Cliffbee.com: Hasbro Masterpiece Starscream Toy Review

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Name: Starscream
Series: Masterpiece
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Air Commander
Alternate Mode: F-15 Eagle Fighter Jet



FIGHTER MODE
Height: 10cm Length: 33cm Width: 22cm

   A light grey F-15 Eagle with a transparent orange canopy, red and silver lines on the wings, blue tailfins and silver carbon scoring on the nosetip, engine covers and central fuselage. Starscream has red air intakes and backwards facing purple Decepticon logos on his wings. This is the Starscream that Takara's version (nicknamed "Greenscream" for good reason) was not. The light grey is perhaps a shade or two lighter than it should be - it's close to being an off white colour - but the fact is that this jet looks like Starscream, something the previous version failed at spectacularly. These colours aren't as realistic as Takara's, but then this is a figure selling to Transformer fans who like the character.

   Colours aside, this is a great F-15, with every seam, every aviation light, every aspect, taken care of. There's a single gunmetal seat inside the cockpit - and Starscream even comes with a tiny Dr Archeville figure, which is a tiny light grey humanoid with a flesh coloured face (an improvement over the green head of the Takara one). You can choose from more traditional seeker style missiles underwing or go for a more F-15 like missilerack. It's nice that while the focus is on making this a realistic jet, the designer has included fan-oriented aspects like the Dr Archeville figure and the choice of missiles. There's also a small bracket which can clip underneath the nose, specifically designed to hold 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime's included Megatron gun - which is a great idea.

   While I couldn't see the green version as Starscream, Hasbro have done a great job of taking this mould and making it work as Starscream without losing the exceptional detailing. Whilst Takara Transformers are often compared with Hasbro's efforts favourably, Hasbro deserve credit for this improved version. He does lose the sticker sheet the green toy came with, but it was dominated by aviation stickers anyway, so it's not that much of a loss. Starscream comes with a stand that allows this mode to fly, and bears a Decepticon symbol on it. While Hasbro have moved this toy away from the model feel of the Takara one, the stand is a remaining remnant (although not a negative). The plastic used here is a stronger plastic, not the soft model plastic used by Takara. The spines on the tailfins and the edges of the wings have been dulled slightly

   One controversial element of this toy is the addition of battle damage - something Hasbro have proven to be bad at implementing. Thankfully the added paint here actually looks like wear rather than the make-up gun (google it!) splotches seen on 1970s Movie Bumblebee and 20th Anniversary Prime. There's a grimey application of black in the seams and the carbon scoring on the nose and fuselage I've already mentioned (along with some more scoring under the flaps and tailwings). While this aspect of the toy won't suit everyone's tastes, Hasbro have done a good job of implementing it. Personally, I don't mind since it has been executed well although I would have preferred a "clean" plane.

   There are some great plane aspects which were really designed for show but still provide play value. You can pull the nosecone forward and swing it to the starboard, revealing a radar array while the landing gear all retracts under panelling, leaving a smooth surface. The colours on the underside do tell us there's a robot here, but I wouldn't really call it kibble. The thrusters are actually on ball joints, the flaps on each wing fold down and there's a lift up panel on the fuselage for extra braking - suggesting this particular F-15 would be assigned to an aircraft carrier (not something F-15s are built for, I should point out).

   A great F-15 model that has been fixed so that it actually looks like Starscream. He has great detailing and a lot of options and the design focus is excellent. Sure, Starscream's traditional colours aren't realistic, but his colours are so iconic that this plane mode works well. The carbon scoring and grime detract a little and the grey plastic used is perhaps a shade too light, but this is still a fantastic representation of Starscream in jet mode.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Complex and fiddly, with many small joints relying on small pieces of plastic. Many of the joints are quite tight, although the plastic here is strong enough to to accommodate this. I wont go through everything in detail, but essentially the scheme is the same as that of the original, with several minor changes to improve the shape in both modes. The tails end up hanging off his hips as kibble, which is the main change here.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 25cm Width: 21cm

   A big grey seeker with a red chest featuring transparent orange canopy, Starscream has blue feet and forearms. The head is black with a silver face and red eyes while there are upside down purple Decepticon logos on his wings. The carbon scoring has largely disappeared here, although the grime in the seams is still present. There are silver painted details here and there including on his chest and the null rays on his arms. The battle damage is far less prominent than in jet mode and the colours really suit Starscream (much better than on Greenscream) - this is an excellent colour scheme.

   The transformation does a great job of turning a realistic F-15 into a classic seeker robot. The air intakes, missile launchers, canopy and wings are all there - even down to the pointy wingtips they had in the cartoon. The head sculpt is great, and you can even swap out the regular face for one with a smirk on it. The missiles do look like the blasters Starscream wore in the cartoon, although they don't fire.

   The poseability is fairly limited, really. The arms are quite poseable, and he can again hold the Megatron gun (in his hand this time). Sadly the legs are far from stable, since those big kibbly things hanging off the hips take away the tailfins that the seekers used as heelspurs. And there are no heelspurs this time around. You can pop the hip panels off and reattach them to his legs which gives Starscream heelspurs, although it leaves the balls of the joints visible on his hips. I wouldn't recommend even trying this on the fragile Greenscream, but the red plastic of his hips is a lot firmer. Personally, I've taken to swinging the hip panels back since I don't want to have to pop them on and off to transform him, but if I was a kitbasher, I'd probably just take the balls off. Starscream will happily stand with the aid of his stand, although he floats above the table which isn't ideal. This is the main flaw carried over from Greenscream, but the stronger plastic of the hip panel ball joints does provide a workaround. Starscream is still capable of standing without his stand, but the poses available are somewhat limited. Even then, this version isn't likely to break as soon as it falls over (which happened to the Greenscream I have since offloaded).

   The colours are spot on here, there are some nice display extras such as the facial expressions and missile racks hidden within his chest (which are unpainted this time). The design really does a great job of capturing the animated shape of Starscream (hip kibble aside), and now we have colours to match that. I'm still not all that impressed with the fact that he needs the stand, although I don't blame Hasbro for that. Even then, the stronger plastic allows you to use the hip plates as heelspurs, something too risky on the fragile Takara version. While he's not perfect, this is still a wonderful robot mode.

VARIATIONS

   None as such although the exact nature of the battle damage varies from toy to toy. Masterpiece Thundercracker and Masterpiece Skywarp are repaints (of Greenscream).

OVERALL

   A great plane mode, a solid robot mode and a colour scheme that finally represents Starscream - and does so very well - make this a worthwhile Masterpiece toy. Granted the lack of true heelspurs are a significant flaw carried over from the model-like Greenscream, but the sturdier plastic allows a workaround, so on the whole this is a very worthwhile toy. The transformation and poseability are both good once you give him heelspurs and there are quite a few minor elements such as his facial expressions, movable thrusters and Dr Archeville which justify the Masterpiece label. The tailfins are still annoying - they should have been dealt with a lot better, but the colours and plastic are so much better than the Takara version that I would recommend buying this even if you have the original. The decision to give Starscream wear is contentious, but Hasbro have executed that quite well (a welcome change), and deserve credit for the vast improvement here. Recommended despite the hip panel issue, and a must for fans of the character - 8/10

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