Let's get one thing straight. Classics/Universe is the best thing to happen to the Transformers toyline for years and years. The past few lines from Armada onwards have had the occasional hit, but many, many misses. It's not just the revival of older characters that makes Classics so good, it's a quantum leap in design aesthetics. When I first saw the Starscream mould, I thought it looked great. I was tempted, even though it's Starscream. But even putting aside from his irritating characterisation and army of tiresome worshippers, Starscream's colours are just so dull. Thankfully, Hasbro saved me shelling out on him by bringing out Skywarp. The only downside, they decided to pack him in a set known as 'The Battle of Autobot City', with a rather uninspired Ultra Magnus figure (a recolour of the Classics Optimus Prime). So I got a loose one off ebay instead.

And I'm glad I did. I always loved Skywarp's colour scheme - it's just a crying shame that the original Decepticon jet mould (harvested from Takara's Diaclone line) was pretty awful, a very limited figure largely reliant on the removal of half the plane, and sticking it on in different ways. I like Lego, I like it a lot, but it really isn't an approach that makes for a good Transformer. Finally, though, after the near-miss of the Robot Masters mould, we have a toy worthy of the colour scheme.


The jet mode looks terrific. It was one of the best points of the original, but even that is put in the shadow of the Classics version. The F-15 is rendered coherently - there are none of the massive joints in the fuselage, there's no massive hole through the tail to signpost the legs, and bits don't fall off. It's just a good, solid rendition of the plane. The purple is possibly a shade too light, but the gorgeous silver paint apps more than make up for this. The underside isn't perfect, being a little too bulky, though there's some fun continuity and handling gear still sticks down on the robot's heels. The lack of a nose wheel is the only big problem, the substitution of two small rounded 'wheels' just under the front air intakes reminding me very much of Leader-1. The missile launchers are designed mainly for the robot mode, one suspects, and look rather clumsy slung underneath the wings - I usually just leave them off in jet mode. Overall, though, it's a very sharp-looking, well made alternate mode.

The transformation is a joy. The process roughly follows the sequence of the original - well, the original cartoon character, anyway. The skilful engineering means Skywarp more or less follows the earlier pattern, but without half of the toy having to come off and get stuck back on. There are other variations, including a very neat chest section that side-steps another problem with the Diaclone mould - that of the cockpit section just wobbling around after a few years in robot mode. It's not the most challenging of transformations, but it's pretty good fun.


The most important bit of course is the robot mode, and this figure nails it. The figure just looks terrific, the stylish black and purple beautifully gelling with the silver. Silver's more prominent on the robot, taking up most of the chest, and it breaks up the black/purple nicely, while remaining a slick reference to the original. Skywarp is excellently proportioned, and completely solid. Skywarp looks really good from all angles, with a good solid body. He looks pretty much like the animation model, but with more detail and stronger colours.

The detail work is also spectacular - there's a lot of work gone into this one, and it shows through. The head cast captures the character nicely too - despite it being a retouched Starscream, it just looks more like Skywarp. The articulation's very good too - the arms move at the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and knees, and even the head moves a little (a note on the head - you can have the option of either having a 'cartoon' style head, or 'toy' style head, with the nosecone on the back). Plus you don't have to worry about anything falling off. He can be a little unbalanced in some poses - notably you need to stand his feet apart if he's standing up, but he looks cool striking a pose like that so it's not a problem. The launchers are rather oversized, and do restrict the arm movement, but they're a nice touch, modelled relatively closely on the robot mode 'machine guns' of the original toy than the missile launchers. The result is basically a dictionary definition of how a Decepticon should look - sharp, mean and dangerous.


Skywarp is the sort of toy long time fans daydreamed about. We never thought we'd actually have one like this - same alt mode and robot layout as the original, but a lot better looking. On top of that he's got excellent articulation and is impressive as either a toy or a display piece. An unmissable figure.