Thursday, 17 July 2014

Transformers Generations Armada Starscream Review

Transformers Generations Starscream

In the early 2000's, Hasbro rebooted the Transformers line with Transformers Armada. It bought fresh takes on classic characters, and a bundle of new ones. The core gimmick here was to take the Micromasters, turn them in minicons and then make them unlock action features with the larger figures.

There was a cartoon which was horrible, and its well worth reading the Tfwiki's write up on it, but the toyline had some really cool figures in it. They were big, chunky and had serious heft to them.

Like almost every iteration of Transformers, Starscream was a character who got an update with a fanciful looking new futuristic jet mode, and a toy that was something akin to a brick.

Now in the 30 Anniversary Generations range, Hasbro have decided to pay homage to Armada and Starscream with an updated deluxe class figure.

Is it any good? Read after the jump to find out.

Jet Mode
Generations Starscream in jet mode

First impressions of the jet are that it is very red. It is the dominant colour of the figure and is the primary plastic colour that it is made from. Yellow and Black serve to break it up somewhat, but an over-abundance of red does burn your eyes a tad.

Generations Starscream jet mode from the side

Starscream transforms into a futuristic jet, that is very toyetic in appearance, and does not resemble any real life plane.
Instead of being a problem, it turns into a strength of the toy as it plays into the style of the original Armada show with their fictional but semi realistic looking vehicles, and overloading of gimmicks.

The original toy was Voyager class, so was a lot bigger, before even taking into account that Hasbro have shrunk their toys a lot since the early 2000's.
Its not an exact replica in looks either, its close enough, and the jet ends up being sleeker, but the colours are nowhere near correct.

Something I will give the designers massive props for here, is the flap that covers his robot mode face in Jet form. All to often, Jet characters are robots with a Jet stuck on their back, but not here.
I hope this is a trend that continues.

Starscreams jet mode from above

There are two missile launchers strapped onto the back of the jet, with two minicon ports decorating the top of each. With the original figure, attaching a mini con to the back would cause the rocket launchers to flip out. On this scaled down deluxe, there is no such gimmick, Hasbro instead choosing to go with launchers that are permanently facing forwards. Much like the recent Springer and Sandstorm, the missile launchers appear to be activated by pressure instead of springs. So you push the clear orange plastic (I have no idea why they went for that) pieces forward, and the missiles shoot out.

I suppose its one less thing to break.

The jet mode is a nice toy, and it has this interesting look of a bird swooping down. The lack of chunk compared with the original, does make it feel a little strange though.

Robot Mode
Transformers Generations Starscream

Transforming Starscream is a simple process, and what you get is a cool looking robot mode.

Carried over from the jet mode though, is the inaccurate paint job. He is missing the black from his chest and shoulders, and the grey on the sides of his legs is completely absent.

The cockpit is translucent yellow, and it would have looked much nicer if they had gone with a blue or darker colour, ala the original.

The lack of colours severely impacts the toy as there is just so much red, a lot of the detail gets lost. It needs the contrast to bring out the details, and the lack of paint apps in general is very disappointing.
Takara's version looks better, but is not perfect, however Hasbro have missed out on a chance to make this a truly great figure.

Both iterations of Generations Starscream

Moving on from the crisis of lacking paint, the sculpt is reasonably good. Much like the Jet mode, a lot of the chunk that you would identify with Armada Starscream, and what you get is a much more slender looking bot which ties in more to Starscream's personality across all generations.

This is the version that IDW have recently incorporated into their comics, with Starscreams new body.

Starscreams head

The head is one area where the figure does get it really right. Its a great looking head, that nicely recreates the original but there is one feature lacking and again its a paint app.

The original had a black chin strap, that made him look like his face was in a helmet that went all the way around. The chin strap is actually sculpted onto the face, but it is painted grey like the rest of the face, so blends into it.

I may take a Sharpie to it, and see how it turns out.

the robot mode of armada starscream

If you thought Hasbro would have left the gimmicks made famous by the Armada toys, think again, as Hasbro got your back-bro.

First, the shoulder pylons can fold forward, to give him a much more accurate look from the original show. It also means the missile launchers are pointed forward, so you can fire them at Autobot figures, or Megatron's back more aptly for Starscream.

starscreams kibble

Whilst it does look a lot better from the front, it gives you the problem seen in the picture above- giant Orange point back kibble.

This is where Hasbro really needed to add a joint, to make the Orange pieces fold flush to his back, as otherwise they stick out way too far and look ridiculous. Even displaying him on a shelf becomes awkward, as you have to position him straight on to hide them, and anything behind him has to be a good distance back.

Copying the original gimmick more closely would have served them much better, and made for a superior figure. I can appreciate things need scaling back for a deluxe, but it does not mean it has to be designed so badly.

You can strike a balance.

starscreams energon swords.

With an abundance of Orange plastic at their disposal, Hasbro decided to give Starscream two swords. His original toy had one sword which was formed from pulling off one of his wings and transforming it into a blade of doooooom.

In space year 2014, Hasbro elbowed that idea to one side, and just gave him two separate swords to wield. They do fold in half, and tab onto the back of the wings for storage, however I don't like the clear Orange, and would have much preferred a Blue.
The wings are on ball joints, so you can pop one off if you do wish to emulate how he was originally intended to.

Finally, Starscream is covered in an outbreak of minicon ports, as if he has chicken pox. I don't have any minicons to hand, but I would assume they would fit, if you wish to affix them to him.

Starscream landing...I guess

Starscream is highly poseable, and if you are a big Armada fan who was always disappointed by how unposeable the original toy was- your prayers have been answered.

The head is attached very tightly to a ball joint, so much so that for a while I thought it could only turn sideways. With a bit of pressure, it does gradually start to loosen, but due to how deep it is, you cannot get much extra movement out it.
The shoulders are on a yellow joint which pulls out, and in a neat little twist looks like extra tech detailing. There are upper bicep swivels, elbow joints, ball jointed hips, swivel thighs and the feet can pivot forwards and backwards.
In addition, the wings are on ball joints, so you can position them in a variety of ways, to get your desired look. Be warned though, moving them does hinder shoulder articulation, as they get in the way and block them from rotating properly.

Generations Starscream and scoop

Armada Starscream is a fun little figure, and at the price point you get great value. A highly articulate figure, with a multitude of gimmicks and minicon ports and two nice looking modes. I only paid about £7.50 for him shipped from Amazon in the USA.
But the lack of paint apps, and the resulting lack of contrast do prevent Starscream from reaching the level he could have.

It's disappointing more than anything, as everything else makes this one of the best deluxe class figures Hasbro have put out in many a year.
Just a couple of extra little touches could have made all the difference.

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  1. Hey man, you nailed it with this review. I just dug my old Armada Starscream out of storage, and boy, is it a piece of (garbage). Thanks for telling it like it is. At least an accurate paint job would have made the new one a bit more palatable. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you :)

      Yeah, the paint job on the Takara one is perfect and it is a shame Hasbro did not stick to that accurate colour scheme too. Still a great toy to fiddle with on the desk, except for that pesky sword...which always falls apart.
      But only one of them