SDCC Exclusive "Starscream" Skystriker w/ Cobra Commander

If there's one thing I've learned while recording the What's on Joe Mind podcast it's that Gary really, really doesn't like Transformers, and is 100% against the mere notion that G.I. Joe and Transformers should mix it up.

While I don't feel quite as intense as he does about it, in some ways I do agree that I don't have any burning desire to see a mixed G.I. Joe and Transformers universe. Certainly the various limited series have been entertaining in an "alternate universe" sort of way, but for a mainstream G.I. Joe line I like to think it can thrive on its own merits and create its own drama without bringing in alien transforming robots.

All of that being said... this was still a truly inpired idea for a San Diego ComicCon exclusive, and something that Hasbro knocked right out of the park. Let's face it, from the perspective of G.I. Joe fans everywhere, if Hasbro is going to offer up SDCC Exclusives, let it be stuff that isn't a core part of the G.I. Joe mythology. Let it be something cool and interesting, but something that doesn't leave a gaping hole in someone's collection if they can't get their hands on it. This Skystriker accomplishes all of that.

First and foremost, the presentation of the product was fantastic. With box art very reminiscent of the old school G.I. Joe vs. Tranformers comic, and proclaiming itself is "Issue #5" (the previous limited series lasted for 4 issues) really throws this box back into old school purity. The back of the box shows a nice break down of the vehicle itself, with some artificial schematics showcasing where Starscream's vital parts are contained.

The vehicle itself is remarkably similar to the standard release Skystriker, especially with the main body. One doesn't quite realize just how dark gray the Skystriker reissue is until you put it next to Starscream and realize that the two base colors are identical, and that Starscream separates itself thanks to a few changes in paint applications and some generous sticker adjustments.

Structurally identical to the Skystriker, this version relies on those stickers to really separate it, giving us some very cool Cobra/ Decepticon logos, some standard Decepticon logos, and even a rubsign in various forms of reveal. No, unfortunately the rubsign does not actually work, but the half-rubbed logo is still an awesome touch. There's even a different sticker for the large cannon under the body, proclaiming it to be Starscream's infamous "null cannon".

All of the same missiles and rockets are present, the swing-wing and landing gear work the same, and the base vehicle itself retains all of the same qualities as the reissue Skystriker, but the slightly adjusted paint applications and sticker changes really separate the vehicles and make this one surprisingly awesome.

I will admit, I do have one problem with the stickers... for some reason a lot of the spaces in the stickers are filled with white. I'm not sure why that is, and in the grand scheme of things, it's a minor quibble, but I did find it oddly distracting to see all of these random white blobs mixed in with the stickers against the gray body of the aircraft. Not a deal breaker, but a head scratcher.

Cobra Commander

In my opinion, though, the real star of this set is Cobra Commander. As many different variations of the Commander we got over the years, I don't recall us ever getting him in standard pilot gear, so this does fill a need in that respect.

He shares the exact same tooling as Ace, the pilot of the standard Skystriker, only he has the later model 25th Anniversary Cobra Commander head (vac-metalized, of course!). The parts all blend together surprisingly well, and create a nicely bulked out menacing looking flight-suit equipped Commander, who may be wearing the exact same flight uniform as Ace, but manages to wear it in his own classic way.

I still love the mixture of Resolute Duke, Skydive, and 25th Anniversary Ace parts, all blending together to form a fantastic looking pilot that has some great articulation.

What really separates the figure from Ace is the paint applications. Instead of the greens and blacks, Cobra Commander is sporting his very familiar bright blue base color, with an awesome allotment of darker blues, a bit of silver, and some black. Sure, the blue is super bright, but it still all works flawlessly together.

For accessories, Cobra Commander comes with the same flight vest and harness, his helmet is removable, and the creme de la creme for many folks... he can hold Megatron in gun form! This is such an awesome touch. Hasbro really knocked this one out of the park from top to bottom.

It takes just a little bit of work, but Cobra Commander's separate trigger finger will fit the Megatron gun perfectly as well.

I have to be honest. Grading this thing is going to be tough. Many folks accused me of being a bit hard on the Skystriker by giving it only 3 3/4 stars. For what it is, though, this SDCC Exclusive is absolutely fantastic. I love how they "transformed" the standard Skystriker into such a strong Transformers homage, I love Cobra Commander, I love the weapons, and oh... Transformers themed file cards!

So how do I rate this thing? In my mind, it truly deserves 4 1/2 stars, but can a vehicle based on something rated lower actually rate higher? I think so, yes. The figure is just as cool as Ace, the stickers are a terrific homage, and I think looking at this vehicle in the context of San Diego ComicCon, it couldn't have been done any better (perhaps maybe being more available).

Yes, I know I gave the Skystriker itself only 3 3/4 stars, but in my opinion, in the framework I'm working with, this vehicle deserves better. If you can "seek out" this Seeker, do so. It's not a critical part to anyone's collection, but it's a beautiful example of the inginuity behind the exclusives team at Hasbro and a testament to how seriously they take ComicCon.

Good stuff.