While the bulk of most Transformers toys are co-developed by Takara-Tomy and Hasbro for release in Japan as well as other markets, sometimes we see items exclusive to one region - Takara-Tomy has made Armada Starscream Super Mode for their territory with no sign of a Hasbro release elsewhere in the world. Since this figure is drastically different in decoration than the mold has been previously, it's different enough to warrant your attention. Oh, and for the record - this is a heavy redeco of the US 2014 Armada Starscream [FOTD #860].
I liked the original, and I like this redeco. The blue is very nice, and the Decepticon symbols on Starscream's wings have a nice silver border like most current toys. The rest striping and face look fantastic, and the gunmetal grey on the fists, cannons, and helmet look superb. An orange canopy is opaque and pretty, with clear colorless swords that I wish were neither clear nor colorless. The cannons are also mostly clear colorless plastic, and well, I just assume this isn't going to age pretty. I'm all for opaque, not-clear, not-white plastics - but I will say the clear back of his head does allow for his eyes to light up nicely.
With some silver on his knees and a swell matching grey plastic for his thighs, the figure looks pretty good - not every figure can put together disparate paints and plastics that look good. All 15 joints seem to work quite nicely, and the silver feet are a nice touch - it does make the figure look like it's worth a few extra bucks. (Not coincidentally, it costs a few extra bucks when compared to the US release of the mold.) The swords store in his wings, and two pretty slick rocket launchers can go over his shoulders or on his back. This is a toy you can actually play with and it does things.
Transformation is pretty simple - fold in the hands and feet, the wings and nosecone rotate into position, fold over the legs, get the arms just-so, and you're basically done. I don't expect you'll need instructions for this one.
As a jet, Armada Starscream a la Mode is just as good as his ancestor. He's got two firing marbles shooter rockets - and those are fun! Vehicles rarely do much of anything these days, so an honest-to-goodness action feature is something that should be treasured. Outside the Leader-class toys, Hasbro effectively banished features like these in its US 2015 Generations line. The jet also has 3 pieces of retractable landing gear with little wheels on them that are purely decorative. It's a nice touch, but mostly it's important because it gives the buyer something to interact with on the figure rather than just slap it on a shelf and call it a day. Transformers vehicles should really have functionality beyond rolling wheels and on-board weapon storage.
I pre-ordered this figure as a sort of impulse. I just got Nightbird Shadow, Blackarachnia, and Slipstream and said "These are fun, I should get more Japanese toys." This wasn't as cool as those three, as there are no new parts here and that makes a big difference. It is, however, a nifty upgrade of Starscream and that's something the toy lines and fiction don't exploit as much as they should. Megatron becomes Galvatron, how come Starscream doesn't get upgraded more? Sure, we got Megascream in that comic recently, but that's a sort of thing I'd like to see more of even if it is a little silly. For $20ish, this is a fantastic figure. For $30 or more, I'd hesitate to direct you to it unless you already have and love regular Armada Starscream. I like the colors, I like the mold, and I like the toy.shtmlects of this figure - and I'm also glad Takara-Tomy isn't doing many exclusive character variants because that can get expensive.
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