The Ultimate Thundercracker Review!

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| Diaclone Acrobat vs Rubsign Thundercracker |

| Diaclone Acrobat vs TraSformer Acrobat vs TF Rubsign Thundercracker |

| American Thundercracker vs Mexican Thundercracker |

(See Also: Mexican Skywarp)

For the purposes of these reviews, it's probably best to list all the relevant types of Thundercracker:

Japanese Diaclone
Italian Diaclone (called 'TraSformer')
Early Pre-rub US
Pre-rub US
Rubsign US

Special thanks to Maz, who put together this absolutely huge review. It's split into three parts for convenience. Enjoy the read. And get some popcorn and soda before you start. You'll be here awhile. :-)

Diaclone Acrobat F15 vs Rubsign Thundercracker

I recently got in a Japanese Acrobat F15, the first boxed Diaclone I've seen in person and got a chance to inspect and it's so cool I just want to talk about it anyway. =)

Here are some introductory pics. =)

TCCBox.jpg | TCCMain1.jpg | TCCMain2.jpg

Now, I would have much preferred to compare it to a pre-rub and Japanese and Mexican boxed TF Thundercracker but none of those are available to me.

Also, the pictures have not come out as well as I wanted so the difference in colour between the two may not be as clear as I wanted it to be.

Anyway. =)

Diaclone Thundercracker. Wow. Absolutely awesome piece. The Japanese styro layout of the jet is waaaaaaaaaay superior to the bubble packaging. As Devvi has said in the past, the boxart on this toy is lovely. A true display piece. Here's a pic of the insert:


This is only the second Diaclone driver I've seen, and the other one I have has long since lost its magnetism. So this was a real novelty. =) I left the guy hanging to the side of my computer for ages! Also, red is a particularly nice colour for a Diaclone pilot.

The jet itself is stunning. The colour is different from TF Thundercracker. It has a...sort tint to it. And it's a little more sparkly. It is of course closer to a pre-rub jet than the rubsign jet I'm comparing it with in the pictures. It has a totally smooth canopy which I personally think is more pleasing to the eye, and it has single-tabbed fists.

Something unique to Pre-TF jets and Mexican jets, the nosecone is hard plastic, not rubber. And in the case of this particular toy, it causes some problems. The added weight of the nosecone makes it hard for me to pose it in robot mode without the chest swinging back. Also in jet mode, the nose doesn't always stay up.

Something to note. This toy has no copyright markings whatsoever. That'll interest some of you I know. =)

The Japanese Diaclone Starscream has no copyright markings either. The MAN do they fire. Although nothing I've seen yet beats the Stingray launchers I have. Probably because the stingray missiles are smaller and lighter than all the others I've had.

Now onto some accessory comparision pics. Diaclone on the left, TF on the right.

The main wings:


A few clear differences here. Unfortunatley, again, the difference in colour hasn't really come through in my picture, but the extra sparkles do.

First thing of note that caught my eye only when I lined the 2 wings up for the picture: The Diaclone wing (from top of pic to bottom) is longer. For lack of better terms, the pointy bit is pointier. The peg on the rubsign TF wing is longer. Pre-rub TF wing pegs would be similar to the Diaclone.

The decals on the TF wing are...solid? The Diaclone ones are transparent and a good deal thinner. I don't really need to over-explain this, the differences in the pic are clear enough I think. On to the tailfins:


Again, the differences here are pretty obvious. Mainly the material and content of the decals differ here. The Diaclone ones are like a thin film on the surface of the plastic whereas the TF ones are thicker and more 'solid'.

The rudders:


This picture is of the underside of the rudders. Difference in peg size (again the Diaclone peg is smaller) and difference in molding seen in the bottom left corner of each rudder. The Diaclone has the 'solid' variety of rudder and the rubsign TF has the 'hollow' rudders (most pre-rubs have solid rudders but hollow variants exist also with small pegs).

The launchers:


Ah. A pic where the colour difference is a little clearer. Of course, the main thing here is that the Diaclone launchers really do launch the missiles.

