Let's Talk About Jets, Baby!

| Tailfins | Main Wings | Vertical Fins | Canopies | Fists | Launchers | Missles | Stickers |

| Thrust and Ramjet | G2+ Jets | TRU Reissues | The Wrap: Jet Types | Fakes |

| Jet Stampings | Thundercrackers Around the World! |

It started out small...

Like many other 'carry-over' molds from the Pre-Transformers line, the jets saw a number of changes during their production run. From holdover, to initial-release, to 2nd-release, to movie-release, to G2...and now reissue! There's so much to discuss, we have to have it on its own separate page. ;-) Enjoy!

Patents for Starscream, Thundercracker, and Skywarp


The first known jet-mold variation! Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp...solid vs hollow tailfins. To elaborate, it means that the small rear tailfins were either solid in the back (on the bottom), or they were 'hollowed out'. In addition, the solid fins had smaller pegs on them compared to the hollow release. Needless to say, the vertical fins were changed to match this (smaller vs larger holes). So if you've ever had tailfins that kept falling out of the vertical fins, or vertical fins that broke out when you inserted the fins...that's why. :-)

Horizontal Tailfins Large-Pin Hollow vs Small-Pin Solid

(Note: The Diaclone has the 'solid' variety of rudder and the rubsign TF has the 'hollow' rudders. (Most pre-rubs have solid rudders but hollow variants exist also with small pegs. They are not at all common, and almost never found on an American version. Though it does somewhat explain the parts issues.)

Type 1: Small-pin, solid.
Type 2: Large pin, hollow.

Main Wings

...and of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that the large main wings on all the jets ALSO came as long-peg, or short-peg. But wait! There's more! In addition to short and long pegs, we also have flat versus beveled on each type of peg! That's right, a total of FOUR possible main-wing variations! But wait...there's *more*! The solid-version of wings carried over from the Pre-TF line for a short run (more on that below) so you actually have...you guessed it...*5* different wings for your jets:

Long vs Short-Peg | Short-Peg Flat vs Long-Peg Flat

Short-Peg Flat vs Short-Peg Beveled | Long-Peg Flat vs Long-Peg Beveled

Here is a text-listing of the types of wings available; I've put them in the approximate order I believe they were released; although, I probably have it backwards. :-) Well anyways:

Type 1: Solid, short-peg.
Type 2: Hollow, short flat.
Type 3: Hollow, short beveled.
Type 4: Hollow, long flat.
Type 5: Hollow, long beveled.
Type 6: Hollow, long flat (Reissue).

(Note: The Diaclone main wing is of the type 1 peg. (Pic) Note, however, that the inner tip extends farther than the TF version. This was determined to be a safety hazard, and like the solid nosecone, removed before release in the USA.)
More on solid wings: On all three first-issue jets, you can have main wings that are SOLID instead of hollow (meaning the deep molded indent running along the inside lower section). Pre-TF wings were solid. This seems to be something that was changed rather quickly; you don't find too-many solid wings with Decepticon logos and stripes on them (Pre-TF has the F-15 stickers on the sides). Just more fuel to the fire on the leftover parts/mold conspiracy. Below we show main wings front and back. Compare them to a wing-type on a Pre-TF jet: note that the molding is the same (solid) but the stickers say 'F-15' instead of the standard decepticon stripe and logo.

Main Wings Solid vs Hollow | Main Wings solid variant Decepticon Stickers Instead of Diaclone

Thundercracker Solid Wings

At this time, we have yet to incorporate any of the main wing variants into the main jet types. We are awaiting further information, and the eventual listing of several specific 'transition' jets (there are transition-units up the wazoo, another good reason not to do it. ;-)

Vertical Fins

Yes, there are differences between the vertical fins. :-) Obviously, they were changed to accomodate the tailfin change (large vs small beveled hole, see tailfin section above)...in addition, the plastic color changed. Most noticeable on Skywarp and Starscream, they come in light and dark versions. It is postulated that this change occurred between the initial-release and the second wave of the first three jets (along with the other million and one things they changed. :-) The change to these two is evident in the other colored parts as well (rear boosters, fists, etc). Note that Starscream had a further color-change in his final G1 release, an even richer blue hue (the post-movie release, bringing his specific color-change to 3).

Starscream Fins | Skywarp Fins


Canopy changes...the initial version of the canopy is smooth, while later G1, G2, and reissue versions have a distinct ridge running thru the center of it. Again, note the difference in the 'hue' of the colored plastic in the rear thrusters, as well as the feet, between the two versions of canopy. (Especially in Starscream.) :-) It's a difference between medium blue, and dark blue between the two versions (as noted above).

