Cliffbee.com: ROTF Starscream Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




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



FIGHTER JET MODE
Height: 6cm Length: 22cm Width: 16cm

   A grey fighter jet with black tattoos all over the topside, Starscream has a transparent brown canopy and black wheels underneath. The colour scheme is actually quite simple, but the pattern of the tattoos is quite intricate, and features a Decepticon logo on the starboard wing (facing forward, unusual for a Starscream toy). The portside wing features a "Cybertronian" character in the same location. While the colour scheme is simple, the overall effect is one of detail thanks to the complex paint mask. The details of the tattoos carry over seams on the toy, which is a great effect.

   One thing which really bothered me about the Starscream from the first film was how the missile launchers underwing and the gash on top pretty much ruined the realism of what could have been a realistic fighter jet. This toy is a completely new mould, and while there are missiles underwing, they're not attached to stupidly large guns this time - and there's no gash on the back. It's such a shame then that those making the movie decided Starscream was going to get tattoos for Revenge of The Fallen, since they really detract from the realism here. Don't get me wrong - the effect is very well executed, but it's a shame that neither this toy or the last give us a realistic jet mode for Starscream. Okay, there are black hands hanging out the back anyway, but they're a fairly minor detraction compared to the black paint all over this jet.

   There's not a lot of play value here - basically we can fold out or stow the three black plastic wheels and remove the missiles from underwing. The front wheel actually folds out on two hinges, which is quite clever and provides something different. You can plug the missiles into the launchers under the fuselage if you want, I suppose, but they'll point backwards and stick out underneath those hands. While movie toys usually focus on realism over gimmicks, it's slightly disappointing that this mould takes that path but then the paint job scuttles the idea anyway. The detailing in the mould is up to standard, at least - there's a sculpted seat inside the cockpit, the nosecose is composed of a soft plastic and there are various seams here and there.

   A good plane mode with good detailing and simple but sensible play value, but this mode is undermined by the paint job. I can't blame the toy designer, but this toy fails to deliver in terms of realism thanks to the weird tattoos the movie makers added for ROTF. The hands sticking out the back are kibble, and represent another shortcoming of this toy, but this mould is a _lot_ stronger than that from the first film. If this mode didn't have the tattoos I'd strongly endorse it, but as it is, Starscream's jet mode is just okay.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Quite complex and difficult to describe, so I'll summarise. The cockpit becomes the centre of his torso, with the fuselage wrapping around it. The central spine of the fuselage becomes his legs while the arms are stowed beneath the legs. The wings fold up on his back, with the allegiance symbol peeking over one shoulder. While the nature of this transformation is vastly different to the first version, the end effect is the same, without requiring that giant gash on the jet mode.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 19cm Width: 16cm

  "> A grey robot with black hips, hands, knees and the transparent brown canopy central on his torso. Starscream wears tattoos on his wings, chest and head. According to the Hasbro pics, the thighs also have tattoos, but I suspect they forgot to rotate the legs, so I won't count that. The head also has tattoos - around the eyes - the only robot-mode-only tattoos. The flanks of the canopy (the undersides of the stabilisers) are black with some silver as well as transparent brown gears on metal rods. The colour scheme works well here and this time the tattoos aren't a potential liability.

   The hands are composed of a soft black plastic and there are gatling guns attached to the outsides of his forearms, so this Starscream gets proper hands and weapons. The weapons are much smaller than those overwhelming ones of the original, and while they don't rotate and fire missiles, the grey missiles can load between the barrels of the gatling gun and can be fired thanks to triggers on top. I've rotated the legs as I mention, so that the sculpt on his thighs and knees (including kneespurs) is visible, but you can go for tattooed thighs if you wish. While the previous Starscream didn't have any kibble in robot mode, this one also manages to avoid that.

   Aside from the missile launchers I've already mentioned, Starscream's poseability adds to his play value. The head turns, and when you do so the six brown gears in those flan pieces will turn - a clever "mech alive" feature. The shoulders swing and rotate while the elbows rotate and the wrists hinge inwards. There are actually hinges in the elbows, but they fold _out_ (i.e. the wrong way), and I'm not sure why he even has these joints. The hips swing and lift out to the sides while the knees are double hinged. If you use the tattooed thighs the extra hinge in the knees becomes largely redundant but the rotator at the top of the thighs can only augment the knees in this configuration. Either way the ankles are hinged with rotators. Starscream has small feet (as per the film) and small heelspurs, but there are panels hanging off the back of his ankles which help stability. Sure, they're designed to cover the feet in jet mode, but they're useful as a second set of heelspurs.

   A slight improvement on the robot mode from the first time around, but only because he has useful hands and some mech alive aspects. This is a good robot mode although the shape is strange by design. Considering just how weird this character design is (thanks to those making the movies), this is a great effort. Not only has the designer managed to capture that concept, they've given it useful poseability and clever mech alive features.

VARIATIONS

   There is a Nebular repaint, which is black with metallic teal tattoos.

OVERALL

   An overall improvement on the first toy, which had serious problems. Okay so this concept was always going to be a challenge for any toy designer, but they've nailed it at the second time of asking. Both modes work well and while there's some kibble in jet mode (hands out the back), it's a much stronger jet shape than last time. I was so disappointed that this mould improvement then went and undid much of the work which could have improved realism by adding the tattoos. While I blame those creating the film rather than the designer, this is something which really annoyed me. So I'm happy to report that the tattoos are easy to remove with fingernails, isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) and I've stripped the jet mode on mine (I left the face tattoos). Given than the tattoos are easy enough to remove if you wish, I'm not going to hold them against this toy, which succeeds where the last Starscream failed in that both modes work well, the play value is sufficient, the transformation is novel and the realism is great - 9/10

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