Saturday, 28 June 2014

Transformers Generations: Skywarp

Series: Transformers Generations

Year: 2014
Company: Hasbro

RRP: See “Availability”

My first Transformer was bought c.1991. A friend of mine – the same friend who owned the Lego Ghost that intrigued me so, actually – had one, a grey or white jet, if I recall correctly. It was an amazing toy, and I immediately begged my parents for one of my own. They agreed pretty quickly, and shortly afterwards I found myself in possession of a black jet – I had to have a different one, of course. Many afternoons that followed (or at least a couple) were spent with my friend fwooshing our respective jets around the living room and backyard at his place. Such memories sparked a love for Transformers which has continued somewhat erratically to this day.

That black jet has long since broken and its name been lost to me, but thanks to the expertise of a friend of mine and TF Wiki I’ve managed to narrow it down to two possible contenders – Air Raid or the subject of today’s review – Skywarp.
Transformers historians will know that Skywarp’s creation could be perceived as being a little on the cynical side. There weren’t a huge number of Transformers when they were first released, and one way to create new characters without forking out the big bucks for new moulds was to simply re-cast an existing figure in different colours. It’s a toy trend that predated Transformers, and will likely continue for the foreseeable future. But anyway, Skywarp was one of (initially) three characters created using the same mould – his kin were Thundercracker and most famously, Starscream  

In the 30 years that have followed, there have been numerous Skywarp toys, most of them subtly retooled from Starscream moulds, to make them more distinct as separate characters while still saving on costs. But now we have come full circle, and we again have a Skywarp identical to Starscream!

The packaging for the Generations series is plain, but functional. The backing card has got a red background and the Transformers logo. On the back there’s some copy about the character’s background, and a photo of the toy in both robot and vehicle mode. It’s all printed on some nice sturdy cardstock, which in theory should make it great for MOCers.

The Generations toys now come packaged with an IDW comic book, given a Hasbro-exclusive cover to highlight the toy it’s packaged with. Skywarp comes with Part 2 of the Dark Cybertron story arc, which looks like it has some cool art but is (at this stage) somewhat incomprehensible to me, only ever having read one or two other issues of the IDW Transformers series.  As far as I could tell, the Skywarp appears in it once, and has no lines. The cover, while misleading, is great – drawn by Phil Jimenez, who has done some great work for DC in the past. 
Skywarp is held in place by papery string ties, which were much easier to get off than they were on Starscream. Additionally, the weak glue issues seem to have been addressed, partially through tape. Seems someone at Hasbro has presumably been listening to feedback.

This toy is the same mould as Starscream from the Fall of Cybertron wave. It hasn’t been retooled at all, as far as I can tell, just cast and painted in different colours. So much of what I said about that toy will apply here – I’ll be repeating myself a bit. As with Starscream, it’s a nice design which updates the G1 Transformers aesthetic for the modern age, without moving into the more realistic but less endearing “movie Transformers” territory.

I’m told that the current IDW comics continuity is based around G1, so technically this is a G1 version of the character, as opposed to a Fall of Cybertron one. However, no one’s going to dob on you if you use it for that purpose.
For articulation, he’s got:

*cut neck

*swivel-hinged shoulders
*swivel biceps

*double-hinged elbows
*cut wrists

*ball-jointed hips
*hinged knees

*hinged ankles (which I never noticed on Starscream)

His front “toe” is also hinged, but it’s more of his transformation than articulation per se.  
As with Starscream, I love the light-piped eyes. Thanks to a translucent plastic panel on top of his held, Skywarp’s eyes will glow when held up to a light source. It’s not a major feature, but it is a cool little touch.

I mentioned this in my Starscream review that one detail I would have liked to see sculpting-wise that I might have liked to see was opening and closing hands. When you look at the detail and overall vibe of the toy, the “clenched hands with a hole in the middle” seem a little odd by comparison. Still, as before, this is a minor quibble.
In aeroplane mode, he doesn’t directly resemble any “real” aircraft – rather, he’s some kind of futuristic fighter jet. The transformation process is identical to Starscream. The instructions aren’t in colour, which can make them a little tricky to follow – and again, the only area I really had issues with was the process of folding the arms into the underside of the jet. The image on the backer card shows him slightly mis-transformed, with his jet nose not tucked away in bot mode. But again, a minor issue.

Skywarp comes with one accessory – a gun with (manually) rotating double-barrels, just like Starscream. As seems to be standard with Transformers weapons, it’s ludicrously oversized compared to his robot mode, but still looks pretty awesome. The gun/s can be held in his hands, but there’s also a variety of 5mm plugs all over Skywarp – theoretically, the gun/s could slot into any of them, but how aesthetically pleasing they appear will vary wildly.

Paint apps are pretty minimal on Skywarp, and consist solely of flat colours. He’s cast in a grey, purple and black, with these colours also painted over other parts as necessary (e.g. purple on his grey chest, gray on his purple back etc). There’s a couple of pink highlights on his chest and back, and the Decepticon logo is tampoed in pink on both his wings (slightly smaller than on Starscream).

The edges are much less sloppy than Starscream, though there are still minor detail issues on his feet/thrusters. But the main problem area is his face – it’s not quite properly covered, and seems quite thick, obscuring some little details. It’s enough of an issue for me that I think I’m going to fix it myself, probably with some kind of wash.  

Ah…this is where Skywarp is Starscream’s inferior. Both of his arms pop out at the swivel bicep joint far too easily. I’m not sure if this is because they’re cast slightly too big for the joint, or if it’s a mould-related issue. But nonetheless it’s annoying – you can hold it in with some pressure, but this brings its own series of concerns – you don’t want to actually break anything. Check it before you give it to your kid and play carefully.

Skywarp has been out for some months in the US, but doesn’t look likely to show up in Australia anytime soon. I’ve only really seen Toys R Us and Target stocking the Generations line over here(with the exception of the T4 movie ones that have recently been released), and they seemed to primarily stock the Fall of Cybertron-related figures. Target put its Generations figures on clearance some months ago, presumably in anticipation of the movie line. So I’m hopeful that we’ll eventually get a few more released over here in the post-movie sales buzz.

So if he’s not out in AU, how did I get him? Well, he’s available on Amazon reasonably easily. I paid about $USD16 for him, which is quite reasonable, considering most of this range is $30AUD over here.

Skywarp is nowhere near as well-known outside of Transformers fandom as, say, Optimus Prime or his fellow Seeker Starscream. Truth be told, I remember nothing about him from the cartoon, but his cool visual aesthetic has really endeared me to him. Though the arms and face are an issue, I’m still extremely happy with him. I said in my first Transformers review that I’m philosophically I’m aligned with the Autobots, but the toys for the Decepticons tend to be much cooler. Skywarp continues this trend. As a jet – a purple and black jet – he is far more awesome than he has any real right to be.

As always, I think Hasbro is onto something good here. The Generations range is toy-ish enough for kids, but just nice enough to be collector’s pieces too. Again, I maintain that the price is a little high for what’s on offer (in AU, at least), but ordering from Amazon eliminated that particular issue.
How many more of the Generations line I buy is up in the air at this point – Skywarp was my big “get”, and I still have Scorn and Scoop waiting to be reviewed. While Metroplex looks amazing I don’t have the budget or space for him at this stage. Maybe the forthcoming Optimus and Megatron toys? Time will tell. But if I finish here, I think I'll be going out on a high.

1 comment:

  1. Nice photos, I like the purple in them.