Series: Japanese Generation 1
Function: Space Commander
Alternate Mode: Jet
Height: 4.5cm Length: 13cm Width: 10.5cm
A mid grey jet with dark red wings, tailfins and a dark red cockpit, Metalhawk has a dark blue on his cockpit, engines and two blocks over the fuselage. There are three moulded wheels underneath which are also dark red, none of them actually roll. There are silver and mid blue stickers on each wing with red Cybertron (Autobot) logos, rounding out a pretty nice colour scheme, if not one that you'd expect to see on a jet.
This is not a realistic jet, although there are shades of the A-10 Thunderbolt here (think Powerglide). The cockpit is very similar in shape to Powerglide's while the blue blocks on top and two more at the base of the tailfins remind me of the A-10's turbines. The wings are triangular while there are grey tailwings. The blue blocks do look like robot arms to an extent - indeed they are the robot arms, but they don't really feel like kibble. The shape is sufficiently jet like that Metalhawk feels less forced than most of the alt modes in other 1988 (Hasbro conceived) Pretenders. Of course, this toy was conceived by Takara, and you can see the Japanese influence here (especially on the Pretender shell, which I'll come back to).
There's no play value here, but Metalhawk's jet mode is a lot more convincing than most of his contemporaries. As with most Pretenders, you do need to add on something - the grey tailwings detach - but it is possible to leave them in place and still transform him into robot mode. The large blue gun of his shell looks like it could slot into the groove between the blue blocks, but doesn't, although you can jam it in there.
A decent jet mode - and a good alt mode amongst the Pretenders, although it's far from realistic. The style is different to most American Transformers, and feels quite Japanese while the colours are unorthodox but work well. There's no play value, although that's standard for the time. I would have liked to see the large gun attach, but otherwise this jet mode does what it has to do quiet well.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Fold away the wheels, flip over the blue blocks at the back to form boots. Swing his feet down slightly, flip the arms out and fold the wings back. Swing the cockpit into his back (it stows quite well, too). Detach the tailwings and place into his hands as guns (although you can leave them in place if you really want, as mentioned).
Height: 12cm Width: 6.5cm
Metalhawk's torso and head are a single piece of die-cast metal, painted gold - hence the name. By this stage die-cast in Transformers was pretty much unheard of, so the material alone stands out on this toy. His thighs are grey while the boots and arms are blue and his feet are red. His face is painted silver and there's an Autobot logo on his waist. The guns are grey, ensuring that colour is still fairly prominent. The colour scheme works well and the metallic gold is an obvious highlight. Alongside some of the other 1988 Pretenders (especially some of the Decepticons like Iguanus), the colours are great, and they do work well together.
Metalhawk is very square, with rectangles all over, even his head since it's part of the fuselage. The head is a little big, heightwise, and this looks a little odd, but not enough to overshadow the gold. Interestingly, the wing on the left arm doesn't quite sit flush while the right side does - this is to allow the wings to sit one on top of the other when he's inside his shell. It's not a major distraction but an interesting design quirk.
Again the play value is fairly limited, and again it's about what you'd expect of a 1988 Pretender. His arms swing and lift out to the sides, the legs split slightly, which is intended for when he stows inside the shell, but provides for a more relaxed (and less blocky) stance. The guns can be used in three ways - either tailwing out to the side, tailwing to the front or as knee-mounted cannons, using their plane mode location. All of these work well enough that the guns contribute quite a bit to Metalhawk's play value.
A nice robot mode, and good as Pretenders go, Metalhawk feels like the epitome of Pretenders. The gold die-cast just has an indulgent feel to it, compared to other Transformers of the same era, and while it's a simple thing it just makes this robot mode seem special. I like the versatile guns and while his head is a little big, Metalhawk's robot mode works quite well.
The Pretender Shell
A blue and red pretender shell with some white and silver, the face is European and the hair black, just as seen in the Masterforce cartoon. The design style is very much Japanese 80s anime, from the angular shoulderpads to the red crest on the blue helmet to the fanciful sword. The yellow panels surrounding the Autobot logo sticker in the middle of the chest are also typical of this era, although allegiance symbol stickers are uncommon on Pretender shells.
The gun is a large blue affair with holes on either side allowing the smaller grey guns to plug in, ensuring they have something to do when Metalhawk is stowed. The grey sword is composed of a hard plastic, which is unusual for Pretender swords, which are usually a softer plastic. Unlike some Pretenders, Metalhawk lacks a belt, but does come with the blue helmet that locks the shell together. The arms swing, as is normal for Pretender shells.
This shell stands out with a distinctly different style compared to most Pretender shells, which is a good thing next to the somewhat generic 1988 Autobot Pretender shells conceived in the USA. The colours are very heroic and the design is very 1980s Japanese, the heroism here suits the character and the different style seen here helps make Metalhawk something special.
None that I'm aware of. Metalhawk is the only Pretender mould not released in the USA, since he was released only in Japan.
While he's not the best toy ever made, Metalhawk is perhaps the most unique Pretender. The die-cast is the focus of that, but the distinctly Japanese feel of this Japanese exclusive toy also sets him apart. Both his jet and robot modes are attractive, the colours work well and the Pretender shell is visually interesting. The weaponry is versatile and he has one of the better alternate modes amongst the Pretenders. Whether or not he's worth the price you're likely to pay is up to you - he's by no means easy to find - but if you like Pretenders, or are a fan of the Masterforce cartoom, Metalhawk certainly has something to offer. I certainly don't regret buying him, since he is one of the best Pretenders and I'm a fan of the character in the cartoon - 8/10