MP-03 Masterpiece Starscream (Wal-Mart Exclusive)

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The original G1 Masterpiece Starscream, in all of his U.S. of A. glory. I didn’t actually pick this one up at Wal-Mart when it was released there; rather I managed to snag it on eBay with an exclusive Masterpiece Skywarp in a nice package deal.

Takara Tomy’s original Masterpiece Starscream was done in some funky real-type colors; it was left to Hasbro to release it stateside in G1 colors. While technically a limited exclusive, Takara has since also released a G1 colors version, I’m guessing because the real type colors wasn’t particularly well-received. This figure itself is actually kind of controversial; it has quite a few points that picky collectors will gripe about, though I personally don’t find them too bad.

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Unlike my usual TF reviews, I’ll be starting off each new Masterpiece from now on with their alt forms.

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Starscream transforms into a highly detailed F-15E Strike Eagle. While it isn’t technically his original G1 form (I believe it was just a regular F-15), I do like it a lot. The first thing that catches my eye about the fuselage is the impressive panel-washing and paint apps; all that was done courtesy of Hasbro, no DIY touch-ups needed.

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The vehicle form’s most impressive aspect has to be the well-hidden kibble though – I’ve seen very few Transformer jets that do it well, and MP-03 is definitely at the top of its game. If it weren’t for the fairly obvious hands on the underside, I could almost pass this off as just a toy jet, nothing more. Taking robots in disguise to the next level.

Starscream is also loaded with gimmicks here; for starters, we get landing gear! …kind of. The rear wheels are kind of lame, given they just pop out and actually have a bad habit of folding back in when the plane is resting on its wheels, but the front landing bit is well done. The wheels do turn, though they aren’t rubber.

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Thrusters on ball joints is also a thing. I’m not the most knowledgeable about planes or jets, but I’m guessing “adjustable thrust vector!” is actually a real-life thing. Either way it’s a nice touch on the figure and the joints are fairly tight, meaning they won’t flop around or be knocked off-center too easily.

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Hatch open. I’m assuming those are most likely the F-15E’s engines. It’s a bit plain for internal detail, but a welcome addition to the figure nonetheless. Plain gunmetal paint apps, nothing special.

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A very cool airbrake feature is also thrown in; I’m really digging the chrome piston that slides into the plane when the brake is pushed down. I didn’t even know this feature existed until several months after I bought the figure; it’s well hidden.

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Flight stabilizer (I’m assuming) flaps on the edges of the wings also articulate, and are actually necessitated for transformation.

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I find the coronation decal on the side quite amusing. Those air intakes(?) actually had to be lined by yours truly; they aren’t actually done in for you, unlike the rest of the fuselage.

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Nosecone opens up for what’s apparently a radar dish. I wouldn’t actually know about that, but it originally came in a boring white so I painted it gunmetal for a bit more spice.

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Opening canopy to reveal a single seat and fairly detailed console panel within. It did actually come with a little Dr. Arkeville pilot figure, but I never really dug piloted Transformers so it’s away somewhere in storage.

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One of the coolest ways to display Starscream, in my opinion. I’m really impressed with the stand that comes with the figure; it can be utilized in both robot and jet modes, though I think it really shines in fighter mode.

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Starscream is pretty sturdy attached to the clear arm holding him up; his underbelly has some inconspicuous areas that fit snugly with the stand.

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Unfortunately, the stand doesn’t allow for much posability; it would’ve been nice to have been able to display Starscream going in for a nose-dive at some unsuspecting Autobot scum on the ground, but what we do get suffices extremely well.

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Another nice little feature is that you can swap out the Sidewinder missiles on the wings for Starscream’s robot mode null-rays. Not to let the swapped out parts go to waste, peg holes are included on the base to display either the missiles or null-rays off the plane.

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Loving the detail and paint apps; even the little lights and whatnot on the tips of the wings are painted in for you.

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A little clip is also included that can be attached to the underside of Starscream’s jet nose.

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It’s actually used to attach a Masterpiece-scale non-transforming Megatron in gun mode. I actually don’t remember if Starscream came with a Megatron gun, though he certainly is capable of using the ones included with Masterpiece Soundwave and Optimus Prime. Quite a neat little addition.

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I should mention now, however, that the alt mode does have a few glaring issues that MP-03 was widely censured for.

Unfortunately for some reason akin to the product mold, the sides of the fuselage don’t totally fit together. Starscream’s entire transformation is a bit of a tight fit, and at the end not everything lines up and fits snugly. As much as I push that panel in next to the air intakes, it doesn’t clip in all the way.

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See that raised panel behind the cockpit area, that’s also an issue. The entire nose of the plane is also a bit of a problem, as the whole assembly is actually crooked. This is probably the MP-03’s most widely criticized issue, given that there’s a cap in the canopy and a distinct downwards tilt in its nosecone section. No matter how much you push or struggle, the nose of the plane will forever remain crooked.

Those issues aren’t really enough to make me dislike the alt mode though; they were actually remedied with the newer MP-11 Starscream release, so at least Takara realized their mistakes and made good on them.

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So now, onto transformation…

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Behold, Decepticon Air Commander and Megatron’s ever humble and willing servant.

Starscream’s transformation is quite janky; as some reviewers have already pointed out before, things don’t like to slide and fit with enough clearance, and everything feels very fragile when you break the jet fuselage apart. Luckily, I’ve never broken anything on mine, and have gotten used to it enough to transform it relatively smoothly, but even then sometimes the wings just won’t cooperate.

