Transformers Universe Sunstreaker Review

in 2008, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Generation One, Transformers Universe

Transformers Universe

General Information:
Release Date: June 2008
Price Point: $10.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Gun, rocket pack

Images:

*Image from Hasbrotoyshop.com

Text from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
SUNSTREAKER is a fighter for a cause, and that cause is SUNSTREAKER. If it’s not in his best interest (and not too threatening to his paint job), he’ll take out anyone he needs to, no matter where he is. Still, he’d rather be back home, kicking back, polishing his chrome and preparing for a good, old-fashioned arena fight, rather than hunting DECEPTICON assault squads across deep space.

Wielding an electron pulse blaster in robot mode, the loyal AUTOBOT defender is ready to take on whatever adventures you create! Convert the no-nonsense robot figure to vehicle mode to unleash a slick racecar and roll out!

Figure comes with electron pulse blaster weapon.

I remember a time around 1989 when Micromasters and Pretenders ruled the toy store shelves. There had not been a new animated Transformers program for quite some time, and even as young as I was back then I knew the quality of Transformers were suffering due to lack of popularity. There was this small office supply/candy shop not too far from my house around 1986 where I had purchased a lot of toys over the years, and I remember having a dream that I was back in that store and found a G1 Sunstreaker toy (which had not been on toy store shelves regularly at that point for years). The interesting part was that this figure was carded, and in my dream I mused "Why not? It takes up less space, maybe if they redo old characters in a cheaper way they can make money off popular characters?". When "Classics" launched a couple years ago, it felt like my dream had come true. Modern day interpretations of classic characters at a reasonable price point that were carded! However, it took until this iteration of the Classics line for there to be a Sunstreaker, and almost two decades after I had that dream, I finally had my carded, reinterpreted Sunstreaker as part of the second iteration of the "Transformers Universe" toy lne.

Vehicle Mode:
True to the heritage of the character, the modern version of Sunstreaker is a vehicle based on a Lamborghini sports car, just like his G1 predecessor. Modern day Lamborghinis share a lot of design elements with their predecessors from the 80's. A low profile, ultra sleek lines, minimalist details and a play on sharp angles all come into play in the design of this form, but it of course avoids just enough design copying to have to become a "licensed" vehicle such a the Alternators.

While he is minimal on details they are here if you look. The headlights are stylized "L" shapes and there are many sleek, angular details such as a small triangle on the sides of the vehicle and inset sections on the side from the doors leading to the back section of the vehicle. The center section of the vehicle's back has a layered set of panels sculpted into it, a feature seen on some models of Lamborghinis. Running along the top of the cabin section is a ridged section that adds a lot of detail to a figure that is mostly made of flat panels. Among the elements that truly distinguish Sunstreaker from his brother, Sideswipe (who was also a Lamborghini in G1) was an exposed pair of air intakes. These have been recreated here attached to an exposed engine, suggesting quite a bit of power under this sleek exterior. Instead of being a simple, smooth pair of rectangles, these intakes are highly detailed with grille lines, raised edges and a turbine in the center of the engine.

The most abundant amount of detail can be found concentrated on the back of the car, where the rear lights are set on top of horizontal lines over a section with a cross hatch pattern. In the middle is a rectangle for the license plate, and underneath that are two small exhaust pipes sticking out of the middle. Overall, the effect is that this is a toy representation of one fancy, fast and powerful vehicle.

Sunstreaker is cast primarily in yellow plastic. Translucent black is used for his windows while solid black is used for his wheels, part of the engine piece and the front grille. Silver plastic is used for the actual air intake pieces on the engine piece. The paint applications are simple in this form since Sunstreaker has always been primarily yellow. A bit of neon orange paint is used for the triangles near his front wheels. The top and edges of the translucent black cabin piece are painted yellow with a red Autobot symbol on top. Unfortunately, as often happens with paint on translucent plastic it does not quite match the yellow plastic on the rest of the figure. However, there is simply so much yellow on the rest of the figure that it makes it a rather minor point. Silver paint is used on the engine and wheel covers , giving some nice metallic splash of colors to the figure. Speaking of metallic splashes, the rear section is painted gunmetal grey with orange used on the rear lights. In perhaps what is the most fun detail, his license plate says "WE R 84", a clear reference to the year the Transformers line began (and the benchmark the current "25th Anniversary" series is using as its starting point).

