Phil loves the Cyberjets.
I can remember the day I first saw them: I was working in Merton Park and used to drive to Wimbledon for a walk around the shops at lunch time. In the town centre, where The Entertainer is now, was a little independant toy shop which was on my regular route. One day I walked in there and they had a range of new small Transformers jets on the shelf. Now I have a thing for small TF jets: It amazed me that there never did them in the early years of the line as a counterpart to the mini Autobots. The first range of small jets, the Aerialbots in 1986, went to the Autobots. The first small carded Decepticon jets are Triggercon Windsweeper and Dual Targetmaster Needlenose in 1988, and the first range of small carded jet is The Predators in 1992 followed by Skycorchers in 1993 afteer which it had gone quiet again for a couple of years. So confronted by small jets I decided I could only really afford one of them. Which to buy? Hooligan, Skyjack or Spacecase? I went for Hooligan, mainly due to the plane mode's resemblance to Jetfire.
I went back to the office, I think I may have been there by myself for the afternoon, and decarded my new toy. And was absolutely blown away by it:
1) Ball Joints ! Ball joints had showed up the previous year (1995) on the hips of the Laser Rod cars and the Stealth Bomber/Fighter. The Cyberjetss are the first to use ball joints for all their joints (with one exception) This represents a huge step forward articulation wise for TFs. Some of the larger early TFs were quite well articulated but in general articulation on G1 TFs isn't good - especially bellow the waist - as each point of articulation requires multiple parts and thus has a cost at assembly. Some TFs are effectively bricks - Powermaster Optimus springs to mind as a G1 TF that would be stunning with a few more points of articulation. Ball joints allow a full range of articulation with just 2 pieces - each limb part involved. You even get some bonus articulation thrown in - a ball jointed elbow effectively serves as both an elbow and a rotational bicep joint in that it allows the lower part of the arm to move up and down (which you'd expect at an elbow) but also allows movement from side to side. They pop out easily preventing breakage for the most part and a worn ball and socket joint can be easily restored with a bit of clear nail varnish. Make no mistake, this is a gigantic leap forward for TFs as you can now get some good action poses out of your toys - this is the point where TFs truly become action figures.
2) Light Pipes ! I love lightpipes. It's a simple action feature adding real value to a toy. This is where there's a piece of coloured clear plastic running from the eyes/visor etc on a toy through to the back of the head. Light shines through and makes the eyes glow. The only down side is a clear coloured panel in the back of the head but to me that's an OK price to pay. It's also been used effectively on Star Wars Jawa figures and most modern R2 & R4 units. Light pipe eyes first show on the Euro G1 Turbomasters and Predators in 92 so were quite common by the time the Cyberjets showed in 1995
3) Marble missile launchers ! We'd had a string of weak missiles, then huge oversized missiles. These missiles are long, yes, but they look a reasonable size for the launcher, and don't have any springs involved. Nice touch.
4) Landing Gear ! Each plane has 3 sets of fold down landing gear (which previously would have been a treat on larger toys)
5) Missile storage ! It's a small thing but each of the Cyberjets can stow their spare missiles on the vehicle mode.
6) Swing Wings ! Swing Wings had been done precisely ONCE on Transformers before and that was on the much larger Jetfire. Never has such a feature been attempted on a transformers toy this small and it's this that puts Hooligan above the other Cyberjets.
To this day Hooligan is in my top 5 Transformer toys EVER and I don't think the design has been topped for a jet toy. I think there's better decos of the toy mould but Hooligan still wins out because he was the one I encountered first, he's the toy that is the big step forward.
Of course the next day I went back and grabbed the other two. They're fabulous toys in themselves but inevitably they're overshadowed by Hooligan. And as much as I loved Hooligan what I *really* wanted was that same toy done in the Jetfire colours. When a repaint of Hooligan appeared as Jetfire it was frustratingly in the wrong colours. It wasn't until 2004's Robotmasters release of R-Blade that I got what I wanted. Robotmasters, in the same initial release in July 2004, also gave me Ligier, the correct Mirage colours of Machine Wars Flipchanger Mirage which was another repaint I'd been yearning for for years, so I'm extremely grateful to that line.
