So. much. controversy. Controversy has been surrounding this particular Transformers character from the very start of his conception and it seemingly continues until this very day. This not-Sky Fire product, therefore deserves an honest and fair look and review . I will try to achieve this by context of the Skyfire character. Sky Guardian review context Like many G1 characters, it all started with a toy which was given a Transformers name and bio. This toy happened to be a redeco of the famous Valkyrie design and was designated Jetfire. The problem started the moment Hasbro couldn't legally use the visual appearance of this Valkyrie design anymore in its cartoon and comic book media, before the character could even make its debut. Hasbro circumvented the legal issue by changing the appearance of the Jetfire character in the cartoon and comic book media. To fully ensure avoidance of further problems, Jetfire was renamed Skyfire, even though the actual Jetfire toy was retained unchanged in retail sales. This means there was an interesting premise: we had the Jetfire toy, which was basically a Valkyrie redeco but it never appeared as such in the cartoon – then there was the Skyfire redesign, but this design never fully materialized into a Transforming toy. Never the twain shall meet. Basically we can break it down into this: style A, the Valkyrie design - Style B, the Transformers cartoon redesign. The differences between these two styles are reflected in both robot mode and jet mode. There was only one way to know how the Jetfire design would look in the cartoon, if it would have made a true cartoon appearance. There happens to be an old Jetfire toy commercial which features a few very brief animated action shots. It is only in these brief shots that you can see what a proper cartoon Jetfire would have looked like. The line art for this animated Jetfire therefore provides an ideal foundation to compare both Style A and Style B. You may ask yourself why this comparison is so vital to this context. The answer is toy engineering. The Jetfire toy was ofcourse engineered already as a fully functional transforming toy. Therefore, it was not a big challenge to adapt this design to a simplified cartoon commercial version onscreen. The Skyfire design – Style B however – was never fully engineered; it never materialized to its cartoon likeness in robot mode and jet mode. If you look at the Skyfire line art and if you watch him in the cartoon, you can see the design loosely retains characteristics of the Valkyrie design but his actual transformation scheme and layout lacked proper engineering. Hence the Skyfire design only worked onscreen by virtue of cell animation magic. During Skyfire’s animated transformation sequences you can see parts rotate and shift around, but it is painfully clear this would never work in actual toy engineering. Skyfire’s arms and legs seemingly fold away neatly into jet mode, but that doesn’t happen without a lot of cell animation-powered mass-shifting and shape-warping. Thus, it becomes clear; fully realizing Skyfire into a proper transforming toy would be an engineering nightmare. I think this is one of the main reasons why the post-G1 Skyfire toys we have been given by Hasbro are basically Style A / Style B hybrids; noting CHUG 2006 Jetfire and Generations 2014 Jetfire. With the advent of 3rd party Transformers, somehow the quest for a proper Skyfire started. Sure, in past years we have seen customizers trying to scratch build a proper Skyfire out of MP-01’s and MP-03’s but – with all due respect – they never really nailed it. Skyfire criteria Noting aforementioned information, we can now identify one of the main criteria for this review: the quest for a full and perfect Skyfire transformation. As it became apparent , Hasbro isn’t pursuing a toy with that criteria, since so far there have only been a few 3rd party developers giving it a shot. Heated fanbase debates regardi ng this subject have been plentiful which is yet another indication why this quest is a big deal. Afteral, people have been waiting for a proper Skyfire toy for decades. A few years back some company posted pictures of a work-in-progress not-Skyfire, but that one never made it beyond resin prototype. Then by July 2014, Daca Toys released its not-Skyfire, dubbed Kronos. I think it is clear to see that a wide foundation for comparison is severely lacking, because comparison material is simply limited in numbers and the few which do exist, do so based on very different toy criteria. CHUG 2006 Jetfire and Generations 2014 Jetfire are both hybrid style toys at Hasbro voyager and leader class size and retail price respectively. Kronos however, does indeed aim for the full Skyfire criteria, in the form of Master Piece size and price. The extent to which it achieves this goal is of course up for debate. Finally there’s the review subject Sky Guardian, which also aims for the full Skyfire criteria, marketed as roughly equal to Hasbro leader class in size, but unexpectedly at Master Piece price point. Angle What will therefore be the main angle for this Sky Guardian review ? Mechaform clearly marketed Sky Guardian