Thundercracker was one of the first Transformers toys released in 1984. He was a blue-and-silver redeco of the more popular Starscream, and along with the black-and-purple Skywarp, the three were the basis for what would, over time, become known as “The Seekers” – Evil Decepticons that transformed into jets that either were explicitly or generally resembled the F-15 Eagle. More Starscream recolors would be added to pad out Decpeticon ranks over the years, but Thundercracker is one of the most important Seekers.
Okay, so throughout the 1980s, toy maker Hasbro had run through basically every gimmick that they could come up with for Transformers: Dinosaurs, insects, Transformers with two vehicle modes, Transformers with two robot modes, Transformers with one vehicle and one beast mode, Transformers with transforming weapons, Transformers with transforming heads, Transformers with transforming engine blocks, Transformers inside exo-suits, mini Transformers, giant Transformers, you name it. And then they did the weirdest thing they could do:
Transformers that didn’t transform.
And thus were born the Action Masters. The story behind this was that a select group of Autobots and Decepticons exchanged the ability to convert forms in return for more power or agility or whatever. So the Action Master toys were more like GI Joes but made out of Transformers characters. And the higher-end Action Master Transformers would come with vehicles that they could ride in…which were usually some version of their alt mode.
Astute readers will notice that because this was 1990, a lot of the Action Master releases underwent some slight recoloring. For example, Jazz has blue arms and legs and helmet instead of the traditional black ones, or Megatron’s purple undies. A much heavier focus on bright and “neon” colors, was was the aesthetic of the day.
Well, Action Masters only lasted for about a year in the United States. But they continued in Europe and some Asian markets for a second year, and that’s where Action Master Thundercracker comes from. Look at this thing:
How in the WORLD are we supposed to recognize that as the blue-and-silver Decepticon jet pictured above?
So of course, I had to make my own version of it, using the adorable Robot Heroes figures. I didn’t have the EXACT shades of paint to match Hasbro’s plastic casting (which makes sense, because creating plastic colors and creating paint dyes ENTIRELY are different chemical processes), so mine ended up looking a bit more like a bag of Easter M&M’s than a thing someone made to murder your eyeballs. But that’s fine, it’s still obvious what I was going for.
This wouldn’t be the only time Action Master Thundercracker crossed my workbench. Stay tuned, readers!