Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Compare and Contrast: MP-11 & MP-6: Starscream and Skywarp

 Here it is. The Compare & Contrast: Masterpiece Seeker Edition.

Air Commander Starscream has always been a favorite of mine. Yes, he is treacherous…and a coward…and not very strong. He is, however, intelligent and cynical. I like that. Tough he habitually gets his way through his schemes, he just as often gets ahead of himself, and pulls the trigger too fast…landing him as the center of Megatron’s wrath. He’s as cunning as they come, with a screechy, underhanded voice to go with it. No matter what continuity he’s in (save maybe Shattered Glass), his motives and tactics are always the same. Get a good look about Starscream here: http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Starscream_%28G1%29

Skywarp: Decepticon Asshole. He was actually my favorite Seeker for a while. After the end of G1 and before Beast Wars, G2 toys were the only toys I could find. I could never find any Seekers as nearly as much I found the cyber-jets, but I never forgot about them. Skywarp always had the best color scheme of the three, and thus was the best one to me. With more research, I find that he’s just a prankster, and hardly gives a crap about anything…I’m down with that. More on him here: http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Skywarp_%28G1%29
The Seekers
This is to show differences between the Masterpiece molds MP-11 (Takara) “Destron New Leader” and MP-6 (Hasbro with third party TFC coronation set) “Skywarp”. There are quite a few of them, and I’m going to go about as in depth as I can without wasting too much of your time. If you didn’t know, MP-11 is a remold of MP-6 (and its likeness molds) with high emphasis on fixing the problems of the latter. There are some key parts that are often necessary to come off for transformation, kibble for robot mode, and less accurate to the show/toyline of the norm. However, they are both great toys, and are great additions to ANY Transformer collection.

First, we’ll start with the Special Parts. Note: Starscream’s is everything associated with the figure that came in the box as Skywarp’s is a combination of what he was packaged with, and the TFC-03 (Skywarp) Screamer’s Coronation Set.

Dr Arkveille and Holographic Pilot



They both have crowns, shoulder armors, capes, and pilots. Skywarp is packaged with a stand with his name, and an alternate set of weapons to the Null Rays, the Missile Pylons. Skywarp’s crown is made of a thick plastic, and is ever-so-slightly bendable. It is a rather dull amber/gold hue with purple paint on the front forehead, and crown spike tips. Starscream’s is a lighter, yet wider crown of thinner, glossy gold plastic (not bendable) with twice as much crimson paint on the forehead, bottom ring of the crown, base of the crown spikes and front and side crown spike tips. Skywarp’s is one whole piece with TFC manufacturing stamp on the inside, with Starscream’s being two plastic fixed together. The shoulder armors are different also. TFC’s shoulders are larger than Takara’s, and one piece of black plastic with purple paints per armor as opposed to Takara’s four (three purple, one grey) plastic pieces. TFC’s houses both a peg inside the armor for linkage to the shoulder, and a hook in the rear to latch the cape onto. Takara has a front and back piece together holding and articulated shoulder “rest” and peg piece. Takara’s, since it is several pieces together, show unsightly screws in the back. Skywarp has missile pylons that affix to either his wings or arms in robot mode. Skywarp’s pilot is a flat black plastic “Doctor Arkeville”, while Starscream has a “holographic” pilot, made of a single transparent blue plastic.

Starscream is taller than Skywarp

Compatible Stand

Skywarp's thicker undercarriage
The capes. The capes for both of them are as different as the sun and the moon, both in material, and functionality. Skywarp’s cape is made of an actual purple cloth. I can only surmise that this was done to 1 – give the owner full range of motion, 2 – it be the first time a Transformer had a cloth accessory, 3 – posing Skywarp in the wind J. Actually, it was the best move to use cloth. Since the back kibble of the figure doesn’t allow for a good fixed position. The shape of the cloth allows Skywarp to accurately wear it in between the shoulder and wing of his robot mode, the way it was originally worn, and without getting in the way of the rest of the excess of his rear. It has two slits in both tips so that they may affix themselves onto the hooks of the shoulder armors. However, don’t think this makes it superior to Starscream’s…because it isn’t. Starscream’s is gigantic. Its five pieces in total. The piece that connects to the rear kibble is on a very clicky swivel with two ball joint connections. The ball parts come from two mondo plastic pieces shapes like cloths, and are connected together by yet another cloth piece. Now, the cloth pieces conform to give the came two different widths…one more dynamic than the other. With the cape retracted, the width is about the height of Starscream in robot mode. With the cape extended, its full width is equal to Starscream in alt mode, nose tip to stabilizer end. With the clicky swivel, you can articulate the cape position in a circular pattern, and with the ball joint connection, articulation front and back.

