Cliffbee.com: Masterpiece Skywarp Toy Review

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Name: Skywarp
Series: Masterpiece
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Warrior
Alternate Mode: F-15 Eagle Fighter Jet



FIGHTER MODE
Height: 10cm Length: 33cm Width: 22cm

   A black F-15 Eagle with a transparent amber canopy, purple and white lines on the wings, various white markings here and there, purple Decepticon logos on the wings and nose and gunmetal thrusters. The colours are are designed to be more realistic than the traditional Skywarp, to the point where the allegiance symbols and characteristic purple stripes are optional decals. The purple stickers are a much darker shade than the lilac on the original, and the nosecone is now black, so even with the stickers, he's still quite realistic, colourwise. Not to the same extent as green Starscream, but with a much better focus on the character. Skywarp probably represents the best compromise between realism and character of this version to date - he's far more realistic than TRU Starscream, who focuses very much on character.

   Colour aside, this is a great F-15, with every seam, every aviation light, every aspect, taken care of. There's a single black seat inside the cockpit with amber "padding" - and Skywarp comes with a tiny Dr Archeville figure, which is a tiny black humanoid with a while painted coat. He has a totally black head, and is more a carryover from Starscream than a dedicated accessory for Skywarp. You can choose from more traditional seeker style missiles underwing or go for more F-15 like missileracks, the latter have white paint on the missiles themselves, which is a great touch. It's nice that while the focus is on making this a realistic jet, the designer has included fan-oriented aspects like the Dr Archeville figure and the choice of missiles. There's also a small bracket which can clip underneath the nose, specifically designed to hold Masterpiece Convoy's included Megatron gun - which is a great idea. Again, this one is focused towards Starscream, but works just fine for Skywarp.

   The plastic here is sturdier than the model plastic of Greenscream, but the mould is the same - there were some rounded elements on the TRU Starscream. Again, this makes Skywarp the best version, with good plastic but not Hasbro's "lets make sure we can sell this to kids who'd never even know who he is" modifications. He comes with a stand that allows this mode to fly, and bears a Decepticon symbol on it - along with a sticker sheet of various Transformers and aviation related stickers for you to customise the plane. Skywarp can rest on his undercarriage, but the stand is a carry over from the more model-like Starscream. While I appreciate the fact that Skywarp moves away from that style, I'm glad the stand was included because it adds something to this mode as a display piece.

   There are some great plane aspects which were really designed for show but still provide play value. You can pull the nosecone forward and swing it to the starboard, revealing a silver radar array while the landing gear all retracts under panelling, leaving a smooth surface. Other than the purple forearms, the underside doesn't show much that's not plane like - again emphasising the designer's focus on this toy as a display piece. Still, the almost flawless underside is still something I admire - few Transformers manage what Skywarp does here. The thrusters are actually on ball joints, the flaps on each wing fold down and there's a lift up panel on the fuselage for extra braking - suggesting this particular F-15 would be assigned to an aircraft carrier (not something F-15s are built for, I should point out).

   A great F-15 model that straddles the gap between realism and character really well. While black fighters aren't common, they're certainly credible. Skywarp has done what Greenscreem didn't - focus on the character. Yet this is still a fantastic plane - he has great detailing and a lot of options and the design focus is excellent. While the purist might prefer a lighter shade of purple, the fact is that this jet beats out Greenscream's colours for character and TRU Starscream's colours for realism, and in that context, this plane mode is pretty much perfect.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Complex and fiddly, with many small joints relying on small pieces of plastic. Many of the joints are quite tight, although the plastic here is strong enough to to accommodate this. I wont go through everything in detail, but essentially the scheme is the same as that of the original, with several minor changes to improve the shape in both modes. The tails end up hanging off his hips as kibble, which is the main change here.



ROBOT MODE
Height: 25cm Width: 21cm

   A big black seeker with a gunmetal chest featuring transparent amber canopy, Skywarp has gunmetal feet and purple forearms. The head is black with a silver face and red eyes, the waist is also silver. There are upside down purple Decepticon logos on his wings (assuming you choose to apply them). There are silver painted details here and there including on his wrists and hips as well as inside the air intakes, the purple lumps on his shins are present. The colours aren't a perfect match for the character since the chest and feet are gunmetal instead of purple - which is so that the jet looks better from underneath, but there's enough silver here and the purple is bright and vibrant this time, so this is very much Skywarp.

   The transformation does a great job of turning a realistic F-15 into a classic seeker robot. The air intakes, missile launchers, canopy and wings are all there - even down to the pointy wingtips they had in the cartoon. The head sculpt is great, and you can even swap out the regular face for one with a smirk on it. The missiles do look like the blasters Skywarp wore in the cartoon, although they don't fire.

   The poseability is fairly limited, really. The arms are quite poseable, and he can again hold the Megatron gun (in his hand this time). Sadly the legs are far from stable, since those big kibbly things hanging off the hips take away the tailfins that the seekers used as heelspurs. And there are no heelspurs this time around. You can pop the hip panels off and reattach them to his legs which gives Skywarp heelspurs, although it leaves the balls of the joints visible on his hips. I wouldn't recommend even trying this on the fragile Greenscream, but the black plastic of Skywarp's hips is a lot firmer. Personally, I've taken to swinging the hip panels back since I don't want to have to pop them on and off to transform him, but if I was a kitbasher, I'd probably just take the balls off. Skywarp will happily stand with the aid of his stand, although he floats above the table which isn't ideal. This is the main flaw carried over from Greenscream, but the stronger plastic of the hip panel ball joints does provide a workaround. Skywarp is still capable of standing without his stand, but the poses available are somewhat limited. Even then, this version isn't likely to break as soon as it falls over (which happened to the Greenscream I have since offloaded). The black stand is less obtrusive against the black Skywarp than against the green or grey Starscreams, incidentally.

   The colours are great even if they're not perfectly Skywarp and there are some nice display extras such as the facial expressions and missile racks hidden within his chest (which are painted black). The design really does a great job of capturing the animated shape of Skywarp (hip kibble aside), even if the colours are a tad darker overall. I'm still not all that impressed with the fact that he needs the stand, but then this repaint was always going to rely on that. Even then, the stronger plastic allows you to use the hip plates as heelspurs, something too risky on the fragile first attempt. While he's not perfect, this is still a wonderful robot mode.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of, although as mentioned he is a repaint of Masterpiece Starscream. Masterpiece Thundercracker is a later repaint of the mould.

OVERALL

   A great plane mode, a solid robot mode and a colour scheme that represents Skywarp while still giving us a credible jet colour scheme - all of which make this a worthwhile Masterpiece toy. Granted the lack of true heelspurs are a significant flaw carried over from the Starscream, but the sturdier plastic allows a workaround, so on the whole this is a very worthwhile toy. The transformation and poseability are both good once you give him heelspurs and there are quite a few minor elements such as his facial expressions, movable thrusters and Dr Archeville which justify the Masterpiece label. The tailfins are still annoying, but Takara have done what they can with the mould to make Skywarp live up to his Masterpiece billing. Recommended despite the hip panel issue, even if you have Starscream, and a must for fans of the character - 9/10

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