Wednesday, 3 May 2017

iGear Con Air Raptor Squadron IG-C03 Thunder-Wrath

It's been over a year since I picked up the three members of iGear's Raptor Squadron and, while I'd intended to get through them all in fairly quick succession, things haven't worked out that way... I guess part of the problem is that they are basically identical bar their colourschemes, making the exercise seem like a bit of a chore at times.

Nevertheless, let's have have a closer look, to see if there's anything special about iGear's vaguely IDW-style take on Thundercracker

Disappointingly, the only significant difference between the boxes of the Raptor Squadron is the bio on the back. The image on the front is virtually identical in terms of its pose, so it's just a recolouring. With that in mind, there didn't seem to be any point in taking photos of the box for this write-up...

Vehicle Mode:
Straight out of the box, it's very apparent that iGear - in common with almost every other third party creator of transforming robot toys - has gone with a cartoon-based colourscheme for their Thundercracker. The main part of the jet is a comparatively light cyan/sky blue rather than the G1 toy's darker, sparkly blue. It works surprisingly well on the assumption that this is a jet from a display team rather than a full-time fighter jet. That said, it's a more convincing colourscheme than that of either Sky-Wind or Star-Burst because it could almost be argued that 'sky blue' amounts to a form of camouflage.

Just like Star-Burst, the paintwork is minimal - silver round the cockpit, then wing striping... in fact, Thunder-Wrath's wing striping is identical to Star-Burst's - not only in shape and position, but in colour as well. Given that this is a third party figure, this is both understandable and extremely disappointing - it's not unusual for unofficially-produced transforming toys to have completely unique paint layouts though, admittedly, it's far more common not to.

Thunder-Wrath comes packaged with exactly the same weapons as the other Raptor Squadron jets - the pair of guns (supposedly flamethrowers on the original G1 Thundercracker) and the pair of missile racks, both molded in the same blue plastic as the majority of the jet, and with the same bare minimum of paintwork.

Robot Mode:
Flying in the face of the tradition of a G1-style Thundercracker having the same colour used for his thighs as his lower legs, Thunder-Wrath's hips and thighs are the same silverish-grey has most of his chest. Other than this, he follows Star-Burst's colour layout, with his secondary colour - black - used for his kneecaps, the protrusions which house his rear landing gear, his feet and his forearms. He looks pretty good overall, but I do wish both Hasbro/Takara Tomy and the third parties would use a more toy-accurate colourscheme once in a while, as the paler blues they often use can look rather washed out.

Unsurprisingly, Thunder-Wrath being packaged with exactly the same weapons as his mold-mates, his arm-mounted weapons have the same basic decoration - the three fins toward the rear of the weapon are painted with his secondary colour. They're serviceable, but nothing exciting.

The downside to the particular shade of sort-of-metallic grey plastic used on this version of the mold is that it's not massively different from the silver paint used on the shoulder protrusions and, with the sum total of the red paint being the striping on his wings and fins, he ends up looking pretty boring. The torso detail stands out just as well as - if not better than - on Star-Burst, but he could have used a bit more paintwork here and there to break things up a bit. Even Hasbro's Masterpiece Thundercracker added touches of red to the arms, even if the rest of him was underdecorated. All this figure has is the silver-painted vents on the kneecaps, just like Star-Burst, and black paint on the shin protrusions.

Where Star-Burst's head sculpt at least had Starscream's trademark smirk on its otherwise dull, concave face, Thunder-Wratch has a more neutral expression. This might have been forgivable if the face weren't almost entirely featureless but, as it stands, Thunder-Wrath is completely devoid of personality - especially disappointing given the overall quality of the figure.

So, the colourscheme is a little drab and the head sculpt is just plain awful, but the figure itself is just as good in terms of build quality as Star-Burst. What that means in practice is that he feels good and solid, doesn't feature any floppy joints, but does suffer exactly the same problem with the chest not pegging back in especially well around the cockpit in robot mode. It doesn't fall apart, but it does leave some gaps... though I only really notice them if I go looking for them.

As well as identical weapons, Thunder-Wrath comes packaged with the same fairly basic display stand and the tech specs card featuring a recoloured CGI image on the front.

With the only differences between the three figures being entirely cosmetic, the 'must-have' factor of each is going to be governed largely by personal preference, and whether or not you have a G1 Seeker OCD. Thundercracker was the first - and for a good long while, the only - Seeker I bought, so he tends to be a priority for me... If I also get the Starscream-analogue in a particular mold, my OCD requires that I get the Skywarp equivalent eventually (though, admittedly, I got the Hasbro Commemorative Series reissue of Skywarp in 2003 rather than a proper G1 original).

Personally, I like the mold overall, and did feel compelled to get all three (expect the write-up of Sky-Wind sometime in 2019 based on my track record). While I do feel a slight twinge of buyers' remorse - Star-Burst alone probably would have been sufficient in retrospect - I'm happy to have the set in my collection, and they prove that it is possible to create a reasonably sleek jet with a simple, familiar (ie. Classics-inspired) transformation into a decent interpretation of IDW's F-22 Seekers. All any of them need is a better head sculpt...

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