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Fall Of Cybertron Starscream

Transformers Generations
by yo go re

When the War for Cybertron toys came out, Hasbro said that if they sold well, there were plans for more game-based figures, starting with the already-designed Starscream. Obviously that didn't happen, but now, two years later, we finally get a toy of him.

There was a time when Starscream was an honorable soldier who fought for the defense of Cybertron. But long isolation aboard an orbital platform made him greedy and ambitious. Given the opportunity to once again lead troops, he gladly joined Megatron.

That bio may just sound like it's making excuses or something, but it's an accurate retelling of his origin as presented by the War for Cybertron game: he spent 1,000 years in charge of an orbital facility that produced unstable Dark Energon, overseeing it with his good buddy Jetfire; when Megatron invaded the station, he played to Starscream's vanity, reminding him that he'd once held the rank of Sky Commander before being demoted to a glorified night watchman.

The "(Verb) (conjunction) Cybertron" videogames are purportedly in the same continuity as TF: Prime, but they really owe a lot more to G1. In that they're basically a retelling of G1. Instead of a thin, pointy head, this is a blocky, "earmuffed" head, just like the original Starscream had. His eyes are orange and lightpiped.

The body looks thick and powerful. Its Generation 1 influences are plain, with the cockpit chest, the wings behind the arms, and the angular red sections over the shoulders. Really, other than the lack of white on the wings and thighs, the colors are almost a direct match to the vintage Starscream. Although the body is bulky, he still manages to look sleek thanks to the pointed designs of his arms and the four-pronged feet. Rather than being built from squares, all his shapes are vaguely triangular, too, and that helps keep him from looking like a bruiser instead of a speedster.

Starscream's articulation is good. The head is only a swivel, but due to the way it transforms, you can also raise it slightly if you want him to be looking up. The shoulders and hips are swivel/hinge joints, the biceps, thighs and wrists swivel, and the knees and elbows are hinged - double-hinged, in the case of the arms. The feet really seem like they should be balljointed, but they're not: there's a hinge joint in the ankle, but it only moves the feet side to side, not front to back; that means the legs can be wide and still have the feet flat on the ground. Those are so stiff you may not even realize they exist.

'screamer comes with two really neat assault cannons. They're red and silver, and have gear-like designs that actually spin. Each gun has three hexagonal barrels. They can be held in the hands, or plugged into the undersides of his arms. Or also the wings and legs, because it's all standard 5mm pegs and holes as far as the eye can see. But he's meant to have them either in his hands or on his arms at this point.

The guns look identical, but they're not: they're actually mirror images of each other, and they can plug together to form a bigger, more impressive gun. And remember the parts that looked like gears? Well, they looked like gears because they are gears. When you put the two guns together, the gears interlock and the barrels will now spin as one. It's a very neat feature, and looks just like the guns in the games. You also gain another 5mm hole on the top of the gun in this form.

To convert Starscream, raise the red pieces off the shoulders, turn the head 180° and raise the robot's back. Rotate the lower arms, then swivel the shoulders into the hollow body. Fold the legs up, pull out the nosecone, and you're done! See, wasn't that easy?

Just like in G1, Starscream is a jet. Specifically a "tetrajet." In the cartoon, that meant a flying pyramid, but ever since The War Within, that's meant something a little more... aerodynamic. Since Cybertron, really.

The altmode is 5⅝" long, 2¼" tall and has a 4" wingspan. There's no landing gear or anything, but the shape of the jet is very intimidating. The cockpit is much farther forward than either the Cybertron or War Within interpretations, and the wings sweep forward. All the colors from the robot mode carry over here, but we get the addition of purple Decepticon logos on the wings. They do blend in pretty thoroughly, though.

The guns can be mounted under the wings, or, in a completely undocumented feature, you can pull off the tailfins, revealing a pair of holes perfectly spaced to accommodate the joined gun. Seriously, this adds a lot to the toy, but the only way you'd ever know about it is if you saw a conspicuous lump inside Starscream's back while you were transforming him, and poked at it with a screwdriver to see why it was like that. I speak from experience.

Starscream came out at the same time as Ultra Magnus, but for some reason he got much less attention: while everyone was going nuts for a repaint with a new sword, nobody was talking about this guy. And that's a shame, because this is a great Transformer, without the kind of corner-cutting that's been hitting the brand lately.

-- 02/19/13

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