In recent years, especially prior to the live-action movie, Transformers has been a notably diverse product line. Along with the "basic" concept pretty much reinventing itself to a certain degree each year, with Armada, Energon, Cybertron, and so forth, there were a number of side-lines -- the amazing Alternators, which presented popular Transformers as real-life cars, scale models licensed from their manufacturers. I can only imagine the headaches that must have caused, trying to take a pre-existing car and get it to transform into a recognizable version of an established character.
Then there were the Classics. I really enjoyed these. The idea behind them was quite simple -- new versions of Generation One Transformers characters. Some might ask -- why do this? I can answer that one rather easily -- modern toy-making.
The Transformers are an immensely cool concept. Robots from another world, heroic Autobots and evil Decepticons, locked in a cosmic war that has finally made its way to Earth. The toys have proven to be popular for decades. But those Generation One characters, as legendary as they may be over all other Transformers, lacked a certain something that their modern counterparts have tended to possess to a far greater degree -- and that is -- ARTICULATION. In their robot modes, the original Transformers couldn't really move all that much.
That is a matter that has long since been resolved, arguably starting over ten years ago with Beast Wars. So -- why not remake some of the Classic characters and give them the poseability in their robot modes that such legendary characters certainly deserve? Works for me.
And the Classics proved to be a very popular and well-received line. However, with the advent of the movie, all other Transformers lines, including the Alternators and the Classics, were suspended. Now, however, the Classics are back, and I hope they're back to stay this time, sequel movie or no. They're being marketed under a revised Transformers Universe banner, but their packages also clearly say "Classic Series", and that's all I need to know.
And one of the first entries in the returned Classics Transformers is the Autobot known as -- SUNSTREAKER!
Sunstreaker was one of the very first Autobots. He is the "brother" (please don't ask me to explain how such relations work in the Transformers world or we'll be here all day) of Sideswipe. But whereas Sideswipe is a fairly scrappy fellow, Sunstreaker, while certainly willing to fight when called upon to do so, is a bit of an egotist and is generally more concerned with looking good and not getting any dings in his paint job.
The original Sunstreaker is a sleek, rather angular-looking vehicle, somewhere between a sports car and a racing car, probably closer to a racing car. He has a label on his chrome silver spoiler that reads "Countach", leading me to believe that Sunstreaker is officially based on a Lambourghini Countach. He's about 4-1/4" in length, and in his car mode, has a fair amount of black and chrome silver trim on him.
The new Classics Sunstreaker is different in several respects. He's larger, more like 5" in length, and is not based on any actual real world car (who needs the licensing hassle?) He's a brighter shade of yellow than his original counterpart, something I suspect Sunstreaker would appreciate, and there is no chrome detailing on him. He looks more like a sports car than a racing car, but this would likely make it easier for him to tool down the highways without drawing excessive attention.
The detailing on Sunstreaker is excellent. The rear of the car is particularly well detailed, complete with tail-lights and a sort of ridged grill, painted in pewter grey. He also has a license plate back there, which reads "WE R 84", a little nod to the original year of the Transformers' release. Sunstreaker has two narrow headlights up front which are molded from transparent plastic and snapped into place. The roof of the car is ridged, and has the Autobot logo.
If there is one area where the color scheme doesn't quite work, it's the roof of the car. The piece is molded in the dark, black color of the windows, and between that and the intricate ridges, the yellow paint on the roof can't quite keep up. So the roof of the car looks slightly darker than the rest of the body. In fairness, I'm sure Hasbro did the best they could, and it does bring out the detail on the roof a little better.
Okay, let's consider the transformation. One thing I do miss from the original Transformers is transformation instructions that explained themselves with the written word as well as diagrams. Sometimes diagrams alone don't quite cut it. The first thing it tells you to do is remove Sunstreaker's weapon from his undercarriage. This isn't necessary since it's packaged separately, although it does as such show you where to store it when the robot is back in his car mode.
The second thing it tells you to do is remove the engine block or whatever it's supposed to be from the top of the car. This was a little bizarre, since the counterpart to this piece on the original Sunstreaker was where his head was located! Clearly there are very few common points between the two.
