Review: Transformers ROTF Voyager Stratosphere

How about a blast from the past? Revenge of the Fallen is widely (and correctly) considered the worst of the Transformers films, but what many fans take for granted is that the second movie’s toyline was the peak of engineering for movie-style toys. This line brought us the near-miraculous (for its time) Leader Optimus Prime, the much-vaunted Battle Blades Bumblebee, as well as other favorites like Deluxe Lockdown, which unknowingly foreshadowed his status as the fourth movie’s villain. Among the more unique releases of the line was Voyager-class Stratosphere, a non-movie character whose toy I missed back in ’09, but found for a a good price at a flea market the other day. He may not be fresh off the shelves, but old figures can still be worth hunting down, so here’s the review!

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Vehicle Mode

Back in the toylines for the first two movies, the trend was to take background vehicles from the films and make them Transformers for the toyline; notable examples are Landmine from the Sector 7 buggies and Brawn from the NEST Hummers. Stratosphere is based off of the C-17 used by NEST to airdrop Optimus Prime to Shanghai in the opening of ROTF, though the toy has some elements of an Antonov An-225, a C-130, and a C-5 thrown in to evade the necessary licensing. As far as jet Transformers go, Stratosphere may be one of the biggest, scale-wise. The only figure that may come close is Cybertron Jetfire. We really need more big plane Transformers. As far as colors go, the grey makes him nicely military, though the orange on the engines is a bit odd. Small flaps on the plane’s lower fuselage can flip open and reveal sculpted landing wheels, and more traditional landing gear can be flipped out from under the cockpit.

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Stratosphere’s most notable gimmick is the cargo door that flips down when you rotate the tail wings, revealing the figures sole accessory: a tiny Optimus Prime! He really is tiny. Better yet, he actually transforms by flipping down the legs, folding out the feet, flipping the arms around, and flipping the head up… though I have neglected to photograph his robot mode. It’s not very accurate, of course, but what do you expect? He may actually be the smallest transforming Optimus Prime toy. He fits snugly in Stratosphere’s cargo bay in vehicle mode (but not robot mode), and can be deployed for film-replicating action. Sadly, he does not come with tiny parachutes.

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Transformation

While much of the ROTF toyline featured complex transformations ranging from somewhat challenging to absolutely mind-numbingly difficult, Stratosphere is marked by a very simple conversion layout. Essentially, his legs and arms are layered in the fuselage, and once they are folded out and extended, you just mush the tail and cockpit areas together and pop the head up. It’s a rather clever conversion and makes good use of altmode space to create a very unique and imposing robot.

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Robot Mode

In reality, Stratosphere would be absolutely huge, easily the tallest Autobot in the movie continuity. The toy, while obviously not in scale with much more than the included Optimus Prime and a handful of Legends figures, manages to capture the look of a gigantic, towering robot. Stratosphere can effectively described as a cargo plane that sprouted arms and legs, as his extremities are entirely contained within his vehicle mode, with the exception of his giant feet. I’m not entirely sure if he counts as a shellformer or not. Stratosphere is also packed with an impressive amount of articulation, with universal shoulders and hips, neck rotation, bicep/thigh swivels, double-jointed elbows, hinged wrists, thumbs, and knuckles, and three joints in his legs to maintain the digitigrade look. The only think he’s really missing is an ankle tilt, but his feet are so big that it’s unnecessary. Part of me wishes the wings could have been better-incorporated with his robot mode, but Stratosphere really looks like a giant, lanky robot that grabbed a plane and jammed it on his body like a silly costume– and I love it.

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Overall

Stratosphere is a wonderfully unique toy and one of the underrated gems of the ROTF line. He defies the average perception of “huge” Transformers by not being towering and chunky, but rather tall and lanky. He may not scale well with much, but since when has scale mattered in Transformers? He’s still pretty big for a Voyager, especially compared to modern figures in the size class– plus you get a tiny Optimus Prime. If you have any interest in offscreen movie toys or just unique Transformers in general, hunt down a Stratosphere. I got mine for $15, but you could probably find him for cheaper with some looking.

Where to Buy

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