STARSCREAM (ARMADA) (2014)
I collected the Transformers comic published by Marvel in the 1980s (well technically my brother Doug did but I read them all) but was never really impressed by them. The characters were often miscolored, there were a lot of inconsistencies and errors, and there was too much focus on the human characters for my taste. The book ran for 80 issues but Doug and I only made it to issue 33 before we lost interest and stopped buying it. We quit collecting the toys around the same time.
During the 1990s the Generation 1 Transformers that I grew up with were pretty much dormant; no comics, no cartoon, and no toys. Transformers were still around in the form of Beast Wars but that never appealed to me. I was a teenager by then and was more interested in other things.
But by the time the Generation 1 Transformers were revived on the printed page by Dreamwave Productions in a brand new comic series in 2002 I was 100% on board. I had gotten back into toy collecting and was feeling nostalgic for the toys of my youth. The Dreamwave comics were what I always wished the Marvel Transformers comics were like when I was a kid. They had great stories and even better art. The artwork was straight-up phenomenal actually. Every single cover could have been made into a poster. I was very upset when Dreamwave abruptly lost the license to produce Transformers comics in 2004; especially because they had stories that were left half told.
The license was quickly picked up by a new company called IDW in 2005. After reading their first few issues I wasn’t impressed. I didn’t care for the art, there were human kids as sidekicks, and it was a whole new continuity to learn. After being spoiled by Dreamwave, the IDW stuff simply didn’t cut it.
But that soon changed. Their character focused Spotlight issues were the first to draw me in. Soon the flagship title was picking up steam and by the time the book split into two separate on-going series’ “More than Meets the Eye” and “Robots in Disguise” I was loving the Transformers Universe crafted by IDW.
And these days I love how closely related the toy line is to the comics. A new toy comes out of a character you’ve never heard of, Guess what? He’s in the very next issue. A new character appears in the comic and you find yourself wanting a figure of him, Guess what? He’s in the very next toy assortment. I don’t know who’s pulling the strings here, if it’s the dog wagging the tail or vice-versa but I appreciate the coordination. I’d say it’s working to Hasbro’s benefit, at least where I’m concerned, because I’m buying figures I ordinarily wouldn’t have. But I’m sure it’s more often the case that kids buying the toys are discovering the comics via the reprints included with each figure, thus benefitting IDW. Basically, this symbiotic relationship is good for both companies and fans alike.
My most recent Transformers purchases were Tankor, Scoop, Minicon, and Starscream. The first 3 I have no childhood attachment to: The original Scoop was released in 1988 after I had stopped collecting Transformers as a kid, Tankor is from the series Beast Machines which was also after my time, and Minicon is a brand new character. As for Starscream, I already have a perfectly good Starscream figure with his original iconic gray color scheme so what would I need a red one for. I ordinarily would have passed on this whole assortment. But after reading about these characters in IDW’s comics I wanted to own them all.
Getting roped into buying unique new characters is one thing but I’m really not keen on buying needless duplicate figures. A red Starscream seemed pretty needless to me the first time i saw images of this toy online. But then, in the comics, Starscream required a new body after his old one is damaged so he’s given this one. It’s the body he inhabits as the democratically elected leader of Cybertron (sound crazy? You gotta read the comics; its great stuff). I’ve grown to really like his new look in the comics so after a while this toy didn’t seem so needless at all.
I later learned that this look is actually based on Starscream’s appearance in TRANSFORMERS: ARMADA, a anime inspired Transformers franchise from the early 2000s. I never watched the Armada show or read the Armada comics but I suppose this new look would be a neat nod to those who did.
Starscream has never been known to wield blades in the past so the inclusion of two translucent orange energon swords might seem rather odd, that is until you read the issue where he uses them to great effect against Jiaxus.
This figure is relatively well constructed and does a great job of giving us a comic accurate Starscream. This figure is much more posable than my 2006 “Classics” version of Starscream. I’m really impressed by the amount of articulation Hasbro is able to squeeze into their current Transformers toys. One thing I discovered about this toy while taking pictures for this review is that the thrusters on his back can be flipped up to rest on his shoulders. It makes him look much bulkier and dangerous. The back of his head is cast in translucent plastic which allows light to shine through and gives the impression that his eyes are glowing. It’s a really cool effect when the light catches it just right.
My gray Classics Starscream will remain the default Starscream in my display as that’s the version I grew up with, but this figure could easily be displayed as just another one of his seeker henchmen. Maybe I’ll call him Bloodscream. It’s kind of nice to have such a diverse seeker army these days. In the 80s the whole gang was the exact same figure repainted in multiple shades. My current squad all look similar but are constructed in multiple ways which adds a unique flare to each.