Posts Tagged ‘Seeker’

The most exciting knock-off  that I’ve been waiting for finally arrived in the mail today.  Sunstorm!  He’s a knock-off/repaint of Hasbro’s Classics Starscream.  The biggest difference with this KO is that it’s a character that fans have been clamoring for that hasn’t been, thus far, released in this line by either Takara or Hasbro.  Sunstorm’s appearances in Transformers G1 fiction have been limited, but he has become a fan-favorite over the last few years.

Sunstorm's IMDB credits are just as extensive as Hauler's

After years of just being a one-off character/possible animation error, Sunstorm was brought to life more fully in the 2000’s by Dreamwave comics.

Textbook example of taking a level

This story arc firmly solidified Sunstorm in the Transformers mythos. If you’re curious about the backstory, check the TF Wiki. Fans have waited for Hasbro to re-color a Starscream toy so they can finally own a Classics version of their favorite character, but have thus far been left wanting, which left the market wide open to KO makers. Of course, the question you may be asking yourself is “do I want to take a chance on a Sunstorm made by Chinese KO makers?

The answer, I believe, is yes.

Let’s have a look:

Ah, the pretty packaging!

As you can see from the in-package photo, this Sunstorm comes from the CHMS mold. The packaging is clearly taking a page from the Takara Henkei line. If there actually had been a legitimate Takara Sunstorm made, the packaging would give away the KO status of the toy. CHMS is clearly marked on the top right of the card and on the left of the blister over the “Transformers” logo. Also, the card-art is blurred and a bit smaller than the real deal would be. Packaging tends to be a little neater than the other Seeker KOs in circulation right now. The toy comes bundled with launchers and a ziplock baggie with instruction sheet and character collector’s card. There are only two twisted ties around the body of the airplane. (The other mold also has ties around the wing tips.)

Sunstorm in jet mode

Here we see Sunstorm in his F-15 jet mode. Unlike many of the KO seekers out there today, Sunstorm fits together quite well in jet mode. The piece directly behind the cockpit is a little bit difficult to fit in, but it does snap together (and quite tightly, at that.) The wings all sit securely. The blasters peg in under the wing, though the pegs are almost too big for the wing mounts. Extreme caution should be used to avoid stress marks.

Now, the question that’s on everybody’s minds… Just how yellow and/or orange is this guy? Judge for yourself.

Who you callin' yella??

As you can see here, Sunstorm falls somewhere in the middle of Classics Bumblebee and Solar Storm Grapple. My wife’s immediate response when I asked her the color was “mustard yellow.” I think most fans were looking for something closer to e-Hobby colors, but I have to say, in person, Sunstorm really does look good. Given that there is a recolor that matches the e-Hobby version more closely in the works for later, some fans may choose instead to make Sunstorm their yellow Rainmaker. Witness:

We make it rain!

Now…on to the quality of the figure.

Joints on this one are EXTREMELY tight. In fact, in some places, they’re almost too tight. The feet are one problem area, as they are a pain to fold down. The chest area is a bit difficult to open and then put back together. The nosecone is very stiff. Don’t get me wrong, it can be done, but this figure is built tight! At some points, I became worried about putting stress marks on the joints and at times outright breaking it. To my great relief, nothing broke, so I have a solid figure.

Perhaps the best news is that the launchers peg into the arms VERY tightly. There is no slippage, and they do not fall out on their own. Poseability is the same as any Hasbro/Takara version of this toy. Paint apps are well done. Overall, the figure is very solid, with only the few negatives that I’ve mentioned above. I would, however, recommend that you leave this toy in one mode, as I am not confident that it can hold up to massively repeated transformations. This is a display piece and for collector’s only, and should not be given to kids who are going to want to play with it aggressively.

WE ARE G1!

I will have more outdoor and natural light photos tomorrow!

A long time ago, 2007, in a convention center far, far away–well, at least if you don’t live near Providence, RI–events were transpiring that would forever split and destroy the unwashed rabble that is the Transformers fandom.  Of course, if you are a fan of the aforementioned robots in disguise, you’re not all that shaken, because you know that an event like this happens just about every week.  The tears of Trans-fans have washed away many worlds over the years.  This particular instance of “RUINED FOREVER” saw the characters Thundercracker, Dirge, and Thrust released as a convention exclusive for Botcon ’07.

