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Jet Vehicon

Transformers: Prime
by yo go re

In America, we only get one kind of Vehicon - the car type. And sure, it's a great toy, but it's not the only kind there is.

A robotic lifeform created as a soldier for the Decepticons. Faithfully works to their programmed commands. Transforms into a combat jet specialising in aerial combat. Combat soldiers used in large numbers for the Decepticons to increase their combat capability. They attack in unison as one super strong Vehicon force. Launching attacks from the air and ground at the same time makes it near impossible for even the most adaptable Autobot defence.

In general, Decepticons have traditionally been more about air superiority than ground-pounding, so the Vehicon being a car is a little bit weird. Not to worry, though, there's a solution to that.

In addition to the car Vehicons, there are also legions of Jet Vehicons running around. The general shape of the jet is the same as the car, just done a little bit pointier for better aerodynamics. Good thing too, since the car was such a brick. Everything is slightly more angular, but at a glance it's clear these are two iterations of the same thing.

The Jet Vehicon's wings are rather aggressive with their swept-forward design and sharp angles. On each side there's a large main wing with a smaller secondary wing behind it, and where the car had a rear spoiler, the jet has tailfins. There are 5mm ports all over the place, for those times you want to plug in a weapon.

There's an absolutely terrific bit in one episode of Transformers: Prime that takes place on the Decepticons' ship. It's flying high in the sky, and an Autobot needs to escape - taking the easiest route, he just jumps off the bow and plummets toward earth. Megatron, demanding his capture, grabs Vehicons and throws them off the ship after him. One changes into a jet, as he should, another merely screams as he turns into a car.

The reason for Megatron's confusion is clear: in robot mode, the Vehicons are pretty much indistinguishable. Sure, this figure has wing kibble instead of tire kibble, but that's it. Standing next to each other, the two toys look like twins. Being built on the same body means the same body - and having the same body also means the same excellent conversion scheme, so that's another one in the win column.

Takara is facing budget cutbacks just like Hasbro is, but they chose a different way of dealing with it. Rather than adding 50% to the price of every scale while simultaneously making the toys smaller, they've almost entirely axed the paint apps; in both vehicle and robot modes, the majority of his colors are created by stickers that you apply yourself. It does look quite good when it's all applied, but decals will never be as good as paint. In this case, Hasbro made the right choice.

The Jet Vehicon does not come with the same gun that the US Vehicon did. His is bigger and although it still has the triangular barrel, it's much more ornate. There's a ridged wedge on the top with the Decepticon logo behind a clear dome (yes, behind, make sure you put the sticker on before assembling the thing, or you'll be sorry), and 5mm pegs on the sides. There are also a bunch of 5mm holes scattered about, so clearly the idea is to combine a bunch of weapons into one awesome supergun.

The Japanese TF Prime weapons are all under the "Arms Micron" header - which means the guns turn into Microns. No, not high-end art pens: Japanese Microns are what US fans know as Mini-Cons. The Jet Vehicon's gun turns into Igu, a robotic iguana. He's got little legs, a single eye in the center of his head, a line of ridges down his back... and a tail that is clearly still just the barrel of a gun. Eh, it's an idea.

Hasbro has said they're not going to release the Jet Vehicon in the US market, because it doesn't fit into any of their existing pricepoints: it's too expensive to be a Deluxe, but too small to be a Voyager. Those wings are apparently a budget-breaker, and Hasbro isn't about to release a toy with no paint apps. It's a shame, though, because this guy is great. Good enough to even consider importing one.

-- 12/04/12

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