Altered States Magazine - June 2002

  • Armada Wave 1 Reviews

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    Armada Wave 1

    By Daniel Lipkowitz, Assistant Editor

    ASM Quick Facts

    Faction: Decepticon
    Transformation: Jet
    Mini-Con: Swindle (Indy car)
    Powerlinx: 1 gimmicked, 2 solid
    Size: Mega
    Difficulty: 3 (Advanced)
    Packaging: Box
    Contents: Starscream, Swindle, two missiles, instructions, mini-comic/catalog, character sticker


    A sleek little red and black Indy-style race car with a grey booster in back, Swindle rolls a fair distance on four free-spinning wheels. In a change since Toy Fair, the front end of the car is now black instead of red, preventing Swindle from being as monochromatic as Hot Shotís sidekick Jolt. To transform Swindle, fold up the rear tires and sides of the car, and then fold down only the sides to form arms. Fold down the nose of the car to expose the feet and split the legs. Finally, lower the rear spoiler fin onto the chest, exposing the robot face. In robot mode, Swindle is less articulated than most Mini-Cons. His arms and legs can swing out to the sides, but thatís about it. Instead of hands, his arms end in a pair of blade-like prongs. His faction symbol appears on his left arm.

    Vehicle Mode

    In vehicle mode, Starscream is a high-tech fighter aircraft. His main colors are red, silvery grey and black, with yellow accents. An unusual design, the jet has a thin, angled nose and a bulky undercarriage section, appearing more suited to space combat than to atmospheric maneuvers. Lacking landing gear, it rolls on four treaded wheels (plus a pair of sculpted ones), adding to the impression of being a heavy-duty military vehicle. Like Red Alert, Starscream is designed to be a sturdy and durable toy, incorporating a mix of high-grade plastic and flexible rubber for the potentially delicate fins on the nose and tail. Although the details are different, the jetís wings, tailfins and markings are very evocative of the vehicle mode of the original Starscream (from the original Generation 1 line) while also resembling a bulked-up, armoured Macross Valkyrie space-fighter.

    Vehicle Mode Features

    • Attack Mode: Attaching a Mini-Con to the Powerlinx peg at the back of the jet makes the pair of large top-mounted thrusters flip forward as missile launchers. The launchers can also be activated without the use of a Mini-Con. The missiles are fired by standard spring-loaded triggers.

    • Transport Mode: Swindle can be clipped beneath the jetís nose, then released by pressing down hard on the cockpit.

    • Pulling back on the rear Powerlinx peg activates a short engine startup and jet-thrust sound effect. Holding the peg back for half a second or so produces a sustained thruster noise that lasts for about 14 seconds.

    • Attaching a Mini-Con to the same plug and pulling back produces a six-burst firing sound that repeats itself six times.

    • Pressing on the cockpit produces a laser-firing sound effect that goes on for as long as the button is held down.

    • With Swindle in transport mode, pressing down on the cockpit produces what seems to be either a blast or rocket sound. Holding the cockpit down makes the laser-burst sound follow the first one.

    Transformation to Robot Mode

    Swing out the rear sides of the jet, then rotate them around and down to form the robot feet and legs. Flip out the heel supports and swing the waist section forward. As it locks in place, the head automatically pops up. Fold down the jet nose and rotate the wings down 90 degrees. Unfold the arms and hands.

    Robot Mode

    Like Red Alert, Starscream is much larger than past Mega Transformers. Retaining the colors of his jet form, he cuts a striking figure in robot mode. As in vehicle mode, the robot displays elements of the original Starscream's design, from the placement of the wings to the intakes on the shoulders. His head shape is clearly inspired by the original character's, and his grey face carries a smug smirk. His arms are a little long and don't fully straighten, but they have plenty of joints to compensate. Although the thrusters and back of the plane stick straight out behind him, the backpack effect is not too crippling and the toy maintains its balance well. A Decepticon symbol is sculpted on each arm behind the non-gimmicked Powerlinx peg.


    Starscream is quite posable for an Armada toy. His shoulders rotate from side to side and his upper arms can swing fore and aft. He has double-jointed elbows and hinges at the hip and knee, plus rotation joints at the base of his upper legs.

    Robot Mode Features

    • Attack Mode: As in vehicle mode, attaching a Mini-Con to the Powerlinx plug between the jet thrusters makes them flip forward as missile launchers.

    • Storage Mode: A Mini-Con can be attached to the Powerlinx peg on either arm, making a serviceable shield.

    • All sound effects are activated as in vehicle mode.

    • Starscreamís left wing can be removed and unfolded as a sword, which he can hold in either hand.


    From colors to details to facial expression, Armada Starscream is clearly intended to look like the original Decepticon air commander. What's more, he improves tremendously on the original toy, adding plenty of articulation and play value. Although the jet mode is not the most aerodynamic vehicle around and the arms could have been concealed better, the robot mode - giant backpack and all - more than makes up for any shortcomings. This is a fun, solid and downright classy Transformers toy.

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    A SkyJammer Enterprises Publication