Transformers Animated Activators Starscream Review

in 2008, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Generation One, Transformers Animated


Transformers Animated

General Information:
Release Date: July 2008
Price Point: $7.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: None

Images:

*Image from Hasbrotoyshop.com

Text from Hasbrotoyshop:
Sneaky, mean and ambitious would be a bad combination of personality traits in anyone, but in a giant robot warrior bent on conquering the universe, they’re the worst. STARSCREAM loves power for its own sake, and will blast anyone who gets in his way. There’s no reason he does all the awful stuff he does, except that he thinks he’s so much better than anyone.

Spring into action with this quick conversion vehicle-to-robot enemy! With just the press of a button, this DECEPTICON soldier changes from fighter jet mode to robot mode – and back again!

Activators are a new sub-line of Transformers aimed at providing simpler transformations with a fully functional and posable Transformers figure. Activator transformations are primarily accomplished through the pressing of a switch or tab and manipulation of a few extra parts. Such transformations are much akin to the early "spring loaded transformations" used in many Beast Wars Transformers figures.

Starscream is part of the first wave of Activators. This figure represents his appearance in the "Transformers: Animated" series once he arrives on Earth and takes on an Earth form.

Robot Mode:
Starscream's "Animated" robot mode is a stylized update of his G1 robot form. Some elements were discarded while others were kept intact to form a 21st century look at the character that is instantly recognizable to anyone who was a fan of the original series. Among the elements retained from the basic G1 Seeker design are:

  • Head: The head design is an exaggerated/elongated version of the G1 design. Despite its long shape it still retains the vents on the side (now resembling sideburns) and the U shaped crest on the top of the head.
  • Torso: The torso retains several elements of the G1 Seeker design including vents on the chest section and the nosecone forming the center of the body.
  • Arms: While his arms are much more rounded than the blocky G1 Seeker arms, the basic idea of his weapons being mounted on his arms remains. Here, fairly show accurate blasters are attached to the lower arm.
  • Legs: The Seeker legs generally had a design with large knee armor, side stabilizers from the jet mode on the lower legs and thrusters built into the front of the lower legs. Starscream has all these design elements, but they have been angled and elongated a lot more to give them a heavily stylized appearance.
  • Wings: The traditional Seeker design (primarily in animated form) showed Seekers having their wings mounted on their back. Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker from G1 were prime examples of this. This element carries over here as well with Starscream's wings mounted on his back at an upswept angle.

Despite retaining many G1 inspired elements, there are some flairs that are unique to this figure. Gone are the rectangular forward vents that traditionally wind up on either side of the Seeker head. Adding to the bulk of the upper body are shoulder armor pieces at the top of each arm. Starscream's fists are not regular "blocky" Transformers fingers, but rather they are claws, each with lines sculpted in to indicate the separate sections of each finger. His legs have a lot more elongated parts and sharp angles such as the aforementioned knee armor. His feet are not triangular pieces flipping out in front (as the G1 Seeker toys had), but rather his jet thrusters split in half, forming a foot and heel piece that extends out the back. This is heavily inspired by a similar foot design in the classic Macross Valkyrie design. Some of these touches are subtle, others are not, but the cumulative effect is a fantastic update on a classic character's appearance.

Once upon a time, smaller figures generally meant a lack of detail, but Transformers have proved that wrong throughout most of the history of the line. The Activators continue this tradition. Starscream's head design is detailed down to a a smirk on his face and lines on the vents on either side of his face. His chest has line detail along with triangular pointed bits on his forward thrusters. His claws have lines sculpted into them and they are not balled into a fist but rather slightly open with each finger showing (quite unusual for Transformers). His feet also have nice line details along the edges and the interior of the feet.

Starscream has a rather impressive fifteen points of articulation. This includes ball joints on the shoulders, elbow and legs. His arm mounted blasters can turn around and the halves of his feet can be adjusted for different poses. His head mobility is restricted a bit by the "collar" that the ball joint is attached to. I was really happy to see not only so many points of articulation, but also the use of many ball joints, allowing for a good range of motion.

The one element of Starscream toys that gets a bit funny (and not necesarily in that "Ha ha" way) is coloring. The primary color of this figure is a dark lavender color, but his animated appearance clearly shows him as grey. It is possible that early on this was his intended color, and that by the time the TV show was finalized, the toy had already launched into production. Such things happen often in producing toys that have TV shows. Aside from that however, everything else is spot on. Metallic red is used for parts such as his chest, shoulder armor and accents on his wings and the stabilizers on his legs. Black is used on parts traditionally colored black on G1 inspired Seeker designs, specifically the helmet section of the head, the lower arms, the "thrusters" on his lower legs and the parts of the feet. I will grant however that his lower arms are more often shown as a very dark purple in the TV show, but often it is colored mostly black with purple edging. Given that, black was probably the best color compromise. His face is painted silver and his eyes are bright red.

Starscream's robot mode is an impressive piece of work. Thin, lithe and sleek looking he represents his animated counterpart very well and his high level of posability is fantastic.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Swing the shoulder armor down.
  2. Rotate the blasters on his arms so they point upwards.
  3. Holding the chest piece, swing it up and lock it into place.
  4. Bring together both halves of each foot.
  5. Connect the tabs on the back of his legs into the curved vent sections on the top of the jet mode.
  6. Swing up the rudder pieces on the back of his legs.
  7. Line up the robot arms so the blasters point forward. They will attach to the tabs on the underside of the wings.

Vehicle Mode:
Starscream's vehicle mode, much like his robot mode is a modernized take on his G1 vehicle form. He becomes a fighter jet that is very angled and sharp looking, but it also retains many classic F-15 fighter elements. The primary elements carrying over from his G1 form are the dual rudders, dual stabilizers and vents on either side of the cockpit.

Updated features include the forward sweeping wings (which were backswept in the G1 version of the Seeker design) and extra vents running along the top of the vehicle to the rear thrusters. This raised section has some great detailing inside with vertical lines etched in to represent the vents. The rudders on the rear are the reverse of the classic G1 design, where they angle forward with their end point pointing forward at the top.

While there are line details found all over the figure, particularly on the wings representing the flaps on the edges and lines indicating armor plates on his rear stabilizers, there isn't so much that it detracts from the overall simplified appearance of the Transformers from the animated series. Overall, Starscream is very accurate to his animated appearance, with the exceptions of his hands sticking out in this form and the shortened nosecone. However, considering the limitations of a smaller toy of this price scale, I'm actually not bothered by these issues at all.

You'll note in this form that there is a red colored tab sticking up on the top of the jet mode. This is the tab you press to activate the "spring loaded" portion of the transformation back into robot mode. It works effectively and has never given me a problem (and as of writing this, I've easily transformed this figure over a dozen times).

Most of the colors from the robot mode carry over to this form. His cockpit is painted bright orange with a black outline. The front of the extra vents on the top of the vehicle are black, as is the nosecone. Interestingly enough, the Decepticon symbols on his wings are stamped in dark gold. The primary color is of course the lavender color mentioned in the robot mode review, so purple Decepticon symbols on lavender plastic would not offer a great contrast. The gold contrasts well, but it struck me as an interesting (and a somewhat odd) design choice.

Final Thoughts:
My only quibbles with this figure have to do with its color scheme. Other than that, this figure easily delivers on the promise of a mostly show accurate, smaller figure with great articulation. Highly recommended!