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By Thomas Wheeler

Several years ago, the Transformers line of transforming robotic action figures released a whole new chapter in its long and varied history. Dubbed TRANSFORMERS CLASSICS, these were updated, yet faithful versions of many of the most popular characters from the original, best-known "Generation One" Transformers, making use of updated designs to give them, most particularly, the level of articulation in their robotic modes that was now possible.

I really enjoyed the Classics. As much as I liked the original Transformers concept, my one lingering complaint about them was that, in their robot modes, they didn't do all that much. With rare exception, they could move at the head and arms and that was about it. The Classics finally gave these legendary characters the articulation that they deserved.

Among the Classics were some of the Decepticons known as the Seekers. These were the jet fighters, among the earliest of the Transformers, that were largely identical to one another except for their color schemes. The Classics would present to us three of these Seekers -- Starscream, Ramjet, and in a special two-pack exclusive to Target: Skywarp.

Alas, the Classics fell by the wayside with the impending arrival of the first live-action movie, and it seemed that the remaining Seekers would never be made. With that in mind, the Official Transformers Collectors' Club saw to it that the other three most prominent Seekers -- Thundercracker, Dirge, and Thrust -- were offered as part of one of their BotCon exclusive sets. Need it be said that the set sold out faster than Blurr on fresh Energon.

Somewhat to everyone's surprise, the Classics returned, merged into a post-movie line that included a wide variety of new Transformers. However, in light of the BotCon set, none of the Seekers would be a part of these new assortments. A new Seeker-type plane, named Acid Storm, was offered, but this was the extent of it. And then the second movie came along, and that was pretty much the end of the Classics for a second time.

Now, we're past the second movie -- and the Classics have returned yet again! They are now part of a line called TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS, but there's no mistaking who these cool robots are. And apparently enough time has passed since the BotCon Set that featured the Seeker planes, for at least one of them, with another one reportedly in the works, to finally be brought to the general retail world. Need it be said that I am exceptionally pleased, and sincerely hopeful that, even with the next movie coming along in 2011, that the Generations line will either run long enough, or be brought back, that perhaps finally, I'll have all of the Seeker planes.

But for now, this review will focus on the first of the new -- well, I think I'll call it a Generations Classics Transformer -- a Decepticon Seeker plane by the name of THRUST!

In the original Transformers line, the Seekers could be visually broken down into two groups. There was the first group, which consisted of Starscream, Thundercracker, and Skywarp. They were all essentially identical, derived from the same mold, just with different color schemes. Of course, Starscream is the best known and most prominent of the entire group.

The second group of Seekers came along the following year, and consisted of Ramjet, Thrust, and Dirge. Although very nearly identical to the previous Seekers, these Decepticons had different wing structures attached, and one didn't lower the nosecone of the plane mode when forming the head, giving them a somewhat different look in their robot modes, as well.

So, who is Thrust? Some online research gave me the backstory to this particular Decepticon.

The original Thrust was the name given to a red Decepticon jet, that had VTOL capabilities, and was described as a "modified F-15", which is the same model as all of the Seekers. Thrust's personality is described as that of a braggart who tries to psyche out his opponents with the roar of his engines, but is in fact a coward when it comes to actual battle. This is well in keeping with the character profile on the package of the new Thrust, which I shall relate later in the review.

Thrust first appeared in the original Marvel comic in issue #17, acting as a bodyguard for Straxus. He subsequently joined the Decepticons on Earth. He was seen entering Earth via the Spacebridge, alongside Ramjet and Dirge, about the same time as the Aerialbots joined the Autobots. Despite acquitting themselves well against the inexperienced Aerialbots, the three Decepticon planes were forced to flee when the Aerialbots joined together to form Superion.

Thrust would later serve as part of the Earth-bound Decepticon forces under Shockwave, and later Ratbat, battle both the Autobots and Scorponok's Decepticon faction. When Starscream seized the power of the Underbase, Thrust, along with Dirge and Ramjet, were part of the forces sent against him.

It was never made clear if Thrust was revived with many of the other Decepticons deactivated by Starscream's power, but as Dirge and Ramjet were later both shown to be alive and well, it seems likely.

