Toy Review - Garatron's G.O.D. 01: Thunderstorm
Did you ever think the Megatron mold from Transformers Energon would make a good remold into Thunderwing? I certainly did. Well, the folks at Garatron must have thought so too, if their Gangs-Of-Devil 01 Thunderstorm is any indication.
That being said, it’s not EXACTLY a retool of that earlier mold…and that’s a fair statement to make given how many Third-Party manufacturers take existing Hasbro/Takara engineering and add a few improvements here and there. Sure, there are similarities, but I think in this instance that the two are different enough to be considered related but not clones with one having minor improvements.
In our first ‘for instance’, we have the mode the toy comes packaged in, the ‘Berserker’ mode from the IDW limited series Stormbringer. The arms here are fully poseable…and while there is waist and leg articulation, that ends up getting hindered by the wrap-around wings that form the torso for this mode. While the head underneath the helmet retains its movement, the helmet itself is locked in a forward position…so, all things considered, I’d fall on the side of saying that there’s zero head articulation in this mode. The offset, however, is that you can’t think of this mode being particularly dynamic, you know? So perhaps a basic pose or two is all that you really need here. As always, it’s up to personal preference…but for me, I found this mode to be a bonus more than anything else. Nice to have and certainly a great nod to the aforementioned comics…but not vital in any Thunderwing release I’m expecting.
Fold back and condense the Berserker arms, unfurl the wings, condense the legs and torso, flip back the helmet/nosecone and flip out the bot mode arms and here we have our Thunderwing proper. And it’s a pretty damn good take on the character…with maybe one minor quibble that I’ll get to in a bit but first, to extoll its praises. There’s plenty of articulation here and a fair amount of die-cast to be found in the legs which really helps to keep this figure balanced in spite of the pretty large backpack. That’s a thing to keep in mind, for those of you fans that HATE backpacks on your Transformers, you’d better give this guy a pass as, much like with TF:E Megatron, pretty much all of the jet mode ends up hanging off his back. Given how the designers at Garatron have broken up and articulated sections of it, though, allows for some condensation and does its best to be aesthetically pleasing. My only beef with this mode comes in the form of the molded tubing that runs down the front of the legs. The way this is done combined with the location of the thigh swivel runs into the same problem that is present in a lot of superhero action figures: you break up the design of the mold by using a point of articulation. It just ends up looking a bit ugly as you can see in the attached pics. My advice would have been to either leave this detail off, or to have it be a separate piece made from a more rubbery plastic that would allow for poseability while retaining cohesion of the image. Given the steps involved in transformation though, yeah, I think it probably would’ve been best to abandon this design choice altogether.
Speaking of transformation…while the transition from bot to…well, I know I called it a jet earlier…but gunship might be a bit better of a descriptor. [The best ‘descriptor’ would be bot hanging off the underside of a plane…but that’s just me. – Ed.] That’s true. And while the transformation shares a ‘scheme’ or ‘pattern’ with TF:E Megatron…there’s a lot of fiddling that is unique here. While that’s not necessarily a positive or negative for me on the surface, the fact that some joints are incredibly tight, some pegs REALLY hang on once they’re inserted, some bits have to locked in VERY SPECIFICALLY and a fair number of the pointy bits are VERY pointy…potentially resulting in a transformation that may or may not involve bloodshed…this ends up being a bit of a negative for me. While transforming this guy for the review, I made a solemn vow in my head to never transform this guy into gunship mode again. That’s not a knock on the mode…once completing the transformation what we end up getting is on par with TF:E Megs…for good or for ill. Me, I didn’t really mind it until you get to the backside of the vehicle…and then there’s a VERY bad case of visible head syndrome. But, TF:E Megs had that too. At least Thunderstorm here tries by folding the head up into the back end of the gunship while Megs just left his head dangling down. Hopefully the pictures I’ve provided here give you a good idea of what to expect from this mode.
Before closing, I feel like I have to state again that some of the edges here ARE VERY POINTY. Seriously. Ow.
Nearly forgot, there are places for watch batteries that allow for the engines/Berserker-mode claws to light up that I did not test. I’ve seen some reviews that like them and others that didn’t have them work properly…so standard caveats apply.
I managed to grab my copy of this toy from BigBadToyStore.com, which had it in stock. At the time of this writing, it’s up for pre-order…so likely the first batch has sold through and we’re looking at a second release here. Is it worth $170 plus shipping? Given his size and heft and the amount of detail present in him…meh…maybe. Since I bought him, I tend to oscillate on that…sometimes I think he is, other times not so much. There is this to consider though: with the Evolution theme in the Power of the Primes leader class, if Has/Tak were to ever do an updated Thunderwing, now would be the time…especially given the emphasis on Matrices, Pretenders and so forth…which the original G1 Thunderwing covered in spades via his toy and his associated fiction. I want to be clear, this is only speculation on my part…there’s been no announcement about this one way or the other…which is why I ended up ordering this guy anyway. If I end up with two updated Thunderwings, well, I can think of worse problems. Given that the first batch of these guys didn’t really sell through all that fast, I think for the TF fan on a budget, this guy falls squarely into a wait-and-see category. If Has/Tak ends up revealing something at SDCC, then you’ve likely saved a bunch of money. But if you need your Thunderwing itch scratched NOW, this guy is one of a very limited number of options and thankfully…he’s pretty darn good, just pricey.