The missiles:


In this pic better than most can the difference in colour of the two toys be seen. When a TF accessory is placed with the Diaclone, the difference stands out quite a bit more. See here:


Can you spot the odd accessory out? ;)

Some closing thoughts. The Diaclone version to me is a very different toy. It comes with more gadgets and bits, it looks nicer, the box art is superior, and it has a certain prestige about it. Plus it's the original, and therefore...the daddy. ;)

The TF Thundercracker however has a personality all its own. He has a tech spec, he's sentient, his whole existence is coloured by our TF memories, childhood links and bonds to TFs and sheer love for the whole Transformers...thing. He's Thundercracker, and everybody loves Thundercracker right?

But all in all, I'd have to cast my vote with the Diaclone F15. It's just a really really special toy presented in an excellent fashion. At least, that's my opinion. =)

Hope you managed to stay with me this far, and i'll leave you with a nice pic. =)


Diaclone F15 Acrobat vs TraSformer F15 Acrobat vs TF Rubsign Thundercracker

The info is limited due to the Italian TraSformer jet being very incomplete.

Ok, first some comparisons between the Japanese Diaclone Acrobat and the Italian one.

Individual pic of Japanese Diaclone (stickers unapplied):


Individual pic of Italian jet (stickers applied):


Here's a picture of the two together:


The colour difference is clear (for once!). The Japanese Diaclone (left), as mentioned before, has a green tint to it and appears a shade darker. The Italian TraS (right) is sporting rubsign-version Thundercracker rear horizontal tailfins because this one didn't come with any of its own. Which is fine I guess because the rubsign TC and this Italian Pre-TF are identical in colour and sparkliness. Although the rubsign version's peg is a bit too big and so doesn't stay on too well. The hunt for small-peg/hollow Thundercracker tailfins continues...

Some quickfire differences:

Japanese Jet: Solid plastic nosecone, long wings, very sparkly.

Italian Jet: Rubber nosecone, 'clipped' wings, not as sparkly and a different shade of blue.

Both have smooth canopies and firing missiles, however the Italian jet would have come with those orange and black ball/bopper missiles originally. Also I assume both would have single-tabbed black fists. They'd better have! ;)

The Japanese Diaclone jet has no copyright. The Italian one has the same copyright as later pre-rub Thundercrackers:

*Japanese writing*
(c) TAKARA. CO. LTD, 1980, 1983, JAPAN

There are some very early pre-rub Thundercrackers with no copyrights, colours closer to the Japanese jet and they have the longer wings which instead of being molded shorter were just 'hacked' and sanded (The pointy bit anyway). Thanks to Himawari for this info.

Now, back to the main wings. Diaclone on the left, TraS right. Here's a pic:


As you can see, just like with the Transformers Thundercracker wing, the Japanese Diaclone wing is longer than the Italian wing. The Italians made a number of changes due to safety issues. Missiles were replaced with boppers, solid nosecone was made to flexible rubber, and the pointy bit on the wings was shortened and rounded as with TFs. As mentioned above, there are some Pre-rub Thundercrackers which have those pointy bits looking as if they've been 'hacked' and sanded.

This particular TraS wing appears too neat for that and so i'd say it was molded this way.

Also, unlike the TF stickers, both these jets have the transparent thin film-like decals.

An interesting fact: on both these jets, the "F15 EAGLE" white lettering on the wings is brighter on the left wing as opposed to the right wing. Most likely becuse the box window for both only exposes the right wing, and so fading may have been experienced on both these jets.

Both have short pegs on the wings (and have trouble staying on the jet!).

Apart from the blue plastic colour differences, the launchers are the same (I think the Italian one fires further) and the rear black tailfins are the same. Pics of all later on...

Due to the distinct lack of accessories, I now move on to the Diaclone vs TraS vs Rubsign TF comparisons.

