So this is Jetfire! I believe I referred to him yesterday as a "monster" of a toy, and I'm sticking with that. I think it's pretty damn apt. He is a monster of a toy. It's too bad, because I was looking forward to him. He got a lot of attention in the movie, and so as a character he stands out to me. But, whoof, his toy.
In robot mode, he's pretty all right. It's a good likeness, from the frilly beard he's got to the thruster thighs and skinny ankles. His front landing gear becomes a cane, which is good only for looks. He doesn't need it to stand, thankfully, because the wheels at the base kind of make it a terrible stabling device anyway. No, his weight rests entirely on those giant flat feet of his, though you should make sure to keep the rotational pieces that form the bulk of the feet clicked into place. Even moving the giant engine assemblies on his back will not shift his weight off-balance.
A gun clips onto his forearm. Pushing down on a lever on his sternum activates his lights and sounds: His head wiggles back and forth, his chest shudders, and he proclaims, "Jetfire's m' name!"
as the windows in his fake cockpit forehead kibble shine red. The packaging says his eyes glow. They do not. They are painted.
His vehicle mode is awe-inspiring. It's the biggest Leader Class vehicle you're likely to ever see. It's half-again as long as either Prime or Megatron in their vehicle modes, and from the top looks like as faithful an SR-71 Blackbird as they come. (Underneath is a different story.) Jetfire's robot basically unfolds to twice his height, partly because the front of the vehicle mode is formed by putting his arms up over his head, and partly because his torso bisects laterally down the middle from shoulder to hip and then stacks on top of itself.
The rest, though, is what gives the trouble and makes him a monster. The skin of the jet mode is a sea of interlocking panels. Every single panel must clasp just right with every other single panel, without any disturbance, and at multiple connection points. These connection points do not want to agree with each other. You will spend a half hour trying to get these panels to line up on your first try, I guarantee it. Then the engines need to lock over either end, and that won't exactly work, which will misalign a panel somewhere, and you start all over. I still haven't mastered getting the engines to lock in place. It's hardly worth the effort, since you will fail, because everything else falls apart. It is an exercise in madness.
His combination with Optimus Prime to form a super robot is a similar story, but not quite as tragic. The first thing I'll note that they have in common is that neither the vehicle nor the combined mode can fit inside my little lighting studio, as you can probably gather from my images here. The second thing is how awe-inspiring the final product is, despite the process. Getting Jetfire to connect to Prime is not nearly as harrowing as getting him into vehicle mode. Phew. It's not terribly fun, either. Jetfire basically glomps onto Prime's back. He connects at three key points - his shoulders, just under his crotch, and at his feet. The crotch connection point has a little trouble standing in, but the others are fairly solid.
Additionally, a new gut-piece wraps around Prime's waist and attaches like a belt. That's pretty cool, if those belt halves weren't just flopping around in Jetfire's other two modes. But I do greatly appreciate that Jetfire himself doesn't break into pieces to combine with Prime. He stays completely whole, other than the two guns. (One forms from back kibble and the landing gear, and the other is Jetfire's arm-mounted cannon.) The downside of this is that combined Prime/Jetfire has no leg articulation left to speak of. Prime's hips, knees, and ankles are restrained by Jetfire's connection, and the back slab of Jetfire's torso that hangs down between the legs ain't so pretty, either. You can get the knees to ratchet one joint acuter, but nothing more than that. His arms are fine, though. He's kind of like Armada Superbase Prime, if Armada Superbase Prime's immobile legs had a zillion joints in there you couldn't use.
But again, it's huge. It's an impressive sight to behold. And, Jesus Christ, is it a pain. I'm not so sure any of this is anybody's fault. Jetfire tries to do several near-impossible things at once. He has to be a movie-accurate robot with articulation that transforms into a life-accurate Blackbird, all while being able to combine with Optimus Prime in a movie-accurate fashion. There is so much give here that what small amounts of take there are feels earned. Even so, at the end of the day, he's not fun, and I don't want to touch him. Look at him, yes. Touch, no.