If you were only allowed to keep and collect one single character from Transformers who would it be?
B got quite distressed when I asked him that question and said he couldn’t bear to think about it, but eventually he conceded if that if he had to go all Highlander and there really could be only one he would pick Ultra Magnus. B is a big Ultra Magnus fan. Me? I’d choose Starscream. At this point you’d be forgiven for wondering how the two of us have managed to remain happily married for almost 7 years when our world views are clearly a little disparate…. Let’s just say that opposites attract and that taste in transforming robots thankfully doesn’t map neatly onto real world behavioural traits.
Anyway, the nice thing about Transformers is how un-Highlander the franchise is. Even limiting things to just one character doesn’t mean you have to have just one figure or even one uniform look. One of the things I like about Starscream is that he’s had quite a few different looks in the various shows, comics and game lines but whether blocky or sleek he’s always unmistakably himself.
I don’t have a huge Starscream collection by any means, but he is the single character of whom I have the most different figures, and I just added a new one (new to me, but actually an older toy) Voyager Transformers Animated Starscream, so this seems like a good excuse to officially name this #StarscreamSaturday and talk a little about the figures I have got.
So read on for Screamery goodness…. or villainy, really, I guess. Which is like the opposite of goodness.
These aren’t going to be super in depth toy reviews. I’ll do that if a brand new Starscream comes out, this is more just a bit of a rogues gallery and a few comments on what I like and dislike about each.
Generations Starscream (War for Cybertron) Deluxe 2012
This was the first Starscream we got, since it was playing War for Cyberton that really rekindled B’s interest in Transformers and ignited mine for the first time. The thing I look for most in a toy is show accuracy so this one is a great pick in that respect, he looks so like the Starscream from the game! He’s an interesting one because he’s pretty G1 in his colours and general solidity, but the toy came out shortly after Transformers Prime had given us a very different, sleek and skinny Starscream. This guy is clearly much chunkier but the way he’s painted and shaped with so much tapering and triangles in his design actually echoes that sleekness more than you’d expect at first glance.
This Starscream has great articulation but the poses you can do with him are limited because he’s rather top heavy. This is an issue with most Starscreams because he’s quite a top heavy design in general: what with his wings, guns, skinny waist and a tendency to “wear high heels.” Generations Starscream is wobbly compared with most characters who turn into more solid cars or trucks rather than jets but he’s still probably the most stable of the Screamers that we have. He also comes with some great weapons which can be joined together to evoke the neutron assault rifle from the War for Cyberton game, or wielded separately on each arm like like classic null-rays. I think its the detail of all the posts and ports that you let you arm him in so many different ways that really make this figure so great.
Indeed, we like this one so much we have the Skywarp and Thundercracker recolours too!
Transformers Prime Starscream (Voyager) 2011
This is probably when the rot set in. At first B and I decided we only needed one figure of each character in our collection, but I broke the rules by buying this guy because I love the character so much in the Prime TV show. So this figure has a lot to answer for in terms of having been a dangerous gateway figure in TF addiction…
He’s a great figure, though. His design is impressive because it’s quite a feat to have given him a robot mode as skinny as he is in the TV show without sacrificing his ability to transform properly. His transformation is quite ingenious, mostly hinging on rotating his shoulders and chest and – aside from a bit of additional and non-show accurate kibble on his feet – it’s impressive how they’ve managed to accommodate his jet mode without ruining his look as a robot. But then I guess he does transform into a pretty skinny jet too (he’s an F-16 Fighting Falcon).
If you just want volume of plastic for your money then Starscream probably isn’t a great deal compared to, say, the Voyager Bulkhead toy from the same line, but this figure is one my favourites from our collection because he’s really posable and expressive. So many of the scenes I’ve set up and photos I’ve taken of our toys have hinged around this guy because you can do such a lot with him. He also has a great Starscream smirk.
My tiny quibbles with him run thus: I wish his colours were a little more show accurate. I keep threatening to at least paint the crest on his head which ought to be red, not grey. I should at some point, but I’m a little scared of messing it up! I also wish he had light-piping in his eyes rather than just the solid red paint job. He has a transparent panel on the back of his head to provide the glow in his cockpit, so I don’t know why he couldn’t have had light-piping for his face too. If his eyes had been clear I could probably have modified them to glow red the way I did for my Arms Micron Knock Out, but as the paint job is solid I’m not sure there’s much can be done, which is my only real disappointment with this figure.
Weapon-wise, he comes with the two rather antiquated looking missiles he has in the show. These can be mounted either on his wings or above his arms, and look pretty sweet. Like all the Voyagers in this range he also comes with a stupid, gimmicky light up weapon that is too big for him. Starscream’s is called a “null ray” although it looks nothing like one. It only lights up when flipped out and there’s no way to snap it firm when open so it doesn’t hold its shape so he can’t even be posed holding it (not to mention that he tends to fall over when equipped with it anyway, as it’s simply too cumbersome for such a slender bot to wield) So I tend just to ignore that fail weapon altogether, although sometimes Starscream makes a Vehicon carry it for him.
