Transformers Animated: Starscream by Hasbro

Primus be praised! Transformers Thursday has been back in action for more than a couple of weeks now, and with a little luck, I’ll be able to keep it going for quite a while. Yes, I will be getting to some new stuff soon, but indulge me for just another week or so as I look at some recent additions to my TF: Animated collection. Today, I’m checking out Voyager Class Starscream. While the TF:A series had some ups and downs for me, one of the things I enjoyed the most was Tom Kenny’s characterization of Starscream. It took all his smarmy personality from the G1 cartoon and cranked it up to a thousand. Let’s face it, the legendary voice talent of Chris Latta should have been an impossible act to follow, but Kenny stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park. I’ve got no packaged shot, so let’s jump right in and check out his alt mode…

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Yup, he’s a jet, and a damn cool looking one too! This is a fresh and futuristic design, which features forward angled wings and some prominent engine pylons. It’s a new look for the traitorous Seeker, and yet it still manages to carry the homage with details like the yellow cockpit and the intakes flanking it. The coloring is different from what we’re used to seeing. Instead of an off-white he’s a pale purple, but the red striping and accents help drive the homage home just a bit more. There are a few minor things that put me off, like the obvious telescoping nosecone, but all in all, I really dig this mode.

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The undercarriage features three sets of folding landing gear and while the missile launchers have to be pointed back to use them, once he’s in flight, they can be angled forward to a more useful position. They’re not positioned under the wings, like you might expect, but I like their low-slung look here.

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And while it’s not an official third mode, I have to say that Starscream has a killer Gerwalk Mode. It does, however, take some finesse to hold it together. Transforming him all the way into robot mode features some clever stuff, like the nosecone collapsing in to assist in the head reveal. The rest is more or less what we’ve seen before. The real bugger of this figure, however, are all the bits that fall off of him during transformation. The hinged fingers like to pop out, I’ve head the head pop off, and it’s a good idea to unload those missile launchers first because those babies have some hair triggers and can shoot pretty far.

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The end result, however, is pretty sweet and despite the stylized design, it doesn’t stray far from the Starscream we all know and love. Tail fins on the legs? Check! Weapons on the arms? Check! Angled shoulder wings? Gotcha! Cockpit dead center? Yup! About the only thing he’s missing is the shoulder intakes, and they look pretty good on his chest.

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The head sculpt is spot on to his on screen counterpart. And if light-piping in the eyes isn’t enough, you also get it in the mouth too so you can see his disgustingly smug smirk even in the dark.

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Much like G1 Starscream’s null rays, this guy’s missile launchers can be angled up when not in use or flipped down to a firing position. They can, however, get in the way sometimes, so it’s always an option to pull out the missiles entirely. But then, what’s a Decepticon without his weapons, eh?

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While I love this design, playing with Starscream can sometimes be a bitch. For starters, a lot of the bits that fall off of him during transformation will do it when I’m playing with him. Especially those hands! Also, his legs are oddly articulated and feature some unforgiving ratchets. Getting him posed so that he doesn’t look like he’s doing pelvic thrusts can be a lot of work, but a lot of times it’s worth it.

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Voyager Class Starscream is far from a perfect figure. Much like the real Starscream his toy can be a frustrating jerk, but I think there’s more good here than bad. The figure does a nice job bringing the animated style to plastic form, not to mention the engineering of a working Transformer, and that’s something that in my mind should never be underestimated or overlooked about this line. And it feels great to finally have a figure of such a masterful treatment of this character in my collection.

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Transformers Prime: Starscream by Hasbro

Yesterday I looked at an Autobot Deluxe, so let’s switch over to a Decepticon Voyager, and who better than to start with Starscream. I may not watch the show a lot, but I absolutely adore Starscream in it. I love his creepy personality, I love his lanky design. They did a beautiful job crafting the same old scheming Starscream in a fresh new way, and it’s awesome. Even if I hadn’t committed to collecting this line, I would have still bought Starscream the moment I saw him. In fact, he’s the only figure I’m looking at this week that I did not get on clearance. Nope, I laid down a full Andy Jackson on him. Let’s see if he disappoints.

