Knightdramon's review: Skywarp
One of the most iconic groups of transformers has always been the seekers. At first a group of nigh identical jets with the only differences being in colour, later on joined by three more that had distinct variations that didn't allow a seamless grouping with the first team.
Ever since 1984, whenever a seeker jet (almost always Starscream) was released, there were bound to be additional repaints in the form of at least Skywarp and Thundercracker, with a possible slight remould to pass as one of the other three jets.
The masterpiece line is no exception. The high cost of the hyper-detailed moulds probably asks for repainting in order to re-coup the costs. A bit less than a year after Starscream was released, a (marvelous) black repaint emerged as Skywarp.
It should be noted that while Starscream was a fantastic figure, it wasn't without faults. A year after its release, many of the black markings have faded off, some parts are still as stiff as ever, the rear landing gears come off only with the mightiest of force and the plastic used is generally weaker than the plastic used on most mainlines. Moreover, there are marks from where the plastic was cut from the sprue all over the figure since it's moulded in colour.
I'm happy to report that Skywarp remedied all these facts. First of all, all parts that should open easily now actually do it without fear of tearing the plastic apart. The plastic seems sturdier this time around, and there are no visible cut marks of excess flash anywhere on the figure.
As we've gotten this out of the way, I'll proceed to review the actual figure.
Much like Starscream before him, Skywarp's entry in the MP line is as a modified one seater F-15 Jet. In addition to the unrealistic laser ray cannons he carries, one of the gattling guns on the sides of the air intakes is not supposed to be on a normal production jet from the F-15 line. I wouldn't mind an F-22 (the jet used for Starscream in the live action movie) since the F-15 has been retired from use, but then again it wouldn't be a "perfect" upgrade of the character.
Skywarp retains all the sharp detailing Starscream had, with one huge difference; he's not panel lined. With all the smudges and excess lines on Starscream, perhaps this is for the best. More or less the same markings (no step and "lift") are tampographed on Skywarp, this time in white. The Decepticon insignia is present in an air force badge on four different places on the plane. Skywarp's motto (I'm guessing) is again, painted on the sides of the pilot tube. Unlike Starscream, Skywarp needs stickers for his purple wing stripes. Putting them on is a bit of a pain but the end result does look better. The stickers adhere well on the surface and provide additional detail.
Unlike Starscream, who was moulded in dark green, Skywarp's colour comes from extensive painting of the figure. Just about all parts of the jet are painted in high quality gloss black, giving Skywarp a very sleek look. Since he's not panel lined, there's no other colour on his surface besides the white markings, making him look much classier than Starscream. Dark gunmetal paint is used for his engines, part of his laser cannons, part of the intakes and various parts of the undercarriage. A very classy silver tone is used for the inner parts of his intakes and the belly of the plane, with a touch of metallic purple to break up the monotony.
The plastic used for Skywarp feels stronger (or it could just be the black paint) than the one used for Starscream, and some parts were deliberately made looser. The panel for the air brake on his back extends just perfect, whereas I always thought I'd break that part on Starscream. The part the air brake rests on is much, MUCH easier to move up in order to transform the figure, essentially making the transformation process much less of a chore than on Starscream. Please note that the figure is not flimsy at any level, but looser than Starscream in some areas. Moreover in the aspect of gimmicks, Skywarp retains the wing flaps and extend able nosecone that reveals a radar dish. The cockpit, cast in amber clear plastic, can still accommodate the Dr Arkevile figure, this time cast in black plastic.
Like Starscream, Skywarp comes at 1/60 scale, measuring 34 centimetres from nosecone to tailfins with a wingspan of approximately 21 centimetres.
Unlike Starscream, Skywarp's a piece of cake to transform. Perhaps it's just the experience I've gained from meddling around with Screamer, or perhaps it's the fact that some parts are easier to move and require quite less fiddling than his mould brother. Nevertheless, the result is outstanding. From a sleek jet to an extremely sleek and powerful looking mecha, Skywarp does not disappoint.
Skywarp features some new colours that were previously exclusive to the underside of the jet. Gloss dark purple is used for two parts on his legs and for his lower arms, with an additional stripe on each part of the chest armour. A very shiny tone of silver is used for his abdomen, face, air intakes, stripes on his arms and parts of the jet that weren't visible in jet mode (top of the pilot tube and beginning of the part that holds the tail fins). Gunmetal gray is used for his legs, waist, chest armour and parts of his guns. The rest is high quality gloss black, with crimson used for the eyes. The colours work GREAT for this mode and give Skywarp a very sleek vibe that's not apparent on Starscream.
Skywarp has around 36 points of articulation in robot mode. While each leg has about 8 points of articulation, extreme posing is not recommended because the waist side armour gets in the way as it moves along with the thigh, becoming uneven to the armour on the other side. Moreover, the figure is standing by fiddling around a relatively thin piece as the foot and the jet turbines as the heel, messing up the centre of balance a bit. The arms of the seeker mould are probably the most articulated in the MP line so far, simply because the double elbow joint which is not present on Convoy and not really useable on Megatron. The head rests on a ball joint that in turn rests on a revolving part, allowing for quite the freedom of movement.
Improvements from Starscream in robot mode include a strongest revolving waist joint (the screw is covered and not left exposed) that holds the upper part in place more securely and stronger ratchet joints on the shoulders. The plastic appears to absorb the paint quite nicely and no smudges or "cut" stripes are present. The leg joints also appear to be easier to move around this time. Skywarp's second expression is a smirking face. Admittedly, the face looks like an ass everywhere on the internet and ruins the sleek figure, but in person, it's not bad and it's the face I have him wearing all the time.
The extra accessories are exactly the same as Starscream's. Dr Arkevile is included again, this time moulded in black plastic, the peg to connect Megatron (from any of the Convoy releases) onto the underside of the jet mode, the two pairs of sidewinder missiles and lastly, the display base. The base is exactly the same one as MP Starscream, no differences at all unless you choose to apply the sticker with Skywarp's name on.
All in all, I believe Skywarp is the ultimate MP release so far. He's about 22 centimetres tall (not too massive, not too small), has no considerable die-cast to weight down his joints, he's not flimsy as hell and he's got that fantastic blend of colours that make him this special. He might never have been the most memorable character, but he did get one of the most memorable figures.
8. Not too complex, and key areas are definitely easier to move than they were on Starscream, preventing stress marks.
9. No stress marks and no paint chippings yet, although his motto on the sides of the cockpit does start to fade away. All robot parts are perfect and his wings are durable enough.
10. I like him more than Starscream. Easier to transform and prettier to look at. Not really a toy, though.
7. It's still way too early to tell, but Skywarp's a limited release item and TakaraTomy usually doesn't release additional batches for their MP items. Retail price is around 84 USD, and he's totally worth it.
10. Dethroned Binaltech Dead End as my all favourite figure, I'm a big fan of jets and the mould is decent enough. If you just want to get a fix of the mould but don't care for the character, there's a cheaper MP Starscream coming to the US around November. Highly recommended.