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numbat's review: Optimus Magnus VS Starwarp

Nightwatch Optimus Prime Vs Stealth Starscream

Sub-Group: Allspark Power Movie Legends Class

Starscream stayed on Earth because that’s where the Autobots are, and he knew more Decepticons would come, answering the final, explosive call of the AllSpark. Come they did, and now Starscream has the beginnings of a new Decepticon army. While his troops hunt the other Autobots scattered around the planet, he attacks Optimus Prime. He hopes that surprise will be the edge he needs to destroy the AllSpark powered Autobot leader before Optimus Prime can mount a defense.

Let’s get one thing straight from the start – this is a review of Optimus Magnus and Starwarp. For some reason – likely feeding on Movie characters and keeping future options open – the Movie line features a large number of repaints bearing the original character’s name, and only sometimes with a prefix like ‘Nightwatch’. True, there has been the odd exception (and the new character moulds, not featured in the film, have certainly been milked), and we have had Cliffjumper – making it all the more confusing as to why, say, Starscream, at Legends of Cybertron (LOC) scale, has not been repainted as another Seeker. Instead, we have a black variant of Starscream – namely ‘Stealth Starscream’ – which, in other circumstances would have passed happily as a more realistic, Movie continuum Skywarp. I can only surmise that the Seekers are off limits and serious contenders for upcoming films – yet we have had a Voyager Class Thundercracker… Terribly confusing!

Regardless, here we have a set comprised of LOC Movie Prime and Starscream repaints, with an improbable (and out of character 0 even judging from his brief film appearance) explanation.

Although Nightwatch Prime is interesting (it’s not the traditional Ultra Magnus or Nemesis repaint – rather, something in between all three character schemes), Stealth Starscream was the figure that interested me in this set, and my expectations were met in both cases.

Name: Nightwatch Optimus Prime
Allegiance: Autobot

Alternate Mode:

Nightwatch Prime, or Optimus Magnus, strikes a balance between the two Autobots, whilst being a bit darker, harking back to Nemesis colour schemes and suggesting Diaclone Powered Convoy (sans red). It is an attempt at a new take on a Prime repaint that avoids using other character names, although is ultimately rather uninventive.

Prime transforms into a truck – in the live action film’s case, a custom Peterbilt cab, reminiscent of his G2 incarnation. Given there are two standard widths of these vehicles, it is difficult to gauge scale (and is frankly impossible from length). Of course, none of the toys are in great proportion when examined in detail, and this tends to get worse the smaller the scale of the toy, unsurprisingly. That aside, the LOC Movie Prime mould may be either 1/96 or 1/102 scale. I personally prefer 1/102, as this puts him at the same scale as LOC Movie Bonecrusher – making LOC the only Class at which you can have these two characters to scale with one another. In real terms, he measures just over 2 ½” (6.5cm) in length.

This repaint keeps the flames of the Movie Optimus Prime design, but has a much more sober colour scheme. The red of the front of the cab has been replaced with black, while the body is a dark teal and the rear of the truck, including cupola, charcoal – as are all six (four moving, two moulded) wheels. Only silver is used for detailing – including truck front, flames, roof panels and giant Autobot insignia on the left side. The front windows blend a little too well with the rest of the colours, being black, while the door windows are not painted at all.

As with the standard release, the lower part of the doors do not match the colour of the upper part, and rear of the cab. In this case, the lower part are even more conspicuous, being metallic teal, as opposed to the different shaded flat teal of the moulded plastic parts. (Actually, if all of the teal had been replaced by this metallic teal, this figure would have been a lot more interesting to look at.) Also, even more jarring is the fact that the lower part of the smokestack is black, and the upper part teal.

The overall effect is rather ghostly and washed out. Interesting…

Robot Mode:

Anyone who picks up this set in the shops and looks at the back will be privy to one of Hasbro’s famous mistransformations – the photo of Nightwatch Optimus Prime on the back of the car has extremely long legs! With such a simple transformation, it’s a wonder that anyone could mess it up!

That aside, the transformation is satisfying, and largely involves breaking the truck apart to reveal the robot body, rather than much redistribution (the exception being the legs – which impressively capture the Movie design, whilst entirely failing to create a decent result). As such, this figure offered the best opportunity for a more Movie accurate Prime robot mode. Somehow, this has totally failed to happen.

Standing bang on 3” (7.5cm), the mould looks likes something Picasso may have made were he ever to have sculpted a Transformer – sharp angles and juxtapositions galore! Yet, the overall effect is not really very Prime-like. A real missed opportunity indeed.

I do prefer the Optimus Magnus robot mode to the original – I think the colours hold together a little better – but don’t get me wrong. This is a very poor robot mode.

The upper body is teal, with silver stomach grills, black chest / shoulder windows and, for some reason, panels painted a different shade of teal that almost matches the plastic. The face is exceptionally well sculpted, bizarrely, and in this case has both the silver faceplate and obvious blue eyes (the standard release has darkly painted metallic blue eyes that almost fail to show). The crotch and upper legs are charcoal grey, while the lower legs are black.

Articulation is rather great, as well, with ball joints at the shoulders and hips, with a good range of motion.

Just a pity about the gorilla arms and cubist interpretation of the Optimus Prime design.