Jet Canopies Ridged vs Smooth

...not only that, but initial releases of the first three jets came with flush halves on the canopy (under the chin of the robot). Later releases, including the next three jets in the series (ramjet, dirge, thrust) all came with a little washer acting as a spacer. The reissue jets do away with this washer again, apparently correcting the space-issue (or just saving a few bucks on parts):

Washer vs No-Washer Under Chin

More on Canopies: As you know, there are persistant rumors of the second release of Jets (Ramjet, Dirge, Thrust) coming with yellow canopies (like the first three) instead of the standard smokey-clear ones. The biggest problem is finding them sealed on a bubble to ensure they were not faked. Some additional information, from Karl Hartman: "This variation is aligned with a variation in the placement of the rubsigns between very early releases of the six jets in 1985. The first versions of these jets had the rubsign placed on the diecast metal jet portion that makes the "shoulders" of the robot. Apparently, when Hasbro realized that it would be covered up by a sticker, they moved them down about an inch, to the plastic part. No one that I know has found an orange cockpitted Thrust (as shown in the 1985 booklet), but if one was found, it would have the rubsign on the diecast metal part." (Orange cockpitted; that sounds like some nasty personal problem. Mwa ha ha. Anyway...) (Response by Himawari.)

Note that jet bodies can be stamped three ways: blank, Takara-only, and Hasbro-Takara.


Then, there's the issue of fists...the first set of fists with the jets had tabs on only one side (inside wrist), whereas all subsequent releases had tabs on BOTH sides of the wrists (single versus dual-tab). (Note also the color-changes):

Skywarp Fists Single vs Dual Tabbed | Starscream Fists (4 Colors)

And, like most every other TF-part out there, these fists were molded with a variety of different numbers on them. :-) I have Starscream fists numbered from 2 through 12. :-) And since it's a molding variant (of sorts), I highly recommend that we all have 12 sets (or more) of fists for each jet. :-) (Read on, Macduff...it gets worse.)

Oh, but we're not done with the fists! In addition to single and dual-tabs, we also have a change on the inside! Look deep, folks. You'll find one of the following: (Pic)

Type 1: Small circle. (I've found single-tabbed in the three colors, dual-tab in black ONLY.)
Type 2: Large circle. (All confirmed; blue, black, purple, and both single and dual tab-types.)
Type 3: Large Square. (All confirmed; blue, black, purple, and both single and dual tab-types.)
Type 4: Rounded rectangle. (Confirmed only single-tab/black; presumed Kingdam ko only.)

Let me state it another way; I do not believe small round circle exists as a dual-tab in any color other than black. I also do not believe the rounded-rectangle exists in any other form but a single-tab black (I've also only found this fist on the Kingdam starscream knock-off; I keep it listed here on the off-chance it was modeled after a real molding). The large-circle is the most common fist. As for the others...well, I'm still searching. Anything is possible. :-)

This makes for a possible @#$%!! fist types. Start looking. :-) Note that I've put them (the real ones) in the order that I *think* they were released, going simply from my own comparisons. Again, the Kingdam is listed simply because I await further info on where that fist mold was derived from. It seems to be unique to the knockoff (as are those cool wing moldings, of course).

If you're still unclear...Here is a list of jet fists that do NOT exist. :-)

In KCC's own words, "I've had numbers from no number, 0, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10. The numbers don't really correspond to the hollow inside and those I've had, had a small round, large round, a rectangle with rounded edges and a square hollow. It doesn't seen to matter if it's the single tab or double tab fists either. The black fists in the lower right (4 & 6) match for tabs and hollows but #4 is a little thicker than #6 (just noticed that). Number 0 (see pic below) appears to be a knock off, I think, because the tab isn't cut all the way through (someone started to do it but it's quite thick, thicker than what I leave in on my repros) and the appearance of it is different from the others. I hope the pic below is what you're looking for...if you need anything else, let me know. Later...Ken"

Many, Many, Many Jet Fists!


Oh, and not that you can tell from this crummy scan, BUT...there's a difference in the launchers on the first three jets, too. One has a smooth, rounded, "beveled" tip, while the other one is sawed-off flat, with a distinct circle cut into it running the diameter of the outside edge. No word as to when this change was introduced, or why.

