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Starscream vs. Vector Prime

Transformers: Cybertron
by yo go re

One of the weirdest things about the Transformers: Cybertron line was that Starscream, treacherous Decepticon second-in-command, was the single largest figure released in the line. He was bigger than Optimus Prime, for cryin' out loud! That's just not right! Yes, there was an in-story reason for that, but come on! If you wanted a normal-sized Starscream, you had to get a Toys Я Us exclusive.

Starscream Constantly plotting behind his leader's back, Starscream is using the Decepticon forces left under his command on Earth to further his own ambitions. He desires the power granted by the Planet Key, believing it will finally give him the power to destroy Megatron and the Autobots. With a mighty array of weapons, including his fearsome null ray cannons, he is second to none in aerial combat and skill with an Energon blade.

First of all, the size - Starscream is just over 7" tall, which is much better than the previous "Supreme" class release. He's closer to Voyager class, now. This is, in fact, the same mold that Japan got as the standard Starscream release - there are a few differences between him and his bigger brother. For instance, no lights and sounds. No electronics at all. And he only has one Cyber Key slot, rather than two. There are a few others, that we'll get to in a moment.

The figure looks really cool. yep, that's Starscream The head is a nice throwback to the classic G1 Starscream. His body is proportional, with only a minimum of kibble, and he moves at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, elbows, shoulders and neck. His key-activated feature is a pair of translucent purple blades that pop out of his arms - the Supreme version had one blade and one blaster, another difference. For some reason, his paint job's been reversed; the burgundy and silver have been swapped. While the original paint scheme made him look like the G1 version, this one still works. He ends up looking like the Armada Starscream.

Paint aside, Starscream's design is even older than that. The War Within He's based, both in robot and vehicle form, on Don Figueroa's pre-Earth mech designs from Dreamwave's The War Within comic series. Figueroa started with the "flying triangle" form shown in the original cartoon, but updated it into something respectable. The Cybertron version isn't a direct copy, but it definitely leans heavily on Figueroa's design.

The plane is 9" long and has a 7¾" wingspan. flying triangle The cockpit is translucent purple, and starscream's missile launcher can plug in place under the nosecone - the same place Armada Starscream's Mini-Con attached. The guns mounted on either side of the cockpit do not move, unlike the guns on the Supreme version. There are three small wheels on the underside, but they're more for the toy than the character. The two energon blades can again be popped out to attack position with the use of a Cyber Key.

Starscream's opponent in this boxed set is Vector Prime. The figure is exactly the same as the single-boxed version, which is kind of a big thumb in the eye to anyone who'd already bought him.

Vector Prime Vector Prime outmatches Starscream in wits and strength, but the ancient Autobot is pushed to the limits of even his incredible power by the demands of the search for the Planet Keys and the defense of Cybertron from its countless enemies. Forced to use his remarkable time-traveling abilities to constantly hop between dimensions, he finds himself weakened during the frequent skirmishes with Decepticon forces. Nonetheless, he must persevere, for nothing less than the survival of the universe is at stake!

According to Transformers lore, when the spirits of Unicron and Primus were trapped in the asteroids that would one day be their bodies, they each used their remaining energies differently. Unicron, being a selfish jerk, focused on himself, creating a body that could transform into a semblance of his old self. Primus, meanwhile, gave his gift of transformation away, creating 13 beings who could turn into various kinds of machines to act as defenders and caretakers. Vector Prime is one of those original 13.

Autobot Vector Prime's design really sells his ancient origins. The pads on his shoulders and arms look like a knight's armor, and the kibble on his back looks like a cape. There are intricate, swirling patterns etched into the surface, rather than just the usual plates and seams. One subtle way of indicating his age is his face - it's patterned on the Autobot faction symbol. A bit more intricate and a bit distended, sure, but it's there.

The figure is approximately 8" tall and moves at the knees, hips, elbows, shoulders and neck. True, there's no waist, but when everything (except the neck) has the range of a balljoint, do you miss it? blue accessories Adding to the "knight" theme, VP's main weapon is an ornate 5¾" energon sword. His Cyber Key fits in a slot in his chest, in front of a large concave area. Now, we usually don't mention the Cyber Keys in these reviews, because they're pretty generic things, but this time is different. His key is translucent blue (the Japanese release was painted silver) with a technological, gear pattern around the edge. All four key symbols - Earth, Speed Planet, Jungle Planet, Giant Planet - are here beneath the surface, as well as a tiny Autobot symbol. This is obviously a special key.

Vector Prime's vehicle mode - he's a space ship or something - Come on, Lasty! looks a bit awkward at first, but it grows on you once you play around with him. The design is reminiscent of Darth Maul's Sith Infiltrator, with angular wings flanking a long, pointy fuselage. And just as Starscream's look was based on the comics, Vec's got some four-color roots, as well; though maybe not intentionally. He bears a surprising resemblence to a character from the Marvel comics called "The Last Transformer." Lasty was an ancient TF with offset wings, a pointed body, and the Autobot symbol for his face. Huh. Sounds familiar.

Transformation is pretty straightforward. zoom! This is one of those TFs where you can tell by looking at it how it transforms, but it's nowhere near as bad as Energon Omega Supreme. The ship, 10" long with an 8" wingspan, looks decent from a distance, but is really impressive when you examine it up close. The white, brown and gold color scheme suggests a kind of old-fashinoned, gilded device, and the metallic blue sections stand out nicely. The Japanese version had more complex paint apps (more gold sections, brown edging around the translucent blue solar panels), but the colors didn't have as high a level of contrast.

Repent, Harlequin! Sculpted all along the nose of the ship are dozens of interlocking gears of various sizes - you even get a side-view of them. The gears make Vector Prime look like a clockwork creation, rather than an advanced robot, which serves two purposes: it helps "age" him, and it quietly suggests his ability to control the flow of time. The detailing and variety on these gears is superb. You can just imagine these things spinning as Vec powers up or fires his missile.

Vector Prime also has a Mini-Con partner, a little guy named Safeguard. gun? plane? Gunplane? His vehicle mode looks like a plane, at first, but then you notice that instead of a nosecone, he's got a gun barrel. As a blaster, he can fit on VP's arm or in the specially designed niche behind the spaceship's cockpit. In fact, it seems more likely that he's intended as an integral part of the ship than as a separate vehicle. He's kind of like a Targetmaster gun.

Safeguardimus Prime Like the Targetmasters and the other Mini-Cons, Safeguard transforms into a tiny robot. His white and brown paint scheme reflects that of his larger partner, while his head seems designed after Optimus Prime's. Safeguard move as the knees, hips, shoulders and balljointed elbows, and the gun barrel is long enough to reach the ground when in robot form. This can help stabilize poses, or it can just make him tip over. Depends on what you do.

It's a safe bet that Starscream is the one who sold this set. Vector Prime was a straight re-release, while Starscream was in a form most fans had been waiting for. Because of that, the fact that VP is so cool may come as a surprise. While I'm sure many people would have been a lot happier to get Starscream by himself, the idea of pairing these two up and pitting them against each other works well. If you can find a TRU that still has these left over, it's definitely a set worth getting.

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