Saturday, April 22, 2017

A to Z Challenge: Skids vs Starscream

There are lots of S-named Autobots to choose from, but one of my favorites is Skids. He’s another of the science-y Autobots, whose relatively useless function (for an army anyway) was a theoretician. Not much use for that in an epic war, is there? He turned into a minivan I thought was supposed to be like a Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager but was actually a Honda City--which makes sense since he was designed in Japan.

He was really only a background character in the TV show, never really getting much screen time. In the Marvel comic he got a spotlight issue where he's damaged and becomes property of a young woman until Ravage shows up.  He dreams he has to fight a duel with Megatron, which was the topic of the cover that's kind of neat--the miscoloring of his torso aside. 

In the IDW comic he joins the crew of the Lost Light to find the Knights of Cybertron. Initially he’s suffering from amnesia, but later he starts to remember that he was in the “diplomatic corps” which was a cover for a special ops team.

Skids was one of the Autobots I used in my Skyfire Adventures fanfic series. In the fourth story, Vortex, Skids got thrown forward in time thanks to a temporal vortex. In the future he saw the destruction of his friends when a planet of ancient Transformers suddenly turned into a giant killer robot. Skids then had to find a way back to the present, arriving in time to save his friends, though there was still a giant killer robot out there.

There have been a couple different reissues of the toy, which isn’t bad for someone who was relatively useless.


There are plenty of S-Decepticons, but the most popular one has to be Starscream. He was one of the three original Decepticon jets, who were all based on the F-15 Eagle and in true Hasbro fashion were identical except for their color schemes. Starscream was a light gray, red, and blue while Thundercracker was blue, black, and silver and Skywarp was black, purple, and silver.

It was the cartoon series where Starscream really shined. With an unmistakable voice from the late Chris Latta, Starscream was always trying to act tough though really he was a coward of the lowest order. He constantly harassed Megatron and tried to assume command of the Decepticons, though his stints as leader did not go well.

In the 1986 movie Starscream finally gets his wish when Megatron is badly damaged and unable to prevent Starscream from chucking him into empty space. Starscream’s reign was short-lived as Galvatron (the recycled body of Megatron) vaporized him at his coronation. But like Optimus Prime, Starscream was too popular to die. His “ghost” appears in two third season episodes, the latter of which has him reactivating Unicron and performing three “labors” to get himself a body, though that body is sent tumbling in space—why doesn’t he just transform into his jet mode? Even that doesn’t stop him as in an episode of Beast Wars his ghost is sent back in time in an attempt to take over the Predacons before he is once more cast out.

In the 2007 live action movie he appears as an F-22 Raptor and there’s a cool moment where he’s flying in the midst of some real F-22s and then starts picking them off one-by-one. He appeared in the second and third movies as well. They tried to use some of his cartoon persona, but it’s not done quite as well. He’s shown up in various other cartoon series over the years.

In Transformers Prime, he turns into an F-16 instead of an F-22 but is the same cowardly braggart always trying to undermine Megatron. When Megatron is badly injured, Starscream keeps him in a coma so that he can maintain leadership of the Decepticons.  Later he is forced to go out on his own and has his "T-cog" (transformation cog) ripped out by evil humans who use it for their own Transformer.  This prevents Starscream from transforming until he eventually gets a replacement and returns to the Decepticons.

He frequently appeared in the Marvel comics series. In the mega-sized issue #50, he obtains almost god-like power, turning into a Godzilla-sized robot whom both Autobots and Decepticons try to bring down. In the IDW series, Starscream weasels his way into ruling as Cybertron’s first democratically elected leader after the war ends. Much of this is done by co-opting a prophecy about him being the “chosen one.”

After the first Starscream toy there was a Pretender version with a human shell and a miniature robot jet inside. There was also an Action Master version that didn’t transform but had a jet that did so. He was reissued as part of the Generation 2 line and like other popular characters there have been many, many versions of his toy ever since. So being the #2 sometimes isn’t all that bad.

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