Flat vs Beveled Launchers (Top View) | Flat vs Beveled Launchers (Side View)

There are also cases where you can have an 'angled' launch tab in lieu of the standard flat one. I have some very-late issue screamer launchers with both types of tabs, and a later-issue Thundercracker launcher with the same. Thrust came with both types of launchtabs as well. Nothing has shown up for Skywarp. My contention at this time is that Screamer got them because he was released in the later series of jets along with Thrust...and since Thundercracker is a later-release through the mail-away promotion, he gets them as well. Seems to fit the evidence so far. :-) I do note that this launcher has shown up in Europe for Screamer as well (another late-issue piece, as it happens) so I find the wide dispersal rather heartening.

Starscream Angled Tab | Thrust Angled vs Standard Tab

For G2, the launchers were of-course completely replaced with new ones...while the reissue harkens back to the original version (hollowed-out to a large degree to accept the new, 'modern' safety missles).

G1 vs G2 vs Reissue Launchers


Well, at some point, we're going to delve into the difference between the early-and-late-release G1 missle variations (yes, of *course* there are differences)...for now, we're just going to show you a pic of the G1, G2, and reissue missles:

A Picture of G1, G2, and Reissue Missles


Anything else? Yeah, the jets were the first TFs I'd seen with a change in the color of their stickers. Logos, and the like. There's purple and blue. But I'm not big into sticker-color variations. Bad enough I'm into this as much as I am. If I had to list every TF with a sticker change, I'd go nuts. Oh, did I mention I'm nuts? :-)

Blue vs Purple Stickers

Jet Stampings

Though covered in the Stampings and Rubbies page, it deserves a mention here. You can have several manufacturer-stampings on the jets. From a completely blank leg (the Pre-TF and first TF issue; often confused with fakes), to a Takara-only stamping, to Takara with dates, to Hasbro/Takara (Japan), and on the reissues, Hasbro/Takara (blocked dates) but CHINA. What fun.

Type 1) Pre-Tf: NO manufacturer-stamping on leg.
Type 2) TF: No manufacturer-stamping on leg.
Type 3) TF: Takara-only on leg.
Type 4) (Insert transitional stamping here.)
Type 5) TF: Hasbro/Takara shared.
Type 6) TF: G2, Hasbro/Takara (**date China).
Type 7) TF: TRU reissue, Hasbro/Takara shared (** China).

Thrust and Ramjet

Yep, afraid so. There were a number of color changes between releases. For example, between the 85-86 releases (basically, between the 6 regular jets release, and the release of several with Cyclonus and Scourge) Thrust underwent a color change from brown...to red (or rust-colored to maroon, if you prefer). In-addition, the later red version also came with lined versus un-lined wing stickers (we don't know why, but there it is). There are also...an odd set of launcher tabs on Thrust in the late-series; the last one released int he USA and UK had goofy angled launch tabs (Starscream as well):

Brown vs Red Thrust | Thrust Angled vs Standard Tab

Thrust Wings Red vs Brown | Thrust Wings Red Lined vs Red Un-Lined

At the same time, Ramjet's wings underwent a molding change near the bottom, where the bombs attach:

Ramjet Wings, Mold Indents (Bottom View)

Dirge, suprisingly, has seen no changes. This could change once the reissues hit (see the reissues section).

More on G2+ Jets

(And you thought you were done. :-) When they re-released Starscream and Ramjet in G2, they retooled the molds slightly (in addition to the obvious color-change, of course). They added small pegs to the legs to accomodate a soundbox to be attached...in addition, they re-molded the underside of the wings (slightly larger hole) to accomodate those spiffy new launchers.

G1 vs G2 Ramjet (Bottom View) | G2 Ramjet (Top View)


Then, of course, you have the reissue jets. ;-) The first three jets (Skywarp, Starscream, Thundercracker) reverted back (for the most part) to the original mold and coloring (no G2 voicebox indents, for example, nor those goofy purple launchers). That being said, there were some changes. Redesigned stickers, thicker plastic pegs on the landing gears and the feet (by the wheels), and of-course the reinforced arm/shoulder clips (so more like an improved/updated version of the later-G1 molding, bypassing the G2 non-improvements). Unfortunately, because of those goofy child-safety laws, the missles were changed (made ridiculously long), and the launchers have been widened...and disabled (the reissue Japanese-mold has right-sized missles and working launchers). It is interesting to note that the number 11 pops up on a lot of parts across the board. (More from Zob...)

With the exception of color, I'm happy to note that the jets are consistant, mold-wise, between the three of them. I don't expect any later reissues to change all that much from this basic pattern. (We'll know for sure when we see the Taco Bell 40th Anniversary Reissue Starscream.)