After this, you rotate the two halves of the rear of the car around the sides, easy enough, and slightly open the car doors -- no easy trick. I'm always afraid I'm going to break something. It helps to sort of pull the car apart lengthwise just a bit, which is sort of the next step anyway. You're directed to flip the entire back half of the car over about 180 degrees. This forms the legs.
Now you flip the feet down -- again, not the easiest thing in the world, and then in one of the more overly complex illustrations -- and I finally ended up using the package photo of Sunstreaker in his robot form to figure out what the end result was supposed to look like, rotate the lower legs around so the the former back halves of the car are technically facing forward to provide a sort of "protective shin guards" for Sunstreaker.
Now it's time to work on Sunstreaker's upper half. Extend the front of the car upwards. Pivot the arms outward. Flip up the front grill, and then lower the front of the car. It will snap into place.
Now turn him around, lower his arms, and turn the roof of the car around 180 degrees in place. This will automatically bring Sunstreaker's head up, which is a rather nice feature, and in a little extra bit of transformation, the extended sides of his head will automatically spring out, as well!
The motor block which you removed at the first step can now be snapped back into place along Sunstreaker's back. Give him his weapon, send him off to fight Decepticons, and hope he doesn't complain too much about his finish.
In robot mode, Sunstreaker stands about 6" in height, about average for one of the Classics. He looks very much like an updated version of his original counterpart, and in robot mode, there is more black to his appearance, as well as a pale silver grey, part of his arms and legs. There's also a bit of blue on him as well. Two transparent blue panels secured to his upper legs -- nice touch, really -- and his eyes are blue. Unfortunately, they lack the capability of some Transformers toys to appear lighted when backlit. I suspect this was a sacrifice made for Sunstreaker's pop-out side-head panels.
Sunstreaker is, in my opinion, a fairly complex transformation. The arms are a little trickier than I made them sound. Again, as much as anything, while I do recommend following the instructions, it helps to keep the package card handy to study, and ask yourself every so often, "Does this look right?" And if it doesn't, "How can I get that to move there?" You probably shouldn't worry too much about breaking the toy. It's not THAT fragile. And some pieces are designed to pop off if they're forces. I had his left arm fall to the floor when I was transforming it. It snapped right back.
In robot mode, Sunstreaker is extremely well articulated, which more than anything else is the main factor that puts these Transformers Classics ahead of their ancestors. Sunstreaker is poseable at the head, arms, upper swivel arm, elbows (double jointed!), wrists, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles. Additional loving parts in robot mode would include the car doors, attached to the lower arms. One might assume that Sunstreaker can rotate these around and use them for small shields as needed.
Sunstreaker's weapon is described as an "Electron Pulse Blaster", and is a small pistol-like firearm with a futuristic design. It's molded in light grey.
Sunstreaker's character profile on the back of his package card reads
Sunstreaker has been portrayed in everything from the animated series to being generally cooperative to having a disdain for the mission (and, for that matter, for humanity) that comes up just short of the utter disgust that the Decepticons have for the human species. One sort of gets the unfortunate impression that however fancy a car Sunstreaker may be, he's not the most reliable Autobot around, and probably wouldn't care if a few humans got run over in the middle of a fight.
Sunstreaker's various ability rankings give him a particularly high point in Endurance, with a rank of "8", decently high rankings in Speed, Courage, and Fireblast, all "7" (although I'd tend to question that "Courage" one), an Intelligence rank of "6", along with "Skill", and Strength and Rank listings of "5". So, overall, reasonably average. It's probably just as well for Sunstreaker that "Ego" isn't one of the listings here.
I'd also like to take a moment and compliment whoever is doing the character illustrations for the packages of these figures. Each one has an individual painting that pretty much consists of the head and torso of the character. This is a nice thing to have on the package, since the Transformer is packaged in his vehicle mode. And while his robot mode is shown in a photograph on the back, I think it helps to have an illustration of the character in his humanoid robot mode on the front. And whoever is doing the illustrations is turning out some seriously nice work. The precision and attention to detail is excellent.
So, what's my final word here? Hey, if you're a longtime fan of Transformers,
you've got to want these Classics. They're genuine upgrades of the classic
characters, in modern robot form, with certainly superior articulation
to their ancestors. As far as I'm concerned, they're the coolest Transformers
available right now, and I hope the line has a long and healthy life.
And obviously the TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE CLASSIC SUNSTREAKER definitely
has my highest enthusiastic recommendation!