|Figure King's Black Starscream Review Capsule|
|Black Starscream is a very expensive and very limited repaint of the regular Robot Masters Starscream, which was sold throughout Japan in G1 colors. This new release is a kind of powered-up version of the character, which means he has a shiny new spear and costs four times as much. Highly recommended to hard core fans, black repaint lovers, and Robot Masters freaks. Of which we are all.|
The Japanese love black repaints. Or maybe the Japanese toy companies do, we're not sure which. Either way, for some reason some collectors adore these and have a full shelf of black repaints in their bedrooms. (But not us. It's two shelves.)
Named merely Starscream, this exclusive repaint was sold only to people that sent in a form to Japan's Figure King magazine. The cost was somewhere around $30, we're told, and importers typically charge $40+. Is it worth it? Well, how much do you like black?
It's an odd turn for the character, but it's limited to 3,000 units, looks distinctive, and let's be frank-- it may as well be a new character. During Generation One, the same jet mold was used for Starscream, Thundercracker, Dirge, Sunstorm, and Skywarp-- so this is their new cousin... er... Blackscream? (We don't name them, we just buy them.) So while we aren't HUGE fans of repaints (except for black ones), we do like the idea of new characters from old molds if it works, and in the case of Decepticon/Destron jets, it works.
While the bulk of Robot Masters are repaints, there were four brand new molds when the line was announced in 2004. Near the end of 2004, fans were sent their black repaints of these molds, if they coughed up enough dough for them.
The face doesn't have an evil smirk or snarky mouth, but the original mold didn't either. Actually, no changes were made to this mold for this release. It's just a really slick recolor.
There's a good number of detail lines, but on the whole it's just a recolor. Same orange cockpit, same grey plasticy bits (more or less), same purple logos, it's a good piece for what it is. But like all limited repaints, it's a collectible-- it appeals to goofy old people with nothing better to do than buy and open things like this. The joints on the black repaint is a little stiffer than the red and blue version, and the matte black paint REALLY sings. For the red on the G1 version, it almost looked like metal. For the black repaint, it's just snazzy and thankfully not shiny, showing more detail.
In Vehicle mode, Starscream becomes a jet, and in these colors he matches the cartoon as much as if not more than ever before. Aside from the nose of the jet pointing down a little, we daresay it's the most accurate version yet... but in black
What you see is pretty much what you get. As described above, the toy is done in a matte paint, is a little stiffer and holds together just a bit better, and basically makes you feel good about owning it. You really can't beat that kind of feeling when buying weird import exclusive toys.
Accessories & Gimmicks
No sound, no spring-loaded anything. We like that. Chrome missiles, and a big gold spear (recolored from Wingstun's green version). We like that too.
The gold spear is a nice chrome recolor of an existing weapon, and exclusive to this set. It's molded in clear red plastic and the metal paint process was done on top of it, so should the gold ever flake off, you'll end up with a red spear. Also, the toy includes two chrome missile launchers that open and close as well as the two cannons for use in either mode.
These were done in black plastic with the same silvery chrome that the regular release had. The blue pegged versions went with the regular Robot Masters Starscream, and this is how you tell which missiles go with which figure. In the off chance you ever find loose parts for these guys at a garage sale, some time after Hell froze over.
Packaging & Tech Specs
This toy came packaged in a black specially designed Robot Masters box with the Figure King logo and a whole lot of black. How much more black could it be? None more black.
The sides have no interesting graphics, and the top hasn't got anything of note-- it's just flat black. We aren't cheaping out on box shots here, there's just nothing to show. For an exclusive, odds are this was done to make it distinctive and keep the price down. It also lets you remove the figure from the package without the box looking like a second-rate display piece, it still looks nice on a shelf after you've opened it.
Other Notes & Images
Four black repaints showed up all around the same time. Here's the class photo of the Black Robot Masters Repaints of 2004.
I can tell, you're quite excited. The group is both nifty and bland-- there's a lot of black and grey here, but on the other hand, it's quite cool. After all, there's a lot of black and grey here.
Most collectors are going to look at this, shrug their shoulders, and not buy it. And this is with good cause-- it's just another black repaint of a toy that you most likely bought if you were a fan of Japanese import robot toys, and this has zero nostalgia appeal. It's neat, it's limited, and if you like the Robot Masters concept or black repaints in general, it's a neat purchase. It could have been a little cooler, but the final result is a good one, but probably not worth your while unless you're totally in to this sort of thing. If you want a classic character decorated in a new way that looks stellar on your toy shelves, though, this may be one of the best things you'll ever buy.
Reviewed and photographed by Adam Pawlus
Sample received from Fan2Fan in January 2005 for about $42
Reviewed on February 20, 2005.