Sunday, 2 November 2008

Universe Classics Sunstreaker

Hasbro's original Classics line resurrected a few fan-favourite Generation 1 characters and gave them a complete 2007-style overhaul. Similar alternate modes, but more complex transformations and far superior articulation in robot mode. Naturally, this got many fans quite excited... so we were all rather surprised when the line got cancelled.

Never fear, however, as it wasn't really cancelled... merely postponed and rebranded as part of the old, all-encompassing 'Universe' line, which is now being used to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of TransFormers as a brand. This means that not only are Generation 1 characters getting an overhaul, but many other lines are - most notably (so far) Armada and Beast Wars.

First in line, though, is the 'Classic Series', which continues where 2007's Classics toyline left off. We begin with Sunstreaker, the Autobots' favourite sociopath...

Vehicle Mode:
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Back in the day, Sunstreaker was a souped-up Lamborghini Countach so it's only fitting that, in the absence of proper licensing, Classic Series Sunstreaker should look something like a more contemporary Lamborghini. This mold really doesn't disappoint - he looks pretty awesome. The only let-down is the rather weak yellow colour of the plastic. It's a bit too pale and not exactly of the glossiest kind. With very little paintwork on the model straight out of the packaging, he ends up looking rather anaemic. Still, a touch of silver behind the headlights makes a bit of a difference. In his alternate mode, the main bit of paintwork is on the rear of the car, and features a cute in-joke on his numberplate - WE R 84 - referring to the year TransFormers launched as a brand.

This mold is also being used as Sideswipe, so the built-in extras on the original Sunstreaker have been replaced by a separate piece which connects to the roof. This also comes into play in robot mode.

Robot Mode:
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Classics Series Sunstreaker's robot mode is, unsurprisingly, light years ahead of his G1 predecessor in terms of articulation. The original had shoulder and elbow joints (wrists too, but largely because the forearms were projectile launchers), while this new one has joints at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles, making him very poseable and dynamic. He's not even hindered by his 'automorph' gimmick, where his head is raised into position by turning the car's roof and windshield round 180 degrees.

As a symptom of the complex transformation, the shoulders aren't particularly firmly fixed, but he's certainly very stable on his feet. Overall, this is quite like a smaller scale Alternator, particularly in that the legs transform in almost exactly the same way as Alternators Mirage - the back of the car splits open and rotates round to become kneecaps. Another similarity to the Alternators series is that his weapons and accessories stow in vehicle mode. As mentioned above, the supercharger mounts on his back, but also the vehicle's twin-exhaust pops off to become a handgun. As an additional feature, the supercharger can combine with the gun (the grey parts acting as clips), though this feature doesn't work too well, and the result is neither stable nor convincing. The idea, possibly, is that it becomes Sideswipe's shoulder launcher.

On that subject, it was Hasbro's expressed intention to make the most of repainting potential with this line, so Sunstreaker was designed with the idea of later releasing the same mold with a new head and a different paint job as Sideswipe. Its even possible to get a vague idea of what he'll look like by transforming Sunstreaker in a slightly different way.

Overall this version of Sunstreaker is a welcome addition to the line. It looks great, poses very well, and is a very satisfying toy. I'm looking forward to more, and will definitely pick up Sideswipe when I see him.

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