New Leg Technology

Next, we’ll go with the Alt Mode. Both are F-15 Strike Eagle (naturally) with working speed breaks, landing gear, canopies, and opening nose cones. Of course, the color scheme is different but one thing to notice for the paint is the Decepticon Insignias. Starscream has five as Skywarp has only two. The wing insignias on Starscream are upside-down from Skywarp, yet the same direction on his nose. Looking at them from the front, Starscream has a bit more height. If you place them next to each other, Starscream’s wing will hover over Skywarp’s. The Null Rays are different also. Starscream’s are no longer completely removable as either a part of the transformation, nor for use of the missile pylons. The barrels are different molds as well, and Starscream’s is connected to the chassis of the jet via small linkage with two ball joints. The rear thrusters are still on two massive ball joints and moveable. The opening panels atop the thrusters reveal design for the remainder of the engines as part of the chassis for Skywarp, with Starscream’s noticeably being an articulated piece. Nose cones open to reveal dish. Skywarp’s dish is the same color as the rest of his mold, and Starscream’s is brighter silver, with a rivet in the center. The sides of the intakes have changed as well. Skywarp has a large piece with an articulated “flap” and connects to front of the wing. This piece also serves as the melding spot between the would-be shoulder of the robot mode and subsequent fuselage of the aircraft and is easily removable for ease of transformation. Starscream, on the other hand, has no such piece as the front of his wings shape themselves into a fine tip, resting on the sides of the intakes. This means that the intake articulation is still accessible in vehicle mode (however unpractical it may be). The landing gear works the same on both toys, with the same gimmick for working wheels of plastic circles with central rivets.
Speaking of the landing gear, if you look at the undercarriage, (seeing what the pieces the rear landing gear are a part of), you will notice great difference. Skywarp has a smoother arrangement heading back toward the thrusters, having the chassis sort of “blend” into the thrusters. Starcream has a boxier, more rigid arrangement, with there being a distinguishing gap from the would-be ankle joint to the thrusters. This was made as part of the plan to fix the original configuration of the leg transformation (which fans highly bashed Takara for). Heading outboard from the rear landing gear, right before you hit the wings, you can also see the difference of the chassis to the stabilizers. The linkage to the stabilizers (both horizontal and vertical), are one large piece that stems from the rear end of the jet, to the center on the inbound wing (the forearms of the robot mode) on Skywarp. Starscream’s are connected to the rear third (combined robot legs) of the aircraft, and fit into convenient flat panels (hips) that separate them from the mid-wing (arms) chassis with prominent Phillip’s head screws along the way. Again, this was made for ease of transformation. Null Ray attachment on Starscream is fully viewed, as well the Null Rays themselves being placed under the wing in a sideways fashion, in contrast to Skywarp’s upside-down fashion. You can see the difference of the three prong placement at the rear of the Rays. Starscream’s under-wing sports two more Decepticon insignias facing the same direction as the front side. More toward the front fuselage, the combined pegs are there for both jets to use the Masterpiece Seeker stand. Flanking that area, are the would-be shoulders for the robot mode. Skywarp sports the single rectangular hole on a swivel configuration, while Starscream has plastic pieces that fold out with rectangular holes atop. Above that, is the back of the robot head. Starscream’s head is probably the only piece on the figure that is actually black, and its shining black, as opposed to Skywarp’s which is flat black like the rest of him. The mold of the head is also different. The back of the head has a different detail on both figures, as well as the placement of the ball joint connection to the “neck”. Skywarp’s is on the bottom rear of the head, while Starscream is on the bottom center. The inside top of the intakes are designed the same, yet Skywarp has red painting for some of the shapes, where Starscream has none.



Missile pods

Coronation Sets
If you look at both undercarriages of the planes, you can see that Skywarp is about a centimeter or two wider. This is due to the thickness of the excess plastics that Starscream does away with. The paintjob on the wings for Skywarp outshine Starscream. Though Skywarp has a “cleaner” and “smoother” frame…more of the likeness to an F-15 I believe, it is Starscream that has the more G1, 1984 Transformer look to him. I would say that Skywarp is the better “jet” as Starscream is the better “Seeker”.
The Transformation is a big one. Lots of moving pieces. I can’t go through every single step, so I’ll hit the tidbits. Of course, Skywarp removes the Null Ray/Missile Pods, as Starscream merely dislodges them from the under-wing. Moving the wings out of position on Skywarp will more than likely require removal of the “expendable” piece on the sides of the intakes the jet mode. Because of the new leg arrangement, Starscream does not require unhinging of the “sword sheaths” but rather has the stabilizers stay connected to his legs. They also slide upward to give his feet the room to stand.

