Blackjack's review: Starscream
second in command
self-appointed leader, Aerospace Commander
F22 Raptor Fighter Jet
"I live to serve you, Lord Megatron!"
Right. Starscream. The immortal, backstabbing, egomaniacal, power-hungry, manipulative, people-possessing Decepticon Aerospace Commander. I've reviewed Optimus Prime, Soundwave, Bumblebee, Prowls and a slew of Megatrons, but this is my first Starscream review. Yay. In a way, this toy also marks the first toy in my serious collection, so I'm a bit sentimental with Starscream.
Starscream has always been there from the very beginning, ever since G1 twenty five years into the past. He takes the position of Megatron's second-in-command, alternating with Soundwave as his chief lieutenant of sorts. In the television show, Starscream is an annoying whiny bastard who tries to undermine Megatron's authority at every conceivable moment, and makes no secret of his ambition to kill Megatron someday. He's a backstabber. Cartoon Starscream finally got his chance, booting Megatron's half-dead body out of Astrotrain in the Transformers: the Movie, and for a brief instant became the leader of the Decepticons. Megatron returns as Galvatron and blows Screamer up during his coronation. Starscream's machinations extends beyond the grave, though. He just can't be killed. Possessing a uniquely immortal spark, he became a ghost in season three, making unholy alliances, first with Octane and later with Unicron. Ghost Starscream later made appearances in Beast Wars, where he possessed Waspinator, and in Kiss Players. The less said about the latter, the better. Comics Starscream is a more measured, playing-for-time schemer, though he does voice his disdains for Megatron... behind Megatron's back, naturally. This Starscream finally gets his chance and slew over half of the Transformers cast when he absorbed the supercomputer Underbase and gained godlike powers, waging battle against Optimus Prime, Fortress Maximus, Scorponok and Ratbat. (Megatron was presumed dead at that time). Unfortunately, he gets blown up. Bummer. Starscream's legacy, of course, endures on. A reborn Megatron, none too wiser about Starscream's machinations recreates Starscream as a Pretender to be a distraction against Optimus Prime and Scorponok. Starscream would appear in subsequent comics. In the offbeat G1 spin-off Earthforce, Starscream and Soundwave usurped Shockwave and Megatron as joint leaders of the Decepticons. Starscream appears again in the G2 comics, where he finally betrays Megatron publically, becoming one with the Warworld.
G1 Starscream had had several extra reincarnations through the comics. I'll just mention the major ones. The Dreamwave reincarnation is basically similar to the cartoon/comic one, only blander. IDW (both Furman and McCarthy) delivered their own respective interesting incarnations of Starscream, which depicts him as being highly skilled and capable, a manipulative schemer (instead of a royal idiot) and is loyal to the Decepticons. (Decepticons, not Megatron. Take notice of that.)
After G1 Starscream... well, name re-usal is very common in transformer-dom, so let's tackle every single Starscream. The next Starscream since the first one is the Beast Wars II Starscream. In no way related to G1, this black jet serves under BWII's Galvatron and is later reborn into Hellscream. Machine Wars gives us another Starscream, which is supposed to be G1 in a new body. Armada introduces an all-new Starscream, a somewhat more sympathetic and honorable sword fighting Decepticon. Armada Starscream actually joined the Autobots for a while and died honorably, sacrificing his life in showing Galvatron and Optimus Prime that Unicron is real. Except he didn't die. Of course, his ghost persists on, reappearing in Energon in a new body and basically being loyal to the Deceps (haven't seen Energon, so I didn't know much). In the Cybertron sequel, Armada Starscream is resurrected yet again, based on Figueroa's War Within Starscream. This Starscream later broke off from the main Decepticon army (which, frankly, consists of only four Decepticons, plus several 'guests'.), created his own army, absorbed the Cyber Key energy and became gigantic, even fighting Primus himself at one point. He finally met his end when he fought Galvatron. A cataclysmic explosion of energy between the two engulfed Starscream, Soundwave and Sideways, and sent them into another dimension. No doubt Starscream is backstabbing people there. Animated presents us with yet another immortal Starscream (this time because a piece of the Allspark got stuck in his head), who, in a fit of egomaniacy, clones himself to produce the Seekers.
Of course, there's still the Movie one. The de-facto leader when Megatron is lost, he first appeared on the screen when Frenzy contacted him after locating the AllSpark. Starscream mobilizes the Decepticons, and later transforms and fires on the Hoover Dam. He later exchanges words with Megatron, pleading his eternal loyalty (bull.). He appeared in the final battle, injuring Ironhide and blowing Bumblebee into two pieces and blows up many F22 jets. He was not destroyed, and escapes into space in the epilogue.
He will appear in the second movie.
Starscream's alternate mode of choice is a F22 Raptor Fighter Jet, the successor to his oh-so-popular original F15 Eagle jet mode. Well, it's a brown colour, in contrast to the more silvery colour featured in real F22s, the movie or the Premium toy. Therefore, this is not so show accurate, so to speak.
The original Voyager class toy opts for a beige-brown paint job with silver decals and brownish shades for detailing. Starscream is basically sleek, but not as sleek as it could have been.
