Transformers Animated Sunstorm and Activators Ratchet Toy Review

in 2009, Action Figure Review, Generation One, Seeker, Target Exclusive, Transformers Animated

Transformers Animated

General Information:
Release Date: March 2009
Price Point: $24.99
Retailer: Target Exclusive
Accessories: Missiles x 2

Sunstorm Images:

*Images from Transformers.com.

In early 2009, two sets of Target exclusive Transformers figures were released. One featured Activators Bumblebee and Voyager Class Shockwave, the other was Sunstorm (a redeco of Voyager Class Starscream) and Activators Autobot Ratchet. While the Voyager Class figures were given new decos, the Activators were simple re-releases of previous versions. For a review and images of Autobot Ratchet, check out his review. This review will focus on the changes made to the Starscream sculpt for its release as Sunstorm. Read Starscream's review for more details on the sculpt.

I would be remiss if I wrote this review without mentioning a bit of an interesting incident involving these sets. While they were originally released at the price point of $24.99 at Target, for a brief time they were severely discounted to about $5.99! Fans everywhere jumped on this and bought these exclusives by the boatload. It would be discovered about a week later that this was in fact a pricing error and after that, prices varied wildly from location to location.

In "Transformers Animated", a group of Starscream clones were introduced. Each clone featured a segment of Starscream's personality. Sunstorm represented Starscream's sycophantic ways, and in that respect his loud color scheme makes perfect sense, almost as if he could blind you with all the effusive praise he throws at anyone who comes his way.

Robot Mode:
Sunstorm is a complete redeco of Starscream. He's not just a variant, but rather a completely new color scheme. There have been no changes made to the sculpt however, so he retails a lot of the notable features of Starscream including his arm weapons and smirk sculpted into the robot head.

The color swaps on this figure are fairly simple. The blue/purple plastic on Starscream has been replaced with bright orange. Black plastic on Starscream has been replaced with white and the translucent orange on Starscream is translucent red on Sunstorm. These colors are all carry overs from the first Sunstorm figure released in 2003 as an e-hobby exclusive. It's a fun, garish color scheme that somehow manages to look fantastic. I think the red helps offset the pure loudness of these colors, but even then you'd think this guy should just not work visually, yet it does and it's that wonderful contradiction that makes this an interesting figure.

Sunstorm has red, white, black and purple paint to color this figure. Rather than going the lazy route and just transpose Starscream's deco pattern onto Sunstorm, a whole new one was conceived. The robot head is cast in translucent red and white plastic, but the "helmet" portion of his head is painted black. The face is white, matching his animated appearance. His arm mounted weapons are painted almost entirely red, with only the ends of the barrels left orange. The outline of his cockpit is painted white and his wings have white stripes on them in the middle with the lower halves painted red. His Decepticon symbols are painted onto the wings in purple, which is something I was ecstatic to see. "Animated" has a propensity for using silver and gold for the faction symbol colors, and it's nice to see them get away from that to the much richer looking purple color.

All of Sunstorm's joints feel tight, and interestingly his fingers don't tend to pop off as much as they do on my Starscream figure. The panels on his forearms still pop out and this missiles go flying pretty far when launched. There does not appear to be any functional problems with this sculpt despite its reuse.

Vehicle Mode:
I have to confess that I was quite surprised by how different Sunstorm's vehicle mode differs from Starscream's in terms of deco pattern. Whereas Starscream had a lot of trim including lines on his wings and the edges of his stabilizers. On Sunstorm, the red color from the robot mode really becomes a presence. It can be found on his nosecone, the back edges of each wing and the two rear thrusters. Even his stabilizers are painted red for the most part, leaving only the top edges orange. White is used for lines on the middle of his wings and the front end of the sections leading to the rear thrusters. Purple Decepticon symbols are present on this side of the wings as well.

This is a fantastic color scheme. While the bright colors could be considered almost comical for a Transformer, he actually looks fantastic. The red, white and orange colors work together to look almost like a sleek, flying energy pulse (or an artsy representation of the sun itself). The bold scheme just screams "I don't need stealth, fear me!" and I love it.

Final Thoughts:
This is a fantastic redeco that pays homage to a character that began as an obscure G1 reference and has gone on to take on a life of its own. I think it was a brilliant idea to package an Activator Autobot with Sunstorm since it conceptually emphasizes the size difference (and power difference) between the Autobots and Decepticons in "Animated". Highly recommended!