Jetfire has a somewhat dramatic character history, but not nearly as dramatic as his toy’s history.
In the original cartoon, he was a scientist, friend to Starscream, and a Decepticon defector. In the Marvel comic series, he was a Decepticon construct given life by the Creation Matrix. In the Dreamwave series he is back to being a scientist and ex-friend of Starscream but never actually joined the Decepticon side. By the most recent series, the IDW comics, he is still a scientist, but his connection to Starscream or the Decepticons doesn’t resurface. Though his character’s history has become steadily less dramatic, his G1 toy’s history has not. As such, it is pretty much guaranted it will never receive a reissue.
Like Sky Lynx the following year, Jetfire’s original toy was actually a design Hasbro licensed from another company. Unlike Sky Lynx, Jetfire was a toy used in the very popular “Super Dimensional Fortress Macross” series — most widely known in the U.S. as one of the first of three Japanese cartoons that were dubbed and combined into the “Robotech” series. Due to the fact that Hasbro had licensed the toy in the U.S. for use as Jetfire, Matchbox was then unable to release it as part of their Robotech line. Because Hasbro had licensed a toy that was made by Takara’s competitor, just like Sky Lynx, he never saw release in Japan. An even bigger competitor of Takara, Bandai, now owns the mold, basically sealing the fact that there is no chance of a reissue. However, I am perfectly fine with this. Whereas I do want to add the mold to my collection, I honestly don’t want to own G1 Jetfire. For me, this toy will always be the VF-1 Valkyrie from the Macross/Robotech series and I will most likely pick up one of Bandai’s many reissues one day. I have always been very partial to Roy Focker’s VF-1S.
Mostly, I am fine with the lack of an actual G1 Jetfire in my collection for two reasons. First, being a predominantly white toy, he is very, very prone to discoloration or yellowing over time. Second, the Jetfire from my childhood not only doesn’t look like the Macros VF-1 but his name isn’t even Jetfire, it’s Skyfire.
Reportedly giving in to Takara’s unwillingness to promote a competitor’s toy, Jetfire received a drastic makeover in the cartoon. So drastic, in fact, that he even got a different name. No toy of this Skyfire model was ever made and, with the exception of a short appearance in toy form in 2001 as a Decepticon in Robots in Disguise, the name itself slipped into someone else’s trademark territory — it appears now to be owned by Skyfire Labs Inc., makers of some sort of mobile web browser.
So what do you do with this convoluted past? There was an attempt, as part of the ill-fated Titanium line. Titanium Jetfire was based on his appearance in Dreamwave’s War Within series and, to put it frankly, not a good toy. I owned it for a very short period of time before exiling him from my collection. Next he was included as a part of the Classics line in 2006. This time the designers decided to incorporate all of his patchwork past. To start off, his toy includes a removeable helmet that looks like the VF-1’s head.
Underneath is a robot head with a much more cartoon-accurate face.
This toy is just the ultimate in happy mediums between those that grew up with the original Jetfire toy and those who remember him mostly as Skyfire from the show. Along with the removeable helmet, his robot mode is a perfect amalgamation with his cartoon model’s gun, upswept wings, the placement of the vents on his chest; and his G1 toy’s backpack, prominent forearm guns, feet, and colour scheme.
When the Botcon organizers were looking for inspiration for their Shattered Glass version of Starscream, they didn’t have to go too far. With the original cartoon’s assertion that Jetfire and Starscream had once been lab partners, it made perfect sense to use Jetfire as the template for this noble, good version of Starscream.
He also adds a nice touch neither the G1 toy nor the cartoon had: cannons that flip out from his backpack that can be brought to bear for some extra firepower in robot mode.
There are some hints from the cartoon, like a squared-off rather than rounded nosecone, but his alt mode takes more strongly after the original toy.
Best of all, just like the VF-1 toy, the boosters can be removed and the toy’s wings mimic an F-14’s ability to sweep forward or backward.
Of course, this goes for robot mode as well.
Speaking of similarities to the VF-1 toy, I would a remiss if I didn’t mention GERWALK mode. In Macross (Robotech called it “Guardian mode”), the VF-1 had a third mode, the “Ground Effective Reinforcement of Winged Armament with Locomotive Knee-joint” mode. Basically a fighter plane with arms perched atop backwards bent (or “chicken walker”) legs. This mode was a half-step between “Battroid” (robot) and Fighter modes and used in the show as a defensive VTOL landing/takeoff configuration. The G1 toy, of course, being the actual VF-1 could pull off the GERWALK mode.
This lead to every vaguely plane related Transformer in history being put into GERWALK mode at one time or another. Classics Jetfire can do a pretty good imitation of it.
Of course, doing that is just making me want to go online shopping now and find myself a 1/55 scale VF-1…