Height: 14cm (vehicle length); 13cm (head height)
Articulation: 23 total points - swivel neck; 6 points each arm: Universal joint shoulder, upper arm swivel, double hinge elbow, swivel wrist; 5 points each leg: Universal joint hip, thigh swivel, hinge knee, hinge ankle.
Colors: Molded grey, red, dark grey, amber; Painted blue, silver, red, pink.
Accessories: Neutron Assault Rifle, left and right
Release Data: Released in the United States in December 2012 at a retail price of US$14.99
There was a time when Starscream was an honorable soldier who fought for the defense of Cybertron. But long isolation aboard an orbital platform made him greedy and ambitious. Given the opportunity to once again lead troops, he gladly joined Megatron.
In 2006 Classics Starscream was released, to the immediate delight of many. Problem is, the mold's engineering was outdated even when the toy was brand new. And then the mold kept getting released every year since. Spread among Hasbro, Takara, and Fun Publications, it has been redecoed and/or remolded at least two dozen times in six years. That has got to put it in the running for most reused mold-family. And I may still be missing an instance or two!
A new Classics-friendly Starscream has been on my wishlist for a long time. What's more, I really wanted something based on the Cybertron toy's design, but with better poseability. It took a few years, but it seems like thanks to Fall of Cybertron, I may have gotten exactly what I wished for. ...and in doing probably consigned myself to gradually amassing a whole new seeker collection. Aw, cripes, this really was a monkey's paw...
By this point, making a toy to look like Starscream should be no big deal. And here that's quite true, where the toy hits the basic familiar elements. Intakes rising out above the shoulders, wings flared upward from the back, torso dominated by the cockpit canopy, itself flanked by the square chest vents, and engines forming the "boot heels". The big missing element from most classic iterations of Starscream is the null rays, with this Starscream left bare-armed. But even so, in these colors you just can't look at this toy and not recognize it as Starscream. The visible sculpted detail is on the simplistic side, largely just representing basic panel lines. The shoulder, elbow, and hip joints have some extra added to give a stronger impression of being mechanical elements, but Starscream is for the large part just smooth and clean looking. One noteworthy exception can be found within the torso, where one of the structural pieces has much more complicated detail sculpting implying parts of Starscream's internal structure. In execution it even feels like these components are being safely hidden by the outer armor. A similar case is found with the forearms, where simple mechanisms peek out between two "armor" surfaces. Small touches like that help to build the thought that the low detail surfaces visible are just armor panels hiding the vital working components of the body. This again uses small, simple steps to build the idea that this is a (model of a) living, working thing.
I really like the sculpt work on Starscream's head. The helmet has all the typical elements, but the "ear vents" are slimmed down and kept closer to the helmet, so the head ends up looking more tall than wide. This trait carries in the face, which tapers from filling the front of the helmet around the eyes, down to a point at the chin. A little unusual, but it feels really right for a Starscream, much the way that Transformers: Prime Starscream's face is designed. I like that visual trait carrying over a little in to an otherwise unrelated Starscream's toy. Starscream is one of what seems like an increasingly few toys designed with light-piping eyes that actually keeps them all the way to final production. And the amber color of the clear plastic does an absolutely beautiful job of capturing the light. The yellow-orange glow is very powerful under just semi-direct light, and the eyes will still appear to be illuminated even with completely indirect room lighting. Very, very nice. By the way, thanks to not having a jet's nosecone hanging off the back, this Starscream's head has an unrestricted range in which it can swivel. A ball joint actually would have been a little nicer, provided it would have had range enough to let Starscream look downward, but that's a mildly specific request.
Starscream's articulation is on the high side relative to how the FOC Generations have been going, much like the Optimus/Magnus mold. And in comparison to the Classics seeker, it's a huge leap forward. Some of the more advanced aspects like the double-hinge elbows are just as much for transformation necessity as poseability, but it does the job just as well. Without arm-mounted weapons, the wings don't hinder the articulation much at all, and if they should, they're able to angle back a little bit to allow extra clearance. Of course, the shoulders and the wings share a common hinge so you may find the two moving around the hinges together. But the arms have a fantastic overall range of movement with very little restriction. The legs aren't as unusual, and with their basic 90-degree single hinge knees they're actually pretty square in the average category. But The hips move freely which is a definite plus, and there's an ankle tilt for the sake of having an ankle tilt. They put a good, solid hinge joint in there to serve that function, and the ankles rock smoothly a few degrees to either side of center. As many figures just have the tilt of the ankle predetermined, it's nice to see one get a joint that does nothing but that. Starscream may not do anything amazing or different in poseability, but it's really just nice to get one in this style that's even able to get a solid range of basic poses.
Starscream ends up using quite a bit of paint. All of the blue on the figure is a product of paint applications, there's no blue plastic at all. Most blue surfaces look like they've had full spray coverage, where looking up the bottom of the feet it's easy to see where the spray didn't quite reach and the coverage fades inside. It's a really good job, managing to get the right amount of blue in the colorscheme while relying on paint to fill it all in and still not seem to have anything really obviously missing from the deco elsewhere. The only spot I'd have asked for paint to be added is the intake posts on the shoulders, which for Starscream should be red. Still, it's not a big deal as it sits, and they did a heck of a job with a limited array of plastic colors.
