Apparently there's an entire section of Transformers fans who are sick to death of toys that are just black repaints of existing characters. Of course, these are the same guys who said the movie was going to suck and that Transformers Animated was going to be purely a kiddie show, so, you know, take it with a grain of salt. Still, despite that, there's one black repaint that's never taken any fanboy flak.
"Out of sight, out of mind." Those are the words Skywarp lives by, even though he doesn't necessarily know it himself. When Megatron is around, he's the most loyal of Decepticons, always standing rigidly at attention, acquiescing to every order given. Unfortunately,
as soon as his commander walks out of the room, all thought of orders, protocol and practicality go with him. It's not that Skywarp has a problem with authority. He just doesn't care, is all. He'd rather be strafing unarmed noncombatants than engaging in risky missions.
The only thing that bugs him more than having to follow orders is having to work alongside guys with a lot of personal motivation. Guys like Starscream. When he isn't going on and on about how much better a commander he is than Megatron, he's forcing Skywarp into some new scheme to replace the big guy. Megatron is winning the war for the Decepticons. Why can't Starscream just shut up and enjoy the ride?
In the G1 comics and cartoon, Skywarp never really had anything to do. Oh, he took part in missions, of course, but he was just cannon fodder - he had no personality. His tech specs portrayed him as a malicious pankster,
but that never really came through in the stories. He was just "the purple Starscream." He didn't even get to use his teleportation powers very often. More recent comics, however, have started to flesh him out, so to speak.
Skywarp, as a 2008 SDCC exclusive, is the final War Within Seeker, which means he's a repaint of Thundercracker, Starscream and Sunstorm, in that order. Same body, same head, same transformation, all that. Just new colors.
The 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 Skywarp 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; not quite the flying triangle of the printed page. In fact, it looks more like
the useless flying boat of G1's Scourge - which is sort of cool in this case, because one of the perennial fan-theories about Transformers: the Movie is that Skywarp was the one Unicron reformatted into Scourge...'s partner, Cyclonus. Okay, so the connection isn't so great. 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 okay, even though it doesn't quite match up with the comics. One of Figueroa's strengths
as an artist and designer is that his characters actually have a complete internal logic to the way they transform - something not even the original cartoons could claim. If you look at the art, the legs fold under the body, the tailfin raises up off the back, and the waist turns around to bring the nosecone in line. On the toy, the tailfin comes off the shoulders, the legs are the sides of the plane and the nose flips around from behind. If only the feet came together in the front, the proportions of the vehicle would be much better.
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, throwing off the articulation. Imagine if your arms came out of your chest about nipple-high. The thigh joints which allow his legs to rotate into the right position are a bit tough to turn - not as bad as Starscream's, but still rough. The head is mostly like the G1 Seekers', but it has an extra ridge over the top and more bars around the cheeks.
We always say that the perfect convention-exclusive toy is a repaint of an existing character that will appeal to fans, but won't be necessary to complete your collection. Skywarp doesn't quite fulfill that criteria, since he's a classic character and there's no other way to get him. Still, the black and purple color scheme looks really sharp in both modes, and Hasbro's gotten better about offering their exclusives since the Nemesis Prime debacle. If you already have any of the other three versions of this mold, you'll know whether or not you'll like Skywarp. If you don't, well, he's not perfect, but he doesn't have any major flaws, either.