Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Timelines Slipstream (2013)

Since the earliest days of the Transformers franchise, new characters were created simply by repainting a mold created for one character into new colors. The original Starscream was arguably the poster-child for this process, being used also for Thundercracker and Skywarp within that first 1984 set of toys. This reality became the basis for a gag many years later, during the Transformers Animated cartoon, in which Starscream created clones of himself to assist in his quest to defeat both the Autobots and assume command of the Decepticons from Megatron. Unlike "traditional" clones, Starscream's clones were by no means identical. Although they shared a body-form, each was depicted in a different color scheme (usually an homage to one of Starscream's mold-mates from Generation One), and each exhibited an exaggerated single aspect of Starscream's own personality. One was a compulsive liar, and one was a coward, just to use two examples. One, who would come to be known as "Slipstream" (but only outside of the Animated cartoon itself, as the clones were never named within it) was female, and pointedly told Starscream not to ask what aspect of his personality she represented.

Oddly enough, although several of Starscream's clones were made as toys (under the names traditionally assigned to those color schemes), no toy of Animated Slipstream was ever made. Fast-forward to the first "Figure Subscription Service" put together by Fun Publications for the Transformers Collectors' Club. Technically, this is a different character, being a slight retool of the "First Edition" version of Starscream from the Transformers: Prime toyline. Indeed, this Slipstream may not even be the Prime version of Slipstream, as the bio card that came with the figure intentionally leaves her origins as mysterious. However, she is called out as being somehow different from other Transformers in "Axiom Nexus," a locale created for the TransTech universe, housing Transformers from all over the multiverse... with the supposed exception of Transformers from either the live-action movie or the so-called "Aligned" continuities (of which Prime was the most significant element). Thus, being from the Prime universe would explain this oddity.

The use of Prime Starscream for the first Slipstream toy is rather interesting, as this particular mold has several attributes normally ascribed to females (despite the fact that Starscream himself remains male). The high heels, the lithe form, etc. Fun Publications did go ahead with a new head to seal the deal, but even this seems hardly necessary to create the impression of the toy being designed for this character. It's really a remarkably good fit. I do confess to taking the intentional step of a slight mis-transformation (at least according to the instructions) when posing this toy, merely to remove the hunch with which Prime Starscream always carries himself, giving Slipstream a more upright posture.

Although no Animated toy of Slipstream was ever created, this figure is by no means the only time Slipstream has been depicted in toy form. In fact, the character has become something of an archetype, showing up every once in a while as new toylines have come out in recent years. The Transformers franchise may never actually reach proportional gender representation, but Slipstream does at least demonstrate that a female Decepticon can nonetheless be a popular addition to the ranks.

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