Cliffbee.com: Energon Starscream Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Starscream
Series: Energon
Allegiance: Decepticon
Alternate Mode: F-22 Fighter Jet



JET MODE
Height: 5cm Length: 16cm Width: 11.5cm

   A predominantly grey F-22 with an ensemble of supporting colours, Starscream's predominantly dark grey with tasteful metallic dark red highlights, a dark green transparent cockpits and silver paint inside the seams on his fuselage. If they'd stopped there I'd be happy, but they've kept going. The wings are dark transparent green with a matte black paint instead of dark grey, transparent edges and a weird lime green splotch on the port side wing, There's gold detailing on the air intakes, which sit on either side of the cockpit, and purple Decepticon logos (only the raised parts are painted) on the wings.

   There's a battle damage theme on this jet - including damage on the port side wing where the lime green is, the starboard air intake and port side thruster. While the battle damage itself is fine, the lime green is meant to represent energon damage or something similar, but it's just an eyesore. This is pretty symptomatic of the colour scheme (and the toy) on the whole: good idea badly done. The grey, dark green and red work really well, and the gold and purple also work, but the silver's a bit bright, the black wings are needlessly painted the wrong shade and the lime green is just plain ugly.

   The plane mode itself is fairly good, although the rear wings are too low, since they rest on the robot shins. They're also light blue, which is a little incongruous, so I don't really mind them being tucked away - the light blue is really for the robot mode, not this mode. It's also visible at the base of the tailfins, which becomes the robot forearms. There are dark blue missiles that can sit in the launchers under his wings, and hang out the back of his wings. yes, they add another colour but it's dark and fits the theme fine.

   There's quite a bit of play value, he has two long energon weapons that can attach under the wings. One is a cannon and the other has a silver-painted blade on it. Regular readers of my reviews will probably know I'm not a fan of energon weapons in general, and while I don't like these two all that much, they do give Starscream giant weapons in the mode with no real drawbacks, so I'm happy enough with the option. The Decepticon spark crystal is in a block just behind the cockpit, allowing you to attach an energon crystal. I'd probably recommend an Autobot crystal if you're going to attach one, since red works better than yellow on this toy.

   The missile launchers are a mixed blessing for me. The missiles secure quite firmly, but annoyingly there's no way to fire them in the standard configuration. If you fold down the wings, you can fire the missiles, but the whole idea of a wingless fighter just seems self-defeating. The wings don't clip into place as firmly as I'd like, so they often wobble around without quite sitting right. The good news is they shoot quite well and can go half a metre.

   It's possible to fold in his landing gear and rest him on the table (or whatever), although he looks better with the front wheel down while resting. The moulded front wheel folds up under the nose as you'd expect. The rear wheels are unusual in that they're moulded onto small panels that fold over, rather than on the end of posts.

   This is a fairly good jet mode, but the problems it does have are all annoyingly avoidable - and most of them are deliberate design decisions. The base colour scheme is fantastic, but the lime green, black and to a lesser extent the bright silver break it up too much. The missile launchers work really well, but would be twice as cool if there was some way to fire them without folding the wings out of the way. It's a good jet mode with problems it really shouldn't have.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Much has been made of the similarities between this toy and G2 Smokescreen. While the toys are different moulds, Starscream's transformation is a copy with some extra stuff in the feet.

   Fold up the wheels, grab the legs underneath the jet and swing them forward as far as they go. Push down on the tailfins and the arms pop out the bottom. Swing the arms out to the sides. Turn the nose & legs around 180, then fold this assembly up between the shoulders to form the robot and reveal the head. Swing the tailfins out, swivel the tailwings up to his shins, fold out the feet and heelspurs and rotate the lower legs.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 14.5cm Width: 12cm

   Again this colour scheme is a good idea with too much added on. The torso is grey and dark red, with the spark crystal central on his chest. The head is black with a silver face and green eyes (complete with lightpipe). The thighs and feet are black, while the shins, forearms and left shoulder are light blue. The left elbow and hips are dark blue, as well as the shoulderblades. The right shoulder and elbow are transparent green for some reason, as are the wings which now form a pretty nice cape. There are red shoulder towers with gold discs on them, a nice homage to G1 Starscream.

   To be fair, this colour scheme is put together better than the jet mode's - for the most part. If not for the transparent green right arm, which has more of that awful lime green paint, I'd be singing the praises of the colour scheme. But I wont, since three of the limbs match each other and one just looks bad.

   There are some really cool features here. The shoulder towers not only pay a great homage, they look pretty good. The wings make a great cape, as mentioned, and the central spark crystal looks really good. The wings can swing up and deploy as missile launchers over the shoulders, although they can't quite reach horizontal and get in the way of arm poseability. It's still a good idea, and the missile launchers work pretty well so this adds to the play value.

   The lightpipe doesn't work that well, since it's relying ona very dark, almost smokey, transparent green, but the head is a pretty close match to that of Armada Starscream and the facial sculpt is pretty good, so I can live without the lightpipe.

   I'm not really a huge fan of energon weapons, but Starscream's sword and pistol are both fairly good, if a little heavy for his elbow joints. They can combine into a really long sword, but it looks stupid, so I say leave them separate. You can attach the weapons onto the missile launchers over his shoulders, if they're deployed, but they look better as hand weaponry.

   I'm even less a fan of the energon chip, and since Starscream's spark crystal works so well, I strongly recommend against covering it with a bright yellow energon chip. An Autobot one would work better although would still be too bright.

   Poseability is probably the best feature of this robot mode, and indeed the toy. It's also the only aspect that's a distinct improvement on Smokescreen's engineering. His head rotates, the shoulders rotate and the elbows have hinges and swivels. The hips are ball jointed, the knees bend as well as rotate, and the feet and heelspurs can fold down making him pretty stable. Smokescreen's knees only had some wiggle in them, so Starscream's knees are the big difference. It's just as well too, which these big heavy weapons he has, not only can he wield big ass weapons like an Actionmaster, he can stand upright at the same time - something the Actionmasters could never achieve.

   Good poseability, actually good play value in general, is marred by a colour scheme that was ruined by one arm. Still, this mode suffers less from stupid design choices than the jet mode, and is actually a good mode.

VARIATIONS

   None as such, although Energon G1 Starscream is a repaint.

OVERALL

   I find Transformers that attempt to address unavoidable problems better than those with inherently avoidable problems that haven't been addressed. Unfortunately, Energon Starscream falls into the later category. Despite ten years of toy technology, I think G2 Smokescreen is a better mould, so I'd actually recommend RiD's Smokejumper over Starscream. Comparisons aside, it's a good robot mode with good play value, although certain colour choices really hurt the look of the robot mode. The jet mode should have been a good mode, but the only way to fire the missiles is to make him wingless, and the lime green paint on the port wingtip pretty much spoils the look of this mode. The repaint is more coherent and still carries the mould's problems - but I'd still recommend that version first - 4/10

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