The Air Defense Team is sold as a pack of three jets (well, two jets and a space shuttle) for about $6-7 (US). I'll be reviewing each figure separately before reviewing their battle-sword gestalt, the Star Saber. I like to speculate about their roles as well, though we won't know for sure until the series comes out.
At least, I'm pretty sure it's Runway. The back of the package disagrees with the catalog and instructions as to who's Runway and who's Jetstorm! I'll assume this is a typo and that Runway is the blue and clear jet with the fold-back cockpit.
Anyways, Runway (who strikes me as the leader of the group) fits a lot of transformer into a little package. The jet mode has retractable landing gear in the nose, and the color scheme is very attractive and elegant. My only complaint is that Runway's face is clearly visible on the bottom, though its abstract nature (like most Mini-Con faces) prevents it from sticking out like a sore thumb.
To transform, just fold back the cockpit, swing the legs down, and swing the arms down. Then, in a feature I'm pleasantly surprised Hasbro added, the jet's tail comes around to form Runway's chest. It's just amazing what detail can go into tiny 'bots these days. His robot mode features 10 points of articulation, with fully posable legs and fairly posable arms, and makes for a very attractive robot.
His powerlinx connector is centered underneath the jet, which becomes the middle of his chest. Being part of the plastic torso, it's solid and easy to use on the full sized Transformers.
I imagine Sonar is the long-range recon/sensor expert of the group. He's a space shuttle; white with blue stripes on top and blue with some gray on the bottom. Considering that people looking up will see blue against a blue sky, and people looking down (from space) will see white against cloud cover, it's a very sensible color scheme. Sonar's most obvious feature (some say flaw) is the large, clear rocket booster (a.k.a. Star Saber handle) underneath his shuttle body. Once you envision this as a rocket booster, it's less obtrusive, but I still like to flip it up when playing with him. It moves the powerlinx to his top and exposes his face on the bottom, but it just LOOKS like a rocket booster in that form and doesn't seem odd at all.
To transform, just flip the rocket booster up and over (unless you leave it that way, as I do), pull out the legs and flip out the ball socket feet, then fold down the arms. I also like to rotate the wings on the sides of his arms -- rotating the bottom of the wings 90 degrees towards the back of his body makes for a more attractive look, in my opinion. Sonar has 10 points of articulation (11 if you count the fact that his head and chest can tilt forward a bit) with arms that can rotate all the way around and bend at the elbows.
Sonar's dual powerlinx connectors are on his rocket booster. As such, they are anchored fairly well and easy to use, plus you can rotate them to the back or top of the shuttle for interesting poses (taking off from the top of Red Alert, for example).
A sleek clear and gray jet with unusual tail fins, Jetstorm seems like the warrior of the group to me. Maybe it's the rocket engines that might double as rocket launchers in his jet mode, or just his brawny robot appearance; I'm not sure. His jet form consists mainly of one (clear) plastic mold, with his gray legs tucked underneath in a rather bulky and obvious way. Unlike Runway, whose limbs are distributed evenly, Jetstorm's legs are folded in on themselves, making his rear half about three times as thick as his front half. Add to this the fact that his legs don't actually attach to anything (they just sort of stay there by inertia), and you have some problems. He does have retractable landing gear like Runway, at least.
To transform, just pull the legs down, flip down the arms, pop up the head, and pull the tail fins/engins over the head onto the chest. Getting the legs to just the right length can be a minor nuisance, but with the jet body acting as a 'third leg', Jetstorm has the advantage of standing on practically any surface. As mentioned, his robot form is very tough looking, with broad shoulders, an aggressive face, and rocket weapons on his arms. He features 6 points of articulation (7 if you count the head moving forward and backward), with legs that swivel properly at the hips and knees. Unfortunately, moving his legs moves his lower torso as well half the time, but it's a minor problem.
His powerlinx connectors, on the other hand, are a major problem. Having a connector on the back of each leg (for two connectors on the underside of the jet) works well in theory. In practice, however, when you try to remove Jetstorm from a powerlinx connector, his leg tends to either unfold or (more often) snap off completely. It reattaches easily, of course, but this is a significant design flaw. Mini-Cons should never be difficult to attach and remove from a full sized Transformer -- it makes you less likely to play with them.
According to the instructions, you leave Jetstorm alone, pull back Runway's cockpit, and wrangle Sonar into something resembling a hilt. Snap 'em all together, and you have... three planes stuck together. I can't use this stupid thing. It doesn't look anything like a sword.
But it CAN!
Ignore the instructions. The best way to make the Star Saber look like a real sword is to keep all the clear plastic on one side and change Sonar a bit. So start with all three in jet mode (with Sonar's rocket booster on his 'proper' bottom side) and...
Hold Jetstorm so you're looking at his upper jet body. Fold up Runway's cockpit and turn him over so you can see the robot's face. Plug Jetstorm's engines into Runway's elbows (like in the instructions, only with Runway facing the 'wrong' way).
Looking at Sonar's underbelly, pull up his legs. Now rotate his arms 90 degrees away from you (so the teeny gray fins are pointing down). Rotate the big blue fins all the way around so they're pointing up. Then, pull the legs to the side -- not just a little, but all the way to the side, horizontal instead of vertical. Then plug Runway into Sonar (with Runway's face and Sonar's rocket booster both facing you).
The end result is a clear and gray sword with a blue and gray hilt that actually looks something like a sword. Jetfire's face is visible, but that's a minor price to pay, given its abstract nature.
By cheating and building the Star Saber my own way, I've found it to be a very cool weapon. I wish Cyclonus and Demolishor could hold it, but can't complain -- Starscream may be cool, but he becomes infinitely cooler with a big, menacing sword in his hand. The fact that the sword can break down into a Mini-Con defense team just makes it that much cooler.
Two very detailed and well-built figures. One well detailed but poorly build figure. One fairly good looking sword (once you know how to build it right). Less than eight dollars. Yes, you MUST get this team.
|Reviewer||Rev. Pee Kitty|
|Date||August 13th 2002|
|Score||(8 out of 10)|