The rubsign Thundercracker by itself:


A picture of all 3 together (with TF TC sporting his own tailwings/rudders/horiz...oh you know the ones...):


Japanese Diaclone far left, then TraS, then TF. The colour difference between the Japanese Diaclone and the other two remains clear I should hope. =)

A closer pic of the 3 jet bodies lined up:


Main thing here which unfortunately isn't clear are the differences in decals between the Diaclones and the Transformer. Obviously the Japanese one has only factory decals there so nevermind that. On the stickers eitherside of the canopy there is a red rectangle. Within it there is "F15" on the Italian Diaclone but not on the TF. The Individual pictures above will show the main sticker variations.

Underside of the 3 bodies:


The same colour difference is in evidence, also the knee decals show a small colour variation (between TraS and TF). On the knee decal, the rectangle at the top of the TraS decal is silver not red and contains "84413".

Now, all 3 wings together, same order as before:


Not much to comment on that I haven't done before. The Japanese Diaclone wing is indeed unique and to me, more pleasing (and dangerous!) to the eye. Of course, that big honkin' TF insignia may have something to say about THAT. ;)

Longer wing peg on rubsign TF wing that helps keep it attached to the main jet body better.

The differences in decals can again be seen. Both Pre-TF wings have transparent thin film stickers and the TF sticker is solid and thick. Same difference/similarity on the black tailfin stickers. But unfortunately I forgot to take a pic comparing all 3 on the tailfins, but since the TraS and Jap are the same, here's a relevant pic from the previous review:


All 3 launchers:


Same order as before, mainly a pic for colour comparisons. Now some fun facts.

It appears that other Japanese Diaclones have the same problems as mine, which I had previously attributed to non-mintiness of my specimen. EvilGrin's dead mint Diaclone jet also has a drooping nosecone and the wings don't stay in too well on his either. Also, due to the weight of the hard nosecone on the Japanese Diaclone, the robot chest rolls backwards and doesn't stay down too well. Possibly a design flaw?

Something of note, the Italian Pre-TF comes with a pilot (same as Japanese one, red) which is something of a rarity for Italian Pre-TFs. Another thing, the Japanese jet just feels a bit heavier overall. And I like it. =)


Japanese: Beautifully unique, my favourite.

Italian: Basically a pre-rub Thundercracker with Diaclone decals and possibly small peg/hollow rudders unlike Japanese or TF.

TF: No need to say much, we all know this guy inside out. =)

Well that concludes my review of these toys. It's just a crying shame that the TraS was incomplete, and therefore so is my review. If I ever get my hands on a complete TraS or complete pre-rub or Mexican Thundercracker, I'll bore you all some more. =)

Thanks to Himawari and The Weeter for some of the info. Hope you enjoyed reading it.

All the best

Maz, loves Thundercracker.

American Thundercracker vs Mexican Thundercracker

The pics for the Mexican Thundercracker and the comparison pics are finally ready so without further delay...

First, the Mexican Thundercracker by itself. We'll start with packaging...

Here are pics of the front and back of the box respectively:

MTCboxfront1.jpg | MTCboxback.jpg

The obvious first. Despite having the same name as the USA, the writing on the box is almost entirely in Spanish. The box colour is a little different from USA boxes too as will be seen in the later comparison pics.

Looking at the box back, there are no robot points (as with all Mex TFs, instead replaced by a big purple block). Since Thundercracker is a first series TF there is no "graph" on the tech specs. These were only introduced on Mexican TF packaging for the second series TFs and 3rd series minis.

The Mexican TC's Insert:


Could have been removed a little more neatly but hey. =) The main differences on the toy between USA and Mexican TC should be becoming clearer as we go along.

Mexican Thundercracker in jet mode:


The colour. Much much less sparkliness than any of the previous Thundercrackers. The Diaclones were the most sparkly, followed by the USA TFs, and the Mexican has the least amount of sparkly. It gives it a duller blue look and the blue is a tiny amount darker than USA Thundercracker although this may not always be visible in my pics. Ok. It has no rubsign, no Mexican Transformers do. The canopy has rubsign TC characteristics in that is not the smooth type.

