Battle for Autobot City- Skywarp review
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
The distant planet of Cybertron was the home to a race of intelligent, feeling alien robots who could change shape at will- the Transformers. For reasons no longer remembered by anyone living, a war broke out between the two factions of robots- the Autobots and the Decepticons- which eventually drained Cybertron of all its power sources, including all-important Energon. In the quest to get more Energon to sustain their fight, the Autobots created the Ark and some of them left Cybertron. But the power-hungry Decepticons were waiting for them in their great flagship, the Nemesis, and boarded the Ark to stop them. A battle between the two ships eventually brought them both crashing down onto Earth. With their leaders and greatest warriors lost, the war on Cybertron continued on to a stalemate. For over four million years, the Ark rested hidden inside a volcano located in what would eventually become Oregon, its occupants unconscious and helpless in stasis lock. Then in 1984, the volcano harboring the Ark erupted, reawakening the on-board computer system Teletraan-1. The computer, realizing that the ship and its crew were in danger, awoke the Transformers aboard the Ark, and reformatted them to change into disguises matching those of modern day Earth vehicles so that the giant robots could move among the population in secret. The surviving Decepticons, having lost their great ship millions of years earlier, also gained new disguise forms and hid themselves on Earth until they could rebuild their forces and gather enough Energon to destroy the Autobots, subvert the intrusive and annoying humans, and renew the war on Cybertron in their quest for total galactic domination.
Skywarp was among the Decepticons who boarded the Ark, and when it crashed, he too was caught buried alive in that volcano for millions of years. When the volcano finally became active, one of the Ark’s repair beams was nudged just enough to come into contact with Skywarp first and bring him out of stasis lock. It was he who then helped his fellow hibernating Decepticons become reactivated while Teletraan-1 selected alternate forms for them to hide among the planet’s native population. As the Decepticons left the Ark, Air Commander Starscream callously tried to destroy it by firing on the rocks above. However, this nudged the repair beams once more to reawaken Optimus Prime. Skywarp is not exactly the brightest Decepticon, but his rather unique ability of instantaneous teleportation to any location on the planet makes him a rather valuable asset; certainly allowing him to sneak up on anyone he wished to prank or attack, both Autobot and Decepticon. He is one of the [fan-dubbed] Seekers- air-superiority Decepticons whose alternate forms are based on Earth’s most versatile jet fighters: Starscream, Dirge, Ramjet, Skywarp, Sunstorm, Thrust, and Thundercracker. After the assault on Autobot City in 2005, Skywarp- like Megatron himself- was among the injured survivors who was unfortunate enough to be ejected into outer space from Astrotrain to lighten the star flight-capable Decepticon’s weight in order to make the retreat back to Cybertron…
Skywarp’s vehicle mode (back) is that of a McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle all-weather air-superiority jet fighter. In the midst of the Cold War, the United States’ foreign intelligence services were taken by surprise when they discovered that the Soviet Union was building the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 jet interceptor (NATO designation: ‘Foxbat’). Disturbed at its larger flying surfaces and engines, the US began to design and build the F-15 as a counter to this. A defecting Soviet pilot in his own fighter not much later would reveal how poor a competitor the MiG-25 actually was in the air-superiority role for which the US had mistakenly thought it was made. But despite few-if-any encounters with its Russian counterparts by US-operated aircraft before the end of the Cold War, the F-15 was eventually able to prove its mettle in 1990-91 during the Persian Gulf War- its advanced sensors, maneuverability, and multiple heavy weapons hard-points (as well as a built-in 20mm M61 Gattling cannon for short-range attacks) proving near unstoppable against the second-hand Soviet Union jets and anti-aircraft weapons of Iraq’s military. The F-15 is quite popular with an exemplary service record thus far, and has also been purchased by Israel, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. By 2025 C.E., the United States military is planning to replace and retire the F-15 with the next-generation Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor air-superiority/multi-mission stealth fighter now in production.
(Whether this Classics toy may be based instead on the later ground-assault F-15E Strike Eagle variant is indeterminable. However, since the Strike Eagle did not exist in 1984 when the G1 series began, it’s safe to assume that this is the original F-15… though I’m sure Skywarp nowadays would be more of a multi-mission type of bot and that he would not notice or appreciate the distinction.)
Compared with his opponent-in-package Ultra Magnus, Skywarp is out of scale and smaller, but that may be intentional because the content and morality of the character is equally small… Many of the details of the F-15 transfer over quite easily: two-seat cockpit atop the elongated nose (there is a molded pilot’s seat inside the transparent-orange canopy, BTW), rectangular air intakes on either side of the nose with triangular cowlings, large and wide angular wings with hard-points beneath for the two missile launcher accessories, and slightly-separated detailed jet exhaust nozzles with the horizontal and vertical stabilizers in back. As with any Transformers™ aircraft, ya turn it upside-down and there are a whole bunch of the robot mode’s parts just hangin’ around. (Honestly, when does this not happen in an air/space vehicle from Transformers…?) As one slight compensation, the turbine blades from Skywarp’s chest flip down to become small unmovable landing gear wheels, though he just rests on bumps in back; the F-15 has only three wheels, with one of them under the nose. (Clever, even if inaccurate.) The missile launchers, which can be removed from the wings’ sole hard-points, each hold a single black ABS missile; there are no replacement or extra missiles provided, so don’t loose them! (Only Dinobot Grimlock, Autobot Rodimus, and Decepticons Starscream and Skywarp carry firing missiles.)
