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REVIEW:
TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE CLASSICS SILVERSTREAK
By Thomas Wheeler


The thing that has pleased me most about Transformers is the restoration of the Transformers Classics line, under the banner of Transformers Universe: Classics Series. These remarkable robots are superb updates of their Generation One counterparts, with all the detail and -- more to the point -- articulation that modern toy fans have come to expect, while still maintaining superb likenesses to their original characters.

I am sincerely hopeful that this line will continue into 2009, even amidst the sequel movie and the 25th Anniversary of Transformers. The Classics went away once and came back. I see no good reason for them to depart from the toy shelves a second time. There's a lot of potential and no shortage of Autobots and Decepticons that deserve to be added to this amazing line of robotic action figures.

The newest addition to my personal collection is SILVERSTREAK. This is the modern name of the Autobot originally known as Bluestreak. Precisely why the change occurred I have no idea. Doubtless there was some sort of legality involved in the name "Bluestreak", but I honestly can't think of any other toy or other product or character name offhand that uses that name. In any case, Silverstreak isn't a bad name, and given the coloration of the character, it fits.

Bluestreak (which I'll refer to him as only temporarily) was one of the original Autobots. Not exactly a leading character, I have to admit. I did some research, wondering if perhaps I had forgotten some prominent appearance by the character, so here is a brief background of the character as he has appeared in the animation and comic books.

Bluestreak's bio described him as a highly incessant talker; he simply couldn't stop. Other Autobots didn't mind this, as it helped to lighten their mood. Despite this Bluestreak had a darker side - he loathed the war and fighting in it due to the Decepticons' annihilation of his home state in the war on Cybertron. When speaking of fellow Autobot Wheeljack, Bluestreak joked that "That guy can build a neutron bomb out of a wristwatch and a rusty can."

Bluestreak's character in the animated series was not developed too far but his reluctance to fight was absent in the show. He was mainly used as a soldier and sometimes as comic relief due to his witty comments.

Bluestreak originally appeared as one of the original Autobots on Earth. He, along with the rest of the Season 1 Autobots and Decepticons, crash landed on Earth and went into a 4 million year stasis lock. He was reactivated and given the alternate mode of an Earth sports car. In the pilot episode, Bluestreak's first star appearance saw him pursuing a hot-headed Ironhide who took off to pursue the Decepticons. Bluestreak tried to talk some sense into him but they ended up in a dogfight with Skywarp. Skywarp teleported and shot Ironhide from behind, injuring his back. Ironhide crashed into a lake and Bluestreak swam to his rescue.

In the episode "Roll for It", Bluestreak and Prowl are almost killed after they attempt to ambush a weakened Starscream, Soundwave and Thundercracker in a military hangar.

Bluestreak also participated in the Trans-Europe Express, a charity race from Paris, France to Istanbul, Turkey. The race was rigged by the Decepticons in order to capture American driver Auggie Cahnay's state-of- the-art vehicle. The alloy from the engine would be used to house the Pearl of Bahoudin(sp?), a device that could control the weather. The Stunticons steal the car and the arrogant Auggie is forced to drive Bluestreak for the remainder of the race. They end up winning the race and run off with Bumblebee and Tracks to face the Decepticons.

His last known appearance was in The Transformers: The Movie, where he is briefly seen helping Kup and Huffer move a roadblock just after Hot Rod starts shooting at the Decepticon shuttle.

Bluestreak also appeared in the Marvel Transformers comic, where his role was much the same as the animated series. The 1985 Transformers Annual (UK), chronicling the early struggle on Cybertron, records that Bluestreak transported vital high explosives to aid Optimus Prime's first decisive counter strike against the Decepticons. Bluestreak was successful, but witnessed his friend Fusion killed on the mission.

