|Starscream Review Capsule
|Starscream one of many attempts at the character in 2004, this time attempting to bring his 1984 incarnation to the market with an updated look and a nearly identical transformation. As you have fewer parts to lose this time as well as a greatly updated head all done in a glorious color scheme, what's not to like? Buy it if you like the character, otherwise pass.
For years, fans have been begging for new, cartoon-accurate versions of their favorite Generation One characters. Toymakers Takara and Hasbro sort of answered the call with Alternators and the 20th Anniversary Masterpiece Convoy/Optimus Prime, but so far those aren't really what fans were asking for. Enter Takara's Robot Masters, where new molds are being made for old popular characters for fans on a shoestring budget. Unless you live in the USA, of course, in which case a $15 figure will probably cost you in the neighborhood of $21-$40.
Named merely Starscream, the character has no "G1" or other prefix indicating another future version will be produced, although a black repaint is coming as a Figure King magazine exclusive. The character as it is released here, however, is a very good reproduction of how he appeared on the television show, with the colors and sculpt being as accurate as a figure of this character has ever been.
But getting back to Starscream in Robot Masters, not much is known yet. In one of the many comics packed with toys and appearing online, you can see Beast Megatron beat the tar out of him to gain his allegiance, but beyond that it's possible he's just another goon in the Destron/Decepticon army.
Some previous Robot Masters were repaints, and others were written off as existing toys that were shrank down-- which for the record, they aren't. Starscream is a very obvious new mold from the ground up that looks vaguely like his ancestor from 20 years ago, except better for the most part.
The face doesn't have an evil smirk or snarky mouth, but it does have a fairly expressive face that looks like he could be thinking about one of a variety of things. Perhaps he's plotting the demise of Beast Megatron so he can be New Leader of the DecepticonsTM?
The actual robot has a suprising amount of detail in it, with a lot of panel lines and grooves that with a decent paint wipe could be extremely cool in terms of detail. As it stands, the character's level of detail is excellent, far better than the original animation model and probably about on par if not better than the toy released in the USA in 1984.
While Starscream isn't highly posable, he is a huge improvement over the original in that he has no fists to lose and his arms do have a decent range of motion, as does his head. His legs, sadly, aren't super-posable and he doesn't have much of a waist to speak of that will let him take aim at his foes especially well. For better or for worse, newer toys like Energon's Starscream have a much better range of motion, and those wanting a truly super-posable Generation One figure might want to seek out the repaint of the Energon toy in the G1 colors. However, die-hard fans of the character and people that never had the original will probably very much want to snag this one.
In Vehicle mode, Starscream becomes a jet, and in these colors he matches the cartoon as much as if not more than ever before. Aside from the nose of the jet pointing down a little, we daresay it's the most accurate version yet.
The transformation sequence is pretty basic stuff, closely mirroring the original toy with a few exceptions here and there. For example, this time around, you don't need to remove the fists before turning him into a jet. You do, however, still need to move the cannons from his arms to the underside of his wings.
The coolest thing on the vehicle mode is one you might not notice, and in a way it's a nod to the TransFormers origins from lines like Diaclone and Microchange in which some toys could carry very small pilot figures.
A pilot's seat! How cool is that?
On the whole, the vehicle doesn't do much. It has a retractable front landing gear and some wheels in the back, but aside from that, what you see is what you get. Of course, what you see is pretty good, and the fact a company would go back and remake a toy from 20 years ago is a pretty exciting one, no?
Accessories & Gimmicks
While the figure itself has no spring loaded special features or fancy sound effects, he does have some nifty weapons.
The toy includes two chrome missile launchers that open and close as well as the two cannons for use in either mode.
There are images of Starscream shooting projectiles from that spot in non-toy media, so it makes sense they want to trick out the character with a little added firepower. The chrome weapons are somewhat reminisent of the new Microman range, what with their moving parts and a great sensibility for integrating with the toy as a whole. They snap snuggly into place and open and close without a hitch. But they are decorated with vac metal, so be careful with them... especially as they age.
Packaging & Tech Specs
This toy came packaged in regular Robot Masters packaging, which is fairly intricate. Inside a box, there's a three-piece plastic tray to hold the figure in place, which is surprisingly extensive for a small toy. Best of all, there's no twist ties!
Not only does it look fairly nice, it's sturdy, dynamic, and has a lot of information on it. For example, the character stats are right on the front of the packaging-- a first. Unfortunately, they also added the clip-n-save card on the back, instead of having a trading card inside the box that's pre-cut and all of that. Still, the packaging has so many layers that you'll feel like what you're opening is a very expensive toy-- and while it may have been, that's mostly the fault of the importers.
Other Notes & Images
Whenever a new mold appears, fans often go "so, how can we repaint this? Or how will they repaint this?" In this case, fans immediately crossed their fingers for Sunstorm, a new character in the G1 Universe that has appeared as a few exclusive toys, in the comics, and appeared unnamed in the original pilot More than Meets the Eye way back in the day. Of course, Thundercracker and Skywarp are being hoped for. But three other jets used a modified version of this mold, but could it pull of the coneheadedness of that group?
Aside from a few modifications here and there, such as making a couple of new wings, it looks like this mold could, in fact, be used to crank out some fairly decent versions of Dirge, Thrust, and Ramjet.
Here, see him next to the other Robot Masters new molds released thus far. Also see him duking it out with Beast Convoy for total supremacy.
Is it worth it? Well, that's the big question. Hasbro stated the new molds aren't coming to the USA or at least, not for the forseeable future. The going rate is usually around $25 before shipping which, while not bad, puts this in roughly the same class as the G1 reissue. Of course, this one looks better-- arguably, anyway. It isn't a superposable toy, but it does look really good and can do more than he ever could before, so he's an improvement. Ultimately, it's going to boil down to how much you want a really slick looking Starscream that can transform. If you don't care about the transforming part, perhaps a Mega PVC would be more your speed.
Reviewed and photographed by Adam Pawlus
Sample received on August 28, 2004 from a Japanese toy dealer for about $23 after shipping
Reviewed on August 30, 2004.