Transformers Prime Starscream Toy Review

in 2011, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Deluxe, Generation One, Prime, Seeker, First Edition

Transformers Prime

General Information:
Release Date: October 2011
Price Point: $12.99
Retailer: Limited Release (Toys R Us, online retailers, Asia)
Accessories: Missile racks x 2


StarscreamWay ahead of its release in the United States, select markets in Asia have begun to receive shipments of "Transformers Prime" action figures. Specifically these are the waves that represent the "First Edition" series of figures, which include the San Diego Comic-Con Optimus Prime and the set recently released at New York City Comic-Con. Rumors floated around for a while that "Prime" figures would only see a limited release and that may still be true, but as of late November 2011, Toys R Us stores throughout the US and Canada have begun receiving the first three deluxe figures in the toy line (Arcee, Bumblebee and Starscream).

One of the first Decepticons introduced in "Transformers Prime" was Starscream. True to his Generation one roots, the "TransformersPrime" version of Starscream is a schemer who wishes to take power for himself, constantly trying to work against Megatron. Starscream is part of the first wave of Deluxe figures in the "First Edition" line of "TransformersPrime" action figures. As of November 2011, he has been released in Asia, Canada and the US. However, in North America his releases appear limited to Toys R Us stores and online retailers such as BWTF sponsor Big Bad Toy Store.

Vehicle Mode:
In the "Transformers Prime" universe, Starscream comes to Earth and takes on a vehicle form similar to a General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, a jet used by the United States Air Force. Following tradition in design the design of vehicle modes, Starscream's jet mode has just enough design elements that you can tell its source, but enough changes that any licensing fees are avoided.

Starscream incorporates osme of the key elemnts of the F-16 including:

  • The canopy on the cockpit is a "bubble canopy" with no frame lines sculpted in, a feature that is part of the F-16's design.
  • He has a single thruster in the rear.
  • The wings in are angled in the front, sweeping back.
  • The rear section has a single vertical stabilizer flanked by two smaller, angled stabilizers.
  • On the underside of the vehicle is a single, large air intake right behind the section with the cockpit.

Now there are some significant differences as well. The nosecone shape is completely different from the F-16. It's shorter and more narrow in the front. Regarding the wings, the rear part of the wings is also at an angle matching the front whereas the F-16's wings are straight in the back. There is also significantly more kibble sculpted into the vehicle on the top than the real life F-16 has. This is partly designed to resemble the extra details seen on the CGI model from the television show. Many of these designs are sharp, angular designs that take influence from the live action movie version of the Transformers, where many of them have angled armor pieces on top of their internal machinery. Some of the details on the top of the vehicle mode are actually intended for the robot mode, so they make him look a bit busy compared to the CGI model in this form, but overall it works and the visual continuity between the two are clear.

Starscream is cast in two main colors: metallic silver and metallic dark grey. The silver plastic comes in two forms: the regular hard plastic used for most of the figure and a rubbery soft silver plastic. The rubbery parts are used for his nosecone and missiles (as well as robot parts discussed later in this review). The silver plastic is most dominant if you look at the figure from the top, flip it over and you see a ton of the dark grey plastic. Paint applications are done in dark red, silver, black and metallic grey. If you think about the color scheme, it is very much G1 Starscream's color palette, but darkened in tone significantly. To be honest, the silver/grey/dark grey combination can look very monotone. What brings it out of that are the red and silver colors and the use of metallic shades of those colors and not just flat ones. This is not the fault of the toy designers, it actually tracks very well with the color sof the CGI model, which I would argue are a bit more monotone than the figure.

This vehicle mode is pretty old skool in design when it comes to features. While he does have accessories that look like three missiles bundled together, they don't fire and are just there for show. The thing is, in order to have firing missiles the transformation would have probably had to be compromised in some way or he'd have gigantic launchers under his wings, ruining the simplicity and elegance of the design. There is another version of "Transformers Prime" coming out in the future that will feature more functional weapons, but I'm find with the "First Edition" version favoring the look of the television show over gimmicks.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the missiles and set them aside.
  2. Flip the jet over and swing the legs down.
  3. Rotate the hip section around, then fit the two tabs on the hip section into the corresponding slots on the bottom of the nosecone.
  4. Push out both halves of each foot.
  5. Swing the wings down.
  6. Pull the rear thruster down.
  7. Split the rear section of the jet to begin forming the robot arms.
  8. Turn the rear section around so it aligns with the hip/legs section.
  9. Split the vertical stabilizer into halves and swing them out.
  10. Pull on the central hinged piece on by the thruster to reveal the robot head.
  11. Push the robot head up and fold in the hinged piece on the back.
  12. Rotate the thruster around.
  13. Push the wings back so they angle up and outwards behind the shoulders.
  14. Rotate the forearms around and pull them down.
  15. Push the horizontal stabilizers up into the forearms.
  16. Swing out each hand.
  17. Attach the missiles to each forearm.
  18. Swing up the silver knee armor pieces.
  19. On the robot head, pull the central crest forward slightly.