Changing Starscream to vehicle mode is kind of like anti-challenge. The arms fold under the body and the legs peg in pointed backward and that's about it. You need to remember to turn the head backward or else Starscream's face will be looking up in jet mode, but there's not enough going on in the process to really say there's any sort of tricks between modes. But then, I like simple transformations I can pull off in a matter of seconds rather than knowing I need to block out several minutes to unorigami something between modes.
It's not exactly the Cybertron Starscream lookalike I would have asked for, but the themes are similar enough I'm really satisfied with this style of Cybertronian aircraft. The design works out such that the undercarriage actually raises in the middle instead of being a solid block of folded robot bits under a jet "skin". The variations kind of make it look like the legs are oversized engines mostly integrated in to a more full jet body. It would still make an absolutely terrible aircraft, but it's a nice change of pace from how so many Deluxe size jets turn out. Part of the benefit afforded by an aircraft body plan is to exaggerate the size of the vehicle somewhat. Deluxe cars these days tend to be miserably small since they represent the most compact rectangular form the parts can collapse in to. But Starscream looks and feels a lot bigger than a current standard Deluxe vehicle since the wings increase the visible surface area, and the nose and cockpit extend beyond the core structure of the vehicle.
The color layout of the vehicle mode is pretty good, though I think it uses red too much as a primary color as the front half feels pretty dominated by it. Though I'm sure the amount of blue paint already present was pushing things, I'd have liked to see the tip of the nose done in blue, to help balance the appearance. With the nose red, it looks less like a grey fuselage with red elements than it does a red fuselage with the canopy trimmed grey. The Decepticon symbols on the wings really could have used either outlining, or to be done in a different paint color entirely, like silver. The contrast is rather poor between the red plastic of the wings and what I'm pretty sure is the same pink used for glow effects elsewhere (it's hard to tell the exact color against that red, which probably proves my point right there), and it needs something to be different to stand out better.
Through the amber canopy, you can see a pilot's seat inside the cockpit. Odd, given this is a Cybertronian vehicle form. Starscream doesn't have any kind of landing gear, because in practice it wouldn't be necessary anyway. But the toy will sit stably and level thanks to part of the robot's structural support that creates a base along with the flat side of the legs. Finally, if such things amuse you, you can flip up the robot head behind the cockpit and Starscream can look around in vehicle mode. Gives me happy memories of Beast Machines Vehicons!
Starscream comes with a pair of mirrored triple-barrel cannons. The barrels rotate, albeit stiffly by using a ridged thumb wheel at the base of the barrels. Each gun has two 5mm pegs, so you can choose which orientation Starscream holds them. Starscream does have a range of 5mm ports, including on the forearms, but I definitely recommend against using those. I tried attaching the guns on the arms once and both peg holes stressed, and one actually cracked from having the peg inserted. Even if that wouldn't be a problem, the guns sit very low down the length of the arms and it looks pretty awkward. There's hardpoints under the wings and along the robot legs, to allow attachment for vehicle mode. These will stress too, but in my experience the leg ports do so worse than the wings, so you'll probably want to stick with keeping the guns directly under the wings in vehicle mode. It's also the method that looks the best overall.
The two cannons can be tabbed together to make a double triple barrel cannon. When combined, the ridges on the thumb wheels interlock and both sets of barrels will rotate as gears. Again, this would be more fun if the movement was a little less stiff. Like this, Starscream basically has to hold the weapon from either side or just carry it sideways. There's no centered peg to use in the combined form, although combining them does produce a new 5mm port on the top if you want to add another weapon on. The combined form can't mount to the vehicle, either.
They're a nice design, based on the Neutron Assault Rifle from Fall of Cybertron. As executed here, it's easy to imagine them as a dual-function system. Individually they're the triple barrel cannon, but combined, the space between the individual barrels looks more like big gun barrels themselves, so your hand-carried vulcan cannons turn in to one double barrel energy cannon. Sounds like a perfectly sensible upgrade progression to me! One really nice design touch was including false gear elements below the base of the barrels, so when the barrels are rotated, it turns as well. One more bit of making these things look more like functioning machinery.
Starscream is bigger, has more articulation, and feels more fully solid than any other Fall of Cybertron Deluxe so far. Only Takara has solicited any additional seekers off this mold, but it seems like a given this mold was made with the intention of squeezing a lot of recolor miles out of it. And I have no problem at all with that. What we get as an immediate benefit is a really great Starscream figure that will fit just fine in a Classics shelf or stand among a War For Fall Of Cybertron group and look all kinds of superior to everybody else.
Starscream is Excellent, not just on the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Rating Scale, but if you've been waiting for a new Classics-friendly seeker body to come along like I have, I think you'll be really pleased with what we've finally gotten. The Classics Seeker is dead, and I for one welcome the new Generations Seekers with open wallet. All I'm wondering is how they'll get a Conehead to work off this transformation.
|Date||December 19th 2012|
|Score||(9 out of 10)|
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