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Ah, biped mode…yet another part of the figure design that received no shortage of criticism. Notice how Starscream’s inherit design makes it so that he looks quite bulky and burley up top with his wings and whatnot but then has extraordinarily skinny legs. Most dislike that particular design choice, but I actually personally don’t mind it.

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I’m actually a big fan of Starscream’s robot mode design here. The entire thing is just so aesthetically pleasing; it pays homage to the original G1 design while adding its own unique twist.

Personally I think the reason why I liked it so much was because I actually read the All Hail Megatron! comics before acquiring this figure.  Starscream and the Seekers were in their Masterpiece bodies for that particular series, so I suppose my attraction to the story and especially Starscream’s character had the design grow on me.

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The actual subject of so much complaint with Starscream’s design here are his side-skirts. The rear end of the F-15 pretty much splits into four long strips, two of which would be his legs and the other two swiveling back to look like sword scabbards.

The fact that the rear stabilizers weren’t left attached to the legs means Starscream has them protruding out towards his back, meaning he can’t actually lay flat.

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Those side skirts also result in highly restricted leg articulation, limiting their outward movement severely. Starscream’s imbalanced design also results in actual imbalance on the part of the figure, as he isn’t easy to stand up.

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Despite all that however, I still do like the design. I think he looks best standing in a static pose, looking badass, and the topheaviness of his design contributes to that effect.

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An awesome little gimmick Starscream sports – interchangeable faces!

I haven’t really heard of a Transformer figure with swappable expressions, and it seems most fitting that only a character like Starscream would sport it.

Pulling the dark gray face area out of the helmet will allow you to rotate that section, revealing the other expression. Starscream is literally two-faced.

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The first is a normal, neutral expression while the second is my favorite – Starscream’s iconic arrogant smirk, a physical cue reminding us of his chronic backstabbing disorder. While not done perfectly (it does look a bit off) it certainly gets the job done. I much prefer the smirk to his regular expression, as the former just gives him so much more life compared to the dullness of the latter.

Unlike MP-01, which was comprised mainly of metal, Starscream is made primarily from plastic. Screamer does still sport a whole mess of detail just like Prime though, including some of that elbow hydraulics action.

Best part is, all that detail is all done-in for you; no lining needed. It’s arguable that the panel washing is a bit messy and uneven, but it sure as heck looks worlds better than having everything be plain white or blue.

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The hands are most interesting – their range of movement is standard for manipulators of this size – the index finger is articulated at every joint, the thumb on a single ball joint, and the rest merged together.

The joints are a bit loose in each finger, but they don’t actually fall off often. A glaring issue that came with these parts though: nub marks. Yup, nub marks on an action figure, a Masterpiece Transformer, like this. Now, while the occasional nub here and there on figures isn’t that huge of a deal, the fact that every separate piece of the hands had a giant one adorning their surface was inexcusable.

Thankfully, I had paint that matched Starscream’s blue, so I simply painted the nubs away, but before I did they stuck out painfully like sore thumbs (pun intended).

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The Sidewinder missiles are now mounted on the wings while Starscream has use of his null ray cannons in robot mode. The cannons just peg into a part of the upper arm, and actually have a pretty good range of motion.

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Multiple nipple missiles also included. While not a bad gimmick, I don’t really care for it. Starscream does look a little silly firing these. Unfortunately the mold for the missiles do look kind of cheap, and the original paint apps weren’t much better. I actually went out of my way to paint each one gunmetal on my own, though it didn’t do much to help relieve the effect.

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Wielding Megatron in battle. This actually doesn’t look like too bad of a display, though Starscream doesn’t really have enough articulation to pull anything fancy off with it.

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A better look at the base I mentioned and showcased earlier. Above is its configuration for biped mode; yes, it can actually be used to put Starscream up in the air in robot mode.

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A very awesome feature of the base is that the clear stand arm can actually be stored underneath, along with the little clip for holding Megatron in jet mode. Wish more figures were this space-conscious and compact.

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Starscream has a shallow little peg on his tiny butt that the base pegs into.

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Pegged on. As can be seen, the stand doesn’t actually lift Starscream up that much at all…it looks more like he’s just hovering right above the base, rather than really flying.

The connection from the Starscream to the stand isn’t bad, but it isn’t overly sturdy either. He tends to wobble a bit, and while pegged on there can’t really do much. I’m not too fond of actually using the stand to prop him up in the air, as ironically it’s hard to get very many good aerial poses out of him.

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Starscream’s articulation actually isn’t anything to write home about. I mentioned above that he looks best standing static and badass, and that’s very much true because he’s unable to do much else.

Unlike a lot of the newer Masterpieces, Starscream doesn’t have much figure play value. His legs are severely hindered by the skirt design, and due to the transformation he doesn’t really have a waist. The torso is pretty much a static block, and while the arms and hands have a pretty free range of movement, you can’t get so much out of those alone with the figure.

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As one of my earliest Masterpiece figures, I’m proud to have Starscream in the collection, flaws and all. For those unfamiliar, there is a revised version of this figure available, the official MP-11, a revised Masterpiece Starscream that pretty much fixes all the flaws I mentioned here.

However, I personally like the aesthetics of the MP-03 more, even if it pays for that with play value. Given that I don’t actually play with or touch my Transformers much, it isn’t such a big loss. The U.S. release of Masterpiece Thundercracker, which I own, also does use the MP-11 mold, so I will be taking a look at that eventually and juxtaposing it with old ‘screamer here.

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