The wheels on the jet are not silver die cast as they are on Diaclone and USA jets, but instead they are black plastic. Something that's unique to Mexican jets.

The main wings are the shorter type and instead of the hacked/sanded look of some very early pre-rub jets, they appear molded shorter just like rubsign TCs and Italian Pre-TF TCs. In the USA and Italy this was done for safety reasons, but in Mexico I don't think that was why it was done...I'll come to that later.

Still on the main wings, look at the red factory labels. The USA and Pre-TF versions have a thick red stripe on the wings accompanied by a thinner white stripe. Not so on Mex TC. The same thing applies to the red factory labels on the tailfins. They're almost neon red. The factory stickers also have a more paper-like quality to them.

The pegs on the main wings are very long, so in conclusion, the main wings are closer to rubsign Thundercracker than any other version, with the exception of the stickers. Or are they? Well, Diaclone main wings are "solid" underneath but most TF wings are hollow (except for the Skywarp wings Fred's Workshop has). This Mexican jet has solid wings too. This point will become clearer in the later comparison pics also.

Onto the small horizontal tailwings (or rudders). These are the solid/small peg variety which is a Diaclone and pre-rub characteristic. Strange that this Mexican jet should have them. The nosecone is hard plastic. And not molded perfectly.

Here's a closer look at it:


The tip of it has a little ball-like thing on the end which is sort of off-centre.

Hard plastic nosecones are reminiscent only of Japanese Diaclones and Kingdam knockoffs (of Japanese Diaclone jets). In Italy and the USA, the nosecones were of course rubber for child safety reasons.The launchers on this toy don't work perfectly, but when they do fire, they fire very far. A Diaclone characteristic.

Here's the copyright:

(c) HASBRO 1980,1983.
Japanese writing
(c) TAKARA.CO.LTD 1980,1983. *BLOCK*

The block covers the "Japan" section as Mexican toys were manufactured and assembled in Mexico.

Apart from the block, it would be a typical rubsign Thundercracker copyright Mexican Thundercracker in robot mode:


The lack of sparkly can be seen quite clearly in this pic. The fists don't fit onto the arms too well. Especially the left fist which had a tendency to slip off. These fists seem molded quite badly. There are blemishes and extra bits hanging off them. Not large bits but it looks like the bits on the excess plastic on the end of the missiles when they've been seperated from the sprue. Incidentally, the fists from my USA Thundercracker fit perfectly on the Mexican jet. The fault is with the fists. The fists are double-tabbed. Another rubsign characteristic.

Now onto the comparison pictures. Some of the links you may have to copy/paste into your browser. First the packaging.

Here's a pic of the rubsign USA TF (left) and Mex box (right):


The difference in colour between the boxes is clear here, and obviously the USA box has the Hasbro logo in the bottom left corner whereas the Mexican box has the Iga logo.

A boxback comparison between the above two:


The tech spec variation I mentioned above should be clear in this picture. No graph on first year Mexican toys and no robot points.

Just for fun, a pic of Diaclone TC box (top), USA (middle) and Mexican (bottom):


Differences are obvious here. I don't believe that any of these boxes have suffered sun fading, so the colour differences on the character's boxart should be genuine.

Mex (left)vs USA rubsign (right) in jet mode and robot mode respectively:

MTCvsTCjet.jpg | MTCvsTCrobot.jpg

The darker less sparkly Mexican colour can be seen here.

Mex (left) vs USA rubsign (right) main wing comparison:


Here clearly the difference between the factory stickers on the wings can be seen, the Mexican has no white stripe accompanying the red stripe. Both have long pegs. The Mexican wing looks lighter here, but it isn't.

Fist comparison of the above two jets, mex top, rubsign USA bottom:


Maybe you can see the more...messy Mexican fist molding. Maybe not.

Rudder comparison:


The Mexican rudder on the left as mentioned before is the solid/small peg type and the rubsign is the hollow/long peg type. Lack of Mex sparkly in evidence again here. The rudder is definitely a Diaclone/Pre-rub TF type.

