"Generations" War for Cybertron: Earthrise Starscream Toy Review

in 2020, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Generation One, Generations, Seeker, Voyager, War for Cybertron: Earthrise

Generations

War for Cybertron: Earthrise

General Information:
Release Date: January 2020
Price Point: $29.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Amazon, BigBadToyStore, Entertainment Earth, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Null Rays x 2

Starscream

Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon:
Build the Battlefield Beyond -- The siege is over, but the War for Cybertron has just begun. The Autobots and Decepticons have left Cybertron, but their battle rages on as they speed through space in pursuit of the Allspark. Now, fighters must instantly adapt to battle anywhere in the cosmos. With the highly advanced A.I.R. (Adaptable Interconnection Retrofitter) Locks system, the fighters don’t head to the battlefield -- they become it. Bots capable of converting into Modular Battle Stations can A.I.R.-Lock together in custom configurations to fit the needs of battle. This ecosystem of collectible figures allows fans to build out epic space battle scenes, featuring figures that can convert into Modular Battle Station modes and connect together to expand the battlefield (each sold separately, subject to availability). The scheming Decepticon air commander, Starscream, converts into classic G1 jet mode in 30 steps and comes with 2 weapon accessories. Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

Every pack includes a piece of the Transformers Universe map and a red decoder to unlock the map's hidden paths! Collect other Earthrise figures to piece together the full map! (Each sold separately. Subject to availability)

There are some Transformers that are obscure and only appear now and then in the Transformers toy line. Starscream is is not one of them. He has appeared in almost every Transformers toy line in some way for the past twenty years or so. In terms of Generations versions, here's a rundown of some of the versions that have come out since Classic began:

As the years have gone along it seems like Hasbro and Takara have been refining their Starscream designs (sometimes taking steps forward, other times taking a few back). The latest Starscream figure to join the ranks is Earthrise Starscream, inspired by the character's appearance in the Generation One cartoon.

Packaging:
Earthrise packaging is the same basic shape as Siege boxes. They feature one flat side and one angled side with a window in the middle. Like the Siege boxes the boxes feature a red Transformers logo set vertically to one side with the Generations logo above it. Under the window is the Earthrise logo with the War for Cybertron Trilogy logo beneath it. Off to the left is the name "Starscream" with his rank symbol above it. The other side of the box features the character's artwork. Starscream's artwork shows him pointing as if he is giving direction on what appears to be part of a spaceship (the Nemesis, I'm assuming).

The back of the box shows Starscream in both of his modes. The transformation is listed as having 30 steps. As a cosell, Smashdown is shown in Starscream's hand. The packaging has one more fun feature. Inside the packaging is a translucent red "decoder", inspired by the red plastic strips that were included with G1 toys for several years. Run this decoder over the cardboard insert inside the box and generally you wil see some Transformers-based location revealed, however in Starscream's case it just shows several planets including one that almost looks like part of a Movie-verse Cybertron (but is probably something else) with no names.

Accessories:
When the G1 cartoon models were created the artists streamlined and elongated the weapons that came with the action figure to create his now iconic "Null Rays". Oddly, as the years have gone along, some Starscream figures ignored these designs, choosing to create alternate weapons instead (Fall of Cybertron Starscream being one dramatic example). Not so with Earthrise Starscream! His weapons are pure G1. Like the G1 Null Rays, the weapons actually extend beyond his arms in length. Each measures 3 inches (about 7.62 centimeters) long. The top section is a rectangular box with small fins coming out on three sides (likely inspired by the button you pressed on the original G1 toy to launch his missiles). The middle to lower section is a series of cylinders with a tip that flares out and then narrows to a point. It is a classic design that is instantly recognizable.

The Null Rays are cast in the same light grey plastic as Starscream himself. Each features a 5mm peg towards the top that allows you to attach it to any 5mm port. The tip of each weapon can accommodate Blast Effects that are packaged with some Siege and Earthrise figures. Starscream himself does not include any Blast Effects.

Robot Mode:
Let's knock this out before I dig into the reobot mode review: this figure is not a simple "upsized" version of Classics Starscream. The two figures definitely share some engineering when it comes to the transformation, but the actual parts used, the joints and even the general aesthetics of the figure are completely different. Here are some (but not all) of the differences:

  • The head sculpt is not as chunky and blocky as Classics Starscream's. The proportions fit more with the rest of the figure.
  • Similar to Siege Starscream, several parts have "greebles" on them, offering a rich texture of details instead of flat panels. This includes the arms and legs. However, the Siege Seeker sculpt really went overboard with the greeble details while this figure tones them down dramatically.
  • Some parts move differently than Classics Starscream. For instance, the wings have a hinge so they can move back and the front panels of the lower legs swing forward to allow transformation instead of just having the thighs push into the lower legs.
  • The articulation on this figure is very different than Classics Starscream. Perhaps the most clear examples are the head (which is separate from the nosecone) and the ankle tilts.

So do not worry, if you get this figure, you're getting a brand new sculpt, even if it does have similarities to the Classics design.

Starscream's design uses a lot of the character's iconic design features. This includes:

  • The head sculpt looks like it came right out of the G1 cartoon including a central crest flanked by two rectangular sections, vents on the sides of the head and a rather narrow face.
  • There are two air intakes flanking the head.
  • His arms and legs are all boxy, mostly made up of rectangles, squares and triangles.
  • Each arm has a port to attach Starscream's weapons, just like the cartoon.
  • The vehicle mode wings are mounted on the back.
  • Each lower leg has a design on the front that looks like small thrusters.

