Cliffbee.com: Robotmasters Skywarp Toy Review

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



FIGHTER MODE
Height: 6cm Length: 17cm Width: 12.5cm

   A black F-15 with silver air intakes and a purple nose, as well as purple tailfins and rear thrusters and an orange canopy, Skywarp looks very similar to the G1 Skywarp's jet mode, save for a small central purple area that was black on the original (and was painted grey on Starscream. This is a good colour scheme and it's very close to that of the original - if not the colours on an actual F-15. There are three stamped Decepticon symbols on this jet - one on the nose and one on each wing, facing backwards.

   Considering that the original Diaclone based toy was a fairly good representation of the F-15, it's not really a surprise that this is a better F-15. The improvements are minor, mind you. The wings now sit flush against his fuselage, the front wheel retracts rather than simply detaching. The wings, tailfins and tailwings are all permanently attached now as well - to me this is the biggest improvement. This might sound like a minor thing, but the number of wingless seekers out there is amazing - so it overcomes one of the biggest hurdles in finding this character. The last thing they've fixed up is the gap between the engines - there's now only a seam.

   There's not really a lot of play value here. The front wheels retracts, the cockpit opens without really revealing much more than a cavity and the bombs under his wings can rotate or detach. This is actually slightly less than on the G1 toy - which had missile launchers rather than solid bombs under the wings. Having said that, those launchers were terribly ineffective and Skywarp doesn't have missiles that can get lost.

   In this mode Skywarp has some minor improvements on his G1 version, but there's not a huge difference. The random purple outbreak in the middle is a regression but the more solid construction is a definite plus. The play value is about what you can expect from a fixed wing jet. The real point of this toy is the robot mode, so this plane mode is as solid as it needs to be, really.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Pretty much the same as the original, with four major differences. The head rotates, so that you no longer have his face under the nose. The fists fold down as his forearms rotate, rather than having to be added. The wings are on double joints, allowing clearance for his arms without needing to detach and lastly the boots slide down, giving Skywarp actual thighs.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 12cm Width: 12cm

   A black robot with a silver torso, Skywarp sports silver pillars formed from the air intakes on his shoulders, the black cockpit (with orange canopy) on his chest and purple feet and hands. This is of course the Skywarp we know from G1 - he even has the whiteface with red eyes that cartoon Skywarp has. While the face represents a diversion from the original toy, it's very cartoon accurate and still instantly recognisable as being the same character as the G1 toy. Another feature borrowed from the animated version is the upside down Decepticon symbols on his wings, and curiously these are the only allegiance symbols on this robot mode.

   So this mode is clearly inspired by the cartoon, and it _is_ quite show accurate. Probably the only major departure from the cartoon is that this toy has the horizontal tailwings on it's ankles like the original - since there wasn't really anything else that could be done with them. The wings on his back are at the right height - slightly above those on the G1 toy. The weapons on his arms, based on the G1 launchers with long missiles, attach just above the elbows joints and look pretty good there. You also have the option of plugging the guns into his forearms, something that wasn't an option on G1 Skywarp. The guns are black like those of the G1 toy rather than purple as on the G1 cartoon - and this is probably the biggest deviation from cartoon Skywarp.

   As you have probably worked out, this toy is really all about the enhanced robot mode. So you'd expect articulation, after 20 years of toy technology. Well, Skywarp's head is on a ball joint, as are his shoulders while his elbows are hinged with swivels above then. There are also swivels in his thighs, although this represents the only jointing in his legs - although ball jointed hips do allow for some posing. The large heelspurs formed from the tailfins make the few leg poses stable, but also restrict how the legs can be posed. So the arm and head are articulated but the legs are a little disappointing.

   I don't really mind the limited leg poseability, since knee hinges would have meant gashes in the engines on his jet mode, unless the hinges were placed mid-thigh. In Skywarp's case the gashes would have been hidden amongst the black, but on Starscream and Thundercracker it wouldn't have looked very good. Considering that Skywarp is only a deluxe - and a slightly small one at that - I think they've done a pretty good job of making a robot mode that _looks_ like the cartoon with any articulation at all. The wings are set back slightly, thanks to the double joints they rest on, which means you no longer have to tilt them back when lifting his arms.

   Aside from the largely unavoidable lack of poseability in his legs, the other flaw in this mode is the somewhat disjointed arms - the holes on his forearms appear to be a way of saving plastic, although as mentioned the guns can plug in so they're not totally useless. Plugging the guns in will prevent him from bending his elbows - I'd have preferred solid forearms without this option, since the lasers aren't something he every held in his hands in the cartoon. Still, at least we have the option.

   As with most Robotmaster toys, Skywarp has some unusual extra weapons. In his case they come in the form of twin silver cluster bomb racks, which attach to his chest and have flip lids. If the lids are closed it just looks like he has chromed breasts, so I'd recommend leaving them open. I personally prefer the look of the toy without them. I'm not really unhappy with these things - just unimpressed. Sure, I don't like them, but it's nice they were included, and I have the option of ignoring them. They _do_ look better than on Starscream, mind you, since they're chrome on silver rather than chrome on red. Silly maybe, but at least they're no longer awkwardly clashing with the chest.

   The flaws introduced this time around are easily outweighed by the improvements on the G1 toy - and this robot mode is accurate to both G1 toy and cartoon. The poseability is impressive when you consider the constraints imposed by the existing transformation. Admittedly, by modern standards this isn't the best robot mode out there - but considering it had to copy an existing bodyplan, it's a job well done.

VARIATIONS

   None as such, although as mentioned Skywarp is a repaint of RM Starscream. Skywarp was sold in a two-pack with Thundercracker.

OVERALL

   Considering the limitations the designers had to work within, this is a great effort. Skywarp is a great G1 update, works well as an F-15 and is far more poseable than the original. Yes, there are some flaws, but that's to be expected of a toy trying to do so much - it's not going to be of the standard of a Binaltech toy, because there's not the freedom of design (nor the expense). Whether or not you want two (or three) of the same mould is up to you, but it's certainly a worthwhile mould. Skywarp offers the least in terms of cartoon accuracy simply because his cartoon colours were closer to the original toy than the other two, and with the purple outbreak on the jet mode, he's probably the weakest of the trio - but they're all good toys. Recommended for fans of the character or the seekers - 8/10

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