Speaking of later reissues, Dirge has hit the scene. (Can the others be far behind?) Mold-wise, he's nearly identical to the original. The wings and long guns, while a slightly different shade of plastic, are functionally interchangeable. (Pic) As has followed all reissues thus far, certain generic parts are the same across the board (for example, all reissue fists are large-circle mold, stamped 11; Dirge's fists are also 11, the jet body letter is E). This time, like the others, but unlike the original, they got rid of the little washer seperating the two halves of the jet (under the chin).

Starscream Then and Now | Thundercracker Then and Now

Skywarp Then and Now | Dirge Then and Now

Wrap-up: Jet Types

In the end, it's up to you to decide what changes were made to these jets at what time, whether it was an all-at-once thing (thus requiring only 2 of each jet to accomodate) or whether each change was introduced one at a time (requiring more jets than you can shake a stick at). For the longest time, we only listed *two* jet types. Needless to say, as time has gone on and more information gathered, we are forced to revise the jet-types listing into several more units. If you prefer the old-listing, you need no more than #s 1 and 3 on this list. For everyone else...see below. ;-)

Type 1: Smooth-canopy, single-tabbed fists, (solid) small-pinned tailfins, (Solid) main-wings, "flat"-tipped launchers.

Type 2: Ridged-canopy, (transitonal)-fists, (hollow) large-pinned tailfins, (hollow)(transitional!) main-wings, "round"-tipped launchers.

Type 3: Ridged-canopy, dual-tabbed fists, (hollow) large-pinned tailfins, "round" launchers.

Type 4: (G2) Ridged-canopy, dual-tabbed fists, (hollow) large-pinned tailfins, stupid long missles.

Type 5: (Reissue) Ridged-canopy, dual-tabbed fists, (hollow) large-pinned tailfins, stupid long missles (with a G1 flavor).

Like Astrotrain (See Decepticons Section), there's a possibility for additional jet types, based on how parts were phased out...namely, you COULD concievably have recieved a Type 2 jet with Type 1 launchers...but not the other way around. :-) Needless to say, I'll putter away at the transitional jet types until I have the list completed...or until someone else does it for me. :-) I can see it now: "type 12 jet had one circular fist, one square fist, type 7 missles..." Weeee!

RMT's guide to telling landing gears apart. The best work I've seen telling the real ones from the fake.


Like a number of 'fake' TFs (Reflector, Dinobots, etc) The Jets saw their share of bootlegging. For the most part, you can tell the fakes apart. The two main KO jets are the Kingdam, and the 4-Star.

The Kingdam Comes in two types: silver and grey (dark grey Kingdam in Thundercracker-art box and light grey/white Kingdam in Starscream-art box) and has parts that are molded very similar to the Pre-TF/first-release TF Starscream. Even the fists, which share similar molding to real ones, have the cheap KO-quality to them, allowing you to differentiate (sunken outer palms, for one). If you have a complete fake one, it's easy to tell that Kingdam is a fake. As for when you stumble across just his parts, well...that can be complicated. :-) The wings are easy to tell, if stickered, because they say Kingdam on them. We've already explained the fists. The missles...well, the silver ones are easy to tell, but the grey ones have fooled a couple of folks.

The four-star version is quite a bit easier to spot. It's a relatively high-quality mold, but it's...pretty well remolded. :-) The only parts that are sometimes confused are the fists. And even then, you can tell; those are the ones listed as rounded-rectabgle. :-) Other than that, easy to spot. He's one KO you should own just for the fun of it. Pretend he's part of the seeker army. ;-) The unit comes in three types that we're aware of; black, white, and more recently, a grey one (found by Maz in the uk).


Euro Grey One | White and Black Versions

And of-course, for a time, there were two people in the business making repo parts (KCC and Jangar). I have not heard from either of them in a long time, so I presume their production has been halted. However, their product has certainly trickled into the secondary market. Things to watch for are the color, and the off-kilter mold indents. They come close, but you can still tell. :-)

Just for fun, we thought we'd include some of the most popular 'fake' G1 jet launchers here at the bottom. Have a look at the pic. Can you tell which one is the 'real' one? (Pic)

That's right! Number 4 is the correct answer. Number 1 is a fake gun for one of the Convertor knock-off TFs (but peg fits perfectly...and doesn't it look like the cartoon lazers? :-) Heheh. I know, I know, but it is neat.)

(See Also: Fakes)

Bonus: Thundercrackers Around the World!

An absolutely HUGE review of nearly every Thundercracker in existance. Comparisons of American, Mexican, Italian, and Japanese units. A Must read! By Maz. Click here!

(See Also: Mexican Skywarp)