The third and last Seeker I ever bothered with (Acid Storm who? Sun Storm what?) happens to come as a repaint of the latest Starscream mold. In keeping with tradition, like my previous Starscream and Skywarp, this Thundercracker is an American-exclusive release with strong callbacks to the original G1 cartoons.
If I recall correctly, the new MP-11 mold was praised for refining the F-15E form a bit more and ensuring that panels fit flush this time ’round. The old MP-03 version had some issues with jutting bits on the side of the fuselage.
Landing gear is still built-in and standard.
Compared to the original MP-03 Starscream, Thundercracker is essentially the same size and shape – the differences are really in the details. I still maintain that Starscream and Skywarp look more streamlined in jet mode, but Thundercracker doesn’t have nearly as many gaps and spaces in his panels.
The transformation is also just about the same as it’s always been,though with a noticeable difference that’s reflected pretty clearly in Thundercracker’s biped form.
The giant wing-board scabbard sideskirts have been moved to form the sides of his legs, allowing for both more articulation and better balance. Thundercracker now has a much more fleshed out robot mode, and doesn’t look nearly as top-heavy as Screamer or Skywarp.
And of course, a closer look at Thundercracker’s personalized nameplate. Both the little clip that holds Mini-Masterpiece Megatron in gun mode and the clear arm are capable of being stored underneath the base. The clear stand arm hasn’t exactly gotten longer either, so pegging Thundercracker onto it in robot mode means he barely hovers above the base.
As a bit of a bulky ‘con, Thundercracker can’t really do much. Even with the now-freer hip joints, his legs don’t allow for anything astounding. The best he can really do it flaunt his null-rays with some fabulous hand gestures.
A nice little touch for the new MP-11 mold is the revised and remolded head. The previous head was narrow to accommodate the transformation scheme. This new mold has been fleshed out, with the side “ears” capable of sinking into the head and therefore still fitting the old transformation sequence while maintaining aesthetics. Unfortunately, there are now no longer any pull-out facial expression swaps. Thundercracker is stuck with his one neutral not-quite-a-frown – smirk no longer included. The interesting thing is that “changing facial expressions!” is still present as a drive-home gimmick feature on the packaging.
Another pretty significant change for Thundercracker and the MP-11 mold as a whole is that his null ray cannons are now attached to his biceps by a ball-jointed plastic arm. This allows them a bit more articulation and play, rather than the former single-peg swivel action.
A very annoying issue that I know other collectors have also experienced is Thundercracker’s non-locking torso. The entire upper body and back slide down with the cockpit in order to complete the transformation, but there’s no actual locking mechanism that keeps the cockpit area anchored to the waist section. As a result, Cracker’s body will literally constantly slide up during regular handling, making for just a bit of a small annoyance. I recall this being an issue with the MP-03 mold as well, though not as serious.
It’s pretty much unanimous among the Transformers community that the new MP-11 mold kicks the MP-03 version five ways to Cybertron. Personally though, I think I still prefer my Starscream and Skywarp over this Thundercracker. It’s almost a bit jarring having the former two differ from the last member of the core Seekers team here.
While Thundercracker is undoubtedly better balanced as a figure compared to his brothers, I actually find myself liking the top-heavy MP-03 molds a lot more, as I think it makes them look just a bit more intimidating, as Decepticons should be. It also seems that the new MP-11 releases are generally under-detailed, in that they sport no panel-washing and the plastic quality as a whole feels more toy-ish than the previous releases. (Compare Thundercracker’s almost obnoxious tone of blue here with the toned down and washed out Starscream).