Unlike some characters that have been reimagined over the years (I'm looking at you race car Gobot Optimus Prime), this vehicle mode is the perfect evolution of the character, and in some ways fits him even better than his recent Alternators treatment (though that was one awesome toy). It is great to be able to look at the reinvention of a classic character and be able to recognize who it is instantly. The creation of a new accessory for the air intakes was unexpected but very appreciated by this G1 fan as well and I give this figure a big thumbs up for the vehicle mode.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the engine/air intake piece.
  2. Flip the car over and detach the exhaust pipe pieces/gun.
  3. Swing the black grille piece up.
  4. Swing out the panels on the rear of the vehicle to the sides so they cover the rear wheels.
  5. Gently pull the opposite halves of the vehicle apart so the doors separate out from the front and back portions.
  6. Swing the robot arms out.
  7. Swing the rear of the vehicle back and down.
  8. Swing out the robot feet from the sections you just swung out.
  9. Rotate the robot legs so the sections with the rear lights face forward. The feet should point the same way.
  10. Slide the front of the car forward.
  11. Swing out the robot arms to the sides.
  12. Swing the car's front section down and snap it against the area right above the waist.
  13. Rotate the windshield/windows section around. The robot head will slide up at the same time.
  14. Swing each robot arm up on the hinge at the shoulder so it is level with the rest of the upper body.
  15. Swing each car door to the side of the lower arms and rotate them around.
  16. Attach the weapon to Sunstreaker's fist and the air intake piece using the clips to connect to the notches on his back.

Robot Mode:
Like many of the Classics/Universe releases, Sunstreaker is a marriage of classic elements based on the G1 figure and brand new details. The result is a synthesis that creates a really nice looking robot mode.

The two largest elements borrowed from G1 Sunstreaker are the head design and main body. Sunstreaker's head design was always one of the most distinctive among the Autobots in the early years. While he always had the familiar "helmet over face" design he also had horn shaped protrusions coming out the sides of his head, making him quite unique looking. This new head design retains all the essential elements of Sunstreaker's head design. He has a broad central crest coming down to a horizontal strip on the top of the helmet. To the sides are layered details. On either side of his cheeks are vent like details (a staple in Transformers design nowadays) and on the side of those are the "horns". These sections were inset with a set of horizontal lines on G1 Sunstreaker. Here, the sections are broken up into broad lines, with the ones on the "points" of the horns having smaller horizontal lines inside. G1 Sunstreaker's head was part of the piece where the air intakes were. In this modern day take, the air intakes are behind his head (on his back as a matter of fact), but their placement gives the illusion that they are a part of his head design from the front view. I think this is a wonderful way to evoke the look of the original figure while managing to make the design contemporary.

The other element borrowed from G1 Sunstreaker is his main body, which is mostly composed on the front of the top section of the vehicle mode. While modernized, this piece evokes the look of G1 Sunstreaker perfectly, and it explains the huge, red Autobot symbol in vehicle mode since it winds up right in the center of his chest.

Other minor elements take design cues from G1 while updating them. Sunstreaker's shoulders have an interesting shape with a six sided shoulder piece accented with a section hooking upwards on the side. This is vaguely reminscent of the shape of G1 Sunstreaker's shoulders. In addition, G1 Sunstreaker's lower arms consisted of bands of horizontal, square lines. Simlar lines can be found towards the wrist section on this figure. These small nods are fantastic to see and show how true to the designers were trying to be to the original figure.

No modern figure can just be a simple combination of G1 design elements, and Sunstreaker delivers on newer elements. His arms have a lot of detail from horizontal lines and tubes on his shoulders to four sloped, inset lines on each lower arm. His waist and legs have a lot of detail including tubes, vent lines and cut lines. While his lower legs may appear to simply be chunks of car on his lower body, a look on the back shows designs not visible in vehicle mode including tubes and circular designs. All these details run contrary to the smooth and sleek look of the vehicle mode, truly giving a feeling that this is a powerful, functional machine hidden as a car.

Sunstreaker winds up showing a lot more silver and black plastic in this form. His head, neck, elbow, fists, feet, waist and knee joints are all cast in black. His lower arms and thighs are cast in silver. A bit of translucent blue plastic shows up on his thighs in the front and on the head for the robot eyes. His paint colors all carry over from the robot mode, with neon orange on the shoulders and waist and yellow and silver on the robot head. Sunstreaker is not a character who requires tons of paint applications to look good. His simplicity is part of the visual appeal and this works well with Universe Sunstreaker.

Sunstreaker has twenty points of articulation, an incredible upgrade from his G1 toy. This includes five points in each arm and four in each leg.

With the release of Sunstreaker, the designers gave away a bit of a preview of a figure that would come after: Sideswipe. In G1, Sideswipe and Sunstreaker are "twin" brothers who shared a common vehicle form. In reality the G1 toys were very different from each other, but by using the same base body to create two relatively distinct forms in robot mode, the designers have struck a good balance between reusing a sculpt while giving fans something new. Achieving this alternate form is quite simple. Mount the engine/air intake on his chest, turn the head, arms and legs around and voila, instant "alternate" Transformer! At this point you'll notice that there are peg holes on Sunstreaker's shoulders that accomodate his gun. This is meant to illustrate another difference when this sculpt will be used as Sideswipe. The original Sideswipe had a shoulder mounted weapon, and this allows you to recreate that as well.

Final Thoughts:
Sunstreaker is an ideal update of his G1 predecessor. The figure is true to form in both vehicle and robot modes and looks great. The posability is excellent and the "auto transform" feature is really neat as well. Highly recommended!