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The War Within Starscream

Transformers Titanium
by yo go re

Conflicted characters may make for good stories, but the ones that are completely gung-ho about their ideologies are the most fun. Yes, a villain who's unsure of his motivations may make for great drama, but one who's unabashedly evil and self-serving, with delusions of grandeur? That's a hoot!

One of the first warriors recruited to the Decepticon cause, Starscream is a vicious warrior, and gleeful killer. Most Decepticons keep score of how many Autobots they take out, but Starscream carves himself little trophies out of their pelvic gimbals. As leader of the elite Seeker squadron assigned by Megatron to launch high-speed, Starscream surprise assaults on Autobot strongholds, and one of the old guard among the Decepticon leadership, he enjoys more freedom of opinion than many other Decepticons. Megatron is tolerant of his sarcasm and belligerent ambition only because Starscream is simply too efficient an engine of destruction to do without.

It is not only his skill as a fighter that gives his Autobot victims pause. Before the war, he was an explorer and scientist, with many friends among the Autobots - Jetfire and Grimlock among them. Even then he was a bully and a manipulator, but few who knew him suspected he could be capable of the atrocities now attributed to him.

Starscream was half the reason the Decepticons constantly failed. Megatron would have some good plan to finally destroy the Autobots, but Starscream would invariably screw it up, whether with a lack of patience like this that spurred him to action too soon, or with a blind ambition that led him to attack Megatron himself. When all else was going right, Starscream had the ability to pluck defeat from the jaws of victory.

This figure is loosely based on the designs seen in The War Within, as you might suspect. It is, however, not a perfect re-creation. Don Figueroa obviously had a very firm idea of what Starscream looked like and how he transformed, but apparently that needed to be tweaked for the toy.

Compared to the comics, Starscream's jet form is flat and elongated - kinda... pointy, eh? not quite the flying triangle of the printed page. In fact, it looks more like the useless flying boat of G1's Scourge. It's a shame, really; the Seekers' "tetrajet" form would have made for a unique toy, but at this point even the Cybertron version is a closer approximation. The plane has rolling wheels and fold-down landing gear in the front, and some major kibble in the back. The rear of the jet is hollow, and you can see the robot's head and shoulders pretty blatantly.

Transformation is good, but not true to the comic. One of Figueroa's strengths as an artist and designer forget to cover something? is that his characters actually have a complete internal logic to the way they transform - something not even the original cartoons could claim. The full process was probably cost prohibitive, though it might have worked for a Voyager class release (what Starscream probably would have been if War Within got a real release, instead of just in the Titanium line). Again, the Cybertron version is pretty much what this one was supposed to be. You know, on second thought, maybe that's why they changed it - so people wouldn't confuse the two.

The robot design is not great. The missile launchers on his shoulders are too short, and his arms attach a bit lower than they should, Starscreamish throwing off the articulation. Getting his lower arms lined up is a bit weird, due to his odd elbow flaps, and the thigh joints which allow his legs to rotate into the right position are incredibly tough to turn - they always feel like they're going to snap, so be careful. The head doesn't even look like classic Starscream! There's a strange ridge on his helmet and his head is grey, instead of black. Honestly, it's mostly the paint apps that sell this figure - and in a reversal of history, Starscream is a repaint of Thundercracker. On the plus side, the body, upper arms and lower legs are all metal, so he's nice and sturdy.

War Within Starscream is due to be re-released soon, now this is the shape it should have been for some reason. It's not like he was hard to find the first time he was out. Why not concentrate on getting the last few Titaniums out the door intead, Hasbro? We're still waiting for everything from Ultra Magnus on up to show, and you're sending us ones we already have? Gee, thanks. Small wonder no retailers wanted to support this line. Anyway, the figure is fine if you're building a collection of War Within figures, but other that that? Well, he's not as abysmal as Soundwave, or anything, so he's not a complete waste of money. But buy at your own discretion; depending on what you're expecting, you might be let down.


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