Armada Toy Reviews: Starscream

in 2002, 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: July 2002
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3 (Advanced)
Accessories: Swindle Mini-Con figure, Two missiles, Sword/Wing tip

Sounds in mp3 format

One of the names often associated with Transformers is Starscream. The name evokes memories for older, Generation One fans. They remember the treacherous lieutenant of Megatron's and younger fans may remember the "mutant Spark" that invaded the Beast Wars in "Possession". Those even more in the know are probably thinking of the sleek jet from Beast Wars the Second. Armada brings the name Starscream into play again, and although this character may not be the original Starscream from Generation One, he certainly carries on the spirit of the character. Appropriately enough, Starscream is paired with a Mini-Con named Swindle. This review will first cover Swindle as a stand alone figure and then the review of Starscream will describe
the interaction between the two figures.

Swindle Toy Review

Vehicle Mode:
Swindle is an F-1 type racing car in vehicle mode. His primary colors are red and black, with a bit of grey tossed in for the thruster at the end. Detail wise the vehicle is decent, but by no means spectacular. His Mini-Con symbol is etched onto the left side of the vehicle. The contrasting appearance of the huge wheels in the rear and smaller wheels in the front do add to the look of the toy, but a bit more detailing would have been nice
to see.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing out the sides of the vehicle to form the robot arms.
  2. Slide the spoiler down.
  3. Flip the black front edge of the car down.
  4. Split the front of the car in half to form the robot legs.

Robot Mode:
With the transformation not really showing anything new (except the robot head), Swindle's colors pretty much remain the same. As Mini-Con robot forms go, Swindle is a rather poor one. His arms cannot move up and down, only out to the sides. Although it is true to say he has six points of articulation, these all involve his arms or legs kicking to the side and that's it. Also a shame is that the sculptor did not bother to sculpt actual arms for this toy. Rather, he just has the sides of a vehicle with no fists to speak of. One could attempt to interpret the ends of his arms as claws, but that's a stretch.

It is of course true that this little figure is merely meant to serve as a way to activate Starscream's Powerlinx features, and in that respect the toy succeeds. However, as a stand alone Mini-Con, it's not that great of a toy.

Starscream Toy Review

Vehicle Mode:
Starscream is a futuristic jet in vehicle form. Anyone who is familiar with the original Starscream toy will no doubt do something of a double take when they see this toy. In sculpt and in colors, it is an obvious homage to the original F-15 fighter jet Starscream. His colors are primarily red and grey, two of Starscream's signature colors. Black accentuates edges and detailing such as the cockpit nose, wing edges and missile launcher ends. A Decepticon symbol graces each wing and is painted purple. The rear fins enhance the association between this toy and the original character it is based on.

Being a larger sized toy, the sculptors worked to provide a good amount of detail. The wings are not flat but actually have grooves, lines and details like tubes and exposed machinery. The cockpit and neck have some fine details including plates that appear bolted down. The rear of the jet shows more exposed machinery. Another nice touch can be found on the underside of the jet. Towards the front are six missile tubes sculpted into the mold. Even without any Mini-Cons attached, this gives Starscream eight potential weapons at his disposal in jet mode. In another nice touch, the vents under the wings each have a Decepticon symbol molded into them.

Starscream has one primary Powerlinx point, the peg between the two missile launchers towards the rear. Attach Swindle (or any Mini-Con) and the missile launchers swing forward. Each has its own independent firing trigger. Push the button back (with or without a Mini-Con attached) and the sound of a jet flying is executed.

Two other connection points for Mini-Cons on Starscream are on the grey vents on either side of his cockpit. Both have a peg that will allow a Mini-Con to add some firepower to Starscream.

A connection point specific to Swindle is the underside of the cockpit. In vehicle mode, Swindle can attach to the underside of the cockpit. When not attached, pressing down the cockpit activates a weapon firing noise. When you have Swindle attached, you can push down the cockpit to drop him off. This also changes the noise the cockpit button makes. Instead of weaponry, you hear something akin to a launching sound.

There is a lot of play value with this vehicle mode. That combined with its homage to the original Starscream makes it fun and impressive all at once.

Transformation to Robot Mode:
Note: The "Gerwalk" mode I show above is not an official mode but rather one I cooked up while
transforming the toy.

  1. Flip the jet onto its back and swing out the sections with the rear fins. Straighten them out to form the robot legs.
  2. Swing the entire hip section forward and lock it into place. This will also cause the robot head to pop up.
  3. Flip out the red V shaped parts on the underside of the robot feet to form the heels.
  4. Rotate the wings so the Decepticon symbols face forward.
  5. Fold down the cockpit.
  6. Flip out the fists from the lower arms. Straighten out the arms.
  7. The left wing end may be detached and unfolded into a sword.

Robot Mode:
Having made one mode a homage to the original Starscream was great, but having both modes do so is awesome. Starscream shows more red and yellow in this mode, but he still retains the primary red and grey colors. His robot head is black with a grey face and red eyes. The crest at the center of his head is
painted red.

In terms of sculpting, the designers have captured the essence of what Starscream looks like. His head is definitely modeled after the original Starscream's, complete with vents on either side of the head and two rectangular parts on either side of the top of the head. He even sports a bit of a smirk, as if there is something going on in this guy's mind that no one else knows about.

The basic body structure of the toy is also reminscent of the original Starscream. The cockpit becomes most of the main body, the wings are on the back showing off his Decepticon symbols prominantly. There is also a lot of detail to be found in this mode on both the arms and legs. Some extra paint or black wash to bring these details out would have been nice, however.

Starscream features twelve points of articulation. Although none of these are ball joints, it is nice to see that at least the designers tried not to limit the movement in the arms. The arms can swivel outwards at the shoulder, allowing for more than simply forward and back motion.

All of the Mini-Con mechanisms from the vehicle mode can be used here. Attaching Mini-Cons (especially those with weapons) to his forearms also gives a vague tip of the hat to the original Starscream having his weapons mounted on his arms (yes, I know it's a stretch, but it's a nice one).

Starscream's left wing end becomes his sword. While this is great in concept, safety laws have kept the sword from looking particularly sleek. Also, I would have loved to see both wings become swords, not just one.

Starscream represents what many fans have wanted for quite some time: a well done update of a classic character. The toy is fun, but suffers from some minor flaws that add up.