Aside from their leader, the main villains during the first series of Generation 1 in 1984 were the Decepticon Jets. As the leader of the Jets, Starscream transforms into a McDonnel-Douglass F-15C Eagle air superiority fighter.

US Patent for G1 Starscream

Origins

Starscream, like most Decepticons of the day, originated from Takara’s 1983 Diaclone toyline as Jet Robo F-15 Eagle Ultra-High-Speed Fighter Type. This version included a small plastic and die-cast driver that could fit in the cockpit of the jet, and featured numerous stickers reading “F-15” that were omitted from the Transformers release. An alternate deco was available during Diaclone called the Acrobat Type, who would later become Thundercracker. Starscream was designed by Koujin Ohno. The US Patent, titled Reconfigurable¬†toy¬†plane (aka Transformers G1 Starscream) was filed on March 10, 1983 (U.S. Patent No. USD279804 S).

Description

Starscream is probably the most realistic of all the Decepticon Jets (colloquially known as “Seekers” due to a period catalog print ad), as he is molded primarily in a silvery-gray plastic. His rudders, toes, and fists are molded in a navy blue, and further visual interest is added by red stickered stripes on his wings and control surfaces, as well as red paint on his jet engine intakes. His jet mode also features a transparent, opening canopy and non-retracting rolling die-cast metal landing gear. The front landing gear is removable for flight or transformation. His wings and rudders are each separate pieces that peg into the fuselage, and the silver elevators peg into the rudders. Non-realistic missile launchers plug into the bottoms of the wings, which can hold bullet-shaped missiles or the null-ray cannon barrels. His transformation is simple from the standpoint of rotations of parts on the fuselage, with the nosecone threading through the central hole left by rotating his arms outward. The only modicum of complexity comes with the positioning of the wings and elevators, which may be removed and replaced, or simply rotated in place to clear the arms as they swing around. Once in robot mode, the launchers attach to the outside of Starscream’s arms, and his fists slide over the ends of his arms and click into place. The wide stance of the rudders, elevators, and Starscream’s triangular feet make him incredibly stable in robot mode. His wings are angled inward toward his centerline, with the leading edge down, as not to interfere with his arms. His small, sculpted black face can be highlighted with a gold eye sticker, which runs like a band across his head, covering much of his sculpted detail. Interestingly, the eye sticker has black outlines indicating where his sculpted eyes lie underneath. The die-cast metal jet intakes tower over each shoulder, featuring a recessed robot detail sticker inside them. Stickers on his chest, knees, and toes add further detail to his robot mode.
Date stamp location: None (1984), Outside of left leg (1985-)
Rubsign location: None (1984), left red jet intake above shoulder hinge (early 1985), left gray fuselage below shoulder hinge (mid 1985-)

Collector Notes

Starscream’s main body is quite sturdy, and very rarely broken. However, the pivot that moves the nose section into place can become worn, causing his head and chest to loll backwards slightly in robot mode. His accessories are far more prone to breakage, especially the thin catch tabs that hold the missiles in place. The barrels of the null ray cannons are similarly thin and vulnerable. The sheer number of accessories included means that only a very tiny proportion of original Starscreams can be found complete.

Variants

Like all the former Diaclone toys, Starscream has innumerable variations in the first years of his production. Almost every accessory and piece has its own variations, but to primary archetypes of each component seem to exist, from early and late production. The undersides of the wing roots and tailfins were hollowed to save plastic; tabs were made larger to prevent breakage and improve fitment; the cockpit canopy was reinforced; a washer was added to the cockpit hinge to prevent the robot’s head from lolling back; and a second fist tab was slotted out to improve tightness of fit. These variants all meshed throughout the different releases, with most alterations occurring between 1984 and 1985. To summarize:

  • Earliest 1984: Recycled Diaclone Stock. Hand-sanded points on the main wings, otherwise same as early 1984.
  • Early 1984: Smooth cockpit canopy, no cockpit hinge washer, short-tab main wings with filled wing roots (smooth molded points), small-hole rudders, small-tab filled tailfins, staight launcher tabs, single-tabbed fists, no date stamp.
  • Late 1984-Early 1985: Ridged reinforced cockpit canopy, cockpit hinge washer, short-tab main wings with hollow wing roots, large-hole rudders, large-tab hollow tailfins, straight launcher tabs, double-tabbed fists, Takara date stamp, lighter blue shade, rubsign on jet intake.
  • Late 1985: Ridged reinforced cockpit canopy, cockpit hinge washer, long-tab main wings with hollow wing roots, large-hole rudders, large-tab hollow tailfins, straight launcher tabs, double-tabbed fists, Hasbro-Takara date stamp (?), rubsign on jet fuselage.
  • 1986-: Dark gray ridged reinforced cockpit canopy, cockpit hinge washer, long-tab main wings with hollow wing roots, large-hole rudders, large-tab hollow tailfins, angled launcher tabs, double-tabbed fists, Hasbro-Takara date stamp, rubsign on jet fuselage.
In addition to all these variants, a number of minor variants exist that are hard to place on the timeline. Most notably, the hollow area in the fists can either be a square, a small circle, or a large circle. Some fists also have numbers stamped on the wrists, but their meaning or purpose is unknown. There are also some region-specific variants, such as a Mexican Plasticos IGA version with a metallic blue and darker shade of silver.

