Cliffbee.com: Machine Wars Starscream Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Starscream
Series: Machine Wars
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Pursuit and Capture
Alternate Mode: Bomber Plane



PLANE MODE
Height: 10cm Length: 33cm Width: 27cm

   A large black plane with wide wings and grey highlights here and there, Starscream doesn't really look much like the classic F-15 we're used to. The cockpit, near the nose, has blue windows while there's some also some transparent blue at the base of the flattened tail. While a black and grey bomber makes sense, this colour scheme is awfully simple and feels a little lazy. The colours don't suit the character at all - it would have made a lot more sense to put some lilac on this toy and call it Skywarp.

   For its size, this is a simple bomber. There's a lot of detail but with so much black and lots of large, simple pieces this toy is a lot simpler than it could have been. There are three wheels underneath, all of which can roll and fold away, along with a series of blue vents on top that can be covered by sliding covers (operated by a single slider).

   Starscream is a repainted and retooled Skyquake, who was released as one of the Predators. Skyquake had a scope gimmick - if you look into the lens at the back of the tail you'll see the remnants of this gimmick. You can still attach Predator jets (if you have them) and view the images they contain, even if Starscream lacks an image of his own. I imagine it would have been an easy gimmick to retain, but they simply didn't bother.

   The other gimmick has been retained, thankfully. There are rotating barrels inside the wings which drop bombs (well, grey plastic missiles) as you spin the barrels. For all the simplicity of this plane, I have to say I like this gimmick - and wish my Starscream had some missiles (I got it second hand for $1). You can stow two missiles under each wingtip and another pair on the sides of the nose (Thanks to FortMax Reed for this info). Starscream comes with 16 missiles.

   Starscream looks quite boring, since he's big and dark with a simple design, but perhaps the most noticeable aspect of this plane is how un-Starscream-like it is. The neutered scope feature is a bit of a shame, but the bomb barrels are cool - the best thing about this plane mode in fact.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Fold away the landing gear, split the nose and fold the halves out to the sides. Flip over the front of the plane and pull out to the sides to form the legs. Flip out the feet and heelspurs. Fold up the wingips and tail, stand the robot up, fold down the chest, flip out the head and fold the chest up again. Extend the arms and you're done.

   Considering the size of this toy the transformation is very simple - fold the legs, flip out the head and fold away some plane bits. There are Minicons that are more interesting.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 25cm Width: 19cm

   Again black and grey, with both lighter and darker greys on the arms, head and torso. The chest itself is transparent blue while the boots and considerable backpack are black. Starscream has a large white mouthplate and black eyes, and sports a Decepticon symbol sticker on his chest. The colour scheme is again quite bland, and again fails to really look anything like the typical image of Starscream.

   The robot mode is annoyingly simple - the mouthplate is bigger than the heads of most Transformers yet it's badly defined. The arms are horribly simple as are the boots and the backpack is pretty lazy - the inner wings stick out (with the barrels integrated I can accept they have nowhere else to go) while the wingtips and tail hang off the back. Again there's some detail in the sculpt, but you tend to notice the large, simple plastic pieces and lack of articulation rather than fine seams (especially on such a dark toy).

   The poseability is pretty bad - the shoulders swing and that's it. What's scary is that this is all of Starscream's play value in robot mode. While Skyquake came with a handheld launcher so he can fire one of his dozen or so missiles, Starscream gets shortchanged again. The scope lines up to his transparent chest, but this doesn't do much since the scope gimmick is stripped.

   As you can probably guess, I don't think much of this robot mode. To be honest, there's nothing about it that impresses me. Starscream was sold in an era where basics had great articulation and integrated weaponry - and he's an ultra who can lift his arms and nothing else. The colours couldn't be duller and the character homage is non-existant.

VARIATIONS

   Starscream came with grey missiles initially, a later release had pale green missiles (again thanks to FortMax Reed for this info). He's a repaint and retool of Skyquake, as mentioned. The mould was later used for King Atlas in the TFU line (with fewer missiles).

OVERALL

   Perhaps the worst value Ultra sized Transformer we've seen. The colours are very uninteresting, the name doesn't match the colours at all and the transformation sucks. The plane mode does have a cool bomb gimmick happening, but the robot mode's play value is downright pathetic. I'm glad I only paid $1 for this - 2.5/10

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