Transformers Authentics Bravo
Item No.: Asst. E0618 No. E1166 Manufacturer:Hasbro Includes:Two null-ray cannons Action Feature:Transforms from Robot to Jet Retail:$5-$6.75 Availability: May 2018 Other: Basically a big "Basic" or "Legends"
This figure must be pretty good. Hasbro started selling Starscream back in 2018, and he's been in rotation at "value channel" stores - your Five Belows, your grocery stores, your Walgreenses. The back of the card is black and white, and the figure has limited decoration - but it's also about four inches tall for five bucks. That's pretty amazing considering inflation. It's not quite as fancy as what that got you for a Beast Wars basic figure 25 years ago, but it's pretty close. That's kind of amazing.
A bigger Alpha-class Starscream is coming (or possibly hitting now) for 2023, but this little guy might be around the corner at a Dollar General right now. Based on the "evergreen' look, it's a vaguely 1980s take on the Decepticon Air Commander. You'll recognize the air intake fan nipples, the arm-mounted cannons, and the wings on the back. His head looks pretty great with a painted face and eyes, plus you get some orange on his nosecone chesst. The arms and most of the legs are largely undecorated, but again, this is a $5-$7 toy. Hasbro has effectively killed almost everything under $10, which is interesting, because toys like this prove there's long-term sales potential in a decent toy at an agreeable price point. This is for kids - but as a collector, I appreciate it. He's a little lacking in blue paint - the gray fists stand out - but will kids notice or care? Probably not. As an original-ish design, you can't really hold him up to other toys as a yardstick. He's his own thing, and he looks all the better for it. And it's not like Hasbro slouched on detail - there's a tiny Decepticon sigil at the top of his chest. They could've left it out and nobody would notice or say anything.
His articulation is really nice for the price, with a lot of ball joints. He's easy to pose and stands like a champ. I assume almost nobody reading this comes to toys with the mindset of "wouldn't it be great if you could have had recognizable characters on a price a kid could afford on his allowance?" but there he sits. As a kid of the 1980s, almost anything over $10 was a gift you got in wrapping paper for a special occasion. I would be positively delighted to see Hasbro expand this assortment to new and original characters. We'll probably never get a really good Flamefeather remake, but if we did, this would be the right price point for one.
Transformation is pretty easy - you'll figure it out without the instructions. Nothing pops off easily either. It's just a perfectly nice, perfectly agreeable little toy for a kid or your desk. Since you have other more expensive Starscreams, you may have no need for him, but I expect I'll hang on to this one much longer than some of the other collector ones precisely because it's not trying to be an adult version of an old toy. It's a toy for the sake of a toy, and it's easy to play with it.
The jet mode does not exactly impress - it gets the job done. With a little more time it could be better, but you can see his shoulders and feet poking out from under the wings. It's still decent. Happy Meal toys tend to be worse or weirder, and unlike the G1 toys, Hasbro is beholden to making the robot figure look good first. Some day maybe we'll get a new line that prioritizes the vehicle and we can get new and weird kibble on our robots as a result, but for now you can enjoy the mostly-unpainted jet mode with some red stripes and a Decepticon sigil on one wing.
When I started writing about toys on the internet, I assumed that the future would be much more like this - toys for kids, with any adult recognition being purely coincidental. Hasbro and most of the business went the other way, making gains in adult fans now at the potential expense of a next generation of weird nostalgists and fanatics with an eye to the past. This toy pushes the "dad toy" buttons as much as it might be recognized - somewhat - by kids, so I assume it will continue to sell well for as long as Hasbro wishes to sell it. Since it's not sold directly online, or at big box shops or American toy stores, Hasbro has a stream of revenue here that could probably do pretty well in a stocking stuffer section or even in a toy department that aimed to move more stuff to the tiny tots. Alas, it will not be - Starscream is a neat toy that requires you to hunt for it, and unlike many toys, you actually have a good chance of finding it. Kudos to Hasbro for having any action toy assortment constantly shipping for five years, that's no small feat.
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