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Classics Series Sunstreaker

Height: 15.5cm to top of head (robot mode); approx. 13cm (vehicle length)

Articulation: 14 points total- ball-jointed neck; 3 points each arm: ball-jointed shoulders, hinge and ball-joint at elbow; swivel waist; 3 points each leg: ball-jointed hips, hinge and swivel at knees.

Colors: Molded yellow, silvery gray, black, semi-translucent smoke-colored plastic, and transparent blue. Painted yellow, silver, black, red, gunmetal, and light blue(eyes).

Accessories: Electron Pulse Blaster, Engine.

Release Data: Released late summer, 2008 in the United States at a retail price of US$10.99

Gallery: 15 images.

Author: RAC

Sunstreaker is a fighter for a cause, and that cause is Sunstreaker. If it’s not in his best interest (and not too threatening to his paint job), he’ll take out anyone he needs to, no matter where he is. Still, he’d rather be back home, kicking back, polishing his chrome and preparing for a good, old-fashioned arena fight, rather than hunting Decepticon assault squads across deep space.

It takes a lot of time, effort and skill in design and engineering to make a good Transformer. Or even a bad one!

Oh, and money. Money to pay for the skills and effort, money to produce and ship the toys. To maximize the potential payoff of a single mold, Hasbro and Takara generally like to get more than one toy out of the deal whenever possible. Usually, if two characters are planned from the start they're all but identical- maybe a different head, maybe a lightbar here or there, or maybe not. In video game terms, some characters are just pallette-swaps of other characters. But then you have the interesting case of Universe Sideswipe and Sunstreaker. See, `streaker and `swipe both began life as reused molds from Takara's Diaclone line. Both transformed into approximations of the Lamborghini Countach LP500S. But they were also different molds with some serious differences in appearance and completely different transformations and appearances in robot mode.

For Universe, the Super Countach Brothers share a body but retain a fair bit of individuality. Like I said, it takes time, effort, skill and money to make even the worst TF, but when they do something clever like this and make it work pretty well, it's worth recognizing. Today we have Sunstreaker, the Autobots' lovable narcissistic sociopath!

Vehicle Mode

Since toymaking is now a much more global prospect than it was in 1983 and people will notice unlicensed replicas of their cars, Sunstreaker is now almost a Lamborghini Gallardo with a few legally-distinguishing details shuffled around. Still a Lambo, still very streamlined, though the difference in 25 years of automotive design aerodynamics and aesthetic mean he's a bit more rounded than his original form. He still has his trademark rear-mounted exposed engine, now a removable piece. As does Sideswipe, which works out: Sideswipe was said to have a jetpack that was not really represented in the original's toy form. It does mean that the toys are a lot more identical than they used to be, but since it's removable, you can fix that if it really bugs you that much.

The back panel is quite striking, with its gunmetal standing out from the blinding gloss yellow. The license plate is a vanity tag (appropriately enough) that reads "WE R 84." You can see his weapon sticking out beneath the plate in the form of twin tailpipes. The toy rolls pretty well if everything's transformed and tacked down okay, but it's pretty low to the ground, as befits a sportscar, so you'll pretty much know if you've got it all right or not.

Transformation

The transformation doesn't feel quite as clean and satisfying as the first round of Classics, and it'll take a couple tries to memorize and get right. My usual sticking points are digging the feet out of the lower legs, and locking the arms into place. The shoulders are themselves on a small arm that swivels and then lock into place between two tabs. Trick being that you first have to pull the arm over one of the tabs, which may require more force than you think. It also requires the arms to be turned just so, so as not to get stuck on the fenders/armpits. Finally, you have the head: as you turn the roof of the car to the upright position, forming Sunstreaker's chest, the head rises up from inside the torso, deploying Sunstreaker's trademark "ears" when there's space for them to pop out. It's a great effect, but my Sunstreaker's torso was threaded improperly, so it's never 100% upright, leaning a tiny bit to the left.

Robot Mode

From the waist up, Sunstreaker looks pretty much like himself. From the waist down he's kind of the opposite of the original toy with big calves and tiny feet. His lower legs now favor the bulkier style worn by Sideswipe (and a big chunk of G1 in general). But it doesn't look bad or out of place on the design, and I don't have a problem with it. Sunstreaker's best articulation is in the arms, with pretty much the full range of movement I like to see on an action figure. Though not intentional, the transformation hinges also allow some shoulder swivel, which completes my arm articulation dream team. Moreso than with Bumblebee, though, the door panels on his arm tend to swing out of position and get in my/Sunstreaker's way. The legs are closer in jointing to the TF average, which is great but not up to the standards of the upper body. The second set of hinges are either a blessing or an annoyance depending on what pose you're looking for, but it's very difficult for their presence not to be felt. The ankle joints could be a little stronger, but the feet stay so close to the bulky bellbottomish legs that it doesn't always matter- you can sort of prop him up on the exposed tabs that help Vehicle Mode stick together.


Paint and Deco

The deco is good, and error-free, with one exception: someone thought it would be a good idea to try and put yellow paint on the so-dark-it's-almost-black translucent plastic of the car roof. Unless you have some really great yellow paint, this will not work, and you end up with a mismatched chartreuse roof. Their paint was not up to the challenge, which also shows on the ears- though as a much smaller area it's not as jarring. Worst part is, the plastic is so dark it's not even worth casting it in anything remotely translucent- this piece could easily have been the same yellow as the rest of the car. Otherwise, however, the deco looks good, with red stripes as a nod to the original toy's inexplicable red shoulders, and most importantly a cleanly-painted face.


Accessories

-Electron Pulse Blaster

A medium-sized handgun that stores disguised as tailpipes in Vehicle Mode. The fit in the hand never feels quite secure until the tailpipe part is up against the wrist, so it's pretty easy to knock loose. This may be caused by the narrowing of the peg at the bottom of the grip, which is done so that you can mount the gun to the small sockets in the shoulders. This is more of a Sideswipe thing, to approximate his G1 missile launcher, but it works on either toy if you're so inclined.

-Engine

Sunstreaker's external engine is a removable part here, and a versatile one at that: It has a couple other uses, but on Sunstreaker its primary job is to approximate his G1 Robot Mode kibble. It's got some nice details, and it stays on both the back and the roof of the Car Mode securely once you've got it pushed firmly into place.

The Engine is also supposed to combine with the gun to form a larger, more impressive gun, but this doesn't work on my Sunstreaker- I can't get it to clamp down on the blaster and stay there. Since you can see in the photos where the two intakes aren't completely aligned, I think this must be a molding error. Since this is another feature which is ostensibly designed more for Sideswipe than Sunstreaker, the final review score doesn't reflect the toy's inability to combine its accessories.

Closing Remarks

Sadly, Sunstreaker doesn't have quite the feel of the first-run Classics, most of which struck a perfect balance between homages and updates, complexity and ease of transformation. But even though his arms especially are tricky to transform, he's also not quite the jigsaw puzzle that are full-on Alternators and much of the rest of Universe, happily. (I still can't transform Prowl or Bluestreak without having to remove the sidepanels until I get to Robot Mode.) Sunstreaker is a solid figure, and the solution to retaining his and Sideswipe's individuality while making concessions to cost-effectiveness is quite impressive.

He rates a Very Good.

-RAC, 12/11/2008