As an additional tribute to the G1 series, each Classics figure has a heat sensitive decal placed on it. When the heat from your finger warms the black patch, the bots’ associated allegiance- Autobot or Decepticon- is revealed. The decal on Skywarp is located on top of the left wing. In robot mode, the decal is located still on the left side, but it’s behind his left arm now.
Skywarp’s robot mode (back) is a bit on the small and scrawny side, and- again- not really in-scale with any of the other Classics figures [save for Starscream]. However, it is certainly a vast improvement over his G1 predecessor! The first thing you’ll notice as you change him is his superior poseability, but I’ll get to that later. He is still mostly dressed in black ABS with purple ABS thrown in for his missile launchers, lower arms, fists, jet nozzles, and feet. Fairly unique in the Classics line is the sharp nosecone which Hasbro wisely made of semi-flexible purple PVC. All silver and red details have been painted on, as have a few additional purple highlights. As a repaint of Classics Starscream, this version of Skywarp also shares many of the characteristics of his G1 counterpart:
- The vehicle mode’s air intakes- with red paneling- rests on either side of his head; though the G1 version used decals here<./li>
- The head hides within the nosecone; though the transformation between the G1 and Classics versions are different.
- Additional air intakes in the chest on either side of the transparent-orange cockpit
- Both have a silver-painted chest and lower torso
- The separate missile launchers can be removed from the wings and attached to his upper arms.
- The arms fold in to become part of the engine housing, with joints in the shoulders for robot mode
- The wings end up inverted on his back, with the dorsal surface facing forwards to display the Decepticon symbol
- The legs are made up from the back half of the engine housing, with the nozzles appearing at his heels for flight, and the tails being repositioned at his ankles; though the Classics version changes the tails around differently to make them more compact
- Purple paint details on the lower legs, though the G1 ver. also used some decals for this
- The purple feet are part of the engine housing in back, and fold down in identical fashion; they also share silver details, though the G1 ver. used decals.
- They stand the same approximate height of 5½” (13.58cm).
At this point, the comparisons become more about aesthetics, and also show the difference in toy design & manufacturing over 20 years (which I do not have enough confidence to describe in detail here). Needless to say, this is an excellent and flawless transition & homage to the G1 character. I am sure that any long-time TF fan will be able to look at the Classics design, and immediate recognize him as the Decepticon Skywarp.
This is perhaps one of the closest matches a transformable toy has ever come to matching its G1 counterpart, and still keep the spirit of that character alive. I mean, it is near spot-on! A couple of minor paint apps might be off, but that’s more of a style thing. The head is still black with a silver face and red eyes. Previously on the G1 toy, Skywarp’s jet nose would just fold back 90-degrees and point backwards like a stiff ponytail, though you’d never see it that way in the show. Well, the nose is still connected to his head, but now the nose itself is attached to the head via a lever assembly, and then points downwards a full 180-degrees; from the front, you can’t tell, but once you turn him around, that’s when it looks awkward. The chest is oh-so slightly redesigned to incorporate a horizontal silver bar across his collar, which partially obscures the canopy on his torso. The arms have the familiar blasters/missile launchers attached to the shoulders, which can be removed and then attached to his fists instead like guns. (Why would you design a weapon to be fixed onto the forearms? That makes it so much more difficult to aim them, and it’s rather awkward! I’ve never understood that…) The legs also look rather rectangular in a sharp-edged way, with curved edges along the back side of them, and his heels being formed by the jet nozzles. The tails and ailerons in particular have been redesigned to store up against the leg more snugly; in the G1 version, the tails remained in their regular positions, and then the side wings just tilted a little so that he could stand up properly. While this can be done with the Classics figure, he becomes rather unstable if you do. His main wings, also, have had their transformation joint redesigned so that instead of just pivoting in place they actually swing upwards and hang higher on his back that the G1 version’s did; balancing him to more closely resemble his cartoon counterpart.
Poseability is rather good for this Deluxe-class-sized figure. Because of how it was redesigned, Skywarp’s head can now twist side-to-side a little, though the nosecone will twist with it in the opposite directions. There are only two snap joints in the figure at the elbows and knees. And because of how he changes, his fists can bend inwards if you’d like them to. The only limiting factor aside from his head joint would be his hip joints. Though they operate on ball-and-socket joints, they are limited in their forward movement, and cannot bend out to 90-degrees (it’s more like 70-degrees forward). His knees also have an independent swivel joint, and so you can point his feet in different directions from his knees, which sometimes help when posing him.
When those launchers are attached to his shoulders (weird, man… just weird), you can’t point his arms forward very far because they bump into the wings behind them. So you can do one of two things: A) remove the launchers and fit them into his fists, or B) tilt the wings backwards to accommodate the launchers; which is a better compromise if you want to preserve the weapons’ look there. (If the launchers are removed, the arms alone will not bump into the wings in the same way.) And just to let you know, though not specifically mentioned in the instructions, you can still attach the launchers to the back/underside of the wings if you wish to get them out of the way but keep them nearby.
|Posted 8 January, 2008 - 03:53 by EVA_Unit_4A|