In the original animated series, Thrust first appeared in the second season episode "Dinobot Island".

In the episode, "The God Gambit", Autobot Cosmos was collecting data in space on a potential new power source, but was attacked by Astrotrain, Thrust, and Starscream. Cosmos crashed on a nearby moon. Over the course of the story, the priests of the indigenous natives worshiped the Decepticons as "sky gods"; but a rebel faction was able to reactivate Cosmos and call for the aid from the Autobots, which showed up in sizable force in the form of Omega Supreme, along with Perceptor and Jazz.

In "The Golden Lagoon", Thrust is the Decepticon that discovers the particular lagoon after Beachcomber departed. In the episode "Child's Play", he is one of the nine Transformers transported to the alien world of giants, where the Transformers were little more than toys for a time. In the well-known episode "Kremzeek!", it is Thrust who drops Kremzeek into the Autobot base.

Thrust also appeared in the animated Transformers movie, having the dubious honor of being the first Decepticon run over by Optimus Prime as the Autobot leader made his way towards Megatron. One might assume that Thrust deduced after this that a career in Hollywood was far too hazardous.

Thrust's last animated appearance in the American animated series was in "Ghost in the Machine", as Thrust and Dirge are among other Decepticons being punished by Galvatron for failing to stop a demoralizing assault by Starscream -- now a ghost possessing the bodies of other Decepticons. Just before he and the other offenders are to be hunted down, Trypticon is possessed, trapping Thrust, Dirge, Runamuck and Runabout inside. He and Dirge liberate Trypticon from Starscream's control, just before the traitorous ghost was about to aid what was left of Unicron in destroying Cybertron.

Thrust appeared in the Dreamwave Transformers comic, as a Decepticon under the leadership of Megatron. He became a member of the elite Seekers under Aerospace Commander Starscream, and often worked with Ramjet and Dirge, not surprisingly. He was shown defending Cybertron's planetary engines from Grimlock's group. He would continue to appear over the course of the Dreamwave run.

In the IDW Transformers titles, Thrust was among the Decepticons fighting alongside Megatron, seen in "Megatron Origin" #3. In "All Hail Megatron" #16, Thrust was among the Decepticons discovered wounded and hiding in abandoned buildings in New York City by the United States military.

There have been other characters named Thrust in the Transformers history, most of them aircraft of one sort or another, always working for the bad guys. But as these have no other direct relation to the original Thrust, which the Generations Thrust is based upon, I won't get into them here.

So, how's the toy? Exceptionally cool and very impressive. I have to say that I sincerely appreciate the consistency that Hasbro has put into much of the Classics/Generations line, especially with regard to those toys that had a certain consistency to them the first time around, and that certainly included these planes.

Thrust comes packaged in plane mode, and succeeds in looking both very cool and quite sinister. He is predominantly a deep burgundy red in color, with quite a bit of very dark grey. His cockpit canopy is transparent orange, and his wings have white striping on them. Although not visible from the package, his VTOL thrusters have white Decepticon emblems on them.

A few notes about the packaging. The TRANSFORMERS logo is produced in its classic type face, but doesn't have the battle-worn look of the last movie. It's made to look like gleaming silver, with just two tiny blast marks, one on the "T", and one on the final "S". The Decepticon logo is very impressively presented on the packaging, as is a superb illustration of Thrust.

Of particular note is that the toy is not strapped into the package with those infernal plastic-coated wire twist-ties. Rather, some sort of sturdy string or twine is used! This is VASTLY easier to cut and remove. I think it may be an overall change for many Hasbro products, as to date, I have encountered it on two Transformers, and one G.I. Joe vehicle. I sincerely hope it's a trend.

In jet mode, Thrust is about six inches long, with a wingspan of about 5-1/2" inches. "Modified F-15" is a decent description, but that modification is fairly heavy when you take into consideration the VTOL engines, which can be attached to several locations on the plane, and the heavily modified tail section, with its outstretched wings. Still a very cool looking plane.

