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Transformers: Prime
by yo go re

Interestingly, Arcee was the only character to appear in every episode of Transformers Prime Season 1. And though her main nemesis was another female, she also had a particular bone to pick with Starscream.

As usual, Starscream's altmode is a jet of indeterminate origin - what can we say, the guy likes the sky. Since all three of the Prime toys available so far are Deluxe Class figures, the plane isn't very big - 5¾" long with a 5" wingspan - but it still looks pretty good.

The jet appears to be a cross between a Harrier and an F-16 Falcon. It has a rather short nose with a bubble canopy, a narrow tubular body and a single thruster in the back. There's more detail up there than on the real plane: the curse of robot kibble. The wings are flat across, and there's a bundle of three missiles underneath each. You'll find landing gear on the underside, but it's all just molded, so it doesn't roll and it can't retract. Still, this is a nice-looking jet.

Converting Starscream is easy to get the hang of. Unhook his ankles from the engine and fold down the waist. Turn the hips 180°, plug them back in, and turn the waist around. Fold down the wings, spread the arms and rotate them into place. Extend the lower arms, unfold his hands and tuck away the tailfins into the forearms. Pull the head out of the chest cavity and raise it into place, flattening the rear of the plane against the robot's back.

In most continuities, Starscream has a predictable personality: he's the one who constantly tries to usurp Megatron's power. Heck, it's so ingrained he's even got a page named after him on TV Tropes! But TF Prime is the first continuity where they've ever addressed why Megatron keeps taking him back: as the Decepticons' second-in-command, he has access to intelligence the Autobots could use to tip the war in their favor.

Starscream has an almost feminine design. He's skinny and leggy and his feet look like high-heeled shoes. However, his hunched posture, his general proportions and the large things (wings, in this case) coming off his shoulders make him look rather like an Eva Unit - you have to wonder if that was intentional or a coincidence. Another coincidence? If you pretend the red panels on his chest are eyes, then the entire torso looks like an homage to movie Starscream's head. Why would the designers do that? Such a random connection to make! But once you see it, you can't un-see it, and now we've put the image in your mind, too. Focus instead on pretending he's being piloted by Shinji Ikari's TF-verse equivalent.

Starscream has a few vents on the sides of his face, but that's about as far as the parallels between this version and the G1 design go. He has a long, pointed face with a wicked smile that says he's ready to stab you in the back. He has a crest on his forehead, but because it's molded from PVC, it warps easily during the trip from China - ditto the spikes on his knees.

In robot mode, the missiles from under the wings move to the arms, and he's articulated enough to really use them threateningly. Starscream's got a balljointed head, shoulders and hips, swivel biceps and thighs, and hinged elbows, wrists and knees. His feet have hinges in them, too, so you can get his toes on the ground without having to keep his legs stationary.

Starscream's biggest flaw is that he's not big. Being a jet really calls for a certain bulk that a Deluxe Class figure just can't deliver. The plane is nice, the robot's cool and it's fun to switch between them, but he looks like a tiny toy, and that's hard to get over.

-- 12/27/11

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