In the Dreamwave Comics reimagining of the Generation One comics, Bluestreak is depicted as being a co-worker and friend of Optronix before he was given the Matrix of Leadership and became Optimus Prime. Little is known about his background apart from that in this continuity: he was once a Cybertronian merchant and his home city was destroyed. He is seen reporting on the death of Sentinel Prime to Optronix and lecturing him about how awful it is on the battlefield. After Prime's disappearance he stays with the Autobots, and even accompanies Prowl's team on a mission to destroy a new Decepticon base - only to be routed when it was discovered to be Trypticon.

Bluestreak is among the Autobots who follow Optimus Prime on his mission on board the Ark. They are attacked by Megatron's ship, the Nemesis. After being boarded the Ark crash lands on Earth, where all on board are preserved in emergency stasis. A volcanic eruption awakens the Ark's computer, Teletran-I, and it repairs all on board. It reformats Bluestreak in the form of an Earth sports car.

Bluestreak's name was changed to Silverstreak as of 2003, and was used when a commemorative version of the Generation One toy was produced. The first time I encountered it was in the Alternators line (another chapter of Transformers I would dearly love to see return someday). It was pretty much understood at that point that Silverstreak was the new name for Bluestreak, but they were otherwise representative of the same character, at least as far as the Alternators could be compared to their Generation One counterparts, which in most cases was considerably so. To this day, I believe the Alternators to be one of the high points of Transformers. What it must have taken to take a real-world licensed automobile, create an accurate 1:24 scale model of it with moving parts, and then enable that same toy to transform into a fully articulated humanoid robot that bears at least some resemblance to its original version -- is just plain staggering. In this line, Silverstreak was a Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan, and shared much of his molds with Smokescreen.

However, the Classics line is pretty impressive as well. If I have one major gripe against the original Generation One toys -- for all the cool characters that were created over the course of its run, for all that the conflict between the Autobots and the Decepticons reached epic proportions that most toy lines and animated series can barely even dream of achieving, for all that the original Transformers were a major part of the top VERY few toy lines of the 1980's to become a decidedly ingrained part of pop culture then and now -- far too many of those toys, when transformed into their robotic modes, weren't articulated worth a darn. They could move their arms, maybe their heads, and with rare exception, that was about it. And that always bugged the me. You see these amazing robotic characters on the animated series running, jumping, fighting, and for that matter they were generally illustrated in some impressive action pose on the package artwork -- and the toy pretty much just stood there.

Thankfully, those days are long in the past. They started to disappear with Transformers Beast Wars, and stayed gone all the way through Robots in Disguise, Armada, Energon, Cybertron, and everything else since. These days, thanks no doubt to computer-aided design and modern toy-making capabilities, the average Transformer is just as well-articulated in his humanoid robotic mode as all of the media tie-ins indicate he should be.

And that certainly includes the Classics, which is why I like them so much. Here are modern versions of the classic characters, and they can certainly do a lot more than just stand around. And they look as impressive as ever, if not moreso.

In car mode, Silverstreak is a silver and black sports car. The bulk of his body is a metallic silver in color, quite bright, at that. The hood and roof of the car are a matte black, and the Autobot insignia appears on the front of the hood. He has a small grey spoiler in the back, fancy clear headlights (separately molded pieces) and painted red taillights, and just to throw in a little extra color, glossy red hubcaps. While not a specific real-world car design, this Silverstreak is certainly a very sporty car. In automotive mode, Silverstreak is just a little over 5" in length.

Let's consider his transformation. The first thing the instructions tell you to do is remove his weapon from the underside. This is not necessary as the weapon, called a "Volt Beam Blaster" is packaged separately.

The next thing to do is to move the doors and front fenders forward and out. This isn't too hard, although the hinge points to which these were connected can stick a bit. One door-fender combo popped right off on mine. Not a big deal -- it also popped right back on. They're designed to do that these days, too. It's not a bad measure to have in Transformers. The alternative would probably be a pile of broken plastic that you could never get back together again.

At this point you flip up the very rear of the car, and then flip the entire back part of the car around about 180 degrees. This essentially makes the legs of the robot. Then you lower the feet.