Interestingly enough, the fans in the VTOL engines actually spin! I wouldn't have suspected this if it hadn't been mentioned in the online research. It's a nice feature, if a little tough to work. I suspect someone younger and smaller than myself, with smaller fingers, would probably be better able to operate these. But it's cool that they do actually spin.

Thrust's transformation into a robot is fairly straightforward, and is ranked at level "2" on a scale of 0 to 5 for Transformers, which is considered "Easy". I have yet to see a "5" in this ranking system, but it probably stands for "Pack a Lunch"...

Thrust's transformation is as follows. Extend the rear of the plane backwards. Lift the front center section upwards, bring down the nosecone and canopy, and rotate the canopy around 180 degrees. Then fold this section down into the midsection of the plane. This effectively reveals the head and sorts out the torso.

Extend and rotate the arms around into position, and then lock the entire upper torso down into place. Rotate the rear landing gear into the chest (this is something easily forgotten, as it's a fairly small move, but it is important for the robot's appearance). Separate the legs, fold down the feet, fold down the hands, and Thrust is in robot mode!

Thrust doesn't really gain or lose any height/length in robot mode. He stands about 5-1/2" tall. Unlike the first group of Seekers, which include Starscream and Skywarp, whose wings are inverted and appear behind the upper part of their bodies in robot mode, Thrust, representative of the second group of Seekers, has wings that remain pretty much in place, and appear to extend from roughly the hips. Additionally, the extended rear wings do not fold inward as they do on the earlier Seekers. This in no way affects Thrust's ability to stand.

In robot mode, Thrust has a bit of gold trim on him, on the inside of his jet intakes, which now appear to rise above his shoulders, and on his upper arms. His robot mode, wings notwithstanding, is almost entirely burgundy, with some dark grey around his chest, lower arms, and feet. There is some white detail visible as well. His face is white with yellowish eyes, and his expression is pretty much a robotic scowl. Not inappropriate.

Articulation is superb, and this to me is one of the real highlights of the Generations/Classics Transformers. Thrust is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows wrists, legs, upper leg swivel, and knees. The fronts of the feet move a bit, but this is mostly part of the transformation more than the articulation. The location of the main wings is a slight hindrance to the arms moving backwards, but not much. And certainly, this version of Thrust is vastly more articulated than the original.

Thrust has a couple of spring-loaded missile launchers, which snap into the same holes as the VTOL engines, and can as such be located in a number of places on the figure in both plane and robot mode. Traditionally, they seem to be intended to be placed in sockets on the upper arms in robot mode. Of course, Thrust also comes with two missiles to launch.

Thrust's character description on the back of his package reads as follows: Thrust was great to have around during the early days of the war, when the Deceptions won victory after victory. His thundering engines and shouted threats terrified the few Autobots that stood against them. It wasn't until later, when the Autobots got organized enough to put up a real fight, that Thrust began screaming like an alpha unit and fleeing at the first sign of danger.

I don't know what an "alpha unit" is, but that sounds pretty embarrassing. His various power rankings give him a "9" in Speed (good thing, too, apparently), an "8" in Endurance, a "7" in Fireblast and Skill, a "6" in Strength and Rank, a "3" in Intelligence, and a "1" in Courage -- ouch.

So, what's my final word here? I'm both impressed and delighted here. I'm delighted that the Classics are back, regardless of what they're being called. And Thrust is a superb figure, very well made, nicely detailed, carefully painted, and certainly well-articulated. He's a worthy addition to the collection and stands well alongside Starscream, Skywarp, Acid Storm, and Ramjet.

And Hasbro has plans for a fairly extensive line, as well, well beyond Thrust. I look forward to bringing quite a few of them into my collection, beyond just Seeker planes. I have heard that Dirge is in the works, and I wouldn't mind at all if, before this line doubtless makes way for the next movie, we get Thundercracker out of it. And dare I hope -- Sunstorm?

At the very least, though, Thrust is one plane closer to having all of the Decepticon Seeker planes, and I am very glad that Hasbro made him, and very glad to have him.

The TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS figure of THRUST definitely has my highest recommendation!