Tools of the Imagination — Starscream (War Within)

Transformers War Within Titanium Heroes toyline, by Hasbro, released 2007

The Original Backstabber In His Original Form

In the beginning, Hasbro made their Transformers toys using die-cast steel.  And it was good.  Then, they moved to the cheaper and more manageable plastic.  And it was…meh.  And then, on a glorious day, they released a Transformers line based around using the beloved die-cast construction.  And it was good.  Very, very good.
For the four of you who aren’t familiar with the background of the Transformers (and I am referring to the animated series, not the live-action movies; the live-action movies are generally regarded as, at best, really ambitious fan fiction, with all the preferences and prejudices that go along with that designation), the Autobots and Decepticons were damaged in their crash landing onto Earth and were given the forms of earth vehicles (jets, cars, trucks, etc).  But in the first episode of the animated series, ‘More Than Meets The Eye’, we got a glimpse of a few of the Cybertronian forms that they original held, forms there were quite appropriately alien.

Probably none of these forms has been more popular than the ‘flying pyramids’ (formally called ‘Tetrajets’) that would become the Decepticon jets (formally called ‘Seekers’).  And there is probably no Decepticon, jet or otherwise, more notorious than Starscream.  The eternal opportunist, Starscream’s propensity to run his mouth is rivaled only by either his cowardice or his ability to back up his smack-talking (his abilities varied WIDELY from episode to episode in the animated series).  However, given that he openly and frequently told his superior (Megatron) about he was going to usurp power from him – and still lived to tell about it – it’s considered canon that he could backup his smack more often than not.

Starscream has been a perennial favorite, arguably as popular as any other character with the exception of Optimus Prime, and has been a prominent figure in just about every incarnation of the series.  So when the fans had a chance to get a die-cast toy of him in his original Cybertronian form, well, that was just too good to pass up.
Appearance – 2 out of 5
This a visually compelling piece, no doubt about it, but it’s not entirely sure what it’s supposed to be.  Both the robot form and the vehicle form look very little like figure from the show or even like other incarnations of the character.  Really, all we have to go on in knowing this is Starscream is the color scheme.  Likewise, the vehicle mode is especially problematic because, not only does it not look like the flying pyramids from the show, aside from a vague triangular shape in general, it doesn’t even look all that much like a pyramid of any kind.

On top of that, I have one personal complaint and that is the toy’s face.  While the head is nicely detailed and well-sculpted…it just doesn’t look like Starscream.  It looks…I don’t know, like Starscream’s inbred twin brother or something.

Construction – 5 out of 5
The toy is very well put together and, since it’s die-cast, it’s pretty much the very definition of tough.  Seriously, you could sharpen this toy into a knife if you wanted, and if you continued to call it Starscream, it would be the awesomest knife ever.  In all honesty, this toy is practically the yardstick of durability and ruggedness.  It does have a critical flaw, however, which is discussed below.

Movement – 3 out of 5
Scoring the movement category is a little tricky because while the toy is overall quite mobile (elbow and shoulder joints, rotating wrists, hip, knee, leg, and toe joints; hell, even the head turns), the joints don’t really feel too sturdy.  This is because while the toy is constructed of mostly die-cast, some parts (namely the joints) are necessarily made of plastic.  The problem with this is that the plastic is not nearly as strong as the metal and its there that we learn an ugly little truth about mecha in real life.  In order for the joints to support the weight of the limbs, they have to be remarkably strong (read: rigid).  This means that in order to move the joint, a great deal of strength has to be used (read: force).  And that amount of force means that you constantly feel like you could snap a limb off at any time.

Extras – 1 out of 5
The toy comes with a small stand that is identical to every other toy in the series, save for the nameplate that’s unique to each figure. Other than that, there’s nothing.  No clip-on weapons, no handheld weapons (since the hands are closed fists, that probably goes without saying), nothing.

Packaging – 4 out of 5
The packaging for this entire toy line was very well done.  It emphasized the die-cast element and gave us a quick bio for the character.  Franchise and narrative history was lacking, meaning that this toy was clearly meant for collectors and long-time fans, but that does little to detract from the packaging.  Each package as distinctive and it was quite obvious even without seeing the figure inside to tell whom it was that resided within.


Overall – 3 out of 5
This is a really nice toy that is very sturdy, tactilely very satisfying, and is overall just a beautiful product.  Sadly, it only passingly looks like Starscream or a Tetrajet.  The joint strength is also a real problem.  Still, this is a nice toy for fans but they’re about the only ones who will have an interest in it.

Published by Robert V Aldrich

Author. Speaker. Cancer Researcher. Martial Artist. Illustrator. Cat dad. Nerd.

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