Friday, 27 December 2013

Transformers Generations Starscream Review

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas? Filled with toys, drink, food, The Snowman, and many fun Christmas festivities.

I got a light tent, as a Christmas present from my mum, and its really helped with taking photos. I need one more light, to diffuse the shadows, but otherwise its really made a different to my photo taking. No more yellow images!

I actually have a back log of far more interesting and newer toys than FOC Starscream, but he is the one Transformer figure that I got for Christmas so he is the one most fresh in my mind.

Masterpiece Bluestreak, Smokescreen, Generations Hoist, Thundercracker, Classic Turtles and a load of other things are all sitting here, waiting to be reviewed. But right now, Starscream is top of the pile by virtue of being the newest.

Generations Starscream was released at the end of last year, in the US. However, Hasbro UK did not feel the later waves of Generations were worthy enough to import to us on these shores – so we initially did not get them over here. Yaaaay.

At some point towards the later part of 2013 Toys R Us appeared to get their hands on some US stock, and it would be great if they could do it more often. This is most probably stuff they could not shift in the US, so was bumped over to us – charming.

This wave includes the aforementioned Starscream, Ultra Magnus, Kickback, Sideswipe and Air Raid – all based on designs from the Fall of Cybertron video game. Which itself is the sequel to War For Cybertron, which offers a slightly different take on the pre earth G1 continuity.

I say this, because by default I take the FOC characters as updates of pre Earth G1, even though Hasbro says they are part of the aligned continuity – which makes them technically part of the Transformers Prime storyline.
But I don’t think many people really take much note of that, as the characters all look, sound and behave far more like their G1 Counterparts than they do Transformers Prime.

Personally, I think the game makers thought of it as G1, whilst Hasbro were trying to shoe horn it into Prime, unnecessarily.

Hit "READ FULL REVIEW" below, to see the full review, after the jump

Alt Mode

The jet mode is a modernised version of the Tetra jet design seen in the first episode of the original Transformers cartoon, as the Cybertronian alt modes of Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker.

The only previous attempts at a Cybertronic jet fighter (at least that I can think of) were in the Titanium line, which reproduced Dreamwaves designs, and also in the Energon line, where Starscream had a multiple toys, all in Tetra jet styled form. The Voyager figure from that line was fantastic, and for me is probably still the best looking Cybertronian Starscream.

The colours cover all of Starscreams classic colour palette. The figure is primarily grey and red, with bits of blue adorning both modes. The grey is a nice shade, and matches Starscreams original colour (thanks Hasbro for not going back to that bright white!), whilst the red is more muted than you usually get. The blue is nice and dark instead of the lighter we are accustomed to.

The most obvious departure here from G1 Starscream, is that the wings are red, which does look weird at first, not just because of previous iterations of the character but just for the design of the jet mode. It feels like the wings should have been grey to match the colour of the main body. But it’s not bad; it ends up looking pretty nice. The Purple Decepticon symbols though, get a little lost in the red as the shade of Purple is quite light.

Its still triangular in shape, but sleeker, more detailed and more futuristic looking. The original Tetra Jet look has a very retro look to it, with its simple curved, triangular design. This is much more of a modernised version of what a futuristic space jet fighter would look like.

The blue tail fins meet at the tips, to really complete the homage, whilst echoing G1 Starscreams earth mode blue tail fins. Though the tail fin ends up looking very small and peculiar with the way there is a gaping hole between them.

The wings are swept back, and are more similar to Animated Starscream than any other version of the character.

The canopy is a very nice looking clear yellow, and there is a tiny little pilot seat molded into the cockpit.

Detail has been added all over the figure, with vents, lights and also sorts of panel lines molded into the figure to reflect that it is a piece of extremely advanced Alien technology. It’s a very nice, clean looking jet mode with the only real thing against it being the way the legs form the back end.

As you can see, it makes the rear end of the jet look really fat. Of course, the back is where the engines and thrusters are, so you expect them to be bulky, but the nose of the jet is so thin and sleek that it looks a bit strange.

The result is that the jet looks off proportionally.

With a tiny nose, huge back end, and smallish looking wings. The wings are on a pin joint, so you can move them up or down, and have them how you would like.

Starscreams head is clearly visible in jet mode. It is the back of it, so its not like his face is staring out at you - but it would have been nice if it could have completely folded away.

Starscream comes with an “assault cannon” weapon, or as its best known – the Egg Whisk of Doom. It is so called, by the fandom, because 2 halves connect together to form a large cannon, that has two rotating whisk like barrels.

The weapon can attach to the jet mode in multiple ways, and this is where all of the ports on the figure come into play. The first, and the one used in the instructions and on the packaging, is by separating the cannon into is two halves and attaching to the ports on the underside of the wings.

This looks okay, but the guns look massive in proportion to the jet mode.

The other way they can attach, is not mentioned in the instructions – though it was clearly intended to work like this. You can remove the tail fin of the jet, and underneath are 3 peg holes. If you combine the weapon, its two handles fit perfectly into those ports.
The tail fin even plugs into a port on top of the guns.

This mode maybe looks slightly better, but the tail fin looks funny sticking out of the top of this gigantic gun. Actually, I prefer it with the guns, if you don't reattach the tail fin.

