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2007 Hasbro - Movie Preview Protoform Starscream

After more than twenty years, the Transformers will once again grace the silver screen with a new live-action movie on July 4, 2007. With the release of the film came a brand new toy line featuring characters from the movie, as well as those who didn't make it into the final script. The first figures began appearing around the first week of May 2007 and featured the "protoform" versions of the iconic characters Optimus Prime and Starscream.

Protoform Starscream's vehicle mode resembles a mechanical version of a comet and is meant to resemble the means by which the Transformers arrive on Earth in the film. He's molded in primarily dark gold plastic with silver and red painted on some sections of his frame. Included with him is a small red and yellow "flame" missile, which, when attached to the back of the "comet," represents the propulsion firing o ff, pushing him across the vast expanse of space. There are also a set of wheels on his underside, allowing him to be rolled across flat, hard surfaces.

Transformation is relatively simple, but it should be noted that the instructions start from "comet mode", while the figure itself is packaged in robot mode. As such, the instructions will have to be read backwards to initially transform the toy. The figure employs a gimmick called "automorph", which simply means that Starscream's head pops up when his arms are pulled forward. This is fine when transforming the toy from vehicle to robot, but may cause some confusion during the initial robot to vehicle transformation.

Protoform Starscream marks a drastic departure visually from how the character has been depicted in the past. Although his basic shape is humanoid, the figure has been sculpted in a manner that gives him a more alien appearance and presence. This is most noticeable with the head and hands. The head and face bears a more insect-like appearance, complete with a black, toothy maw than the more traditional helmeted humanoid face most fans may be familiar with. The right hand has been molded to look more like a set of clamps than human fists. He does bear a few attributes that could be seen as visual nods to his G1 predecessor. Panels on his chest resemble a cockpit of sorts, there are fan-like vents on either side of the cockpit, a pair of vertical fins on either side of his head are located about where the engine intakes would be on the G1 toy, he has long slender legs that end with normal, boot-like feet, and he has a set of fins located at the ankles. These similarities are mostly visual and are subject to a person's personal interpretations.

Protoform Starscream's optics and the back of his head are made from a single piece of clear red plastic, allowing the optics to glow evilly when held against a source of light. He has a large degree of articulation; his shoulders, hips, and waist are set in ball and socket joints, his knees and elbows are connected by a hinge joint, and his head can pivot from side to side. Starscream can hold a spring-activated missile launcher, which can either fire a single, gold-plastic projectile or the flame-missile (non firing).

It should also be noted that the picture on the package differs slightly than on the actual figure, a possible indication that changes were made sometime between the prototype stage and general release. The most noticeable difference is in the head, which appears to have been redesigned slightly. Depending on the individual's point of view, this could either be considered an improvement or a detriment. It's also suggested that first time and casual collectors handle Protoform Starscream with care, as the gold plastic he's constructed from has a reputation for deteriorating at a much fast rate than most other plastics, especially around the joints and screw points. Known as "Gold Plastic Syndrome" by collectors, this unfortunate manufacturing defect is considered a major contributor behind the rarity of some vintage figures.

Profile: One of the most dangerous creatures in the galaxies, Starscream commands the Decepticon search for the Allspark while Megatron is missing. Streaking towards Earth, he reshapes his metal skin into a protective shell, which glows and sparks as he makes his fiery descent. On Earth, he will scan a disguise and modify his protoform into an Earth fighter jet that will allow him to achieve his goal: total destruction of the Autobots.

The designs for many of the Transformers movie characters, particularly the Decepticons with canon names, ignited a firestorm of debate in the online fan communities. Many hardcore fans and purists were horrified by the more alien designs for the characters and felt that at least the "Big Two" (Megatron and Starscream) should bear some resemblance to their classic counterparts. Others were less critical, content with the fresh new look for some of their favourite robots in disguise. Only time will tell if the movie sinks or swims with movie audiences, but there is little doubt that it will remain highly controversial for some time to come.

There is currently no indication to whether or not the protoform version of Starscream will appear in the actual film. The robotic form of this variant did appear at the end of Issue 3 and the beginning of Issue 4 of IDW's four-part movie prequel comic series.

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Entry Mode
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Robot with Gun
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Head and Shoulders
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Robot with flamer