You will not find a Transformers enthusiast or collector in the world who would label Thundercracker as ugly, or anything but beautiful. From its glittery deep blue, offset majestically by that translucent orange canopy. This is a special figure, for so many reasons, using one of the most recognisable Transformers moulds in the history of the brand, the F15 Eagle. This particular Thundercracker, I believe, is among the first Transformers to ever be sold anywhere in the world.
|Hasbro "Sanded Wings" Thundercracker|
|Not just pre-rub, but early pre-rub|
The Decepticon Seeker / Strike Plane "Thundercracker" was part of the first series of Generation 1 Transformers released by Hasbro in North America in 1984, and as a result comes in both a pre-rubsign variety, and the later rubsign type too. In addition to those, there was also the very first version of the toy in the US, something I like to call 'early pre-rub', Transformers from 1984 that were seemingly cast from the same moulds as their Japanese Diaclone predecessors for the most part.
|Comes in a 'No Grey Border' G1 box|
|Has a few Diaclone-style features|
With Thundercracker, a number of his jet features mirror that of the Japanese Diaclone F 15 Acrobat (pre-Thundercracker). Included among those are the perfectly smooth, un-ridged orange canopy (also seen on later pre-rub Thundercrackers too), what we call 'solid' main wings and rudders and robot fists that don't have a "U" moulded on the inner forearm section.
|Solid wings and fists|
Looking at the above photograph, apart from the hole where the launcher attaches, none of the wings have hollow sections. The triangular section on the rudder is solid and flat, and the long bar where the cylindrical peg is attached to on the big main wing is also solid, no cavity moulded into it that runs along the wings of rubsign version jets. The inner fist also has a solid forearm, later fists have the "U" moulded on the inner forearm as well as the outer. The connecting pegs on these early pre-rub wings are shorter than later ones too, meaning the main wing sits more flush against the body of the jet, but it falls off more easily.
|No copyright stamping|
In the above shot we can see how the un-detailed smooth orange canopy looks almost ghostly. Normally, Decepticon jet copyrights are on the outer left leg, just above the rear wheels on the side facing us now. This Thundercracker has no copyright stamping there at all, and neither did the Japanese Diaclone. These first release TFs would have had the same stamping as their Diaclone counterpart, the moulds not yet fully updated, and that's why these early pre-rub Thundercrackers (and Skywarps and Starscreams) have no stamping.
We've missed something, though. Something quite unbelievable. Let's go back to the wings.
The Diaclone F 15 from Japan had a hard plastic nose cone and sharp, pointy wing tips. The nose cones were made rubber for Hasbro Transformers (but not Plasticos Iga or Ceji) due to safety concerns, and those pointy wing tips were rounded off for the same reason. However, this early pre-rub Thundercracker must have been so rushed to market that the factories did not have updated moulds, therefore the sharp wing tips were manually cut and then sanded down, so much so that if you run your finger over the ends, it is obviously abrasive and not moulded that way. The above photograph should illustrate this nicely, as well as showing all the glorious little sparkly flecks in Thundercracker's paint job.
Not all of the features carried over from Diaclone on this early model are cool though, in robot mode the head/canopy assembly has the same annoying tendency to roll backwards. I always thought the weight of the hard plastic Diaclone nose cone was to blame, but apparently not. The Transformers version mercifully does not have the drooping nose in jet mode, that IS definitely a result of the hard plastic nose on the Diaclone.
This particular Thundercracker comes in an 'NGB' - or 'No Grey Border' box, which means that on its packaging there is no solid grey cardboard section between the main character artwork on the front and the cellophane display window. You just get the same grid pattern as the rest of the box. The earliest 1984 Transformers were released that way, both Autobot and Decepticon (not counting Prime, Megatron or Soundwave).
|The limit of articulation. When you're this beautiful, who cares?|
I think it would be a misconception to believe that the first Thundercrackers or early pre-rub Transformers everywhere were like this. It's been established that certain pre-rub Optimus Primes have different aspects of the Diaclone Battle Convoy incorporated into their moulding and accessories, no single version can be directly labelled as the first descendant. So while we can't say that this Thundercracker is what all the 'first ones' looked like, at least we can say that it was among the first Transformers released somewhere. I suspect the same factory was responsible for the light blue trailer Optimus Prime, the NGB releases and the Windchargers with the upside-down front grille.
Apart from all of that, it also happens to be one of the single most beautiful Transformers toys ever released.
"There's nothing like Lapis Lazuli"
|Thunder Plains (anyone get the reference?)|
More on early Decepticon jets HERE
All the best