Review: Transformers Combiner Wars Thundercracker

Thundercracker is my favorite Transformers character for the following reasons: I like jets, I like the color blue, his name is really funny, and he’s got one of the most interesting personalities of all the original Decepticons. A character trait briefly mentioned in his original bio and largely ignored until IDW’s All Hail Megatron, Thundercracker is basically the Decepticon with a conscience. He believes in the original intent of Decepticon cause, but is very uncomfortable with the cruelty and wanton violence demonstrated by his side of the war. Unfortunately, he doesn’t see the Autobots as much better, and he’s not the most strong-willed fellow in the ranks, so he just keeps fighting with his Decepticon comrades nonetheless. In AHM, Megatron’s ruthless campaign against Earth was the last straw for the disillusioned Seeker, who ended up saving the day and then spent the next two years doing nothing but watching TV, because he decided that he actually rather liked humanity. Fast-forward a few years and Thundercracker has fully left the war, has a pet dog, and is trying very hard to write his own screenplay. How can you not love this guy? And to compliment his boost in popularity, Thundercracker is the first of the new Leader class Seekers to get released. Sometimes, the nice guys do finish first!

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Vehicle Mode

It may not be very obvious at first, but Thundercracker is actually a retool of Leader class Jetfire from last year. No longer a sorta-F-14 Tomcat, Thundercracker assumes his proper altmode of an F-15, albeit one that got fused with an F-35 and then got its wings trimmed all spiked-like. Being a Leader class toy, it’s a pretty good-sized jet, which puts TC closer to proper vehicle scale with most Deluxe figures (for better or worse). He definitely has a bit of an undercarriage, but it’s reasonably well-disguised and doesn’t hang too low. In terms of play features, his cockpit opens and he has forward landing gear. Hooray!

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Fully armed, Thundercracker comes with all 5 of Jetfire’s guns, plus an extra pair of null-rays incendiary guns to replace the omitted Turbo Thruster. Every weapon has a place to go, and he really doesn’t look too bad with all his guns on… except for the single cannon, which just looks ridiculous when pegged under his nosecone.

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Despite the vehicle mode retooling being limited to the wings, Thundercracker manages to look quite a bit different from Jetfire. The wings do a lot to change the entire silhouette of the plane, but the wildly different colors help disguise the fact that everything else is pretty much identical. The illusion may not work as well for the upcoming Starscream redeco, but honestly, this vehicle mode is perfect for the Seekers. The robot mode, on the other hand…

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Robot Mode

… still works pretty well! The remolding has extended to the head, shoulders, and torso, providing Thundercracker with the iconic cockpit chest and boxier shoulders. The chest design is taken straight from Guido Guidi’s modernized Seeker concept that TC wears in the comics. The toy succeeds in resembling that design up to a point, and that point is the conspicuous lack of the typical Seeker shoulder vents. It doesn’t help that there are some large gaps on either side of his head, which just make it look like he forgot to put them on in the morning.

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I’m also not sure how well the head works; it hits the proper design cues for a Seeker noggin, but something about the giant forehead makes it look a bit off. Plus the lightpiping is basically non-existent, which is always a boo-hiss. Finally, he’s missing any sort of color on the undersides of his wings, which means TC lacks any of his red accents in robot mode. Even though I know this is a retool of a previous toy, it is kind of a shame that the Legends class figure manages to be more comic-accurate than the Leader.

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With those flaws in mind, I still think this toy looks enough like a Seeker to justify its existence. If anything, it manages to stand out from Jetfire reasonably well. Again, it’s mostly due to the wings and colors, but a lot of the subtle differences in paint layout go a long way in differentiating the two toys, especially in the legs. Having Thundercracker fully armed up and bulked out helps a lot, too.

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Speaking of armed up, Thundercracker comes with a very impressive assortment of firepower. He has: 2 leg-mounted guns, 2 smaller black guns, 2 large blue guns, and a black rifle. The blue guns are unique to Thundercracker and somewhat resemble the null-rays/incendiary guns/machine guns iconic to the Seekers. They’re a welcome addition, but they can be a bit difficult to pose with. The connecting 5mm peg is rather close to the front of the gun, which means a large chunk of it extends past TC’s elbow. The guns are sculpted to make room for his shoulders, which is a nice touch, but very often they will end up bumping into his back-mounted wings. It’s a good selection of accessories, but given that Starscream comes with all this and a newly-molded crown, I kind of wish Thundercracker got a unique accessory… Buster, maybe?

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Thundercracker’s articulation is fairly standard for his size class: hinged and swivel neck (he can look up really well), universal shoulders and hips with heavy ratchets, bicep and thigh swivels, and ratcheted knees and elbows. His feet are large enough to not need any sort of ankle tilt, and the nature of his transformation completely rules out any waist articulation. The only real disappointment is the lack of a wrist joint, but I don’t think he really needs it. The hollow areas in his forearms and thighs are a bit distracting, but I can ignore them.

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Overall

Honestly, Combiner Wars Thundercracker and the rest of his Leader class Seeker brothers are not going to work for everyone. Being Leader class, he towers over most other Decepticons on a Classics shelf, plus he’s a somewhat-questionable retool of a toy that a lot of people didn’t care for (though I loved it). On the other hand, the Seekers are due for an update, as the Classics mold has become very, very outdated and the War for Cybertron mold doesn’t really have that proper Seeker look. We’ve already got confirmation that Starscream and Skywarp are on the way, so if nothing else, you can be sure that you’ll be able to get the full trio at retail, and they’re probably the best we’re going to get for the time being. Thundercracker is a good toy for what he is, but don’t expect him to be anything more than a blue Jetfire with a few cosmetic differences. If you love Thundercracker as much as I do (which you don’t), then it’s a no-brainer.

Where to Buy

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