Hey, it’s the first look at the Voyager figure packaging here on FigureFan. Starscream comes in a nice window box with the figure packaged in robot form. I really dig the box’s deco. It’s cool, it’s flashy, it shows off the figure well, and above all it makes me want to buy the toy. There’s a “Try Me” hole cut out in the window so you can reach in and activate the Mech Tech Weapon, which transforms and lights up. I think it’s great that they actually call it a Null-Ray Blaster, but as we’ll see in a bit, it’s a worthless piece of crap. The back of the box has a photo of the figure in both modes, and the side panel has his biography and his tech specs. Technically, the box is collector friendly, but I had to cut so many strings to get Starscream out, I thoroughly mangled it in the process.

 

Even though, Starscream is packaged in his robot form, I’m starting with his jet mode. Why? Because I don’t like to break up routine, and also because I want to get the bad stuff out of the way first. Ok, bad may be a little harsh. The jet mode is certainly passable, but because of a lot of hinges and seams on the top and some robot kibble on the bottom it isn’t terribly attractive. It’s also a little chunky. Bottom line, this jet is not the sleek and stylish jet we see on the show. The inspiration is certainly there, but compromises had to be made. Now, I’m willing to give the jet mode a lot of slack because Starscream’s robot mode is so amazing that it’s hard to believe that Hasbro could engineer it to change into a jet at all. The missiles are detachable, which is cool, and while there aren’t any flip down landing gear, there are tiny molded wheels that allow the jet to stand evenly and display well. I should also point out here that getting Starscream into his jet mode can be a bit fidgety, but once you know what you’re doing it’s actually pretty easy.

With that out of the way, we can move onto Starscream’s robot mode and everything is rainbows and cupcakes from this point on, because the robot mode is downright awesome. I seriously adore this figure. Hasbro did a great job capturing all the personality of his on screen design and the proportions are excellent. He’s got the same lanky arms and legs and you can pose him in that hunched over, groveling stance that he loves to so much whenever he’s in  Megatron’s presence.  The way the wings angle up on his back and they are hinged so you can swing them in and out a bit to help with posing. All the other jet kibble is strategically placed. Even the tail fins on his ankles serve to stabilize his ability to stand. You can also remove the missiles from the wings and clip them onto his arms as additional weapons. So cool! And the head! Oh, the head! The head sculpt is absolutely perfect and nicely painted too.

The paintwork is solid enough, but could stand a few simple improvements. I would have really liked to see the same silver paint used for his thighs to be used on the two pieces that make up his chest. I also would have preferred the Decepticon emblem on his shoulder to be right side up instead of sideways. But these are tiny little gripes.

And then you have the Null-Ray Blaster. What a steaming pile of crap! It’s a stab at continuing the Mech Tech weapon gimmick that was started back in the Dark of the Moon line. Now, I have no problem with this idea, and I can remember really digging some of those DotM Mech Techs, but Starscream’s weapon looks like a jumbled mess. Besides just looking like hot garbage, it suffers from the same problem as the DotM gimmicks, where you have to keep holding it to keep the weapon converted. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have it lock into place? Doesn’t matter. It wouldn’t have saved this thing anyway. What’s worse is that Hasbro spent the money to put a light up gimmick in this thing. It can be plugged into Starscream’s jet mode or clipped onto his arm and either way it destroys the aesthetics of the toy. The best thing about it? You throw it in the garbage and forget about it.

So to sum up, Great Primus, this is an awesome figure! Apart from the few suggested improvements to the paint, I love every inch of him. I doubt he’ll spend much time in jet mode, but then most of my Transformers are displayed in robot modes and only converted when I want to play around with them or when it’s time to put them into storage to make room for some others. And speaking of storage, I have a feeling that when my Prime figures are finally rotated out into storage, Starscream will be the one figure that remains on display all the time. And that’s just about the best compliment that I can pay any figure in my collection.

Tomorrow, we’ll check out the big guy himself, Optimus Prime.