as a toy to go alongside Hasbro’s CHUG and CW lines, but their pricing speaks a very different tone. After some pondering, I have decided to review this Sky Guardian toy as a CHUG leader class toy, not as a Master Piece toy. I am very aware of the underlying aura within the 3rd party discussion section in which many items are often judged by Master Piece standards. One could argue I should also judge Sky Guardian on those terms, given its price, but that would be like judging Generations 2014 leader Jetfire by MP standards just because some retailer decided to price it at 150 USD. The point is that usually, the evident core and essence of a toy indicates the true class aspirations of said toy. In the review of this Sky Guardian toy, it will quickly become clear the intention and essence of this toy is indeed in line with CHUG and CW. For example: If I were to judge Sky Guardian as a MP toy, his size is already incorrect, for his Sky Fire character scale dictates he should be a lot bigger if he were to aspire MP class. Hence, it is crystal clear already this toy fits CHUG and CW, not MP. Simply put, in what product context should we perceive Sky Guardian? My answer: Generations 2014 Jetfire. However, since this Sky Guardian product does retail at a hefty Master Piece price point, I am going to judge any of its shortcomings in a very critical manner. Meeting the first criteria Does Sky guardian feature a full transformation while achieving the exact Skyfire Style B design goals for both robot mode and jetmode ? As you can see in the video below, indeed he does: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okCYRTRl0ZY Here’s how I think about the transformation: At certain points, the transformation can get a bit finicky and tricky. However, I do find it to be a layout which is both refreshing – within the context of jetformers – and concise, leaving nothing to chance. Every part, peg and tab is well thought out and they all help to achieve a really solid transformation result. The rotating arm assembly on the slider bar reminds me of G1 Megatron while the way the arms fold reminds me of DOTM deluxe Starscream etc. – the methods used are well adapted for the Sky Fire design. Amongst the collection of transforming toy robots which turn into jet mode toys, the Valkyrie design features a transformation layout which has pretty much become a standard; Robot legs stretched out along the underside of the jet fuselage, with both robot arms sandwiched side by side in-between those legs. Due to the design characteristics of the Valkyrie design, this method provides the Valkyrie with a jet fuselage which is only a bit wide, but not overly wide – thanks to the relatively moderate depth of the Valkyrie arms. However, if Skyfire design were to employ the exact same Valkyrie transformation layout, it might not work out so well. The Skyfire shoulders are rounded, almost entirely spherical with a considerable diameter. Sandwiching these shoulders and arms in between the legs would certainly result into an overly wide jet fuselage. I think we have already seen this consequence in the jet mode of the Kronos toy. Furthermore, the complications to have both arms sit side by side in the jet fuselage resulted into a gappy side profile. In the following screenshot you can see Skyfire’s robot arms tucked away under the red jet backpack ( outlined in green ). Clearly this is only possible by means of cell animation magic. Other than that, you can see the jet does indeed feature some undercarriage ( outlined in yellow ) and the robot legs don’t sit that far apart. As you have seen in the video, Sky Guardian uses a transformation layout which lines up the arms in a single straight column underneath the jet. This method avoids having an overly wide jet fuselage and the screenshot proves that Sky Guardian’s column of arms can pass fairly well for the undercarriage the cartoon Skyfire jet features. On top of that, Sky Guardian also features a wing assembly which rotates around to accommodate the opposing wingtip orientations of the robot mode and jet mode. To me this feels as a fresh approach to the conventional method of simply folding the wings the other way. Sky Guardian’s method also ensures that the wingtop surfaces face forward in robot mode. With the other method, that would actually be the underside of the wings face forward in robot mode. Therefore I conclude this Sky Guardian toy meets one of the major important review criteria already. Jet mode Design So does Sky Guardian’s transformation result into a jet mode which fully adhere to Style B / Skyfire design ? Personally I think it does. The cartoon model of Skyfire has always been open to some limited interpretation due to cell animation inconsistencies, but the onscreen model retained enough crucial design cues to identify what makes this design its own. Sky Guardian’s jetmode looks great in my opinion. It really evokes the jet as seen in the cartoon, including landing gear. As mentioned before in the transformation section, everything pegs together in a very secure manner, resulting into a very solid jet mode. You can swoosh this one around without worry.