* Prices may differ from that shown
Like any little boys of their age, my four year old sons love Transformers. However, they are not keen on the recent live action movies (declaring them 'a bit noisy and stupid' - out of the mouths of babes!) Instead, they adore the 1980's animated movie, in all its ridiculous technicolour glory, and so were drawn to these Transformers Bot Shots as they were just about the only Transformers toy that didn't seem to be a movie tie-in!
Bot Shots are basically little cars or planes or other vehicles that when bashed together, transform via a spring loaded mechanism into a pretty simple robot. My sons have quite a collection of these now, including this Thundercracker one (or as my son calls it, Undercrackers, unintentionally causing hillarity!) Thundercracker is a bad guy (or Decepticon) and is a blue jet. However, he has four wheels and looks a lot like a car. When the front of the jet's nose is pressed (or bashed into another botshot) he transforms. The nose part of the jet flips back to reveal a head, the sides spread open as arms, and feet flip out at the end. The robot part is basically the underside of the vehicle. In comparison to other Transformers toys, this is the most basic of transforming actions, and yet, I find it the most satisfying. The kids can do it themselves, and they seem to be happy enough with the quality of both the jet and the robot. When it's time to transform him back, the part are simply flipped back and seem to be held in place by magnets inside the body of the toy. No need for me to spend hours with instructions trying to transform him. He also has a spinning section in his chest, which can be spun round to display sword, fist or blaster.
This is another of those products (like the Star Wars fighter pods I've also reviewed) that is apparently also a game, the details and mechanics of which are slightly vague. As far as I can work out, players bash their Bot Shots together, causing them to transform. They then compare the images on the chests of their bots, which is decided much like rock, paper, scissors (Blaster beats Fist, Fist beats Sword and Sword beats Blaster - I had to go to the official website for this info.) However, my sons never play with them in this way, and unlike the Star Wars pods, they are enjoyable little toys in their own right. In fact, their little brother, who is two, is the biggest fan of these Transformers, and spends hours bashing them together while making transforming noises. Sometimes fights can break out over who gets to play with which bot, and I can safely say that they are more popular than any of their other Transformer toys. They are all great quality, and as of yet we have had no broken parts at all. Some characters, like Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, are instantly recognisable, but others, and Thundercracker is one of these, seem to be recolourings of other Bot Shots. We also have a white and red jet that are basically identical but are ostensibly different characters. The robot version of each character often has different coloured detailing, to tell them apart, and while they are quite small, there is an impressive amount of detail put into the robot's faces. They are actually pretty cute.
We bought all of our Bot Shots from Smyths, where they sell for £3.99 in single packs and are frequently on a buy one get one half price' deal. We recently bought a three pack for £4.99, so do shop around. I think they are great value for any young Transformers fans who aren't quite ready for the complex action figures. The box states that they are suitable for ages 5 and up, though as I've said, my two year old plays with them with no problems at all. Probably the game aspect would be better suited to older children, but perhaps the cute look and simple transforming action might put them off a bit. Overall though, these are really great toys, perfectly suited for young children who are often neglected when it comes to the toy tie-ins to huge franchises. I would definitely recommend them.
Transformers Bot Shots Battle Game - Thundercracker