Dungeon Reviews: Starscream (1984)

One of the most iconic Decepticons, Starscream has transformed many from appreciators of Transformers to full-on fans.

“Conquest is made of the ashes of one’s enemies.”

In today’s Dungeon Review, we’ll look at the figure that kicked off 30+ years of redecos and retools.

Vehicle Mode

Side View

This Starscream figure is the Walmart exclusive Hasbro reissue from 2018. This reissue features a few differences from the original 1984 toy that we’ll get into.

Starscream’s vehicle mode is an F-15 Eagle fighter plane. The F-15 entered production in the 1970s and has been in near-consistent usage by real-world militaries since then. The distinct swept-back wing design with the tall tail fins and angular side intakes makes for a very good mecha toy, though many of the fuselage details are simplified or lost for Starscream.

Front View

The canopy is translucent plastic. The nosecone is made of flexible rubber, while the middle of the fuselage, including the intakes, is die-cast metal. The three sets of landing gear wheels are also die-cast.

The front landing gear, unlike many Transformers toys, cannot retract into the nosecone. It instead must be removed. This tiny piece is one of the most commonly missing on Starscream and his F-15 brethren.

The weaponry attaches under the wings via 5mm post. The two attachments look a bit like the underslung fuel tanks that some F-15s carry, but on Starscream they function as rocket launchers. We’ll get into their gimmick a bit later.

Rear View

The rear thrusters are separately molded in blue. I appreciate that they are built out like real thrusters – many jet-mode Transformers have the thrusters end in a flat surface. These ones you can imagine belching flames as Starscream rockets out of the Decepticon base.

Piloted Mode

With Dianaut

Like many 1984 Transformers, Starscream has his origins in the Takara Diaclone line, where he was intended to be a piloted mech rather than a sentient machine.

As such the canopy can open to admit one Dianaut-sized pilot.

Boarded

A modern Dianaut fits well inside the cockpit. There are no molded details inside, but that’s to be expected from a toy of this size and age.

Transformation

Disassembly

Nearly every piece of Starscream can be detached in the process of transforming him. The main fuselage becomes most of the robot mode, but a parts-less Starscream features no wings, no weapons, and no fists.

In terms of “parts-forming,” however, only the weapons must be taken off and replaced during transformation. The rest of the jet-mode parts can be rotated in place.

Used Starscream figures with every single piece intact are difficult to find.

Robot Mode

Front View

In robot mode, Starscream stands about six inches tall. He’s a bit shorter than Optimus or Megatron, making him feel somewhere between the Autobot cars and the leaders in terms of bulk.

The fists are separate pieces. He also comes with a second set of missiles that are intended to replace the short, conical tips of the jet-mode launchers.

Rear View

There’s not much detail present on Starscream’s back – these toys weren’t meant for viewing from every angle.

Starscream’s animation model gave him overall more humanoid proportions and moved the wings further up for that “bat wing” look he usually has. The animation model also removed the tip of the nosecone from the back of Starscream’s head. The first time I saw a G1 F-15 figure, I was surprised at how different it looked from the cartoon model.

Side View

Many of the figure’s details are provided by stickers inside the intakes and on the torso, knees, and feet. I particularly like the yellow circles in the intakes that imply the cluster rocket launchers mentioned by his bio.

I also like the angular intakes on his shins – I have seen some artwork where these are acting as jet thrusters to help propel Starscream into the air.

Head Close-Up

The chest cockpit, shoulder intakes, and side-vents make up the most important visual elements of Starscream’s design. The head sculpt is very tiny, and the black tends to wash out the details. The vents formed by the inside of the nosecone tend to get incorporated into his head design, and are usually drawn as smaller than the sides of his head.

The original 1984 figure featured a gold foil sticker for the eye detail. This Hasbro reissue has gold paint applications on the eyes, which greatly improves the look of the head.

Articulation / Accessories

Arm Articulation

Starscream’s articulation is limited entirely to his arms. Because of his transformation, he can point them out to the sides as well as up or down.

Pointing the Null Ray

It’s also possible to rotate the missile launchers / null rays themselves to add just a little bit of dynamism to this otherwise very static toy.

Megatron Gun

This version of Starscream comes with a bonus accessory that wasn’t included with the original toy – a replica of Megatron in his gun mode. Megatron is molded in black plastic and has a silver paint application over the center of the gun, as well as a very, very tiny Decepticon emblem.

Gun Separated

To attach Megatron to Starscream’s fist, you first have to take the pistol apart.

With Megatron

The pistol then attaches to the top and bottom of Starscream’s fist so he can point Megatron at Brawn’s shoulder.

The fist pieces for this version of Starscream were retooled to allow for this gimmick – the original Starscream had closed fists with no accessories to hold.

With an earlier Starscream figure

For Starscream’s first U.S. reissue, the null ray and missile attachments were lengthened to appease safety regulations. Every U.S. reissue of Starscream since then has featured these lengthened missiles.

They look more like bowling pins to me than guns, so I swapped this reissue’s arm attachments out for an older one’s. I believe the other Starscream pictured here is a Takara reissue from the early 2000s, but it may also be a 1984 original.

You can also see the eye sticker on the older Starscream shown here.

Final Thoughts

“Megatron has fallen!”

Starscream has always been one of my favorite G1 characters. It’s impossible to hate him – he tries so hard to usurp Megatron, and he’s such an idiot about it all the time. Many of my favorite stories in the Marvel comics and Sunbow cartoon feature Starscream, and the character has been written well in many later comics and TV shows since then.

“Megatron? Is that you?”

Given how attached I am to the animation and comic version of Starscream, it’d be easy to assume that I don’t care for the G1 figure, with its awkward proportions and gappy jet mode.

But nothing could be further from the truth. I adore this toy in spite of all its flaws. The first time I owned this mold was in the early 1990s when it was reissued as part of the Generation 2 toyline. That version confused me with its strangely shaped rocket launchers and electronic sound box, but it was the same, flawed toy underneath, and I loved it immediately.

I went on to own at least three more versions of G1 Starscream, including the early 2000s Japanese reissue, a 1984 original, and this 2018 reissue. Each has been a central component of my G1 collection.

With other Starscreams

Meanwhile, many, many other Starscream figures since the original have attempted to capture the poise and attitude of the cartoon and comic versions, and some have succeeded very well.

But I don’t always need Starscream to look just like the sneering would-be Decepticon leader he is in media – sometimes he can be a dumpy, die-cast Diaclone mech, and that’s fine.

I love the way this toy looks among his Decepticon brethren, and I’m happy to have him in my collection.

3 thoughts on “Dungeon Reviews: Starscream (1984)”

  1. It’s funny: the vast majorty of my nostalgia for any given thing revolves around the toy versions, but since I had very few Transformers, my love for Starscream comes entirely from the toon (also he sounded like Cobra Commander and that pleased my little baby lizard brain).

    I didn’t have any connection to this mold until G2 Ramjet, which my friend and I used as Starscream anyway (I actually thought that WAS G2 Starscream for years). The figure did not impress me at all, but it was what we had, so we used it.

    Nowadays I still don’t find myself with any real desire for the figure, but I always enjoy the design of it and the general look. I’d be curious what a remake of THAT would look like, rather than what we usually get, which is a mashup of this and his animation model. I wonder how this would translate to a new toy nowadays, but only with the details from this toy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the closest we’ve gotten to a remake faithful to this actual toy was the first MP Starscream from way back when. But it’s still more based around the animation model than the figure. Updates that take more from the original toy than the cartoon/comic is an untapped market! Get on it, Hasbro!

      Like

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