Armada Toy Reviews: Skywarp

in 2003, Action Figure Review, Armada, Decepticon, Generation One, Seeker

Armada

General Information:
Price Point: Maxcon
Retailer: General (K-Mart, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart etc.)
Release Date: September 2003
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3 (Advanced)
Accessories: Missiles x 2, Thunderclash Mini-Con, Sword/wing

Transformers Armada was one of the first Transformers lines in years to make heavy, heavy use of redecos to create new waves of toys. Sure this had been done during the Beast Wars years, but Beast Machines and Robots in Disguise didn't really utilize this to a great degree. The problem with redecos is, after a while, people get tired of getting the same mold over and over. On the other hand, parents may see a mold in different colors and simply say "You already have that." to their kids, and that's that, no sale.

A situation like this was avoided when Hasbro decided to take the mold they had already released twice as Starscream and Thundercracker and not only give it a new deco, but significantly overhaul the sculpt. On top of that, they created a new Mini-Con just to be included with Skywarp. The result is a toy with roughly 20% new parts (that's a quote from Hasbro). This review will focus on the changes made to the Starscream mold for this release.

Thunderclash

Thunderclash is a Transformer name that has its origins in the later Generation One to G2 era of Transformers. Originally Thunderclash was a truck, much in the spirit of Optimus Prime, so much so that the mold was later given a new deco as Optimus Prime. This time however, he's a Mini-Con jet working with Skywarp.

Vehicle Mode:
Thunderclash's vehicle mode is one of my top five favorites from the Armada line. He's a heavily armed, yet sleek jet. It has a wonderful arrow shaped design, with the back being wide and then converging to the front. Mounted on the sides are huge machine gun ports, and then two smaller ports that could be gun barrels or missiles. Relatively speaking, not many Mini-Cons are that heavily armed, so it's always cool to see one that is.

The color scheme is simple. Thunderclash is mostly grey with some purple parts and black paint around the cockpit. While I love the sculpt, I do wish that the mold had been given a slightly better paint job. Some more details on the back portion would have kept the toy from looking plain color-wise.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing the legs on the underside of the vehicle down and back.
  2. Push the cockpit down.
  3. The purple missile/cannons are the arms.

Robot Mode:
The robot mode is heavily made up of the vehicle mode bits. No hiding of parts here. What's nice about this is that the machine guns cannon remain pointing forward, giving this Mini a formidable look in robot mode. That plus his rather wide shoulders and thick (relatively speaking) legs gives the appearance of one tough bot.

Color-wise, there's still not much to write home about. The upper legs are purple while the lower legs are grey. The only newly revealed paint app is orange for the eyes.

Final Thoughs (on Thunderclash):
Thunderclash is an awesome little Mini-Con. I only wish the mold had received a good paint job like it deserves.

Skywarp

Since the first two Armada jets of this design were Starscream and Thundercracker, naming this guy Skywarp was a no brainer, and appropriate. However, unlike his G1 counterpart, he is not a physical clone of his fellow jets.

Vehicle Mode:
In vehicle mode, the following parts have been changed:

  • The cockpit section now has guns on the sides instead of angled blades.
  • The center section has a single vertical fin sticking up, the Starscream mold had nothing sticking up like that.
  • The rear, horizontal fins have been replaced with new fins that have hoverfans built in to them.

All these changes work together to really help differentiate the sculpt from its predecessors. Not only are the
colors different, but it's obvious right in the box that the sculpt has physical differences.

Color-wise, the designers decided to pay homage to the toys' G1 namesake. Skywarp's primary color is black, with a healthy dose of purple worked in. The purple is everywhere, the missiles, the wings, the cockpit etc. What is important to note is that the pattern used is fairly consistant with the G1 Skywarp's patterns. G1 Skywarp's wings were black with purple details at the edges, like Armada Skywarp's. G1 Skywarp had purple fins at the rear,
so does Armada Skywarp. These designs show that the designers definitely were keeping G1 in mind when doing this redeco/retool.

With Starscream and Thundercracker, you could take their Mini-Con partners and attach them to the underside of the cockpit. Kudos to Hasbro for making sure Thunderclash can do the same. Simply take the little guy in vehicle mode, and attach his cockpit to the underside of Skywarp's cockpit and voila, instant Powerlinking with more firepower for Skywarp! It even makes the same ejection sound as Starscream when you push down on the cockpit to release the Mini-Con. Thunderclash also attaches to the Powerlinx point at the rear to deploy the shoulder cannons. However, to do that you
have to fold Thunderclash's wings up first.

Skywarp utilizes all the same sound effects as Starscream and Thundercracker. While this may seem cheap, really there was no point in creating new sound effects for a redeco/retool that was only going to get limited distribution anyhow.

Robot Mode:
In robot mode, the most significantly changed piece is the robot head. Instead of being a take on the G1 Seeker head, this head is a completely new sculpt. This one has a high crest (the vertical fin from the vehicle mode) and two small eyes with a mouthplate. This actually serves to make Skywarp look more threatening since you can't tell what he's thinking underneath that mask.

Skywarp shows off a couple different colors here not as prevelant in the vehicle mode. First is a bit of red, found on his chest, legs and shoulders. A bit of gold is found on the arms and his upper legs and arms are purple. The head is grey, with a purple crest and black face. His eyes are painted orange, which looks really nice. I do wish the designers had taken this opportunity to throw some black wash onto the upper legs to draw out the sculpted
details better. I can understand why both previous versions of the mold didn't do that, but by the third I think it's time to try something more.

Functionally, everything remains the same here. The left wing becomes a sword and he retains all the Powerlinx points the mold had before.

Final Thoughts:
If you have to do a redeco/retool, this is the way to do it. Take significant chunks of the toy and revise it, then give it an awesome color scheme. Creating a whole new Mini-Con mold for this clinches this as a good purchase. The only warning I will give is that right now this guy is only found on the secondary market, and for rather expensive prices at that, starting at about $40. If you only want the sculpt, you may be better off getting the Ramjet Toys R Us exclusive redeco set.