Availability

Starscream was available in the US and UK in 1984. Like most first-wave toys, he was available again in 1985 with many alterations, discussed above, and also released in Japan, continental Europe, and Italy. Due to his popularity, Starscream continued to be available in 1986 for the US, an uncommon distinction for 1984 characters. Starscream has been reissued several times. The following list includes series, year, release market, and modifications:

  • Takara Reissue Starscream, 2001, Japan, as Generation 1
  • Toys ’R’ Us Commemorative Series Starscream, 2003, U.S., with working missile launchers and all four missiles extended comically to 3 inches
  • The Transformers Collection Starscream, 2003, Japan, in an entirely new deco based on his cartoon appearance and with retooled fists that could hold his missile launchers or a new gun-mode Megatron accessory
  • Transformers Encore Starscream, 2007, Japan, similar to Generation 1 but with Decepticon symbols tampographed and a yellowish canopy.

Case Assortments (Asst#/Item#): 1984: Decepticon Jets Asst. 1 (5780/5781E), 4 per 12; 1985: Decepticon Jets Asst. 2 (5785/5781E), 1 per 12; 1986 (early): Decepticon Jets Asst. 3 (5784/5781); 1986 (late) Decepticon Jets Asst. 3 (with poster) (5784.08/5781.08)
MSRP: $12.99
Packaging: Window box with top flap, inner plastic bubble sealed to cardboard insert, Tech Spec on back
Packaging (Milton Bradley): Window box with top flap, inner plastic bubble sealed to cardboard insert, Tech Spec on back
Robot Points: 2 Decepticon
Paperwork included (1984): Instruction booklet without rubsign on last panel, sticker sheet, Tech Spec Decoder, 1984 Catalog; (late 1984) “Reinforcements from Cybertron”, rubsign instructions addendum.
Paperwork included (1985): Instruction booklet with rubsign on last panel, sticker sheet, Tech Spec Decoder, 1985 Catalog, “The battle is far from over!”
Paperwork included (1986): Instruction booklet with rubsign on last panel, sticker sheet, Tech Spec Decoder; 1985 Catalog and “Have the Decepticons defeated us once and for all?” (early); OR 1986 Catalog and one of four “Decipher the Decepticon” glow-in-the-dark posters (late)

Redecos & Retools

As with reissues of the original character, Starscream’s mold has been used for a shameful number of other characters:

  • Diaclone Jet Robo F-15 Ultra-High-Speed Fighter Type, 1983, Japan and parts of Europe
  • Diaclone Jet Robo F-15 Acrobat Type, 1983, Japan and parts of Europe
  • Thundercracker, 1984, using the Acrobat Type deco
  • Skywarp, 1984, with a new black deco
  • Thrust, 1985, with new wing and tailfin molds, reissued in Japan in 2001
  • Ramjet, 1985, with new wing, rudder, and missile molds, reissued in Japan in 2001
  • Dirge, 1985, with new wing and missile molds, reissued as an event exclusive in Japan in 2001 and in the U.S. in 2004
  • Generation 2 Starscream, 1993, with a new deco, new launchers and missiles, and a sound-box that attaches to pegs on the back of the jet
  • Generation 2 Ramjet, a redeco of Ramjet with the launcher and soundbox changes from Starscream
  • e-HOBBY Starscream Ghost Version, 2001, Japan, a version using translucent plastics, an orange canopy, and minimal decoration
  • e-HOBBY Starscream Black Version, 2001, Japan, using black and gunmetal gray plastics and gold highlights
  • Starscream Secret Version, 2001, Japan, a lucky draw figure limited to 5 pieces and using colorless translucent plastic for all plastic parts excepting the black pieces
  • e-HOBBY Sunstorm, Japan, 2003, in a new yellow and white deco