To say Generation 2 was a misguided effort is both an understatement as well as only half of the story.
Everyone looks at the garish colour choices and immediately jumps straight to “OMG, that is sooooo G2!!!” However, years before 1994 when the G2 Combaticons showed us the brightest, least camouflaged military vehicles ever, the original Transformers line was still going on in Europe and producing some of the most eye-searing colour schemes possible.
The most obvious example of this?
One of our old, reliable Seekers decided to ditch the familiar blue and silver with red trim in favour of… well, this:
Sorry, I really should have warned those with sensitive corneas. Yes, that is Action Master Thundercracker; released “only in European and Australasian markets” in 1991. As the über-example of the 1990′s colour craziness it is somewhat ironic that the most “G2” Transformer of all time isn’t actually from G2.
However, his place amongst the European exclusives made him a prime target for the Transformers Collectors Club’s G2: Redux line. Of course the TCC folks weren’t just going to announce him as a Botcon exclusive and be done with it. The first glimpse of the possibility of the return of Action Master Thundercracker was in a Twitter post from the G.I.Joe Convention in which they gave us a glimpse of the upcoming Animated Cheetor and Wildrider along with [insert Joe dude's name here]. What was most interesting, though was a garishly coloured jet in the background.
Though a good portion of the fans had been requesting an Action Master Thundercracker update for years, this picture didn’t engender happiness in the fanbase. The reason for that is the choice of mold. The Cybertron Thundercracker mold is pretty universally regarded as the worst Seeker mold ever. All of this came to a head when people took a better look at their calendars and the date of these posts, April 1. The TCC folks came clean and declared the “accidental” reveal to be an April Fool’s Day joke.
Though some fans choose to go as far out of their way as possible to spoil themselves on any potential surprise, I am most assuredly not one of them. I did follow all of the official reveals of the Botcon 2011 boxset, but stayed far away from the rumor mill inevitably spoiling any of the Souvenir set toys. It wasn’t until I was standing in line for registration that Botcon’s announcement over Twitter let me in on the fact that we were, in fact, getting an Action Master Thundercracker update and he was absolutely glorious.
The Classics mold was the only one that was ever going to do this guy justice and the Botcon folks knew that. From the top of his golden head to the tips of his brilliant green feet, Thundercracker embodies everything that was gloriously inappropriate about Transformer colour choices for the first half of the 1990′s.
As an Action Master he had that whole “non-transforming-Transformer” thing going on (stupidest toy gimmick of all time), so now we get to see what Action Master Thundercracker looks like transformed.
One of the best stories from the Botcon 2011 TFCC toy panel was Lanny Latham talking about how he had the hardest time convincing someone that this was the finished product and not one of the test shot prototypes [For those that don't know, prototypes in the test shot phase are typically cast in random colours.]
The only real problem I have with him is that — despite it being the only logical place for this toy to land, fiction-wise — this is not G2: Redux Thundercracker. As evidenced by his faction symbol, a red Decepticon symbol, he is actually Shattered Glass Thundercracker.
Now, as far as the fiction is concerned, I understand this move. There is absolutely no way you can convincingly explain why in the world G1 Thundercracker has adopted this colour scheme. There just isn’t enough Forestonite in all of the fictional universes combined to make it believable. Also, there is a precendent as Thundercracker in his Action Master colours made an appearance in the 2008 April Fool’s comic “Shattered Expectations” as a member of the Heroic “Mayhem Suppresion Squad”. Still, he will always be G2: Redux Thundercracker to me.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have G2 Ramjet.
Though he is still inappropriately coloured, his colours are far more subdued. (Besides, it’s not like any of the G1 Seekers, Coneheads and originals alike, had appropriate military jet colour schemes to begin with.)
As one of the original G2 toys I own, I was ecstatic when TFCC announced at Botcon 2010 that G2 Ramjet was going to get a G2: Redux update as one of the two 2011 Club exclusive figures. Much like Thundercracker, they knocked this one out of the park.
One of the things I learned in the TFCC toy panel this year is that the TFCC guys have more leeway when it comes to paint applications and they used that to full advantage in this case. What appears as stickers on the original’s knees, hips, fuselage, and wings are now paint applications on the updated version. They then used stickers to duplicate the shiny details on his feet and shoulder intakes. They even go a step further and replace the G1-style Decepticon symbols on his wings with painted G2-style symbols.
Though his boxart fails to mention it, his bio places him squarely in the G2: Redux story, along with a Forestonite-induced power. After being dosed with the stuff, Ramjet now finds that he can “sheathe himself in a whirling, drill-like forcefield while flying”, further allowing him to live up to his name.
This guy is such a perfect update, I have nothing at all to complain about… well, about the toy. My one point of contention is with that aforementioned boxart.
What the heck, did they let Pat Lee draw that thing? That’s one hideously bloated, squatty robot. Setting aside his boxart (in this case literally, it will go in a box hidden in a closet somewhere), I leave you with one more shot I call “When the 90′s attack!!”
p.s. Keep an eye out tomorrow, the nineties might not be done with us just yet.