Overall it’s a cool jet mode, and does a very good job emulating the game design.

Robot Mode

Ta daaa? The robot mode looks very nice, and is a strong match to the design used in the game. It helps that transformation is fairly simple and easy to do.

The arms fold out from under the tail end of the jet, as do the legs and waist, the head folds up from the middle of the top of the jet and spins round, the tip of the nose cone folds under the cockpit and the feet fold out from the thrusters.

The trickier bit is the way the upper chest folds, in an accordion fashion. It’s easy to do it, so it has not folded fully flush, but a bit of force eventually pops it into place.

It’s a good transformation, with no kibble hanging off anywhere.

Starscream looks really nice in this mode, and is an excellent representation of the game design. Its not one of my favourite Starscream designs, in either mode, but it works well enough and does what it sets out to achieve.
His silhouette captures ticks all the Starscream boxes. You have the cockpit chest, the square head, the tall vents at the top of the shoulders and the wings pointing upwards sticking out from the sides.

IDW used this design for Starscream in their comics, after they split the lines into Robots in Disguise and More than Meets the Eye, so it is even comic accurate. Well, until they replaced his body type, with that of Armada Starscream, due to him having a newer toy out….

His chest makes him look as if he is wearing a flight harness, which is a nice touch, and there are a couple of pink paint applications, which is meant to evoke the glowing Energon look from the game – it even has little dots in it.

The shoulders look like they should fit into the huge gaping hole in the side of his chest. Seriously, Starscream is a very hollow figure, to you point you can see straight through his chest. He looks fine from the front, but from the side it spoils the figure a bit.

The back of the figure though is really clean.

There is no kibble, and and everything is hidden with the back and wings being large solid pieces.

In terms of articulation, his arms are very well done, with bicep and wrist swivels, double jointed elbows and ball jointed shoulders. Can’t really complain about any of it.

The head is very square and blocky, and looks as you would expect Starscreams head to look, with nice molded detail. The face is pointy, and makes Starscream look like he pouting a little. It’s hard to say why, but I am not a big fan of the head sculpt – I am struggling to put my finger on exactly why. I think it is probably down to the pointyness of the face, it just looks odd to me. Though it is game accurate, and I did not like it there either.

There is some nice yellow light piping, which was surprising, as Starscream usually has red eyes. It makes for a nice contrast with Thundercracker, whose figure does have red eyes though.

The head can turn 360 degrees, but it cannot look up or down, or tilt, so it does not appear to be on a ball joint. However, due to the transformation, the head can look up, by lifting up the whole panel the neck is attached to.

A problem presents itself with the head, which is actually the fault of the chest. The 2 parts on either side of his head, only fold down so far, so end up blocking his head is you turn it around.

It does not physically stop the head from rotating, but if you want to pose him looking sideways, his face will be totally obscured. It does not look good, and it would have been nice if those parts could have folded down just a little more and sat flush, rather than jutting upwards.

The waist is the real problem with this design for me. It’s not the figures fault, as it is also something that is a fault with the original video game concept design.

He has a ridiculous tiny waist.

The hips just jut out massively from the sides, with no real attempt to blend them into the characters body shape, or even just giving him a decent waist.

Starscream is very stable, thanks to his thruster feet, and the various fins poking out. His foot is a claw like piece, and its on a hinge so can get some produce some very good poses. Ankle tilt is included to aid posing, but its not that much so don't expect ultra dynamic ankle poses.

If you like ankle poses for some reason, each to their own.

As mentioned in the Alt Mode section, Starscream does come with an accessory – his “Assault Cannon”.

Or again, the Egg Whisk of Doom.

Starscreams iconic weapons are his shoulder mounted null rays – but they are not a feature of this design. That’s not a bad thing, but the guns he does come with are massive, and don’t really mount well in robot mode.

Combined, the guns fit awkwardly in his hands. This is a result, of either piece of the gun having a handle, so you have to pick one for him to hold, and fit it around the shape of his hand and also the shape of his forearm. It’s not difficult, but it does look and feel a little awkward.

His shoulders are too tiny to support a peg hole, instead he has them on his forearms. You can split the gun into two and mount on each arm and he looks okay. But the guns look huge on him, and out of sync with his sleek design and treacherous character.

It’s a problem that extends to other characters in the line, with FOC Sideswipe having a ridiculously massive gun which is so big he cannot hold it, Shockwaves gun arm looks miles too big and Kickback has a weird giant buzzsaw crossbow thing.

It may well just be me, but I prefer figures to come with more tradition rifle or pistol weapons. They don’t need to include a gimmick as it usually results in a weapon that looks out of scale or silly.

Hasbro designers could have developed a much sleeker weapon for Starscream, and gotten rid of the spinning barrel gimmick which is a pointless addition as it’s not activated by a button or anything.

This is a very good figure which captures the game design perfectly. Most of the problems with it are only small, and result from the original design for the game – not the toy designers. Its very poseable, and the simple transformation makes it fun to transform.

I would highly recommend this figure, despite my complaints, so much so that I have picked up Thundercracker already and eagerly await Skywarp!

You can follow this blog on Twitter@Toybox Soapbox

Follow my rambles on Twitter @Incapable_Hulk

No comments:

Post a Comment