Transformers Dark of the Moon: Starscream (Deluxe) by Hasbro

Ok, time to kick off this weekend’s Dark of the Moon Deluxe Class Trifecta, and we’re going to do it with none other than Starscream. Apart from the Cyberverse figure, I wasn’t going to buy Starscream from Dark of the Moon, but then Megatron turned out so cool and at the same time, so out of scale from my Voyager Starscream, so when I saw the new Deluxe Class Starscream hanging on the peg, I had little choice but to pick him up so I could have him toadying next to his master. Besides the scale issue, I was also really curious to see how Hasbro re-engineered the figure for the smaller scale and whether or not it was an improvement. Let’s find out.

Amazingly, this is the first DotM Deluxe I’ve featured here and thus our first look at the packaging. You get a simple card, just like previous Transformers Deluxes with Starscream mounted in his jet mode and half of his MechTech weapon beside him. The card deco here is similar to what we’ve seen on the Voyager toys and I still think the space motif is great. Starscream’s bio blurb doesn’t really do him justice. I think he’s one of my favorite characterizations in the Bay movies and instead of pointing out that he’s a simpering toady, there’s just some stuff about him never getting into a fight he can’t win. Blah.

This Deluxe version’s alt mode is pretty darn good, and in some ways even surpasses the Voyager, at least in terms not having so much excessive robot kibble. There’s still quite a bit of undercarriage, but it doesn’t look quite so much like robot parts and it all locks in place a lot better. Granted, Starscream’s Raptor mode takes a hit from his ugly MechTech Null Ray weapons, but thankfully they can easily be removed and set aside if you think they detract from the look of the aircraft. From the top down, the F-22 Raptor looks great, complete with the alien tattoos that were introduced in Revenge of the Fallen. I was not a big fan of this deco when I first saw it in the last movie, but like a lot of things about movie Starscream’s design, it’s grown on me a lot since.

Transforming Starscream is a bit of a chore the first time around, but once I did it once, it was a lot easier. It has a little in common with the larger versions, but Hasbro had to get a lot more clever to engineer it for the smaller Deluxe figure. Everything pegs together a lot better on the Deluxe and he makes for a more solid playable figure. The resulting robot mode is a really amazing little version of his big screen counterpart. Now, whether you like Starscream’s design is a whole different matter entirely. I’ve gone through three stages with this one from hating it, to accepting it, to actually kind of digging it.

Starscream’s MechTech weapons consists of two Null Ray cannons that double as swords and combine to form a long bladed pole arm. They can peg in under his wings in his Raptor mode, but as already mentioned they look pretty ungainly and the blades stick out the back. They work a lot better pegged into his arms in robot mode. Plug them together and the result reminds me a lot of the combined weapon that came with the Deluxe Starscream figure from the Energon line. It’s an OK gimmick, I guess, but this one doesn’t really endear me to the MechTech system all that much.

All in all, I’m impressed with this figure. He looks great standing next to DotM Megatron and I think the figure’s engineering has been vastly improved in this smaller scale. His robot mode is solid and sturdy, making him a lot more fun than my previous movie versions. I haven’t yet picked up the Voyager version from DotM to compare him to and I’m still on the fence over whether or not I will, since he’d only be in scale with a Leader Class Megatron that hasn’t been announced or even hinted at yet. I am, however looking forward to picking up the inevitable array of repaints of this mold that will be coming down the pike.

Transformers Classics: Starscream, Skywarp and Acid Storm

When I was a kid, a lot of my Transformers frustrated me with their lack of articulation, but none were bigger offenders than the Seekers. Sure, the toys looked fairly close to their animated counterparts, but the fact that they were little more than bricks really sucked. I think it’s safe to say that the Seekers were among the figures I most wanted to see updated in the Classics line and when I first got my hands on Starscream, I was totally blown away his faithfulness to the the animated version and, more importantly, the amazing articulation.

In a just world, Hasbro would have delivered the three Seekers in the very first couple of waves of Classics, right there on the pegs for all fans to get. As it happened, they chose to spread them out all over the place and make it as difficult for us fans to collect as possible. Thanks, Hasbro, for pissing in all our collective coffee. Starscream was the only one of the original Seekers released on a single card, and even he was later updated to a much better paintjob for Universe 2.0. Skywarp came later on in a Target Exclusive boxed 2-pack with Optimus Prime repainted as Ultra Magnus. And then there’s Thundercracker, who was released as part of a ridiculously exclusive Botcon Exclusive set. Yeah.

