Monday, 26 July 2010

Leader Class Starscream Stop Press #2 - Masterpiece Comparison

It's only natural that RotF Leader Class Starscream should be compared to Masterpiece Starscream, in light of the fact that it will be released as part of the Masterpiece line in Japan, with a far superior paint job...

So how do they compare?

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Alongside the massive Leader Class Jetfire, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird -which is clearly not to the same scale... The cockpits on the two Starscreams match fairly well, however, considering both are single-seat fighters.

The McDonnel-Douglas (Boeing) F-15 Eagle first flew in 1972 - the year my sister was born! - entering military service in '76. It's described as a 'twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter'. It is 63 ft 9 in (19.43 m) long, with a wingspan of 42 ft 10 in (13.05 m). The Lockheed Martin (also Boeing) F-22 Raptor, meanwhile first flew as the YF-22 in 1990, entering military service fifteen years later. This beast is described as a 'twin-engine fifth-generation fighter', and uses stealth technology. It is 62 ft 1 in (18.90 m) long, with a wingspan of 44 ft 6 in (13.56 m), so the two models are virtually on the same scale. Chances are, it's no coincidence that movie Starcream is an F-22, since that plane is slated to replace the F-15 when it retires in 2025.

Where the scales go adrift is in the height of the models - the Masterpiece F-15 looks quite natural from the sides, with the robot's knees and folded up feet barely making an impact on the silhouette of the plane... The F-22, however, has an awful lot of robot parts - most notably the groin - hanging off the bottom. It sorts itself out toward the front but, even there, the model is far thicker than it should be, and the intakes are angled downward in an attempt to compensate. There's really no comparison to the rear ends of these models - the F-15 looks excellent... the F-22 shows you robo-groin. With the two side by side in alternate mode, it's difficult to understand Takara Tomy's decision to induct movie Starscream into the Masterpiece line.

As far as weapons go, the F-15 is the more accurate of the two, with a pair of missiles mountable on each wing, and the locations of its recessed vulcan cannons highlighted in white, on the sides of its intakes. The F-22, meanwhile, comes with a pair of large brown missiles that plug into the undersides of the wings... whereas the weapons on the real plane are housed internally, so keep its silhouette nice and stealthy-smooth.
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But then you see the robot modes... Obviously the F-15 tries to be true to the G1 model of Starscream, both in terms of overall appearance and transformation... but, when you think about it, movie Leader Class Starscream's transformation is not dissimilar - the way the legs are (predominatly) based at the back of the plane, and the way the arms stow in the fuselage. In many ways, the F-15's slavish adherence to the G1 aesthetic could easily have been its undoing... if it weren't for the fact that it's actually pretty awesome. Starscream's design is iconic - which is why so many 'fans' kicked up a fuss over movie Starscream's appearance. It has been pointed out that it's difficult to smirk when one does not have a mouth, in the traditional sense. The F-22, meanwhile, presents the most movie-accurate version of Starscream's robot mode to date. Its articulation and level of detail easily place it on a par with any Masterpiece.
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While the US/UK main line version of Leader Class Starscream is a little bland, and the Cybertronian 'tattoos' are presented rather starkly in black, the model is fantastic, compares very well to the original version of Masterpiece Starscream... and is obviously far better than the later G1 red-and-white repaint of the model. If I do end up getting the Masterpiece version (a lot of that will depend on the price tag), I may well try to display these two Starscreams along with Masterpiece Skywarp in their plane modes... just need to find a suitable stand for the movie model.

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