Blackjack's Review: Starscream
Blade-Gun, Transforming Blade-Gun
Ah, Starscream... Decepticon second-in-command with a chronic backstabbing disorder. While iconic, only the diehard G1 fans aren't tired of the same old things happening over 27 years over and over again. All of his incarnations... G1, Beast Wars, Beast Wars 2, Armada, Energon, Cybertron, Animated, Prime, and all the G1-based comics... It's kind of a relief that the live-action movie incarnation of Starscream didn't actually betray Megatron per se. Of course, his whiny, grovelling and cowardy personality is portrayed instead, which is, put simply, hilarious, showing how fun Starscream can be even without the done-to-death backstabbing.
In the first movie Starscream was in command of the small Decepticon party on Earth, participating in the assault on the Hoover Dam, and later pledging his allegiance to Megatron. Of course, the humans had taken the AllSpark and Megatron told Starscream that he'd failed him again. In the Mission City battle, Starscream was, quite simply, destructive. While Optimus was preoccupied on the highway with Bonecrusher, Starscream closed in on the city, pretending to be an Air Force F22 Raptor, and blew off Bumblebee's legs. Later on as Sam tried to escape with the AllSpark, Starscream swooped into the crowded street, and single-handedly made it impossible for Ironhide and Ratchet to continue to guard Sam, before flying off (so, he's a coward after all!). Screamer then destroyed the helicopter that Sam was about to board, and in the most spectacular air battle I've ever seen in a film, Starscream engaged a squadron of F22 Raptors, transforming and flitting and basically playing stepping stones with them in the sky, before finally being driven off. At the end of the movie Starscream is seen flying away from Earth during the end credits.
It's all set up for Starscream to be the main villain in the second movie, surely? He's got moments of badass, and he was featured in the stinger. No. Instead, in Revenge of the Fallen, Starscream is revealed to be overseeing the hatchlings spawning in the Fallen's crashed ship, when a resurrected Megatron arrives, Starscream grovelled to Megatron, telling him that in his absence, 'someone has to take command'. Megatron reasserted his position... and Starscream basically became Megatron's bitch again afterwards. Starscream had more screentime (and abuse) in the second movie, acting as the third-in-command of the Decepticons, and later accompanies Megatron and he cuts apart the humans' cars, later rejoining Megatron to beat up Optimus Prime in the epic forest battle sequence, even getting a few hits in. But he ends up getting his face kicked by Optimus, and his arm torn off which Prime then uses to beat him with (classic!). After Optimus died, Starscream was further abused by Megatron and used as his punching bag. Later in the Egypt battle, Starscream shot at Sam's party and acted as airborne support, as well as searching for the humans. Sam and Mikaela eluded him, though. Starscream and Megatron were the only two survivors of the battle, and Starscream suggested 'cowards do survive', and the two escaped. Decidedly nowhere near the unstoppable Decepticon death machine in the first movie, but in my opinion he is still quite impressive for Megatron's sidekick.
In the third movie he struck some sort of a balance between badass in the first movie and punchbag in the second movie. Without going into spoilerific details, Starscream got himself some great action scenes, but is still unquestionably Starscream, with his constant grovelling and even trying to stealth-insult Megatron at one point.
Over the course of three live-action movies, Starscream, unsurprisingly, has gotten himself a whole lot of toys, rivalling Optimus, Megatron and Bumblebee. Arguably a disproportionate amount, but hey. The first movie gave him a Voyager class and a Legends class toy. Revenge of the Fallen gave him an all-new updated Voyager mold which is a vast improvement from the first movie's, and the subsequent Hunt for the Decepticons line gave Starscream a Leader Class toy, which apparently was the bomb. Completing the cycle, Dark of the Moon gave Starscream a brand-new Deluxe Class toy and a Commanders Class (formerly scouts class)toy, which means Movieverse Starscream has a toy in nearly every main size class bar the now-retired Ultra class.
The Deluxe Class toy is the subject of my review this time. Having two copies of the first-movie Starscream mold... which looks fine at the moment, but considering what they did with ROTF's new-mold Voyager, it looks underwhelming. Especially since the first movie Starscream did not have hands. The ROTF Voyager class and the HFTD Leader class were out of my price range, so I settled for the Deluxe class toy.
Starscream transforms into a F22 Raptor fighter jet, which is the successor to his G1 counterpart's F15 alternate mode. While F22 alternate modes aren't anything new (the Energon incarnation of Starscream was already an F22, albeit a 'genericized' one) movie Starscream and his toys are the only ones to have molds licensed, so they have a greater degree of resemblance to the F22 instead of having to make compromises. It's a sleek, jet that simply exudes agility and power at the same time. I'm always fascinated by fighter jets, but the F22 is one of the best aesthetically.
Of course, Starscream decks his alternate mode with alien tribal tattoos. While he may fool the real F22 pilots with a seamless disguise in the first movie, from ROTF onwards he has donned these tattoos. IDW comics wrote it off as Starscream adorning himself with Cybertronian warrior markings or something similar. The tats aren't exactly a perfect match, unlike the larger toys, but it still suits him fine. He's a rather light whitish-gray shade, with a clear yellow cockpit and black tattoos. The afterburners are brown. His left wing has got a glyph emblazoned on it... very hilariously, it's a near-perfect match with the glyph symbolizing Primes. The right wing has a more standard Decepticon insignia.
Three non-moving landing wheels can be extended, one from the nosecone and two from below the afterburners. He's pretty stable. These are all brown.