Two gigantic (and, regrettably) non-removable rotating cannons are lodged under Screamer's wings. Six plastic projectiles are included. Each cannon can accommodate three, and if you rotate the cannon (or slide Starscream on the ground, thereby making the wheels do the work for you) the bullets shoot out. Mind, these bullets are damned trigger-happy and very sensitive... I had to learn that the hard way. The slightest rotation and the projectiles fly up. True to his backstabbing nature, the first moment I tried playing with him he shot a projectile straight into my eye. Thank God for spectacles.
Kibble check now. From the top or the sides, he's perfect. No sign that he's a Decepticon save for two tiny silver insignias on his wings. The head is barely visible. From the back and the bottom, though, it's another story. His head is visible, even if you rotate it to face the bottom. His legs are also visible, although they can be passed for fuel lines or some-such. One final note--the two pairs of wings at the back of Screamer's vehicle mode pop off easily. So be warned.
All in all, an charming alternate mode. Nothing special, but nothing bad about it either. If it's not for the paint job...
Some people are appalled by how far Starscream had changed in terms of his robot mode. Taking cues from Beast Wars/Machines, and possibly also from current comics, the Movie Transformers have heavy redesigns. The Autobots look very mechanical and fluid at the same time, but what amazes me is the work put into the Decepticon character models. Why, Bonecrusher had, what, one, two minutes in robot mode? Yet his character model is as intricate as any other Transformer in the movie. Regrettably, Starscream isn't in many scenes. However, his character model really intrigues me.
Well, the very memorable scene where he first transforms--vaulting up on the dam, transforming his hand into a giant missile rack--is very impressive and the animation is fluid. Starscream's robot mode is far from his original 'identical tin soldier' Seeker look. Rather, he's more bestial, with long, gangly, apelike arms, and legs jointed like that of a (vast, looming) predatory bird or a raptor, with eagle claws he used to tear into jets in the dogfight scene, and a face with insectoid features, Starscream actually manages to have a realistic feel. Still, I had hoped that he retains his two large wings on the back, a la G1 (and indeed every other Starscream), but we can't have everything, can't we?
Now, the toy's transformation is radically different from the movie--with his entire front body, including arms and legs being part of the bottom of the jet, a la the Aerialbots--, which would be near impossible to pull off with a Voyager class toy. Masterpiece or Supreme, maybe, but not Voyager. So, shortcuts would have to be taken.
Instead of having the arms and legs and other body parts attached on Starscream's jet bottom, the body parts have been distributed. The bottom parts form the raptor/insect/bird/chicken legs which I am so fond of, the gigantic cannons become the hands, the head is on the back of the jet, the cockpit moves up to form the chest, while the wings fold backwards.
Character models show Starscream with his F22 Jet Engines being placed on his back, but said engines are absent in the toy. Too bad. Also, instead of hands, Starscream had traded them in for the large cannons. While not exactly show-inaccurate, it does get boring after some time. His large cannon-arms give him a Armada Thrust/Movie Dreadwing look. And while it looks cool and exotic, it does get a bit annoying to pose with the big trigger-happy arms. Still, makeshift 'claws' can be pulled out to increase Starscream's coolness factor. According to TFWiki, Movie Swindle/Camshaft's head mold fits smugly in the central gap in Starscream's cannon. What a strange coincidence.
Starscream's head sculpt is show accurate, at least. As show accurate as the movie designs can get anyway. The cockpit sits on Starscream's chest, surrounded by mechanical detailing that appears during transformation. The smaller pair of wings at the back sit comfortably on the shoulders. Posability is excellent, with shoulder and elbow joints, hip and ankle joints, and two pairs of knee joints. And the head rotates.
I suppose I have to give the legs a mention here. Starscream's leg design is the most interesting one of the Movie Transformers, except Bonecrusher's clawed roller blades of doooooom. Basically, the leg is like a bird, with two knees and bent to the back in that raptor style. The last time I saw this kind of leg was... was... um... Beast Machines Cheetor? Regardless, the four-toed foot is very interesting and gives Screamer a predatory-bird-like aspect. So technically, he is, like I've overheard someone describing him- 'it's a bird! It's a plane! It's the bird-legged-freak-that transforms-into-a-plane!'
So... is Starscream worth your money? Definitely. A nice alternate mode coupled with an excellent robot mode. But this isn't the best version of the mold. Deep Space Starscream is more show accurate, and is personally preferable than this coloration. For Geewun fanatics, there's a G1 repaint and a Thundercracker repaint available. But with Revenge of the Fallen coming up, there will be a new Starscream figure, with hands this time. And this mold will be repainted into Ramjet and Skywarp in the ROTFL toyline. So, I'd recommend not getting this mold. Instead, get the other versions if you have to, and get the ROTFL Starscream if you want to.
Marks out of ten for the following:
- 8/10 other than the back-wings, Starscream's solid.
9/10 An excellent robot mode, and a fun vehicle mode. Too bad for the arms and trigger-happiness...
- 7/10 Not bad, but I'd expected better from a Voyager. Like, say, interchangeable cannons and arms.
- 4/10 Not too hard.
- X/10 It depends, really. Before Deep Space Starscream and a new ROTFL toy were announced, I'd give him a straight 9/10. Now with a gazillion upcoming repaints, his paint job really knocks him down as far as 6/10. He's a good figure, it's just that there are many better-looking paint jobs out there.