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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
Robot Mode:
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Pun-3x' review of: Starscream

Name: Starscream
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Pursuit and Capture
Sub-Group: NA
"Conquest is made of the ashes of one's enemies."

Machine Wars Starscream is a repaint of the European/U.K. exclusive Skyquake. The original toy sold in 1992. The toy transformed into a large jet. The original boasted a more colorful paint style with a full-body green and hot pink highlighted jet mode, and a black, green, bronze and hot pink robot mode. The toy was sold as an accompaniment to the smaller U.K. Predators jet fighter toys.

This repaint was a Kaybee Toys exclusive sold in 1997. The Kaybee Toys repaint keeps most of the original's gimmicks, though it ditches the small launching gun that came with the U.K. version. This version does retain its bombs/missiles as well as its bomb dropping gimmicks. The paint style for this toy is a much-improved version of the original, using black and two shades of gray to pull off a very menacing-looking Decepticon. The jet is mostly a nice sleek black, while the robot is a mix of all colors. There are a lot of transparent blue parts in both modes.

There was a second repaint eventually made for the Transformers: Universe line, named King Atlas, in 2004.

Vehicle Mode:
Probably the best place to start with this toy is the jet mode. This is where Starscream truly shines. The toy itself is very large-about a head taller than most Generation One combiner groups. As a result, the jet mode is huge. The mostly-black paintjob of this mode help to make it look very deadly. The rest of its awesomeness stems directly from the jet design, which resembles nothing currently in service. (Though some may get a "Blackbird" feel from it) It is very futuristic with a set of twin-engines resting in the center of each wing. There are three landing gears that can fold up and out of the way for when in flight.

There are three major gimmicks in this mode. The first is a set of bomb droppers located on both wings in front of the engines. A rotator disc allows you to turn an internal compartment that carries four bombs. The dial turns until the compartment is fully open underneath to let the bomb drop. This is a very nice part of the toy.

The second gimmick is a bomb scope made by transforming the tail until it's on top of the back of the plane. The scope opening is located between the two bomb bays, and to utilize it properly one has to transform the head out of the way. A part of the miniature tailfins on the back of the scope slides up, placing a panel in the way of the viewer on the inside. I believe the original had a mirror on this panel, so as to see out of a square slot directly underneath the tail section without transforming the scope up. This mirror part of the scope is not present on the Machine Wars Starscream, though I cannot be sure if it was present on the original.

The third gimmick is mainly for show. A set of panels in the top-center of the jet mode can slide open to reveal transparent blue paneling underneath. Four open spots underneath the jet body are meant to allow light through to the entire set of panels, though it doesn't work very well. Still, the look when these panels are open just adds to the toy.

Robot Mode:
The robot mode of this toy is nothing special, though size does come into account here. The details are nice all around for the limbs and body. The lower arms and fists are prominent on the toy, looking almost like a pair of robotic gloves reminiscent of the old G1 Starscream in a way. The face looks nothing like Starscream, however, as the toy is a repaint of another. The eyes are the transparent blue with 'open back' that allows light through. The chest panel, which opens for a place to store the head in jet mode, is also transparent.

The issue for this toy is simple: very little articulation. The arms turn at the shoulders, but they can only rotate from down to a straight out position because the landing gears on both arms prevent them from bending any higher. You can fake knee joints with this toy since the lower legs fold back for transformation. And...well, that's it. The head doesn't turn, the legs don't kick out at the waist, and the waist itself is solidly a part of the body. While the toy looks great, it doesn't do much in this robot mode. For a toy so large, you would figure they could have worked out a few more joints. It's most likely that they chose not to. While the look of the toy is very nice, mainly from its size, it suffers from this issue greatly.

Transformation: 4 - It's not too difficult to figure out, even at its size.
Durability: 7 - While the toy is quite solidly built in both modes, due to the size I would be very careful about dropping it. (Though, this goes with most toys dated from the 90's and older)
Fun: 6 - The robot mode really lacks on this toy, but the jet has the looks and the gimmicks that really sell here. Unfortunately, this is more of a toy futuristic jet that happens to have a robot mode as its gimmick than a robot with a jet mode.
Price: 7 - This toy is a bit older, and finding one at a dealer or website seller may cost you. However, they tend to go on Ebay for relatively cheap. The original sold for $20 or $25 when it was on the shelves. Getting it for about this price would be ideal.
Summary: 7 - This is not the best toy ever made, and while it is the largest in the Machine Wars line, it's not the best of them either. The robot mode is very much a brick. However, it really isn't a bad toy, especially if you're into heavy jet fighter/bombers. If you can find one, I can't say it's a bad buy. I would even suggest getting the black Machine Wars version over either the original or the Universe white repaint. It really does make a difference.

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