Friday, September 26, 2008

Weekly Transformers Feature: BotCon 2007 Thundercracker

Generally speaking, the rule for Transformer reviews here has always been, "review figures as packaged units." That is to say, if a figure was packaged on its own (as most are), it gets reviewed on its own, but if it was sold as part of a set (such as with the Micromaster Race Car Patrol or a Mini-Con set), I'll review all the figures in the set at once.

By that logic, I should be reviewing all five figures that were sold in the BotCon 2007 set (for some reason, Dreadwind is missing from those pictures, but Dreadwind is also part of that set).

BotCon Thundercracker Robot ModeAhh, well, it's my blog. I make the rules, and I can break them if I think I need to. And the reason I'm breaking that rule this time is because I want to specifically comment on BotCon Thundercracker as a legacy-bearer to the phenomenon I discussed last week: G1 Starscream as the most-often redecoed figure in Transformers history (no one's suggested I'm wrong about that assertion yet).

For those who don't know, BotCon Thundercracker is probably the most controversial convention exclusive figure in history. I touched upon this a bit when the BotCon 2007 figures were first announced, but the controversy remains even now, well over a year later. The reason for the controversy, put most simply, is that somewhere along the line, whenever a Starscream figure was made (in any line), the figure would soon get redecoed and given a name that homaged one of G1 Starscream's mold buddies, especially Thundercracker and Skywarp, but occasionally Ramjet. This assumption actually isn't universally true, but it's happened often enough to become the expectation.

BotCon Thundercracker Vehicle ModeAfter the "Classics" Starscream toy was released as part of the "Classics" line, both Skywarp and Ramjet were released at retail as redecoes (a remold in the case of Ramjet) . When Hasbro decided to allow Fun Publications to use Thundercracker (and Dirge and Thrust, although no toy using those names has been a reuse of a "Starscream" mold since the original), it all but guaranteed that no "Classics" Thundercracker toy would ever be made available at the retail level in the US.*  Thus, many fans unwilling to pay the (admittedly high) price of getting the figure through the convention screamed that their collection of "Classics Seekers" was "incomplete."

The reasoning by Hasbro at the time was that the retail market would likely not bear a fourth (let alone a fifth and sixth) use of the same mold in such a short time frame. Allowing the character to be used at BotCon therefore made sense. At least some fans would have a chance to own this figure. And, to be fair, many fans are content with that response. Others seem to argue that they would rather risk never having the figures made at all if the only immediate alternative was a rare convention exclusive. After all, you never know what the future holds. Wait long enough, and there will be another opportunity to use the mold. We could have seen "Classics" Thundercracker released at retail then. The release of Acid Storm just a month or so ago, using that same mold, seemed to confirm the potential viability of this argument.

I would argue rather strongly that some fans complain too much, acting as though they have some "right" to certain toys. Hasbro made the decision that seemed best at the time, and it helped contribute to a very successful 2007 convention. But, even so, there now exists another option. Takara in Japan has released their own version. Of course, it's still not at all cheap. In fact, it's more expensive than the per-toy cost of the BotCon version (although I grant that using as a reference for price is somewhat misleading, I think this claim will still hold true as other sites are found and compared). So, the complaining is probably bound to continue.

*Or, at least, this is what everyone assumed.


  1. Most of the minibot 84 molds would have more redeco's than Starscream counting all the mexican, peruvian, brazillian and other extra's like rare european variations ;)

  2. Quite simply, I consciously DON'T count foreign versions. To do so would be a never-ending task.

  3. Let me correct myself. I count Japanese versions, but I don't count OTHER countries, many of which are simply not at all well-documented. Indeed, many of us are only learning of the wonders of rainbow-colored South American Minibots in these past few years.



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