is using here looks and feels great. The extra bits of red and gold are more than enough to carry the day. I only wish they had tampo’d the Autobot symbol on his chest instead of putting a tiny one on his shoulder.

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Air Raid’s solid articulation makes for a very fun action figure. You get ball joints in the shoulders, hips, and neck. The elbows and knees are hinged, and he can rotate just below the waist. It’s not mind blowing poseability, but it gives me just what I need. He’s a solid and chunky figure too with great balance.

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The accessories include the aforementioned double barreled gun and a combiner part. The gun works much better in robot mode as you can have him hold it in either hand or just mount it to one of his arms. Some paint apps would have been nice, but we all know how that goes these days, right? The combiner part isn’t so useful in robot mode, but we’ll see it again when I finally get some more of these figures and combine them into Superion.

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While new fans may wonder what all the fuss is about, I think Air Raid is one of my favorite Deluxes to come around in a while. He’s the perfect update to the old G1 character and toy, taking everything that makes me nostalgic for that design and crafting it into a modern action figure. He’s fun to play with and transform and it’s nice to finally have some Aerialbots that are in scale with my other Deluxes. So did Air Raid win me over to the Hasbro route? Will I be cancelling my Takara Unite Warriors Superion? It’s still too early to tell. Air Raid has certainly impressed me enough that I want to get more and in the end it may just be my eagerness to get all the Aerialbots that leads me down the Hasbro path.