Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Micromaster Air Strike Patrol (1988)

Air Strike Patrol Package ArtIn the past couple of years, the word "Micromasters" has returned to the vernacular of the Transformers franchise. Once thought replaced by the concept of the "Mini-Con," it is now possible to find toys labeled "Micromaster" on the shelves of toy stores once again. Of course, the Micromasters of today aren't quite the same as those of 30 years ago, as a quick look at one of those teams of yesteryear will demonstrate.

Air Strike Patrol Robot ModesThe most obvious difference in how Micromasters were marketed back in the 1980s vs. today is that you used to be able to get twice as many figures in a pack. A standard "patrol" gave you four figures at a time, vs. the mere two you would get for buying a patrol of the same name today. In this example, the Micromaster Air Strike Patrol of 1988, you see (from left to right) Whisper, Tailwind, Storm Cloud, and Nightflight. If you were to buy the "Air Strike Patrol" made available in the War for Cybertron: Siege line starting in 2018, you would only get Storm Cloud and Whisper (renamed "Visper") in the set. The other two figures, if they come out at all, have so far been relegated to a 10-pack of redecos available only trhough Target here in the states (in the case of the Air Strike Patrol, only Nightflight got such a redeco. Tailwind remains an 80s-only release). This also has tended to mean that the "new" figures now share molds with toys they didn't previously share a mold with, but this is known to be fairly common among new toys for G1 characters... especially more obscure ones such as the Micromasters.

Air Strike Patrol Vehicle ModesSome of this is no doubt due to inflation. A 4-pack of Micromasters in the late-80s would set you back about $5, which translates into a touch over $10 today... roughly what Siege Micromaster 2-packs go for. But of course, inflation isn't the only factor. We're not looking at a straight re-issue, nor does the technology to produce such toys necessarily keep constant with inflation. This gets us to the other differences between the old toys and the new ones. The modern figures have significantly more articulation than these older figures, and were engineered to include an additional mode, usually a weapon of some kind. Personally, I don't think the modern toys' extra modes work at all well, and so I've been inclined to ignore them, but it's just another reason why the Micromasters of today aren't as plentiful, despite being sold at a comparable cost to the Micromasters of yesteryear. Personally, I've been inclined to just stick to my older toys for the most part, although I'm of course glad that those who don't have the originals, or who otherwise appreciate the updates, can now get current versions.

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