The cartoon is not the only place the designers took inspiration from when designing this figure. On the section under the chest thare are small vent like details that look like designs on G1 Starscream's stickers. His knee armor stickers also get a callback in the form of sculpted details including a triangle and vent lines. Call it a callback or necessity, but his rear stabilizer fins wind up attached to the sides of his ankle area similar to the G1 action figure whereas these details would disappear in the animation model when he was in robot mode.

This sculpt isn't perfect. The panels on the top of his chest leave a slight gap I'm not crazy about and I do wish there was a way the nosecone could have been hidden away better. Still, I think this figure looks awesome in this mode. His proportions are good and the level of detail is excellent.

Starscream is made up of light grey, blue and translucent orange plastic. Red, white, gunmetal grey and light grey paint are used to fill in details. The wings also have purple Decepticon symbols on them. The deco on this figure is simple, but really nice. The lighter tones do a great job of making this figure look like it jumped out of the cartoon into action figure form!

There are twenty two points of articulation on this figure. If you really want to go nuts and count his wings then make it twenty four. He lacks two key points: the wrists and waist. The wrists would probably be too fragile if they rotated and the waist design simply does not allow articulation. There are eleven 5mm ports on this figure, allowing you to attach extra weapons and accessories. He also has a smaller port on the back that allows you to attach him to Bandai display stands to make it look like he is flying. Starscream doesn't just look good, he's fun!

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the Null Rays and set them aside for now.
  2. Push the two halves of the feet together.
  3. Rotate the stabilizer fins on the ankles back, tabbing them into the sides of the lower legs.
  4. Swing out the horizontal stabilizer fins.
  5. Swing the top of each forearm forward and swing the fists up.
  6. Swing the lower arm sections over the middle section of each arm.
  7. Swing the top panels from the forearms down.
  8. Swing the upper half of the body back, leaving the front torso plate in place.
  9. Swing the nosecone up over the robot head.
  10. Rotate the nosecone section up, then rotate it around.
  11. Swing up the nosecone section, snapping it into place in between the air vents.
  12. Swing the arms inward.
  13. Swing the section with the wings and nosecone down, clipping it the torso's front panel.
  14. Swing the waist panel up.
  15. Swing the front panels of each lower leg forward.
  16. Swing the lower legs up over the thighs, then swing the front panels of the lower legs back into place.
  17. Push the lower legs together, then tab them into the top half of the body.
  18. Swing the wings back.
  19. Attach the Null Rays to the wings.

Vehicle Mode:
The original Starscream was based on a McDonnell Douglas F-15. Given that licensing of vehicle modes is a lot more stringent compared to the 80's, it surprised me just how much this jet mode looks like the real life vehicle. Everything from the vents in the front to the shape of the wings and stabilizer fins looks like the real life F-15 (with some proportions being a bit different). Perhaps the biggest differences between the real life vehicle and this one are the Null Rays and the shape of the rear thrusters (which are angled instead of being round). For those into nice "real life" details working their way into vehicle modes, look in the cockpit and you'll see a seat and an instrument panel in front of it. I had not expected this level of detail so it was a pleasant surprise.

Since the sculpt borrows heavily from Classics Starscream's engineering, a lot of the robot mode parts wind up forming undercarriage junk. This cannot be helped (without likely a bunch of more hinges and panels involved) but I was very surprised that the designers did not include any kind of landing gear. Even the Classics Starscream had small landing gear swinging out from the sides of the turbines on his chest. This figure does not have anything like that so he just winds up landing on his torso plate.

This mode mostly shows off the light grey plastic and it gives us a really good look at the translucent orange plastic used for the cockpit cover. Blue appears in the back on the thrusters and vertical fins. The wings and vertical fins have red and white stripes on them and each wing features a Decepticon symbol. Red paint is found on the front on the air intakes. The deco is simple, yet bright and eye catching. It is not a very complex deco but it represents the animated version of the character well.

There are nine 5mm ports on this figure. This includes one on the top with the rest being on the bottom. You will have to be selective about the weapons you connect since four of them run alongside the sides of the undercarriage junk, leaving little clearance for larger weapons. Want to connect this vehicle to a Bandai stand? Just swing the waist panel out and you'll find a port in the back. That said, I recommend some level of caution with the waist panel. On my copy of this figure the waist panel's left side is not fully tabbed in and thus there is a very slight crack on the left side of the torso panel. Unless you really stare at this it is not a huge deal from an aesthetic point of view, and I have moved this panel many times without the crack growing or showing additional stress. I am hoping this is fixed on the inevitable redecos of this sculpt or on future production runs.

Final Thoughts:
Earthrise Starscream is fun and looks great. He is not perfect though. There are some issues I have with the design (such as the complete lack of landing gear). That said, if you want a cool "Earth Mode" Starscream this is the figure for you! Recommended!

Pros:

  • Excellent sculpt and detailing.
  • Bright, eye catching deco.
  • Excellent articulation.
  • Fun play value.

Cons:

  • Some fans may not be crazy about the Classics Starscream engineering being partly recycled (to me it's no big deal).
  • No landing gear in vehicle mode.
  • The waist panel issue is fairly serious. Sure the figure works just fine but such things simply should not make it out of quality control. That said, I won't dismiss the figure entirely for it.
  • There have been reports of the fins on his ankles being discolored though my copy does not have this issue.