Monday, 30 December 2013

Transformers Generations Blaster and Steeljaw Review

"There's no hope for him now, Travis. He's suffering. You know we've got to do it."

"Yes, Mama. But he was my dog. I'll do it."

I had no real interest in either of the data disc launching bots from the Generations Fall of Cybertron range. Deluxe Soundwave, from the previous game, already stands proudly on my shelf looking rather cool. A Blaster repaint was duly released, but it did not really catch my interest - I wanted a Boom Box Blaster, or at least something much different to a repainted Soundwave.
Blaster deserves that at least.

However, recently Amazon went price drop crazy, and Blaster appeared at only £11 or so shipped to the UK.

Even I with my legendary tightness (not that this probably conveys across on a blog where I show off my latest hideously expensive toys), I could not resist.

Hit "READ FULL REVIEW" below, to see the complete review, and photo's, after the jump

I will start with Steeljaw, Blasters faithful Lion Cassette companion.

It would be so easy for me to just get this section out of the way, with one simple word - "terrible"

That sounds harsh, but Steeljaw is a dreadful example of a toy. His alt mode is a round disc, which can be stored in Blasters chest and ejected out and automatically transform when it hits the ground.

This all sounds awesome, its a genius idea - if only that genius had extended to the execution.

Detailing is all very nice on the actual disc, but it can be a real pain getting him to stay in this mode and you will find yourself, pressing panels together and hoping to goodness you have fudged them just enough to stop parts springing back out.

What compounds this, at least on mine, is that Steeljaw is a pain to get into Blasters chest. You would think he would be small enough to give you plenty of clearance to just slide him in there. But no, you would be wrong.
He only just goes in, at an angle, and with force. Considering how eager Steeljaw is to spring apart, this is a nightmare. Of course, this then becomes creates another problem, when you come to eject him as he gets stuck a lot, meaning you feel like you are going to break the launching mechanism when you are trying to force him back out.

Considering Blaster is supposed to be able to hold and eject 3 data discs at once - I cannot imagine that being a fun experience.

But maybe its just my figures.

Once he ejects, and he flies across the room, this is what you end up with. Kind of looks like he has been run over.

See, there is a little button on the understand which automatically transforms him, or at least partially so. I guess with all the other versions of the mold, this probably works, but Steeljaw has extra transformation steps which require you to stretch him out.

This is what he ends up looking like fully transformed - its not very good is it?

Its far too gappy, and looks pretty terrible. The figure suffers from being the victim of having to accommodate a gimmick, where Hasbro has clearly tried to take Bakugan and apply it to Transformers. Only, they have not committed to it, or producing a good Generations update of Steeljaw - so you end up with a figure caught somewhere in the middle.

If you fiddle about a bit, you can fudge a better looking lion mode out of it. Basically, don't extend the rear of the body, press it so it squishes back up, and don't fold out the tail.
He looks way better, and proportionally is a huge improvement in my opinion.

What gets me about this though, is that the data discs are also sold in 2 packs for £13 or so. So that means somewhere, kids are getting these as presents at Christmas, birthdays, or worse - spending their own pocket money on them. They must be so disappointed upon opening them.

On to Blaster

Alt Mode

Blasters alt mode is a Cybertronian armoured car. Actually, I am only calling it an armoured car, because the gun is pegged into the top, I think the correct term is communications truck.

So he is no longer a Boom Box.

To be honest, you as well just say Blasters alt mode is Soundwave, as this is Soundwave's alt mode. The only difference being the tape door (I am still going to call it that), the colours and different wheels.

You can see above, that the wheels are now like wagon wheels I guess, with large spokes and big gaps. They do seem to have variation of the Autobot symbol in the middle, which is a nice little detail.

The colours are all very nice and Blasterish, with lots of red, yellows and blacks, some blue highlights and his tan (I think) back section.

It is based on a design from the Fall Of Cybertron video game, so of course it adheres to that spikey, aesthetic - though it is not too bad.