Traditionally, Botcon toys were simply repaints or retools of previous retail-release toys.  The characters might or might not have been easily recognizable names.  Botcon ’07 changed all of this by releasing these three seekers, three core characters, who had not been released previously, and who now, because of exclusivity agreements, would never be released at mass retail.  Or so we thought.

It should be noted that Botcon exclusives are not like exclusives to other conventions, such as the San Diego Comic Con.  SDCC “exclusives” can almost always be ordered for a reasonably sane price via the internet the day after the convention closes.  No, Botcon exclusives are almost always a very limited production and the prices are without fail sky-high, which placed these characters well out of the reach of the pocketbook of the average fan.

Naturally, a lot of this happened:

The more stoic Transformers fans trudged on, grim in their acceptance that their cast of Decepticon jets would always fall three short, the inclusion of Acid Storm in the line-up be darned.

And then, as if a gift from Mt. Toylympus, an announcement was made that these three characters were going to be released. There was much rejoicing in the land. Until we found out where the toys would be exclusive to:

Oh Japan, how you tease us.

Still, the price was far too much to pay for many collectors.  So they went on again, consigned to the fact that though they could have any number of Starscream decoes, they would never have the blue sidekick and coneheads that they desperately desired.

Until…

2010 saw the release of Thrust and Dirge under the banner of Transformers Generations.  Finally, the seekers we desired at retail price!

Well, except of course for Thundercracker, the most desired of the three.

That’s where our friendly neighborhood makers of Chinese knockoffs FINALLY stepped to the plate, and this time they did so with a retail quality Thundercracker.

What follows is a review of the toy, and a way to tell whether or not you’ve purchased a KO Henkei Thundercracker. NOTE: I am told that there are two molds that are being used to produce this toy. The mold reviewed here is for the Thundercracker being sold MOSC (mint on sealed card). The version of Thundercracker that is being sold loose differs somewhat from this mold.

This is the knock-off–or KO, if you will–on the left standing next to the legit original Henkei Thundercracker (right). As you can see, there aren’t a lot of differences between the two. The differences are mostly very very subtle. As you can see, though, the actual Henkei figure has its launchers held onto its arms by rubber bands, whereas the KO is actually able to support its own launchers. Your mileage may vary, though, as the launcher port on the KO’s right arm (your left) is a little loose, but nowhere near as loose as the actual product.

To be perfectly frank, this KO is perhaps the best KO I have ever seen. It is sturdy, the transformation process is fluid, and the plastic quality feels like the real deal. I had no issues in transforming it, and it’s actually a bit less floppy than the Henkei version. The only joints I thought were too stiff were on the bottom right tailfin, which took a little more pressure to fold up than I was comfortable with. Otherwise, the figure fits together in both modes quite comfortably. All in all, the KO has BETTER paint apps than the original, and holds its launchers better.

The only real problem was that one of the launchers was broken and the missile won’t fit in correctly. A simple fix, really.

Simply put, if you want Thundercracker and can’t afford the Botcon or Henkei versions, this guy is the one for you, and the price is unbeatable.

Now…I imagine a lot of you are wondering how you can avoid being taken in and buying the KO thinking you are getting the real deal. Well, I’m glad you asked, because I’m about to tell you how you can tell the difference between the two:

The real Henkei version has a notch in the “knee pad” of TC’s leg. The KO is perfectly squared.

As you can see from the back of the two TCs’ wings, the red on the Henkei version is a much lighter color. This is most noticeable on the wing backs, but is true for the whole figure. The KO figure’s red is a much deeper red. Also, I feel like the blue on the KO is a tad deeper blue, and I’m quite sure that the cockpit is a MUCH deeper amber color.

As you can see, the alignment of the Decepticon sigil on the front of the wing is a bit off. That’s only true on one wing of my KO, so I’m not certain that this is common to each figure. However, it is one of the few differences that can be detected BEFORE opening the packaging.

This one is a dead giveaway. It’s so small, it’s almost unnoticeable, but there is a notch on each seeker’s shoulder. On the real deal, the notch compromises the silver swatch. It’s this way on every seeker that I have, including other KOs. But on this KO, the notch is significantly lower on the shoulder and doesn’t cross into the silver swatch at all.

All things considered, I recommend this KO to people who don’t have Thundercracker and can’t afford him. And I hope this review helps those of you who want to know the difference.