So, let’s start with looking at Starscream. The sculpt is identical for all three of these figures straight across the board, which is fine because I adore this sculpt. The jet mode is wonderfully faithful to the original toy, minus the diecast of course. There’s lots of sculpted panel lines and the clear translucent cockpit looks awesome. Hasbro thankfully chose to forgo the smaller bomb-shaped missile launchers and go with the null rays, although they are unfortunately way too big, presumeably to meet safety standards. I would have been much happier if they were sized correctly and just didn’t fire, since they’re meant to be guns anyway and not missiles. The other little difference is that there’s landing gear under the nose, just two that flip down closer to the body, but Starscream can sit parked in his jet mode just fine without it.

The only real bummer about this jet is the deco. Part of the problem is the horrible color plastic that he’s molded in. It’s a weaksauce grey that just looks terrible and unfinished. Ok, it doesn’t look quite so bad when Starscream is in jet mode, but just wait until we get to his bot form. The colors don’t really jive with his G1 animated counterpart either and I would have rather had two Decepticon insignia on the wings, rather than the one rubsign.

The transformation on these figures is similar in a lot of ways to the original toys. The conversion of the legs is pretty close to identical. Folding out the arms and the positioning of the cockpit is close too. These guys have fold out fists, rather than them being separate pieces, which is a great improvement. The weapon pods unpeg from under the wings and peg into the arms. All in all these figures really show how little tweaking the original figures really needed to give them the kind of articulation that we all really wanted.

Starscream’s robot form is a thing of beauty. He’s proportional, very close in design to the G1 original, and best of all he’s very well articulated. His head will turn from side to side a little bit. His shoulders rotate and have lateral movement and he’s got hinged elbows. His legs are ball jointed at the hips and hinged at the knees. It’s true that his wings interfere a bit with his arm articulation, but you can flip them out of the way if you need to. Ah, but there’s that darn paint job. The bare grey plastic looks bad, especially on his face which isn’t painted at all. The red and blue looks better, but the red paint is weak and the grey bleeds through here and there.


Unlike Starscream, Skywarp’s paint job is AMAZING. Besides the great looking combination of his black and purple deco, the quality is just way up there. The black is nice and glossy and the silver and purple is crisp. I like the patterns on his wings, although I’d still like to have seen the Decepticon logos on the wings as opposed to the lone rubsign. In robot form, Skywarp’s colors are every bit as gorgeous. Plus, his face is painted silver, which makes all the difference over Starscreams.


And then there’s the third of the Seeker trio, Thundercracker, Acid Storm. Released as part of the Universe 2.0 line, a lot of people hated Acid Storm because getting him and not Thundercracker was like Hasbro was plopping a huge and unsightly turd right into our punchbowl. It was admittedly an interesting nod to an obscure character from the G1 cartoon, but it was still no substitute for Cracker. But if you can get past the hatred and vitriole over the fact that he isn’t Thundercracker, he’s actually not a bad figure. The color scheme is green with a camo deco that mainly just shows through in his jet mode. And hey, look! At least one of these jets have Decepticon insignia on their wings instead of that unsightly rubsign! In bot form, he’s mostly green and black with some yellow trim. It’s not the best color scheme I can think of, but he’s still a decent looking figure, and like Skywarp, at least there are paint apps on his face.

These three figures are among my favorite Transformers released to date, and apart from Starscream’s poor colors, I think these are textbook examples of how to do updated G1 figures. If you are looking to add these to your collection, you should definitely bypass Classics Starscream for the much better Unverse 2.0 Screamer. One of these days, I should really take my own advice and trade up too. Acid Storm is pretty easy to get, and I still think he’s worth it. Sky Warp is out there too, you just have to hunt for him. Now, let’s just hope that Hasbro finally delivers on a carded version of Thundercracker one of these days.