Robot Mode:
In the "Transformers Prime" television show, Starscream has an extremely thin and lithe shape, suggesting a snake-like appearance. It also echoes his sleek vehicle form and how fast the character can move. I wondered if the toy designers would be able to recreate this thin form and still make it an effective Transformer and action figure all at the same time. I'm happy to report that not only have the designers pulled it off, but they've done it very well. Starscream's form is very thin but at the same time it manages to embody all the primary details of the CGI mode. Among these details are:

  • The head design matches the show very well, including the high central crest, long face and a completely untrustworthy smile on his face. Here you'll also see the G1 design influences in the "vents" on the sides of the helmet portion of the head and the way his helmet section has three lines creating grooves on the top of his head.
  • The torso design matches the television show, with a shape that suggests a face on his chest. Keen eyed observers will note that this is in fact an exaggerated interpretation of the head of Starscream from the live action films.
  • Like his CGI counterpart, Starscream's wings, thruster and vertical stabilizer details all wind up on his back.
  • Starscream's forearms contain his primary weapons, though here it's a rack of three missiles on each arm while the television show only shows one on each arm.
  • The leg designs reflect the super thin design of the CGI model including his blade like knee armor and pointed feet.
  • Starscream's long fingers are sculpted so they are extended outward, enhancing his slightly creepy look.
  • On Starscream's back, his wings splay out in a V shape and the two halves of his vertical stabilizer are visible behind his head.

Starscream does differ a bit from his CGI model in some fairly minor ways. First off, a lot of the angled, sharp looking details on the CGI model do not stick out on the figure they way they do on the TV show. An example are two angled details on the top of his chest, which are separated from the main body in the show, but here are sculpted as part of the chest. Also, Starscream has three missiles on each arm instead of the single missile he has on the show. Either way it's a nice homage to his G1 predecessor and I do find myself wanting blue and purple redecos of this figure as Thundercracker and Skywarp respectively!

All of the colors visible in the vehicle mode appear here, but this time they're broken out a lot more. His arms for instance alternate from light to dark colors between the shoulders, elbows, forearms and hands. This really helps make him look more interesting as previously the jet mode was pretty monotone. Add to that various paint decos such as the silver pattern on his chest, bits of red and blue on his shoulders and knees and there is much more visual appeal in this form. I particularly like the way the red color stands out so well against the silver, looking almost like it's glowing in some parts. I also like the Decepticon symbol set right in the center of his chest. It's accurate in terms of placement and it really helps define the character. My only gripe is that the symbol really needed to be purple instead of black, not only to match the show but further push the Decepticon identity.

There are twenty two points of articulation on this figure, which is really quite surprising given how thin the figure is. I would have thought too many points would make the figure more prone to breakage, but a liberal use of everything from swivel to ball joints has done a really effective job of giving Starscream some really effective articulation. At first glance, it would appear that Starscream has no other real functionality, but there is, it's just somewhat hidden. If you swing the horizontal stabilizer wings out from his forearms, you create an opening. On the inside of the forearms are circular holes to attach standard 5mm weapons (such as Mech Tech weapons). I think it's great that Starscream has this added functionality, but I do confess having large weapons attached to him looks kind of funny! Also, his elbow hinges aren't quite tight enough to sustain the weight of such weapons, but in certain poses it still looks cool, and for kids playing with the figure, it won't even matter.

Final Thoughts:
Starscream is a cool figure and I'm particularly impressed by his design in both modes. The designers managed to pull off a deceptively complicated design (no pun intended) and they did it well. My only reservation about the figure has to do with its overall bland appearance, but I won't fault the figure for being true to its CGI roots. Highly recommended!