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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Masterpiece Starscream Saga

Starscream has always been my favorite character. Always. Ever since I first saw him on TV in 1985. I don't know why, but for some reason I identified with this lying, cheating megalomaniac. I felt like he never quite got his due, except in the 1986 movie when he was finally crowned Decepticon leader for a few brief moments before being destroyed at the hands of Galvatron. But his toy was abhorrent. The figure came from the Diaclone mold and was more or less a parts former (which means you remove the parts from the robot and put them back on in a different way to form the jet). Very little of the figure actually transformed.

So when Takara announced in 2006 that they would be releasing a Masterpiece version of Starscream following their highly successful Optimus Prime Masterpiece figure (MP-01); I was enthralled. The control art for the figure was released shortly afterwards which showed a beautifully designed figure worthy of the character. Then, something happened. Changes were made. And when the figure was finally released it had been heavily modified so that the vehicle mode (an F-15 Eagle fighter jet) was much more accurate which required a lot of sacrifices on the robot mode. So instead of following MP-01's precedent where the figure was designed with the robot mode in mind first, MP-03 Starscream's design heavily favored the vehicle design. Also it was green. And not like a subtle green, a very prominent gunmetal green apparently based on what real F-15's looked like. But I wasn't going to let that dissuade me from purchasing the first Masterpiece Starscream figure.

Masterpiece Starscream's concept art
After receiving it in the mail and inspecting it thoroughly I discovered it was missing a small piece on the hand, one of the fingers. However it didn't detract from the figure too much so I decided it wasn't worth worrying about and kept it. But that green! End of part 1.

Then in 2007 Hasbro announced they would be releasing the Masterpiece Starscream figure in the USA! Also as an added bonus, it was to be released in the original correct colors! I was so happy! We were finally going to get a color accurate Masterpiece Starscream! He was released as a Wal-Mart exclusive and immediately became hard to find. I got lucky one day when they had just received a shipment so I was able to bring one home without too much trouble, but many other fans weren't able to get one. Immediately I set about trying to sell my green Starscream and after a few days on the market, someone finally purchased it, missing fingers and all. In truth I was very glad to be rid of that green monstrosity. It just wasn't Starscream. Not long after this, the third party company TFC toys (who would later go on to create Hercules) created an add on set for Starscream that re-created his coronation look from the 1986 movie. It included shoulder pads, a cape and a crown. So this is how I displayed my Starscream. And I thought it was over. End of Part 2.

Hasbro Starscream with the TFC Coronation Set add-on.

Then a couple of months ago Takara announced they would be releasing Masterpiece Starscream yet again! Except this version would be called "Destron New Leader: Coronation Starscream". I thought to myself "Oh no, not again. There is no way I am going to purchase this figure a third time." And then the pictures were released. Instead of being the vehicle-favored design of the past, this new Starscream was at least 40% remolded based on the original design of Masterpiece Starscream; which meant it favored the robot design instead. There were no more unnecessary parts catering to the flow of the jet; this new Starscream was all about the robot, and it was in the correct colors! New legs, arms, abdomen, guns, head...pretty much a brand new figure. Not to mention it came with official Coronation parts including a plastic (not cloth) fold out cape that looks strikingly similar to the one in the movie.

But I was so conflicted! I had already decided I didn't want to purchase this figure yet again after having been through the wringer twice. I hate double dipping, especially when it comes to Transformers. However I decided that as a dedicated Starscream fan the ultimate Starscream toy to-date was not something I could pass up and so I pre-ordered. He just arrived in all his glory and I must say I am so glad I made the decision to purchase him. This new Starscream is everything the first version should have been. I hate that Takara took six years to decide to do this right, but I'm glad they finally did; it just works so much better as a Masterpiece figure. I'm not one to never say never, but I don't see how this figure can ever be improved upon so I don't think I'll be buying anymore Masterpiece Starscreams. But that doesn't mean Skywarp and Thundercracker are off the table. End of Saga (for now).

The new version is on the left and the old one is on the right.

Notice the more cartoon accurate coloring

No more hip kibble! And the feet are correct finally!

The new coronation gear really outshines TFC's version.

The new head is much more cartoon accurate, and I didn't do anything to the eyes. They actually look like that.

The abdomen is much improved, less rounded and more cartoon accurate.

Finally the extra arm kibble has been removed.

New legs Lieutenant Dan, new legs!

The differences on the Jet mode aren't as pronounced, but they are still there if you look carefully.

I do like the wash on the Hasbro version, but the anime color is hard to resist.

Personally I think the new version looks more streamlined, especially on this angle.

Here you can see the major differences in the molds

And I got this cool coin!

See also:

MPM-01 Movie Masterpiece Starscream
Pax Cybertron's Masterpiece Starscream Review


  1. I'm glad your like it. For me, I don't see enough of a difference to upgrade. The thing that bothers me most about the original is that hip kibble. And that I don't have Thundercracker to complete the 'set' =)

    1. I'm willing to bet that they'll be releasing TC and Skywarp again with this mold, just like they did Sunstorm. You may have to complete a new set :) I hate that hip kibble too, it was my main motivation in getting this guy.

  2. Looks great can't wait to get mine in a few days, really hoping takara will do an animated Thundercracker as well.

    1. I don't doubt it, when it comes to repaints Takara usually doesn't pass up an opportunity.

  3. Dang, that's two reviews espousing the virtues of this figure. Gonna have to buy it now. I didn't realize it was that extensive a retool. I was thinking it was just the null rays and head.

    1. I know! I was even surprised about how much retooling there was when I got it! It's like a brand new figure! (A much better one IMO).

  4. Looks great! Just be careful, Masterpiece Seekers can get addicting. I have 7.

    1. Good lord! I'm actually thinking about selling my Hasbro Skywarp because I know the repaints can't be far behind and I love this mold so much more than the previous one. You can bet there will be another 'Ghost' version along with probably a 'Dead' version just like with Convoy.

  5. trust me (the purple knight)... there is a huge difference .. arkvanders pics are detailed but having him in hand and comparing him side by side is amazing

  6. Personally, I don't like it without those side panels the old version had in fighter mode. They really save the fighter mode from looking like "bunch of robot parts stuck together and make it almost passable as an F-15. The new version is way too chunky in fighter mode.
    I'd also take "hip kibble" over having the vertical stabilizers sticking out the back of the lower legs (yes, I know they were there on the original Starscream...) I do kind of like the chunkier legs in robot mode on the new version, but accurate or not the old feet looked better IMO.
    I even liked the Ghost Gray. *shrug* The stark white and primary colors are just too "loud"...

    1. Sounds like you are an alt-mode fan :) I will agree that the F-15 mode on the first version was much better if you wanted a more accurate vehicle mode. But personally I always thought the Masterpiece line was more about accurate robot modes so of course I like this version better. But at least we as fans have options now and aren't constrained to one version or the other.

  7. The only thing I hate about this mold (I have it in the form of Sunstorm and Thundercracker currently) are the tabs on the arms that connect to the wings. They feel unneccesary and make it slightly harder to transform.
    I like that it's still compatable with the stand from the first one though.