It’s been a good long while since GIJoe has seen the release of new jet—especially one that closely resembles a real aircraft. (The Sky Sweeper just doesn’t count.) Hitting shelves now is the Thunderwing jet— a stealth fighter based heavily on the F-22 Raptor. Piloted by Slipstream and armed to the teeth, this new jet is ready to battle Cobra for supremacy of the skies. How does this jet compare to the aircraft of the original line? How does it compare to the newer additions to Joe air power? Read on….
Let me just start off by saying just how much I don’t like the Sky Sweeper jet. Yes, it’s a good likeness of the F-117a but it is undersized and the giant “purple potato” Spy Troops vehicle just killed it for me. When I first heard that a new Joe jet was coming and that it was loaded with action features, images of the Sky Sweeper immediately came to mind and I was ready to dismiss the jet before I had ever seen it. Fortunately, I was completely wrong in my initial assessment. This plane just outright rocks the house!
First off, the detail on this plane is terrific! From the panel lines to the auto gun mounted just aft of the cockpit this is one detailed aircraft! The Thunderwing captures the feel of the F-22 in “Joe scale” perfectly. (I realize that the proportions of the plane aren’t 100% accurate but they’re so similar to those used on jets like the Skystriker that I can easily accept them!) The lines of the source plane are perfectly captured and the result is a terrific anti-Cobra air superiority fighter. The detail is captured so well that, aside from the hinge, it is quite easy to overlook the hatch for the missile launcher. (More on that later…) The decals used while fewer in number than on previous jets add a tremendous amount of extra detail to the jet. Slipstream’s codename is just outside the pilot’s seat on the canopy and the tail bear the moniker of “F-22”. The new star GIJoe logo adorns the bottom of the nose and the Air Force logo is found on the wings. It’s nice to see military branch insignia existing on the same vehicle as the Joe logo showing that Joe’s roots are found in the five existing military branches.
I usually cringe when I see a vehicle that has been “saddled” with action features. They usually interfere with the normal playability of the toy and can even hurt the display aspect. However, the Thunderwing is free of any such handicaps. First off, the giant missile launcher that was photographed protruding from the dorsal side is completely retractable. The launcher canopy is only opened when the launcher needs to be reloaded—otherwise it is completely invisible. Secondly, much like the Patriot Grizzly, the handle for the action features folds into the fuselage. It is not as smooth a fit as in the case of the PiG but the handle and trigger still fold into the plane! Another nice aspect is the fact that the TW has an off switch, unlike the previous sound attack vehicles. I can’t recall all of the times that the Desert Coyote has gone off just because the cat has rubbed up against the shelf it is sitting on. Now, kids and collectors can pick up and carry around the jet without worry about a plethora of sound effects going off.
The Thunderwing’s features are simple yet effective. The engine nozzles in the back serve as eyepieces. Turn the left engine nozzle to one setting and the jet is in “missile mode”. Looking through the eyepieces in this setting creates a binocular effect with the lenses directing the view out the engine intakes on the front. Pulling the primary trigger at this point fires missiles from the central concealed launcher out of a small aperture located behind the forward landing gear. (The gear must be retracted for this feature to work.) To engage “bombing mode” simply rotate the same engine nozzle to the next setting. Now the view is out of two small openings located on the bottom of the jet. Pressing the primary trigger causes both the wing-mounted missiles and the bombs to drop. The cross hairs are surprisingly accurate and the feature is really pretty fun--- even to this 30 year old! The secondary trigger remains a constant feature and will always activate a machine gun firing effect when pressed. Lastly, the jet responds to how it is held. Once the jet is turned on it will proclaim “break left”, “break right”, “push it up”, “going tactical”, etc depending on how it is pitched. The play value of this is pretty fun and will not interfere with the functionality of the jet in any way.
The jet was a bargain before I got to the pilot—but the new Slipstream figure just enhances this jet in every way possible. First off, the sculpting is fantastic! He is quite possibly the most realistically detailed 3.75” pilot I have ever seen. Slipstream’s flight suit is loaded straps and pouches and buckles. Secondly, the color scheme is amazingly realistic—no neon green or yellow to be found anywhere on this figure. Thirdly, his proportions are perfect—the torso and legs are the right length as opposed to the Ace figure that came with the Tigerhawk mini-jet. Lastly, he’s got a terrific head sculpt and a flight helmet that fits like a glove. Slipstream shows the level of quality that Hasbro is capable of achieving—a level that blows away companies like bbi and 21 st Century for the price!
If the Thunderwing has one real downside it is the front landing gear; for some reason they don’t want to say deployed. While shooting the review the gear frequently folded when the jet was rolled forward. This is something that I’m hoping that Hasbro will correct and later productions runs will be free of this minor annoyance on an otherwise perfect Joe vehicle.
Without trying to come off sounding like a Hasbro cheerleader go get this jet! Aside from the NAC, this is the coolest new Joe vehicle that Hasbro has produced—just edging out the PiG for the #2 slot! It’s a great combination of playability, detail, and value for its price and should prove to be a hit with both collectors and children. While we all love the Skystriker it is time for Joe to move into the 21 st century and the Thunderwing is a great example of this move forward. If you can find the figure at Toys R Us with the added Ace figure then absolutely grab one. If not, don’t fret—the jet is worth every penny of its $29.99 SRP!