As to the new colours, they do hold together a little better than the jarring original release. Unfortunately, they fail to make any sense, fail to be truly inventive, and are a little too bland. As noted, had the teal been metallic and a little bluer, the ensemble could have worked a whole lot better.

He’s worth it if you don’t have the other release, or for novelty in a collection of wee Transformers, but, otherwise, I expect you’d choose to pass, unless you’re taken by Stealth Starscream…

Name: Stealth Starscream
Allegiance: Decepticon

Stealth Starscream is the star of this set, and the reason I picked it up. (Frankly, I wish that Cliffjumper and Stealth Starscream had been a set, as, in both cases, I had interest in just one in a set of two repaints… Ach well…) Now that I own the figure, I am just as enamoured with it – the colour scheme just rocks!

As I reviewed the original release of LOC Starscream (LOC Movie Starscream review), I won’t be going in to mould or transformation details, but shall just consider the merits of the new paint applications.

Alternate Mode:

Starscream’s live action movie incarnation disguises himself as a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter – an apt upgrade of his G1-self, although this is not the first time his alternate mode has been based upon this jet. Starscream measures 3 ½” (9cm) from nose-to-tail, with a 2 ¼” (6cm) wingspan, putting him in at around 1/209 scale (based on length) or 1/237 (based on wingspan) – which is surprisingly consistent for such a small scale figure.

Stealth Starscream is moulded largely in flat black plastic, with silver highlights and a yellow cockpit. The tail components (and arms) are still moulded in that terrible ‘silver’ plastic, although this time the plastic seems to lack many swirls. The light grey of the tail does jar somewhat with the rest of the design – even proper silver would look out of place. It’s a shame Hasbro didn’t just go for black for the tail components, and something less obvious for the arms on the underside, but it’s hardly the end of the world.

The colour scheme is very similar to the Robot Masters Black Starscream (2005 Figure King Magazine Exclusive), but which shares the jarring grey-black colour scheme. However, the figure also gives a strong impression of a Movie-style Skywarp, despite the name. It does seem rather strange that Skywarp has not appeared in any form in this line, unless there are plans to use him in future films.

So, basically, Stealth Starscream fits nicely into a collection as Skywarp – or, perhaps, Starwarp.

I personally prefer Skywarp’s colour scheme to any other Seeker, and I really like this black rendition of Starscream. The lack of purple adds to realism (I don’t know if F-22s are ever black, but plenty of other ‘stealth’ jets are – but none involve purple highlights), while the silver stripes on the wings still hark back to that character.

I do prefer this colour scheme, although LOC Starscream looks pretty sharp too.

Robot Mode:

I enjoy LOC Starscream’s simple transformation. The robot stands 3” (7.5cm) tall, and looks remarkably like the movie design – albeit in rather different colours.

As with the standard release, popping the arms off at the elbows and swapping them round improves the range of motion and gives the arms a more natural disposition. (I really think that the mould may be misassembled.)

Unlike the rather plain Raptor mode, Starwarp’s robot mode has more colours – although all of these are subdued. The arms and shoulders are totally ‘silver’ plastic, which does stand out against the darkness of the rest of the body. Other than that, there are many black panels, while a dark gold and lighter silver paint pick out the wonderfully sculpted mechanical components on the torso, head, and legs. The eyes are flashes of red, and the mouth is yellow (which does look slightly odd).

The result seems to tip the hat to previous black Starscreams, such as the aforementioned Robot Master’s release, and Black Starscream (2001 Japanese Exclusive) – particularly with the dull gold torso.

However, it also makes the EMO colour palette work for itself, conjuring the impression of a Movie Skywarp. (Let’s face it – the colours correlate far better with the G1 Skywarp than the Movie Starscream’s colours do with his G1 counterpart!)

Take the figure as you will – Starscream, Skywarp, or Starwarp, this is still the most attractive version of the mould available to date.

Whether or not you can stomach shelling out for Optimus Magnus to get hold of it is another matter.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 4 – Starscream’s transformation is fun, but easy. Prime’s is very simple, and not necessarily the best design. That balances out around 4.
Durability: 6 – Unfortunately, both figures suffer from flimsy plastic at points (Prime’s upper legs and waist, Starscream’s arms and tail fins). I imagine that, ten years down the line, getting hold of a Screamer with arms, or an intact Prime, may be tricky.
Fun: 7 – Prime’s worth is questionable, while Starscream surpasses his previous release thanks to the new paint job.
Price: 7 – At around $8 (£4 – hah! If only retail prices reflected exchange rates…), it’s not as safe a bet as some of the other sets which offer a new mould. At the end of the day this is a set of two repaints. However, Starscream is a great repaint.
Overall: 6 – Prime’s neither here nor there – a curiosity. The Starscream repaint is a different kettle of fish. The new colours work remarkably well, and strongly suggest Skywarp. It’s a must-buy if you don’t own the first version of LOC Movie Starscream. You’ll be after Starwarp even if you do own the original release. Trouble is – is it worth paying out for Optimus Magnus as well? I guess that’s up to each and every individual. For me, Starwarp makes a great addition to my collection of wee Transformers. Optimus Magnus’s future hangs in the balance…
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