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Skyquake87's Review: Encore Sunstorm

Name: Sunstorm
Allegiance: Destron
Function: Aerospace Warrior

Bio: If bright colours are nature's way of saying "do not touch", then nature's got nothing on Sunstorm. Come too close, and circuits will short, steel housing will begin to melt, and psyches will break as the mind struggles to comprehend. Science would explain that his body is aflame in radiation, but Sunstorm has different ideas. He believes he is some kind of supernatural being - the living embodiment of the Will of Primus placed by the divine in this universe to deal righteous judgement on the blasphemous.

Created with a built-in fusion reactor running at higher than original efficiency, he can use it as a weapon to generate intense light and heat or powerful electromagnetic waves. These energy emissions are constantly radiating from his body, inducing negative effects in his nearby teammates' internal systems, so unless he provides rigorously secure shielding, he is only rarely included in unit activities. His top atmospheric speed is 2400 km/h, while he can reach 16000 km/h in outer space.

Despite his incredible power, his odd and erratic behaviour keep his comrades at bay, leaving him potentially outnumbered and outgunned in combat situations.

Sunstorm's not done too badly, has he? He started life as one of the many many generic Decepticon Seekers cluttering up the background in the original cartoon, got given a toy by Takara in 2003 as part of E-Hobby's exclusives and by way of a six -issue story arc from Dreamwave, has turned into an actual proper character. I say this, because fellow Seeker and Rainmaker Acid Storm has similar origins, but more than two decades on, I still know nothing about him, other than he's weirdly become Hasbro's go to guy for repaints, for some unknowable reason. At least Sunstorm has had something approaching a personality prescribed to him, even if its the old fan-boy dervied guff of super powered nutjob whom thinks he's an advocate for God.

As briefly touched on above, in terms of toys, Sunstorm landed a repaint of the hoary old mould used for Skywarp, Thundercracker and Starscream in 2003. Following on from that, he's pretty much been guaranteed a toy whenever Hasbro / Takara spaff out some jet based robot or other. The original E-Hobby release ended up fetching a couple of hundred quid on the secondary market up until 2009, when it was re-released under the Encore imprint, coming with a bunch of transfers and a four page comic. I snagged the Encore version at Auto Assembly in 2009, when it seemed like everyone was having some sort of mad going out of business sale and were practically giving things away.

I have no real attachment to the character, he's just one of those funny recolours of old toys I really like. Easily pleased, me.

Robot Mode: Frankly, Sunstorm's robot mode is terrible. The old Strike Planes mould has always been a miserable affair, and the robot mode shows all its flaws – and with this bottle of Orangina here, these are all the more obvious. The head is awful, a tiny charred blob of a thing. Why Takara left this section in the original black moulding is beyond me. Cartoon accuracy be damned, if this was done in yellow or white it'd look so much better. Instead, it really draws your attention to his silly goggle-eyed face, with its wibbly sticker that passes for eyes (rubbish! So rubbish, it failed to stick to my toy and floated away). The arms are these huge great girders with dreadful oven glove style mitten hands plonked on the end. The legs aren't half bad, at least managing to be in proportion with the torso, but the comical triangles that make up the feet are embarrassing. Adding the wings and missiles to the robot mode do improve the look somewhat, but also make him look extremely cluttered and like he's barely transformed. Which he hasn't.

Alternate Mode: Whilst the robot mode has all the charm of a fart in biscuit tin, the jet mode is pretty nice - if obviously bonkers rendered in this retina searing mix of orange and white. The obvious flaws are the gap in the fuselage and the wings not sitting flush to the body of the jet. What it does do well is capture the look of the F-15 very well. The die cast in the toy also gives it a pleasing weight and it just feels nice to hold and play with. The landing gear can't be retracted which isn't much of a problem, but does mean you have to take care not to loose the front wheels, which simply unplug from underneath the cockpit.

Transformation Design: The old Takara Jet Robo mould is primitive and very basic. There isn't a whole lot to do, with just slotting the cockpit through the chest and popping the arms out. The feet are those obvious triangles flipped down. The rest is a load of parts swapping faff. 3/10

Durability: The central body of the plane is tough and durable enough. And unless you're going to chew it, the rubber nose cone is similarly tough. Which just leaves the plastic cockpit canopy as the only major weak spot, but even then you' have to deliberately go out of your way to break it. If you end up loosing the wings and everything else, you are left with just the central body, which isn't much fun. 5/10

Articulation: Moving the arms up and down is your lot here. Par for the course for vintage figures. 5/10

Fun: The jet mode is lots of fun. It's slick, there's launching missiles and it looks great. The robot mode is passable, but awkward and less fun. Its having to hawk around a pocket full of parts for the toy to get the best out of it in both modes that rather saps the joy out of Sunstorm (and indeed the other Seekers). When you look back, its hard not to feel that the modern era has got something going for it on this front, with weapon storage and a general lack of bothersome accessories. 6/10

Price/Value: As with Stepper a few years previously, Sunstorm's repeat appearance in the Encore has helped moderate prices on the aftermarket. He's still fairly pricy for what he is and you'll probably struggle to pick one up for the 20 I paid. Still, at least you're no longer looking at triple digits for a fairly unremarkable toy. 4/10

Overall: Sunstorm's retina shredding brightness gives him novelty value, making him look like some Generation 2 also ran. There really isn't anything else that's particularly interesting or desirable about him. He doesn't have the same glow of nostalgia that the other Seekers have that helps mitigate the flaws of the toy. As a recent addition to the Transformers toy stable using an old mould, he doesn't even work as a historic reminder of the development of the toys themselves and just highlights how, well, rubbish some of the old stuff was. 4.6/10
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