Transformers Animated Starscream (Voyager) 2008
I just got this guy! The Transformers Animated designs are so different from anything else in the line, much more cartoony and exaggerated in their proportions. They make interesting toys. As the line is a few years old now, I didn’t really expect to be adding any TFA figs to our collection but, having spent so many hours scrutinising every aspect of the TFA seekers to research my Slipstream Cosplay, when I found this guy going for a reasonable price I simply couldn’t resist!
I’m really please to have TFA Screamer on my shelf although it turns out I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with him. There are some things about the figure that are truly fantastic but in other ways he’s a little disappointing.
So, what’s hot? He’s an impressively detailed sculpt. Having designed and built my Slipstream costume I am especially well acquainted with the intricacies of this character: the vents on the side of his head and on his chest piece; the rounded, hooks-over-the-thumb, shape of his gauntlets, and on this toy it’s all there. The detail is truly exceptional: look into his cockpit and you see not joints that are meant to be hidden (as you do when peeking through too many alt-mode car windscreens) but a seat area and control panel stylings. This Starscream also has individually jointed fingers, which is awesome. Oh, and where Prime Starscream fails on the light-piping, the TFA one goes for bonus points with very clear piping through the eyes and – bizarrely – the mouth too.
Shape-wise he’s very show accurate. I mean, sure, there’s some flexibility there because the anime stylings of TFA allow a fair bit of design variation from episode to episode but that super-elongated chin really nails the character. Again it’s impressive how they’ve maintained his proportions, tapering right in to that skinny waist while still transforming into a solid jet.
His detachable missiles are cute too. This is a Takara toy from Japan, so you can press a button to fire them with a surprising speed and force that health-and-safety mollycoddling almost certainly wouldn’t allow over here! Oh, and his missiles have shark faces, which isn’t show accurate at all but what’s not to love about shark faced projectiles?
What’s not so hot? Well, the colours are a bit off. He should be purple rather than blue for show accuracy but I’m kind of OK with the deviation because it still looks good, and of course the blue and red combo wins G1 nostalgia points – always a big deal in this fandom. What I’m less OK with is the nightmare that is transforming him. It’s a tricky transformation sequence but on its own that would be fine, I can follow instructions. However, I’ve never owned a toy so frustratingly put together: half of this Starscream’s joints are ratcheted so stiffly that they barely move at all, while the other half are so loose and floppy that bits of him just fall off as soon as you move them. He’s already needed finger repairs and I’m also going to have to get the clear nail polish out to thicken up the ball joint in his head as currently his head just drops off (Show-accurate!) every time you flip the cockpit round (the automorph feature here basically doesn’t work). I know he’s not a new product, but he wasn’t a second-hand toy, so this is disappointing. I wondered if I’d just got a dud figure but having read around online lots of people seem to have experienced the same issues.
Fortunately, I mostly got him to pose in bot mode and he looks fantastic doing that. Plus I think “Project Slipstream” has left a special place in my heart for TFA Seekers, so I’m happy to have got him, though there’s no doubt his flaws are pretty glaring. If you are in the market for one of these toys it is worth keeping in mind just how much the looseness of his joints impact on transformation.
So those are my main three Starscreams. In the group pic at the top you may have spotted Starscream Boomerang who I thought was cute to include but I won’t discuss him here since B did a big piece on capsule Arms Microns just the other week.
So that leaves just this little dude…. in case anyone was getting twitchy at the lack of G1 aesthetic.
Transformers 2014 Legion-Class Starscream (2014)
He’s tiny, blocky and extremely G1 – he’s also apparently identical to the 2011 “Reveal The Shield” Starscream, minus the rubsign, so that’s one less ‘scream for me to find. I normally only buy Deluxe or Voyager size figures but this little guy is cute even if he’s hard to pose since his legs only bend at the knee and not at the waist. The most amusing thing about him is where his head ends up in jet mode.
I didn’t buy this guy myself….
It’s funny really. After I’d ordered TFA Starscream I realised that Screamer was fast becoming a bad habit of mine and that I probably ought to face the fact that I was heading towards collecting him especially. I confessed this to B and asked if that made me a bad person. He told me “probably.” But sometimes actions speak louder than words… the next day when I got home from work this little Starscream had magically appeared in the cabinet next to the others. So I don’t think my husband really minds my Starscream habit. His Ultra Magnus might take a dimmer view however…
- Which Starscream do you like best?
- Which of these Starscreams would win in a fight against the others?
- Who would be your “there can be only one” Transformer choice?
Answers on a postcard please, or at least in the comment box below!