How effective the movie design was in updating this beloved-to-hate character is a discussion for another day. But the toy, in robot mode at least, captures it pretty well.
The new Starscream is an extremely broad torso mounted on double jointed equine legs. The sheer bulk does well to reflect a Starscream who is powerful in his own right, truly second only to Megatron.
Most remarkably, although his chest shares the diamond shape of his alt mode’s wings, it is not formed by the wings at all, they fold away behind his shoulders. Instead, the chest is formed from the automorph feature, compressing the fuselage expands it to the sides to form the torso. This is a very nice example of the designers doing something other than obvious and succeeding in creating something we’ve never seen before. The legs have all of the necessary joints but they are exceptionally stiff, so force needs to be applied in just the right place to move them without causing permanent damage.
The headsculpt almost captures the creepy insect-ness successfully, but the lower jaw/mandible does not jut forward as far as it should.
His arms contain both his clawed hands and the missile launchers he is shown using during the dam attack scene, and this is where we have the first major problem. Starscream is another example, along with Ironhide and Blackout, where the designers have chosen a poorly executed gimmick, when a more authentic implementation would have sufficed. I would have gladly settle for a simple set of claws in proper proportions, and perhaps some hint of missiles sculpted on, but the missile firing feature necessitates a much larger set of arms than is suitable. What’s more, this has a significant impact on the appearance of his jet alt mode, and the mechanism itself is exceptionally sensitive to the slightest touch, which is incredibly irritating.
Transformation to alt mode is suitably complex but the end result is left lacking. While the F-22 jet is in reality incredibly sleek and futuristic, Starscream turns into something resembling a boxcart racer with cardboard wings and nosecone stuck on with sellotape. The leg design missed an obvious trick that would have allowed a more gradual transition from the too-thin nosecone to the fuselage, while the ridiculous arms prevent any kind of redemption.
Unlike some other reviewers, I can forgive the many seams and grooves in the panels because I recognise they are necessary for an interesting transformation, something I consider to be the most important factor in a good Transformer. What I can’t forgive is the wasted opportunity when such a good job was done on the robot mode, two simple changes – properly proportioned arms with no gimmick, and a slightly different leg design to allow them to take less space in the under carriage, and we could have had an extremely fun, complex and accurate (in both modes) figure.
Message to the design team – keep the gimmicks for the Fast Action Battlers and other pre-teen toys please, nobody aged 7 or over wants a gimmick that comes at the price of accuracy.