Series: Superlink (Energon)
Alternate Mode: Bomber (resembles A-10)
The US version, Sky Shadow.
Note: I have the Japanese version of this set, so I'm going with the Japanese names partly because of the G1 links and partly because Hasbro's reuse of names in this set is pathetic. Sling is the Japanese name for Slingshot.
Height: 5cm Length: 13.5cm Width: 13cm
A grey and red plane with black on the back of the wings and some silver and orange highlights. The fuselage is largely red while the wings, nose and tailfins are grey and black. The silver is limited to the turbines on his engines, he has a grey nose-canon. Grey, red and black should always work together and the do so on Sling, even if the red is a dark shade. There's not really much similarity to G1 Slingshot, in fact the colours match Skydive very well. The canopy is a dark transparent blue, which works on this colour scheme but hides the moulded seats inside the cockpit.
While it's not a perfect A-10, it's obviously not meant to be. It's inspired by the A-10, and actually comes closer in many aspects than Powerglide, who _is_ meant to be an A-10. The wings are about the right shape and the tailfins and engines are in the right places, so the general look is achieved.
Sling has a fairly big white gun underneath his nose, a spark crystal between the engines at the rear of the fuselage and sockets in his wings for his Energon weapon to slot into, as well as big Autobot symbols stamped on the wings. The Energon weapon is a folded over transparent blue double barrelled affair, which can clip into either wing, into a hole on top or actually slide over the cannon on the front. On top is best, since its bulk looks awkward hanging off the front and on the wing is unbalanced. Of course, if you pinch Skydive's identical gun it'll match, but leave Skydive without an Energon weapon. It's also possible to unfold and attach the gun(s) underneath the wings, making for a giant pontoon effect.
There are three retractable wheels underneath the bomber, but you don't really have the option of folding them up and resting him on a table because there's a belly-turret. This little dome-shaped attachment actually rotates, allowing Sling to target the hinged canons, although if you aim it straight down you reveal his robot head. This turret represents fantastic play value and detail for a basic, and for me really rounds out a good bomber mode.
The top of the fuselage is a little disjointed since one of the robot thighs forms the surface, but other than that I'm struggling to really find any major flaws here. It's a great bomber with good colours that's crammed with play value for a basic sized toy. I find the canons on his head pop off every time I transform him - which tends not to happen much with Skydive, who shares this mould.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Retract the landing gear, unclip the engines and fold down the panels covering his thighs. Swing the wings down and back, flip up the head and clip into his shoulders. Rotate the head and lift the canons to reveal his face. Rotate the waist, split the legs, lift up the feet. Pose and give him his gun.
It's a fairly easy transformation once you get the hang of it, but it's a very clever one that relies on asymmetry in the legs and makes good use of the plane features for the robot mode.
Height: 12cm Width: 13cm
Now more grey and red than black, his chest and forearms are red while the legs, head and upper arms are grey with some black on the hands and boots. His eyes are blue, and have a working lightpipe, while his face and forehead are kiwi-fruit green. The wings stick out to the sides behind his shoulders, although being mainly black they don't add a lot to the overall look - I tend to swing them back, which also helps differentiate him from Skydive. His head is a rounded affair with sloping cheeks and night vision scope on top, which can swing down to form a gun-like set of goggles. The paint mask here is quite minimalist, and while he loses the stamped Autobot symbols the spark crystal is now central on his chest.
Sling is a myriad of jet parts, from the canon-goggles on his head to the wings to the tailfins hanging off his shoulders, the turbines in front of his fists to his feet - the left foot is the nose canon while the right foot is his nose and canopy. The asymmetry in the feet is an odd idea but it's been pulled off quite well, and fits in with the plethora of bomber aspects in this robot mode.
This is a lanky robot, especially around the waist. The wingspan on his back tends to make him look narrower than he is, but the poseability tends to offset that optical illusion in most poses. And there's a lot of poseability for a basic - especially considering he's an interchangeable Gestalt limb.
The head turns and the canon-goggles swing up and down (if you swing them too far up, they can pop off quite easily). The shoulders, elbows, hips and ankles are all wide range ball joints while the waist turns and the ankles hinge and Sling even gets heelspurs, making him stable in a most poses.
The only real flaw in this mode aside from the narrow hips is the turbines in front on his fists - he has moulded fists tucked between the turbines and his forearms, but while the turbines add to the impressive array of plane features, they overshadow the hands and make attaching the gun trickier than it should be.
While it's a little dark for my liking, this is a still great choice of colours, although the G1 homage probably should have been of Skydive. A strong plane motif, lots of poseability and this is a combining basic. Despite the physical flaws mentioned, this is a really worthwhile robot mode, even if it is a radical departure from that of the G1 toy to which he's paying homage.
The US version, Sky Shadow, has powerlinx logos on his wings and silver paint on his boots/nose. I'm not sure keen on metallic paint on the boots only, although I can't complain about the effort.
Even if you don't care for the combining gimmick, Sling is a good basic. Both modes are strong, the colours work and the play value is excellent. Of course, why Hasbro called a red and grey plane Sky Shadow is a mystery, and Takara should probably have called him Skydive anyway. The strong plane theme in robot mode should appeal to G1 fans and the play value to fans of the later series. I actually slightly prefer the colours of Skydive, but the paint marks are different enough that I'd still recommend both - 8.5/10