While not a universal truth, generally speaking where there's a Starscream there's a Thundercracker. This one is notable in that the Thundercracker came first, after a Jetfire from which this toy was extensively retooled. The jet boosters were left out, but we got new wings, new shoulders, a new head and chest, and a few other odds and ends that set it apart from the spacefaring Autobot. Starscream comes later, and according to photos comes with a crown, too.
If you have Jetfire, you know what to expect in this 9-inch tall robot - over 20 points of articulation, 3 snap-on guns (plus 2 new ones), a rocket-launching blaster, all with a fairly simple transformation. Thundercracker has the light-up eye port - something I'm really glad has exited the smaller toys - mostly because he seems pretty dead-eyed unless you light him just right. A port in his forehead also lights up, which I find to be odd but since it's dark it's not like I really ever notice this. It is worth noting the central dot is brighter than the eyes, which don't seem to glow at all on my sample. In robot mode, the only Decepticon symbol is a smaller one on his right shoulder - which sort of makes sense given the reduced roles of historical factions in the comic books these days.
The deco is about standard for Thundercracker, which means he looks a lot like the Legends toy released a few months ago. Since roughly 2012, we've got Thundercracker as a Cyberverse/Legends scale, a Legends (slightly larger) scale, a Deluxe classic figure, a deluxe Fall of Cybertron figure, and this one - and I am no doubt leaving a few out, but these ones were within easy reach. Add in the Masterpiece and others, and you've got yourself quite the collection of blue jet toys. Of all the existing toys, this one has the most in common with the 2015 Legends toy - it's still quite different, but you'll notice similarities with the chest, legs, and especially in the shoulders.
Transformation is nearly identical to Jetfire. Other than the missing booster, it's very much the same - guns pop into place, nosecones rotate out, and while some of the wings move not all of them do. You can figure this one out pretty easily without the instructions, and I would say it's about as complicated as an above-average deluxe toy. The vehicle itself has the same connection points - so you can add a booster, if you want - as well as the retractable landing gear and rolling wheels. What's notable are the wings - the big ones don't move, but the smaller ones on the back are jointed as one might expect. The jet is smooth and sleek, with a retooled area with the intakes giving it a slightly different look than Jetfire. You still have the opening canopy with seating for some smaller figures, assuming you have any handy. (See: Zoids, Starriors.)
Given a lot of people skipped Masterpiece Thundercracker and are likely holding off for the King Starscream, it's possible you might think you should skip this one. Given its large size and high price, maybe you should - but considering it's also half the price as the Masterpiece, I think it was a worthwhile purchase. If you're looking for a sizable figure for your shelf that's easy to transform, this is a great one. The lack of chrome weapons is an added bonus, but it does feel they put far too much money into the gear when maybe a little paint or better eyes would have been more welcome. Regardless, it's nifty, it's big, and I'll probably buy one or two more repaints of it.
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