Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Cyberjet Air Raid (1995)

In 1995, the last year of Generation 2 in America, not only was the "Generation 2" heading quietly dropped, but in a clear attempt to get additional product out at a minimum cost, almost every mold released during the year was either used twice, or had clear plans to do so that simply fell through when the entire line was cancelled to make way for Beast Wars. This kind of mold reuse is common today, but despite the truth that some mold reuse had been done since the very first Transformers toys in 1984, this was a significant increase compared to then-recent years. Perhaps as part of an attempt to persuade kids (or parents) to buy molds that had already been used just a few months previously, the reuses were all given the names of classic Transformers characters from Generation 1. Such is the case with today's featured figure, Cyberjet Air Raid.

While all three of the original Cyberjets were new Decepticon characters, all three of the Cyberjets who reused those molds were classic Autobots. While I argued some years ago that Jetfire at least matched certain features of his Cyberjet mold to features of his original toy, I have to assume that this was little more than a coincidence, as I can't really see any such connection with the other Cyberjets, who don't resemble their original aerial modes in any meaningful way (perhaps the fact that G1 Air Raid's jet mode was black deserves a mention, but that, too, seems more of a coincidence than anything intentional, given the choice of the Cyberjet mold with the stealth jet vehicle mode, which would hardly be appropriate in bright colors). It perhaps also bears noting that the non-Jetfire Cyberjets reused characters who had previously been members of combiner teams. In fact, Air Raid had gotten a previous Generation 2 toy, using his original Aerialbot mold, only now in bright colors that oddly evoked Spider-Man, making this Cyberjet version Air Raid's second toy to come out during Generation 2

Cyberjet Air Raid's robot mode bears even less resemblance to either of his previous toys, which used substantially different colors in robot mode than in jet mode, something not really possible using the Cyberjet molds. As I'd mentioned when discussing Jetfire, one unifying feature of the Cyberjets was that the Decepticon Cyberjets used red plastic for the shoulders and thighs, while the Autobot Cyberjets swapped these red parts out for blue ones. Unfortunately for Air Raid (seen here on the left), this is nearly the only thing that helps him to look different than his mold predecessor, Skyjack.* The black seems to be somewhat different (although that could just be my eyes playing games), and of course the jet-mode paint schemes and sticker detailing are different, but these distinctions are especially hard to discern in robot mode. I can easily see why people who already owned Skyjack might be reluctant to pick up Air Raid. I'd love to know how much the use of the familiar character name really did tip folks over the edge into buying the toy.

As has been my practice this year, this Generation 2-themed post also serves as a plug for the next episode of my podcast, Not Your Father's Autobot: A Transformers: Generation 2 Comic Book Podcast. You can find previous episodes by clicking the "Podcast" link among the Labels on the right-hand side of the page. Come back on Sunday when the new episode drops to hear my brother Nick and I discuss issue #5.

*I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the missiles that come with Air Raid are white, while Skyjack's missiles are yellow (Air Raid's package art notwithstanding), but I don't consider these a part of Air Raid himself.

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