The next step is one of those that just doesn't look quite right as a 2-D illustration on a page. It indicates that you're supposed to take the fender/door combos and somehow rotate them around and fold them back on themselves. Except every time I tried this, they fell off their moorings. The purpose for this is to facilitate folding out the arms, but I decided to just remove them entirely and put them back once I had Silverstreak in robot mold. That's not an endorsement of not following the instructions, though. If you can figure out what's actually supposed to be done here, more power to you.

At this point, you fold the arms out, and then down a bit. Easier said than done, once again.

Now you fold the small part of the hood over, and the head pops up. Fold the hood back and turn the head so it's facing the front of the car.

Lastly, you bring the front of the car forward separating it from the windshield, which folds back, and bring the shoulder-mounted missile launchers upwards. And there you have Silverstreak!

You know, I don't want to criticize, because this is a very cool robot, and maybe it was just the one that I happened to purchase, but between the parts that didn't want to move and the parts that just plain fell off, this guy was a bit of a pain.

I did compare him to my Classics Universe Prowl, and they are the same mold. But I don't remember Prowl giving me this much of a hassle. He might've, though.

One other word of warning. As limited as I handled the doors, they felt just a tiny little fraction tacky. I know from experience that metallic-finish paints are tricky things, and the doors are technically molded in transparent blue, for the sake of the windows. One other good reason to remove the doors and replace them after you've transformed the rest of the robot is so you don't have to handle them too much. You don't want to put any permanent fingerprints on this toy.

In robot mode, Silverstreak stands about 5-3/4" in height, and although he is a remake of Prowl -- lacking only the roof siren lights, of course -- he is colored differently enough so that unless you have the two of them standing side by side, it's not easy to tell. And Silverstreak has been given enough of a distinctive color scheme of his own, so that he's pretty far removed from Prowl's "black and white cop car" look.

Honestly, the color scheme for Silverstreak is very close to his Alternators look, although this Classics version has more black. The main body is mostly black with some silver trim, but the arms and legs, and some of the other detail, like the missile launchers, are a dark red in color, not too far removed from the hubcaps. Silverstreak's lower arms and lower legs are silver in color, with back trim, and there's just a bit of blue at his lower torso. His head is mostly silver-grey with w white face and translucent blue eyes.

Of course, Silverstreak has excellent articulation in robot mode, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, and knees. Many of his points of articulation have a swivel as well as the expected back and forth movement. I suppose it could be said that his feet move, but this is due more to transformation needs than articulation.

Silverstreak has a character bio on his package, which reads as follows: There's not a lot to be said about Silverstreak that he hasn't already said himself. In fact, there's not a lot to be said about anything that he hasn't already said, because he never stops talking. Ever. He talks to his partners on guard duty. He talks during his charge cycles. When he's alone, he talks to himself. In battle, he chats with his opponent. Despite his formidable weaponry, Decepticons prefer not to fight him mostly because they get sick of talking to him.

Pretty much in keeping with the character's established personality. His various power rankings give him highest points in Endurance and Fireblast, rated at 9; Skill and Speed at 7 (I would certainly hope so for a sports car!); Strength and Intelligence at 6; Rank at 5, and a rather poor showing of Courage at 2. I'm not sure what's up with that one, unless it's a reflection of his history of not wanting to be involved in the war. Seems to me he's proved himself enough times.

One other note about the packaging is that it has a very nicely done illustration of the character on the front. It's a head-and-torso shot, but very well done. Hasbro's got some good artists working for them these days to turn out images like this.

So what's my final word here? This is a very cool Transformer. I am extremely impressed with him, as I am with most of the Transformers Universe Classics line, based on the original characters. I continue to sincerely hope that this line will proceed onwards through the next movie, the 25th Anniversary, and whatever other Transformers lines come along, because it certainly deserves to. This time, I hope it just keeps going. And certainly TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE CLASSICS SILVERSTREAK gets my highest recommendation!