Its a very cool chunky looking car, and it rolls really well. The alt mode all comes together very solidly and locks into place making him feel very strong, and like a good sized toy. Nothing feels like it will come apart, or pop out of place - so kids will get good play value out of it.

He looks like he could be a bit of a battering ram, with silver spikes on the sides to cause extra damage. These spikes actually originate with Soundwave, and look a little out of place on Blaster, particularly with the re-molded front tape door.

The launching data disc gimmick does work in vehicle mode, you just have to fold the yellow door down on a hinge, and press the eject button.

The little yellow seat on the top, which can seat a driver (this is where Kreons always come in handy), but becomes the lever to launcher the mechanism. However results are probably worse than in robot mode, as there is less height for the tape to drop from....or should I say, not height at all.

Overall its a decent alt mode, that you could imagine Blaster using on Cybertron - after all even robots need to get around.

Robot Mode

Transformation is fairly easy, and reminiscent of the of the original War For Cybertron Deluxe Soundwave. Fold the legs and the waist down, flip out the feet, unplug the arms and fold out the fists and flip the front wheels back. Then take the tan piece with the seat on top, fold it on a series of joint, till it sits behind his back.

The robot you end up with looks great, it is Blaster.

When it was first announced, I was worried it would just end up looking like a red Soundwave, but thanks to all the changes Hasbro have made to mold it looks totally different and there is very little left that makes you think of Soundwave.

Hasbro have done an excellent job lately with the Generations line, with re-purposing a mold as a different character, but making so many changes it is not noticeable. Sandstorm is the poster child for this, but Blaster is not far behind.

He even comes with a rifle, which looks like his original G1 rifle. I love that, as I don't think enough figures come with proper guns anymore. They are always giant things, with some silly mech tech or launching gimmick.

As a Voayger class figure, he is large and chunky, which is more apparent when stood side by side with a TF Prime Voyager, which does not come out well in comparison.

Kind of cute aren't they?

He is highly poseable, which compliments Steeljaw very well. In fact, as a package with Blaster, Steeljaws stock rises slightly as they look very good together.

To say they have incorporated such a major gimmick in the launcher mechanism, it does not affect poseability at all. He has ratcheting knees and elbows, loads of swivel joints and his shoulders are on multiple joints so posing is not a problem.

He is so well articulated, that you can even get him to press his own eject button, and his finger on his left hand is molded perfectly for this purpose.

The launcher gimmick is activated by pressing the large grey eject button on his shoulder, and the whole front door flips open, giving him a skirt. You then push that big grey piece on his back forwards and it ejects the data disc - if you could get it in there in the first place.

I have covered the launcher enough though.

The 2 key changes to this figure, that totally make it, are the new head sculpt and new chest door. The head is a mix of the cartoon and toy designs. It looks superb, and has really nice blue light piping, just in case the great sculpt was not enough.

I think I may go as far as to say, that its my favourite head sculpt on a non Masterpiece toy (it would have to go some to beat Masterpiece Prowl!). Whoever created it, deserves a big round of applause as it is perfect.

The next thing is the chest door which now looks like Blasters G1 tape door, right down to the fake button controls underneath. Hasbro could just have not bothered, and left it as Soundwaves, and just updated the head - but they have gone the extra mile and it really transforms (wah wah waaaah) the figure. It even fits perfectly well with the current line of IDW themed figures, if you like that sort of thing.

One thing I have not mentioned is the QC, and that's because there is nothing really wrong with the figure. Everything is tight, and works as it should, though obviously I would argue this is not the case with the launcher mechanism. Even all of the paint apps have been very cleanly applied.

At the price you can currently acquire him for on Amazon, I can't say Blaster is anything less than a great purchase. Sure, I hate the gimmick they saddled him with, but the idea was great and its aimed at kids so I cannot really begrudge Hasbro too much. These toys are after all targeted at kids first, and grown up kids like me second.

The head sculpt is wonderful and almost carries the figure by itself - even if Steeljaw is terrible. Just think of him as free gift inside the package, and its not quite so bad.

He does even have a Boom Box mode, if you are struggling to accept his new alt mode!

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