Transformers Starscream
Transformers Starscream
Transformers Starscream
Transformers Starscream

Starscream has of course been a major character in all three of the live-action films, culminating in his hilarious death at the hands of Sam Witwicky in Dark of the Moon. However, I've largely held off from getting any figures of the guy. I did get a 2007 Voyager out of curiosity (moving it on fairly quickly) but generally I've held off for something bigger.

Starscream's alternate mode in the films is an F-22 Raptor, much larger than basically most of the other characters. As a result, Starscream not only ended up with a robot mode almost as wide as it is tall, but is one of the more obvious areas of size-change cheating in the films to stop him towering over everyone else. They're quite smart about it, though - the times he's shown standing alongside anyone other than Megatron (who of course turns into Cybertronian vehicles for the most part) are fleeting. With Bonecrusher and Blackout I went for the biggest versions available (not that those were very big) but with Starscream there was always a chance of something bigger, and in 2010 the long-awaited Leader Class figure came out as part of the Hunt for the Decepticons sub-line.


For the films Hasbro had to fork out for licences to most of the vehicles featured prominently rather than just making minor modifications to avoid having to pay for copying the designs of others. This means Starscream is a genuine licensed F-22, something you'd think would bring unprecedented accuracy. However, the figure's nature works against this - jet fighters are necessarily very aerodynamic things, which usually translates to them being as close to flat as possible. Sadly, as a robot has to be folded away somewhere this isn't the case for Starscream. However, the engineering bods have done as good a job as possible. Compared to the various Deluxe and Voyager Starscream figures - not to mention the similarly-sized but much less graceful Jetfire - the toy is a lot sleeker, with much more successful integration of the robot mode parts.

Despite this improvement, the underside is still decidedly bulbous and the thighs are plainly visible towards the back and the overall effect is still somewhat tubby. There are also a lot of screw holes visible, especially on the tail section. The colour scheme is quite winning, though - Starscream is decked out with the Cybertronian graffiti he wears for Revenge of the Fallen and the effect is good, actually gelling quite nicely with the unrealistic proportions. The jet might have looked a bit silly in a dry US Air Force scheme. Features-wise a button behind the cockpit activates a jet noise or a sound chip saying "Starscream" while lighting up the cockpit and air intakes, he has retractable undercarriage and there are removable missiles on the two hardpoints under the wings. The other interesting thing is Starscream seems very heavy even compared to other Leader figures, though I'm not sure if that's just the effect of so much mass being located in the fuselage.


Like several large, complex Transformers - and it seems especially peculiar to the live action Leader assortment - transforming Starscream is a game of two halves. Jet to robot mode is slick, intuitive and very good fun (aside from the difficulty in folding the cockpit section down, though there's a trick to this with the flap behind the canopy - providing you find this out before the soundchip's transforming noise - activated by this very part - has driven you insane); getting him into jet mode is comparatively challenging. However, it's not as difficult as Ironhide or Optimus Prime, especially once you've discarded the instructions, tracked down whichever feckless lackey did them and shot him or her in the face. The presentation is a shame as there are some really great touches, most notably the way various parts of the fuselage swing up and clip onto the sides of the chest, a superb recreation of the CGI model's width and complex feel.

And the toy is tremendously accurate to the film model. I mean, compare it to one of the CGI renders - this is about as close as you can get for a functioning plastic toy, with masses of sculpted sinews and wires either side of the cockpit chest. Even the film's odd proportions are accurately represented with long arms (and very long fingers) and bowed monkey legs. The latter can be extended in a more conventional fashion if desired, lending the figure even more height. Surprisingly, Starscream has tremendous balance despite being so top-heavy thanks to the stiff ratchet joints on the legs, while his articulation is excellent - even extending to an opening jaw. There are action features as well - a fair representation of his arm-mounted missile launcher can be attached to either wrist, and this can fire the projectiles from his jet mode. When not in use, the launcher and missiles can be stowed on his back. In addition to this pulling down on the canopy causes the chest to light up, a couple of panels to open and the mouth to open, saying either "Starscream" or "Decepticons". And just to top things off, both forearms have retractable weaponry much in the style of Brawl - very nice. So not only does Starscream look great, he's fun too.


The Leader version of Starscream fully justifies the wait - a lot of thought has gone into this figure, and there are a lot of innovative ideas used in both modes and the transformation. Despite the general high quality of the movie figures few capture the sheer essence of a CGI model in the way this complex, rewarding toy does.