Tailfin comparison:


As with the main wings, you can again spot the difference in factory labels between the Mexican and USA jet. No white stripe on Mexican.

Landing gear comparison:


The Mexican jet is the only Thundercracker incarnation with plastic wheels as the rest have die cast shiny wheels. The above pic illustrates this point nicely. =)

Launcher and Missile (Mex on left) comparisons respectively:

MTCvsTClaunch.jpg | MTCvsTClongmiss.jpg

I have to say that the Mexican long missiles don't look very straight. I was pretty sure mine were a little...bent? The second pic supports this to a small degree.

Now some comparison pics including the two Diaclone jets.

Here's a pic with four main wings. From left to right: Japanese Diaclone, Italian Diaclone, rubsign USA and Mexican:


The two Diaclones have the clear thin film-like factory labels with the "F-15 Eagle" lettering whereas the TFs have the solid-looking factory labels. Again, only Mexican has no white stripe. The Diaclones (and pre rub Thundercracker not pictured because I don't have one) ;) have small pegs, but the rubsign and Mexican jet have long pegs. Colour differences in evidence too.

A pic of the underside of all the four aforementioned main wings (same order as above):


Now you can see that only the Japanese Diaclone and Mexican Thundercrackers have the solid section on the part nearest the peg and the Italian Diaclone and rubsign TF have the hollow section. The difference in sparkliness is also clear in this pic.

A tailfin comparison between all 4 jets:


Again, the difference in factory labels is the main thing here. Thin film-like Diaclone stickers with "F-15", solid TF stickers, Mexican without white stripe.

So here is a summary of the Mexican Thundercracker's characteristics and what jet it has that characteristic in common with:

Hard Nosecone (Japanese Diaclone.)
Short Mainwings (Italian Diaclone, US TF.)
Small Peg/Solid Rudders (Japanese Diaclone, Pre-Rub TF.)
Firing Missiles (Japanese and Italian Diaclone.)
Solid Main Wings (Japanese Diaclone.)
Long Mainwing Peg (Rubsign TF.)
Striped Canopy (Rubsign TF.)
Double-Tab Fists (Rubsign TF.)
Copyright (Rubsign with exception of block so unique to Mexican.)
Plastic Wheels (Unique to Mexican.)
Factory Labels (Unique to Mexican.)
Colour/Sparkliness (Unique to Mexican.)

As you can see, trying to figure out exactly which model of Thundercracker the Mexicans based their toy on is no easy task!Speaking to Morg recently, he reckoned that Iga received the molds etc directly from Takara. Now, I don't think safety was ever an issue for the Mexican toys especially when considering the firing missiles, hard plastic nosecone and high lead content in the paint (obviously not intentional). This makes the fact that this toy has the shorter non-pointy USA TF-like main wings very odd. And the Diaclone like solid section underneath the main wing is even more confusing. Only one TF wing has so far been found like that, and it was a Skywarp wing. It could WELL have been a Mexican Skywarp wing then...

Other than the shorter non-pointy main wings and the double-tabbed fists, this jet is quite close to the Japanese Diaclone. The fact that the wheels are plastic is typical of the Mexican factories cutting corners and costs (as seen in other Mexican toys).

But what ABOUT the double-tabbed fists and the striped canopy? They're rubsign TF characteristics, not Diaclone. Well, I remember hearing that TFs first came out in Mexico in 85, and if that's the case then these characteristics were no doubt copied from the rubsign versions that were on sale in the neighbouring USA at that time in 1985.

It appears that Iga took characteristics for this toy from all over the place and not exclusively from Japan or the USA. Plus they added a few twists of their own.

In conclusion, an extremely nice-looking, mysterious, hybrid of a toy with unclear origins.

And seeing as it's Thundercracker, I love it. =)

As always, I like to close any review with a nice picture, so here are all 4 Thundercrackers in one pic:


Hope you're still awake.

All the best


(See Also: Pre-TF Jets)