The thing about jet alt modes is that it's a real challenge for their sleek forms to hide kibble, and usually most of the robot mode ends up in the undercarriage - as it does in this case. The first movie Starscream is a victim of this, having entire feet in his undercarriage and two massive cannon-arms under the wings. In my collection the only kibble-free military jet seems to be Terradive/Space Case (a new, excellent mold) and the original G1 Seekers, but that's because they are rubbish toys and their arms are attached later on. This Starscream maintains the very sleek and angular form of the F22, and even when looked from below the pieces of kibble you can see are splayed so as to not resemble limbs. Indeed, while not perfect it's a pretty good job for a Deluxe class. His wings have these squarish things under them, and they just look silly. However, they don't detract too much.
All in all, an excellent alternate mode. As a side-note, you can plug the blade-gun weapons included under his wings, his tail pane or the parts that would be his arms, but that looks really, really stupid. I mean, other than being unaerodynamic, what jet equips themselves with wing-long blades with a clunky handle and tiny guns in the back?
Starscream's transformation is pretty fun to do. It's by no means difficult or frustating, yet not quite as simple-but-grand like Jolt. Still, it's fun to transform him, which is the main deal on this.
Starscream's pretty close to his film CG model, colours notwithstanding. Ah, the colours... while the whitey-gray works for the jet mode, the robot mode in the movie is mostly a mass of rust-coloured metal interlaced with black. But I suppose this is as good a representation as we could expect to get as a Deluxe Class figure.
However, there is a large failing with this toy of Starscream; While he has the gangly arms, the wide-and-shortish body to make him the same height with truck Optimus, and the bird-insect legs, and an excellent headsculpt, Starscream's biggest failing... is his crotch. It is too large, too tall and frankly takes too much space in his torso-abdomen section. And it's a huge block, which makes his feet's positioning look kind of funny as well. Really this could've easily been solved, and the fact that the inner part is coloured white and the outer is brown makes it even look more noticeable.
Colours are still nicely subdued, with more gray and brown to interlace the limbs. His excellent headculpt has beady red eyes, a metallic blue which surprisingly works for the details on his 'helmet', and brown for his insect-bird beak. Spittle not included, though.
Massive blocky crotch aside, though, Starscream is a pretty good toy. He's well detailed, with the aforementioned head sculpt, the excellent clawed arms and nice tucked position of the wings. Articulation-wise, his head can rotate, and his arms each have four joints — one at the shoulder, one at the elbow, one at the midway between the shoulder and elbow and another at the wrist. Each leg has five joints, including a double joint on the lower knee. It's just a shame that his waist couldn't be articulated, or he would've been a much better toy.
Yes, his arms are on a ball joints, in case you are wondering.
All in all, despite the massive crotch, Starscream is a very good representative of his Movieverse CGI model, although as with most of his toys, the engines that end up on his back are missing; instead they form part of the chicken legs. He's got great balance despite the seemingly tiny toes, since each leg has one of the landing gear extended backwards to support Screamer's weight.
Sadly, there's quite a lot that makes Deluxe Starscream fall short. Namely, lack of show-accurate weaponry. His arsenal is second only to Optimus Prime in the films. Starscream's distinct weapons of choice in the three movies included a six-barreled missile launcher, a buzzsaw and a wrist-mounted gatling gun. Either one of these would be excellent to replicate as a decent weapon to attach to the Mechtech port in his wrist.
Instead we get his... his... whatever you call it. How do you describe this weapon? Well, it comes in two pieces, one a smaller gun with a tiny barrel and a gigantic blade sticking to the opposite end. The second piece is similar, but bulkier and is able to transform and extend into a blade with a longer reach when you push the rangefinder. Note that you have to physically press the thing so the blade can be extended - Deluxe Class Mechtech weapons cannot be locked in the deployed configuration, unlike larger size classes. Each weapon attaches to Starscream's wrists, or his ribs (which looks stupid), or the wings on the back.
However, Hasbro didn't stop there. The non-transforming blade can attach to the transforming blade and keep it in its extended state! The result is a wicked combined double-edged spear-blade thing with a tiny gunbarrel jutting out the middle. The wicked spear-blade is longer than Starscream is tall, and attaches to one of his wrists. It's a rather cool weapon, and with the articulation focused on Starscream's legs and arms he is very well-balanced to pose with the stupendously long weapon.
The first non-show accurate Mechtech accessory that's actually impressive, don't you know?
Marks out of ten for the following:
6/10 Transforming him is enjoyable, but I really think that the designers could have easily found a way to deal with the under-wing flak and the supermassive crotch (did I mension he has a ridiculously huge crotch? Well, he does!).
7/10 Doesn't seem too fragile to me, and most of his joints are tight. Excepting, of course, the shoulder ball joints. Naturally. However, the Mechtech blade may break with rougher play, since some of the struts that extend seem alarmingly thin.
6/10 He looks like Starscream, and his alternate mode is excellent. However, once the excitement about the fact that he has pretty hands has died out, the crotch troubles me. It's like he's wearing diapers. And it's huge.
6.5/10 Excellent articulation in the limbs, zilch everywhere else. I'm tempted to give him a 5, but he can pull off so many poses with the joints he does have... for all its worth, DOTM Starscream has more joints than his first-movie Voyager counterpart.
9/10 I like
Starscream, so this is a biased score.
5/10 Money's real tight these days, and I'd wished for better quality toys. It's about what you'll get for what a Deluxe costs right about now, though.
7/10 Starscream's very close to excellence for a Deluxe Class figure, but little problems pile up until the faults begin to overshadow all the good stuff. Still, he's a great Deluxe Class toy. It's just that, compared to his HFTD Leader and ROTF Voyager Class toy, there's just no competition. However, he's a great (and cheaper) version of Movieverse Starscream, and if you like the guy, get him. But only if the larger toys aren't available, or are out of your budget.