1987 Hasbro Targetmaster Misfire and Nebulon partner Aimless, what a pairing. This hot pink beauty from the golden age of immediately post-movie Generation 1 Transformers has been granted a new lease of life as one of the Scavengers thanks to James Roberts, IDW and the ongoing More Than Meets The Eye comic title. Just like Triggerhappy, Misfire was available in Japan sans rubsign (some actually did have it) as D-89 Misfire with styro inner packaging, there was a bilingual Canadian release and I wouldn't be surprised to see a bilingual Hasbro Europe version either. I've seen the Autobot Targetmasters in Hasbro Europe packaging so there's every chance it'll turn up one day. Today, we'll be looking at a UK-bought Hasbro version of G1 Misfire and Aimless.
Beautiful packaging has always been the signature of Generation 1 Transformers, but with the 1987 change to a digital sunburst background and a large orange arrow advertising the Nebulan partner, these figures were completely irresistible in stores (especially at £6.99, check out the Woolies price tag!). How about that box artwork, deliciously crafted. To have that stunning bright pink futuristic jet enclosed in such a delightful box is good enough, but having him accompanied by a tiny robot that turns into his weapon is just the cherry on top. Misfire was of course a brand new character for 1987 and featured briefly in the end of season 3 multi-part finale to the Sunbow cartoon called "Rebirth". The concept drawings for Misfire show him not as a Targetmaster, but just a "Decepticon plane". The silver stickers on the nose were originally shown to say "T.Former", but that idea was dropped. Some disguise that would have been.
What a jet mode that is, hot pink accented beautifully with a dreamy clear blue canopy (that doesn't open disappointingly). It's everything I would want in a futuristic jet fighter; unconventional configuration, strange alien proportions and begging to be whooshed around. The exhaust nozzles (boosters to you and me) are pretty small and the wheels cannot be retracted, plus the robot legs and feet are very clearly sitting on top of the plane...yet somehow the cloud of irrational love that is G1 appreciation means it just does not matter. However, the jarring addition of Aimless the Nebulon partner bang on top of the canopy is harder to defend, especially as Aimless is one of the less...aesthetically pleasing or aerodynamic Targetmasters in gun mode. It's actually a shame that many of the Japanese Misfires don;t come with a rubsign, I think Misfire's is one of the best positioned rubsigns of all G1 TFs.
A pair of leg folds, shoulder rotations, fist flip-outs, foot fold-ups and a nosecone peel-back later...and you have a robot mode with virtually no semblance of a jet visible. If you don;t count the enormous back kibble which is basically the front half of the jet! Interestingly, if you follow the instructions with sticker placement, there is also no trace of Decepticon allegiance in robot mode on Misfire. He has giant thighs and giant feet (and still falls over a lot), in my opinion he's the most disproportionate of the Decepticon Targetmasters. However, Misfire has one of the absolute finest G1 head sculpts I've seen. The pink face with those blue eyes and beautifully sculpted helmet make Misfire stand out among an already distinguished group of good-looking robots.
Aimless, the Nebulan partner, is a 2-part figure with quite a broad little chest and striking red face. Colours are matched nicely to the other two Targetmaster jets (Slugslinger and Triggerhappy) and their partners (Caliburst and Blowpipe), but less so to Misfire himself. Funnily enough it works better this way, I'm not sure a pink and grey Targetmaster partner would have worked quite so well. You can see in the second picture above, Aimless suffers from the exact same plastic stressing problem during the fold-over transformation as Caliburst and Blowpipe. The grey plastic bracket that holds the inexplicably un-circular blue rod of Aimless's top half stresses and breaks eventually with repeated conversion. A ticking time bomb that mercifully does not exist on the Autobot Targetmasters. I think they wanted the conversion to ratchet, but instead it just causes the Nebulan figure to crumble.
If you can look beyond the sad fact that once you get a mint Misfire into your collection, you'd be best advised to not transform Aimless at all, forever forsaking one of his modes (unless you buy another - I've thought about it), and that those legs are a magnet for yellowing, this is another home run for 1987, a year that is rapidly emerging as my favourite. Even moreso than the Diaclone and Micro Change years. When these toys first appeared on shelves I was still very much into the season 1 and 2 VHS tapes in the UK, and The Movie, so suddenly my favourites were nowhere to be seen and shelves were populated with brand new Transformers characters I didn't recognise. It has taken all this time for me to come around to properly appreciating the marvels that Headmasters and Targetmasters have given the Transformers line.
Misfire, being so popular in MTMTE (and about to make an appearance again in issue 45) may be in need of a brand new figure according to some, but if you ask me the vintage toy is so packed full of charm with gorgeous standout colours, wonderful head sculpt and excellent alt mode, I'd never need an update. Well, until MakeToys get around to him in their MTRM line. Just such a crying shame about Aimless.
All the best