Cred is important. It's difficult to quantify, and truly a rare element. In the era of "so who's a real nerd?" (nothing new, this sort of thing plays out in the teenage rock show scene if your town every Saturday night) it's increasingly tough to tell who's the corporate stooge, the lucky SOB who got assigned to a project, or the putz who just wants you to blog about whatever dumb toy they're promoting. I will say that Starscream with .shtmlinator is not a perfect toy, but it shows people inside Hasbro really do want to do right by us. Most Transformers toys are obscure, so remaking a fan favorite or making up an entirely new guy probably doesn't mean much to sales in the grand scheme of things - a minor character is a minor character. Starscream could have come with any little bug as a sidekick, but because we all love the Beast Wars episode "Posession" someone at Hasbro deemed him a worthy targetmaster/mini-con/accessory for one of the Decepticons' most famous villains. Kudos, Hasbro.
The 4-inch robot has 5mm peg holes in his fists, this allows him to hold .shtmlinator in his weapon mode. Smaller pegs on his cannons plug in to his arms, basically replicating the character's most distinctive weapon feature. What you basically have here is a lower-price IDW version of the character, who will soon be painted up as Acid Storm. (Check your local stores!) There are some visible stress marks on some pegs when you transform it, which I don't care for, but other than that it looks pretty good.
Articulation is about on par for most toys in these lines, there are lots of ball joints to pose him to your liking. This figure (as well as Optimus, Bumblebee, and Megatron) have been rotting in US stores since their release nearly a year ago - even Big Lots! carries them, making these some of the longest-running waves of Transformers of the modern era. It's not a bad figure - the coloring is good, the size is nice and small, and it looks more or less like the character in the comics with minimal kibble. Sure, the head could be bigger, but for what Hasbro.shtmlired to do, it works.
Transformation is pretty easy - the legs are the back of the jet, more or less. Arms fold under the wings, after you fold the wing backpack down. The chest folds up and covers the head. You've played with Starscream toys before, and this is one of the simpler ones. I appreciate that Hasbro opted to make this figure, but it is surprising that it was made in the smaller, kid-friendly price point. I'd love to see a deluxe version of this particular configuration, but I assume it's unlikely.
The jet mode is about as impressive as most Transformers, which is to say, not very. It has cannons you can plug in to the wings, and retractable landing gear. Other than that, you can pick it up and "whoosh" it around provided you have the enthusiasm or lack of awareness to provide your own sound effects. There's not a lot of action on this figure, but a 5mm hole in the back lets you connect .shtmlinator's gun mode. The jet sculpt is very nice, but not incredibly complex - this doesn't look like a modern toy, but it's pretty fun all the same.
.shtmlinator himself is a tiny little guy, with rubbery wings and (on my sample) horribly warped insect legs. This could be repaired. The deco is light, and as the first new .shtmlinator mold in quite some time it was a delight to have him as an accessory to a cheap, easy-to-find Hasbro toy rather than a weird Japan-only pack-in bonus for some pricey repaint. If a third party made a .shtmlinator mini-con toy, it'd be pretty expensive - so $10 is doable. The sculpt is good, the transformation is slightly more involved than Chop Shop, Roller, and Blazemaster in that there are some folding pieces and the .shtml head folds down to become the chest. Also the tail/stinger becomes the gun grip, or in robot mode, becomes kibble.
Since I had the smaller, cheaper Reveal the Shield version I wasn't necessarily excited for this one, but I haven't really touched the RTS version since this one came into my life. I have so many new "classic" Starscream toys that I really didn't need this one, and unlike Megatron it doesn't bring much new to the table, but I'm enjoying it and it seems that it has been selling reasonably well over the last year. I'm eager to see this assortment's newer waves with Skrapnel and Tailgate take over the pegs, but I doubt they'll perform as well as these main characters have. The important thing to remember is that this figure sold well, and it wouldn't have sold well if it were garbage. I quite enjoy it and it's a great fit for your desk at work.
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