Cliffbee.com: FAB Starscream Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Starscream
Series: Movie Tie-Ins
Allegiance: Decepticon
Alternate Mode: F-22 Raptor Fighter Jet

Thanks to Tiby for loaning me Starscream for this review



JET MODE
Height: 6cm Length: 17.5cm Width: 13.5cm

   A grey fighter jet with some light grey paint applications on the nosetip, wing edges and bordering the canopy, which is itself painted black. There are dark grey claws sticking out on in front of the wings and behind the jet - the latter are ridiculously visible. There's a black Decepticon logo painted just behind the canopy and the upper surface is well sculpted with plane seams. The shape of this plane is very much simplified for the kiddies - everything just feels rounded and the nose is too short. The claws (actually the robot feet) are ridiculous and ruin any chance this jet has of looking realistic - even accounting for the bad proportions. Ironically, the colour scheme is otherwise pretty good.

   As much as I dislike the jet mode of the regular version of this character, I can't really say I prefer this jet. They're not even trying to hide the kibble here, and the shape reminds me of some of the bad jets we saw in the late "European" G1 era (such as the abysmal Deftwing). There's no play value here other than rolling Starscream along on his three wheels. I don't really expect much, but it would have been nice if you had the option of folding up the front wheel. Well, you can, but then he'll lay nose down on the table. For a toy which puts so little into hiding the kibble, I would have expected enough undercarriage junk to support the nose!

   I'm not going to go into more detail, because there's just not much to this jet. It's a flat surface on top of a folded up robot, well, an almost folded up robot. The colour scheme is the highpoint, but for a vehicle that should be all about grey, this really is damning with faint praise.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Okay, here's the coolest part of this transformation. The first step is to fold down the legs underneath. You can stop now and you get a F-22 bird of prey - the claw-like feet really look like bird's claws now, and this is a cool effect.

   Anyway, lift up the wings and fold over the nose. Lift out the fuselage plates which autotransforms the tail section, basically the panels all fold over with the fuselage flipping out to reveal arms, the nose folds over to become his chestplate and the tail flips up to reveal his head. Position the legs and you're done.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 14.5cm Width: 14cm

   A grey robot with darker grey plastic on his arms, head and legs. The arms and boots have a wash of black paint, which isn't quite battle damage, more like the grime of everyday wear and tear. The insides of his hands feature copper bomb-like features, which I suspect are meant to mimic the missile launchers within the hands of the larger toy. The nose and canopy, complete with light grey paint apps, black window and Decepticon logo, are on his chest. His mouth is painted gold and the eyes a rather demonic silver. I'm really quite impressed by this colour scheme. While the FABs are generally dumbed down this colour scheme is great, the paint applications are anything but lazy.

   As is the case with most FABs, the robot mode is somewhat simplified, but it's not the mess his jet mode is. The torso is fairly simple and the kibble around his arms is a little disappointing, but the paint job is good enough that Starscream isn't anywhere near as kiddie as is usually the case with FABs. I guess it helps that this Starscream has hands rather than giant Gatling guns on the end of his arms - which really make the larger toy a little simple anyway. The head hunches forward which bothers me a fair bit, but Starscream has an unusual head anyway.

   The gimmick here is actually really good - not just the half-assed missile launcher of most FABs. The right arm has a slashing blade on the outside, which you release via a small tab. There's a second tab on his shoulder which causes the arm to pop up. Together these spring loaded mechanisms make for a cool gimmick, since you can release in whichever order you want, and that allows Starscream some slashing motions. Ironically most of the FABs have spring loaded waists that don't do anything, while Starscream is the only one who lacks this feature (Frenzy doesn't really count) yet is one of the few with a use for it. I don't mind the lack of the waist action since Starscream still has a slashing motion.

   Starscream's poseability isn't too impressive, but then that's because the engineering actually goes into other stuff, rather than just laziness as on some FABs. His head is fixed but the shoulders lift (the right one with a spring) and the hips are restricted ball joints. His knees are hinged and his feet are digitigrade, the claws are stretched wide enough to allow for some decent slashing poses - not as wide a range as I'd like but enough to keep me satisfied. I would have liked to see at least a left elbow, and it would have been nice if the left arm lifted out to the side, but he can raise his arms to aim the false missiles - Ironhide can't even aim his real missile so relatively speaking this poseability works.

   Yes it's still a limited robot and it's simplified, but this is one of the few FAB robots that offers good play value and doesn't _look_ dumbed down. The paint mask does a lot for this toy and the gimmick is well thought out, which gives him an advantage over some others missile-weilding FABs. The hunched head holds him back, but it's still a good robot mode.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of. Ramjet is a repaint of Starscream.

OVERALL

   This is the only FAB I could recommend over the regular toy. Sure he still has problems, but less than the larger toy has, and there are more cool aspects. The jet mode sucks - but then it still has less kibble than the rolling missile-launcher-that-cannot-fly mode of the larger toy. The transformation is clever and more elegant than the larger toy, which basically outsmarts itself. His robot mode is a lot of fun, and while it's simple, it actually fits into the FAB concept without simply being overly simplified. The gimmick works and the paint mask is great, making the robot mode rewarding and just as good as that of the larger toy. Oh and we have the bird-plane gerwalk mode as an added bonus. If I had not already picked up the awful larger toy, I would pick up this flawed but fun toy instead - it just has more to offer - 6/10

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