“Scourge is the most fearsome and implacable hunter-destroyer created by Unicron from the wreckage of dead Decepticons.”
Scourge’s original Transformers Universe entry makes him out to be the ultimate tailpipe kicker, mess with him and you are bound to end up on the scrap-heap. Scourge’s first appearance was in the animated Transformers: the Movie when the grossly gigantic, planet-eating Orson Welles, errr, I mean Unicron, reformatted a badly damaged Thundercracker into Scourge, the hunter, with his pack of trackers, the Sweeps.
Wait… back that up for a moment. Ok, the G1 cartoons were notorious for endless amounts of animation errors and Transformers: The Movie was no exception in the slightest. Obviously that is the reason for what appears to be hot pink fingertips on our otherwise menacing terminator. Heck, in that picture, the index finger on the right hand isn’t even coloured in. Definitely an animation error.
Alrighty. Not an animation error then. For no reason I can find, in the cartoon, the tips of Scourge’s fingers are hot pink. It doesn’t come from his toy.
Not that I have anything whatsoever against a killing machine making a small effort towards expressing his inner drag-queen, far from it; the Decepticons were always much more enjoyable when they displayed a little personality. Why do you think Transformers Animated works so well?
Most of the subsequent fiction artists have chosen to ignore the pink altogether, giving Scourge hands of all one colour or another. Whomever did the colours on Scourge’s Targetmaster entry in Dreamwave’s profile series More Than Meets The Eye went a different direction, giving Scourge blood-red fingertips instead.
Likewise, whomever designed the colour-palette for the new Generations release of Scourge decided to go with a shade of red for this particular homage to the cartoon. Incidentally, the Generations toy’s weapon is actually two guns that, combined together, resemble Scourge’s Targetmaster partner, Fracas.
G1 Scourge is actually a very recent acquisition for me. I never had much connection to his character and his toy — while serviceable by the standards of the day — isn’t all that impressive. He does have decent arm articulation and has functioning knees. What really makes his robot mode worthwhile for me is his face. Scourge has a rather sweeping mustache and a goatee, evil red eyes, and a menacing scowl. The only place his Generations incarnation fails is in the eyes — light-piped blue rather than the toy and show-accurate red. Other than that, he matches all the detailing of the G1 while providing one of my favourite updates in the Generations line so far.
As slightly unimpressive as G1 Scourge’s robot mode may be, it is still leaps and bounds ahead of his alt-mode. Alternately referred to as a Cybertronian hovercraft, a “scouring vehicle, a marauding automotive mode”, or perhaps a flying bathtub, it nominally functions as a spaceship. Generations has taken this and translated it, rather brilliantly, into an earth mode that works, a Blended wing body aircraft.
To get Generations Scourge into his rather inspired choice of alt-mode is a complex, yet somehow intuitive transformation sequence, including storing his weapons inside of his wings.
His arms are a serious piece of toy engineering genius. They pull out at the forearm, rotate separate from the upper-arm, and slot back in to form his jet engines.
Just in case all that wasn’t quite enough, they threw in two more cartoon homages, one pretty cool and the other profoundly grand. First, somewhat displayed on his G1 toy as well as almost all of his fiction appearances, in robot mode his wings are shown to be almost cape-like, wrapping around him like a bat’s wings. His Generations toy’s wings can be unfolded and wrapped around him… somewhat.
But I have saved the best homage for last. In G1, Scourge had a rather peculiar habit of extending his head while in alt-mode.
Floro Dery, the rather eccentric design supervisor credited as having designed Scourge, stated in an interview that this was because,
“The heads stick out because the idea is like a regular fighter plane. You can see just the head of the fighter pilot.”
No idea what that means, but — never ones to let logic get in the way of a good homage — the toy-designers included an extra joint that extends his neck in Generations Scourge (though undocumented, the extension serves no other purpose).