I touched upon the Seekers in my talk about recolours and redecos earlier [Transformers Lockdown: A Change in Colour ] but I feel given their importance in the franchise (primarily through Starscream) they deserved their own article.
The term Seeker primarily refers to Decepticon Jets that all share roughly Starscream’s build. These are often recolours of him. The three most prominent Seekers are the trio that were released in the first wave of the Transformers – Starscream, Thundercracker and Skywarp.
Starscream and Thundercracker were originally part of the Diaclone line from Japan that was ported over to the west to become Transformers, but during that import they made a third colouration Skywarp. Each of them had their own special unique ability namely Skywarp’s warping ability, though if you look through the first two seasons he rarely uses it, Thundercrackers unique one even less, and as far as I’m aware Starscream only ever mentioned his null ray once when Megatron was going to use it.
These three characters would be the standard Seeker trio and with Starscream’s return in the Unicron trilogy era then he would usually be recoloured at least twice to make Thundercracker and Skywarp, at least in toys since the Unicron trilogy era would usually only use recolours in show for a powered up version of the characters as mentioned in that previous article.
However an exception to this is Thundercracker who in Transformers Cybertron got his own unique toy with a separate mould to Starscream and was a regular character in the show.
But the trio is not the only Seekers out there. The early line up for Deceptions was considerably small, yet they were meant to be this terrible force that challenged the much more toy numbers Autobots to Eons of War. The animated series had a habit of using the basic seeker build and recolouring it to make additional one off blink-and-you-will-miss-it style characters to fill out the ranks.
The first of these appeared in the very first episode of Transformers confronting Bumblebee and Wheeljack. Since this was still on Cybertron before they got to Earth, they had their Cybertronian forms for their alt modes and it showed the Seekers before getting Jet forms having an alt mode of a strange triangle jet/space craft form. A more famous appearance happened later on in season 2 when traveling back to Cybertron to get a vital component. Three Seekers with neon looking colourations were ordered to cause acid rain to try and kill the Autobots. These 3 would later on be referred to as the Rainmakers by fans (as mentioned lacking an official term, fans will make one)
Eventually all the nameless different coloured Seekers would get names. The Rainmakers getting Acid Storm, Ion Storm and Nova Storm. While the team from the first episode got Hotlink (he’s the one that used the flamethrower) Bitstream and Sunstorm. Toys and merchandise of these are usually rare and special releases given their more niche status, though all still recolours of a previously released Starscream. These characters even got their own stories thanks to fan publication comics at the Transformers convention Botcon, usually to coincide with the special release toys of them.
Now the term Seeker was not made by Transformers officially, but like many subjects with the lack of an official name (often because they never thought it needed one) fans came and gave them a name, Seekers. It must be said though, although the term was widely used by fans even in the early 90s, no one is quite sure where the term originated. It wasn’t until a sequel comic to the first live action movie that the term Seeker was used officially, with that Universe’s Starscream using it to describe himself.
In that continuity the Seekers, at least in comics and earlier versions of the scripts were said to have been early scouts for the Primes, to hunt down stars to harvest to produce energon, the ancient Cybertronian Skywarp being one of their number and so weren’t all just clones of Starscream (in fact in the movies no clones of Starscream were present, they were once again relegated to auxiliary materials and toys)
Transformers Animated played up the clones of Starscream angle with their Seekers, literally being clones of Starscream, made in the finale of season 2. Each was a clone of Starscream with a different colour scheme based on the Seekers and each representing an aspect of his personality. Notable in the number was the purple female Seeker Slipstream.When asked what personality aspect she was, she said he didn’t want to know.
I could go on to say what IDW did with them, but they did so much to make them not just a colour swap of Starscream that I’d have to do another multi article topic and fear it would divert too much from the topic to be more about the characters as a whole (Thundercracker having a great personal arc, and a pet dog).
Seekers are a mainstay of the franchise, they had a major presence in the early seasons of Cyberverse even the lesser used ones like Acidstorm. What’s more Hotlink recently is having a new toy come out in the War for Cybertron line Netflix special releases. As for the main trio. Well with War for Cybertron Earthrise Starscream having been release, no one was surprised to see Thundercracker and Skywarp receive toys as well, and the same will probably happen with the next Starscream toy.