Compatible Cape

Compatible Shoulders

Speaking of the feet, they also have completely changed. There is now a front and back part…like there always should have been. Opening the top of the thrusters reveals the back of the foot, that folds over to the other side of the thruster nozzle. The waist is a bit different also, with Skywarp’s crotch part being articulated to allow smooth groove for the end of the canopy. Starscream’s crotch is open and stays open. The head is another detail. Starscream sports an entirely new mold from Skywarp. Starscream's head is wider, and more G1 similar with metallic paints. The sides of his heads are on springs, and can be pushed into the head for ease of transformation. Skywarp’s head is skinnier to pass under the bridge in transforming. Only the face is metallic shaded. Now the head connections are in different spots because of the face gimmick. Skywarp’s face can change from “stoic” to “smirking”. Starscream, sadly, has no such gimmick. Shame…
Here is something nice: both coronation sets are slightly interchangeable between the two. Starscream’s cape and Skywarp’s shoulder armor are interchangeable, but Skywarp can’t hold Starscream’s shoulder armor, nor can either of them wear the other’s crown. So, if you want either of them to potentially wear two capes, you can. I think it’s a nice element between them.
Starscream and Skywarp. Good Masterpieces. Good toys. MP-11 does a great job of attending to the issues of its predecessors. The sword sheaths, intake pieces, head, feet…all fixed. Takara got some heat for all that. Adding the coronation set was a sweet thing. Although Starscream’s reign lasted of all about two minutes, it’s something all us fans will never forget. These figures are pretty damn genius to me, how they incorporate so much. And the newer mold is probably the only time in my life that fixing something that otherwise isn’t broken actually works. Good job, Takara. Not like I really need to say that…they know they’re freakin’ awesome.
Retracted Cape

Extended Cape

Compatible Stand

"My fellow Decepticons..."

"Who disrupts my Coronation!?"
That isn’t to say that these are perfect. There are some things I can disagree with. First…for the price, Starscream did NOT come with a stand. I’m gonna have to pull the “WTF” card on this one. They make sure to let you know that Starscream can stand on his own. That’s great. But we all wanted to elevate him. For what they charged me…I don’t think it’s too big of a request. Next, Takara’s Masterpiece series takes pride on accuracy and gimmicks. When Starscream was crowned, his setup was a bit more than just shoulders, crown and cape. His intakes were much taller than normal, forearms were a bit beefier, and his wings were larger as well. Sure, it’s not an entirely noticeable feature at first glance, but we are dealing with the creators of Transformers here. If you’re going to do something right…go ahead and do it all the way right. There is no place to store his extra pieces, and plenty of room in the package. I would have waited another six months easily if I knew this feature was going to be added. Also, I never owned a Starscream toy that actually had the curved shape on the back of his intakes, save for my Revoltech. So, really, I never had a transforming Starscream with curved intakes (like he was always portrayed). An extra piece over his existing intakes can fix that, and other pieces over the wings would help with the coronation look as well. Maybe a petition could be sent up to a third-party group (TFC, anyone?) to attend to this.

Seeker Twins
If you don’t own a Masterpiece, don’t fret. I’m sure Hasbro will release this as well, and it will be about half the price. That’s how I got Skywarp. Granted, the Hasbro figures aren’t as stunning as Takara figures, but you really can’t argue with the value you will save. I can’t give this a rating, since it’s a figure and its “big brother” so to speak, but I can tell you that in the toy world, these guys hit pretty high in the Richter scale.
Take a good look at his arms, intakes and wings...you can see what I'm talking about: 

Skywarp can't get any love:

As for other news...some other arrivals have come in, as well as next plans for reviews.
Next Review: Armor Plus Korin No Seiji (Sage of the Halo)

Expect another double Review for the Elric Brothers

First EX review...Scorpio Milo (with added parts)
S.H. Figuarts: Final Form Kazuma.  No review, not until Ryuho shows up.

This new month of May has some promising pre-orders being released. That MS Wing Gundam Girl, for one. I'm excited to get started on the next projects. *Side note: if you have not seen the Avengers...go ahead and do so. Like, right now, right now. It's worth the watch...several times. Damn good movie!

Happy Hobbying, everyone!


  1. Starscream is the shit; my favorite Transformer. Good stuff, I love it.

  2. Thanks, dude. Starscream has always been pivotal in Transformers. I'm glad they came out with this toy.