Warcry's Review: Skystalker
Skystalker is more than happy to let Divebomb, in his new form, take fire from Scattorshot. While his partner is busy getting his wings singed, Skystalker is swooping in from behind in stealth mode, preparing to snatch the hapless Autobot and carry him off into the sky.
The name Skystalker goes back to a Micromaster who appeared on the tail-end of the original Transformer line. It took exactly twenty years for the name to be recycled, but it definitely fits the new guy a lot more than the old one -- the original turned into a car, after all. But this Skystalker is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or 'drone'), probably the first of his kind to be made into a Transformer. Specifically he's a stealth model, a deadly, invisible enemy that hovers overhead and strikes without warning -- a stalker in the sky. Considering the way some names are inexplicably slapped onto toys that they don't describe at all, it's a nice touch.
Skystalker is striking to say the least. He has three main colours: the vehicle-mode parts that make up his shins, bracers, chest and head are a dark, flat 'stealth' grey and the rest of his robot mode is light grey. Finally his ears, jawline, groin and some details on his chest are a dark, rich purple that beautifully contrasts the otherwise-monochrome colour palette.
Because he turns into a smooth, streamlined vehicle, Skystalker lacks the 'fake complexity' (molded-in detail that resembles complex moving parts) that adorns many of the Movie-style Transformers. His arms are pretty much the only place you'll find that, but even then it's covered up by pieces of his vehicle mode. His wings -- which represent much of his vehicle-mode bulk -- fold up behind him, so Skystalker's robot mode has a slender, birdlike look...above the knees, anyway. His shins, which become his engines in robot mode, are absolutely huge
compared to the rest of him. His knee joints, where the shins are bolted onto the outside of his thighs, don't help matters much either. It's a shame because it ruins the dangerous, predatory look that the rest of his robot mode has.
Skystalker has quite a bit of articulation -- ball jointed elbows, a double-jointed neck and hips, swivel-joined knees, articulated, automatically-closing feet (more on these below) and crazy shoulders with multiple ball joints to accommodate his wings. Unfortunately, that's too many joints on such a tiny body and they tend to get in the way of each other. You can't move his arms at all without his wings flying around every which way, clipping each other and forcing his other arm to move as well. At the same time his huge shins and unposable feet make it pretty much impossible to do anything with his legs other than standing him up normally.
Skystalker's feet are spring-loaded, meaning that they snap shut like a bird's talons when he's not standing. Supposedly this is supposed to let him swoop down and grab unsuspecting Autobots, but his feet couldn't grab anything thicker than a sheet of paper and the springs aren't strong enough to hold anything anyway, so all in all it's a pretty lame gimmick.
Unlike many Scouts, Skystalker comes with weapons. I'm not entirely clear on what they're supposed to be, though. They're definitely not guns, that much I'm sure about. They're not exactly swords and not exactly clubs either. They have a cable detail on them that makes them seem technological in some respect, though. Regardless of what they are, Skystalker can either hold the weapons in his hands (via small pegs that plug into his palms) or attach them to his forearms via a set of 3mm clips. The latter option looks better in my opinion, but honestly I'd sooner leave them stowed in his wings than do either. It bears mentioning that the clip system is being used on quite a few Transformers these days alongside the 5mm peg system that's been standard for a long time. That means that weapons can easily be exchanged between toys, letting you create some extremely well-armed Transformers. Although I can't imagine wanting to let anyone else use Skystalker's...uh...thingies, arming him up with weapons from the likes of Generations Darkmount could be an attractive option.
All in all, Skystalker's robot mode is far from satisfying. It's very striking and catches the eye, but the longer you spend playing with it the more disappointed you'll be.
Skystalker's alternate mode is an aerial drone. A study in simplicity, he's not much more than a flying wing with bulges where his fuselage and engine turbines are. He's mostly flat 'stealth' grey, with silver engine cowlings, tail markings and Decepticon badges on his wings. He has a huge amount of molded detail, but (like on a real stealth plane) it's very hard to make out except close up because of the flat colour. A larger figure like this would be boring, but at the Scout size bracket Skystalker is simple, sleek and beautiful.
Skystalker doesn't have many weapons or play features in drone mode, aside from landing gear that swing up and down. He can adopt a 'gerwalk' mode though, swinging his legs down so that he can capture unsuspecting Autobots and carry them of into the night. It's a nice idea, but unfortunately the idea falls flat in the execution. Since his engines become his legs, transforming him like this leaves him with two huge, unsightly gaps in his wings. It also means that he'll fall out of the sky with nothing to provide thrust. I appreciate that they tried to give him something
that would make the alt-mode more than just a featureless flying wing, but this probably wasn't the way to go.
Skystalker's alt-mode is really, really nice looking. It doesn't really do
anything, alas, and it's not nearly good enough to make up for his bad robot mode.
Marks out of ten for the following:
Transforming Skystalker can be frustrating, because you need to do everything in a specific order to transform him into vehicle mode and the tolerances to get the parts to fit are very slim. Getting his arms to fit into place just so
so that his wings and nose can be put where they belong is especially annoying the first few times through. It's also ultimately unsatisfying, because his robot mode just isn't worth the trouble. 1/10
The spring-loaded feet are liable to be the first part that wears out. Other than that, he's mostly ball-joints that you don't need to worry about breaking but that tend to get loose. 7/10
Not nearly as much as he should be. Skystalker has a cool alt-mode, but he's got absolutely nothing else going for him. 2/10
Beautiful in vehicle mode and not bad in robot mode if you ignore his knees. 7/10
While he does have a lot of joints, his legs are too bulky to do much with and his arms are hobbled by his wings. 3/10
When he was available, he was dirt-cheap. If there are still Skystalkers out there they'll probably be on clearance, but otherwise you'll have to chance eBay. 7/10
Skystalker has enough good points to keep him from being a total disaster, but he's still not really worth tracking down. 3/10