Since the initial release Cyberjets have been redone en masse several times, first in Generation 2 as Autobots in contrast to the initial Decepticon release, then Robotmasters (two Cybertron and one Destron) and finally in Universe (one Autobot, two Decepticon). Hooligan also makes a solo repaint appearance in the Botcon 2005 set,
Here's how each toy is named in each release:
| ||G2 D||G2 A||RM||TFU||Botcon|
|Swing Wing F-22 Raptor||Hooligan||Jetfire||R-Blade||Wind Sheer||Ricochet|
|Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk||Skyjack||Air Raid||Delta Seeker||Air Raid|| |
|Sukhoi Su-47 Berkut||Space Case||Strafe||X-Gunner||Space Case|| |
Now because these toys have been released in series together, and the same parts appear in the same colours across the series, we can come to the conclusion that these toys are in general gang molded. In fact the only part that seems unique to each jet is the main colour of the jet body:
| ||G2 D||G2 A||RM||TFU|
|Upper Limbs & Bodys||Red||Blue||Red||Burgundy|
|Launchers & Hooligan's Wings||Black||Black||Black||Burgundy|
|Lightpipe Eyes & Canopies||Orange||Yellow||Blue *||Yellow|
* The Robotmasters release of the Cyberjets has different lightpiping for each jet: R-Blade is Blue, as per the normal for Autobots/Cybertrons, Delta Seeker is red and X-Gunner has purple eyes but a blue canopy. We'll conclude that the clear blue is thecolour used for the set, because it appears on more than one toy and either new or extra pieces were made. Somewhere in parts bins there may be several colours of unused Cyberjets lightpipes & canopies. But the Robotmasters and TFU sets would be in production at around the same time: it's possible new parts may have been made. The TFU set is the only one where the landing gear isn't the same colour as the launchers.
But seeing this information laid out brings to our attention something that completely passed me by on their initial release. After the colour of the jets themselves, the second most dominant colour is the upper limbs which unites them as a teamset. For the Decepticon Cyberjets it's red, which is a colour most commonly associated with Autobots. Seen by themselves, not an issue. However then look at the Autobot repaints: the colour used there for the upper limbs is a pale blue. Really you'd have to say that that's more of a Decepticon colour.
Has there been some sort of factory mistake and the wrong toy been released at the wrong time under the wrong names?
From just the limb colours you'd be thinking probably. But there's another factor in play here too. Both Jetfire & Strafe feature G2 Decepticon symbols on their rear stabilisers. These are the only toys in the first two sets of Cyberjets to feature faction symbols. So I think you have to conclude that Hooligan, Skyjack & Space Case are actually Jetfire, Air Raid & Strafe and vice versa!
So Jetfire is now Orange, Air Raid Black and Strafe White, all with black limbs. Black & Red is sensible for Air Raid: the black suits his vehicle mode, and both black & red were used on Aerialbot Air Raid. So now I'm looking at Jetfire and thinking "Why is he orange? He'd be better in white. Like Strafe is." Now White and Red kind of make sense for Strafe as they were used on his original Technobot version. But is you look at the Technobot he's got orange missiles, a frequently used colour on the Technobots. Is there a second factory muck up here? Should the swing wing jet have been white and red, with blue highlights, as a Jetfire homage and the Space Case repaint been the one in orange with the Tigerstripes?
I'm forced to conclude that Cyberjets have been at home to not one, but two mistakes. The Autobot repaint set, looks designed to be quite a tight homage to the original names used once you swap the colours round. Unfortunately they came out the factory wrong. Then, either to cover the initial error, or as a second mistake the Autobots get released as Decepticons and vice versa. which further leads me to think .... If they've got the Autobots wrong should the proper version of Hooligan be green and Space Case grey?
Now I've got my authentic G1 Jetfire courtesy of Robotmasters..... But how about a Strafe with an orange tigerstripe vehicle mode?