Monday, 15 June 2009

TransFormers Animated Blitzwing

Blitzwing was one of Generation 1's Triple-Changers and, frankly not the best of them. Not that any of them were particularly good, because 80s toymaking was vastly more simplistic than it is today. Each one - Astrotrain, Blitzwing and Octane - had very limited posability and, with the possible exception of Astrotrain, had huge chunks of two alternate modes clearly visible in robot mode. While Astrotrain and Octane got the Classics 2.0/Universe upgrade treatment, Blitzwing was drafted into the Animated universe, and the results are actually very impressive.

Taking the idea of three modes and adding three distinct personalities has given the toy a lot of character and, while all three modes are limited to some degree, they work out pretty well considering the relatively small size of this Voyager Class toy.


Vehicle Modes:
As with the Generation 1 model, Animated Blitzwing transforms into a jet and a tank. There are clever points to each, and huge disadvantages to each - however hard you try, it's physically impossible to turn a convincing jet into a convincing tank. The two vehicles are vastly different and, in practical terms, the weight of armour required for a decent tank would make it impossible for the jet to fly, even if one could transform into the other.

Still, Blitzwing's jet mode looks pretty good from most angles. Modelled after a swing-wing fighter not unlike the F-14, this is one plane that could not be considered camoflaged for air, sea or land. Possibly desert, if that desert happened to be interspersed with outcrops of purple. It's quite a chunky plane, and it's afterburners protrude just a little too much at the rear... but it's the tank-tread undercarriage that really lets it down. It almost looks like a plane that crash-landed on a tank... or a plane that's being carried to its launch site by another vehicle.

Tank mode is another matter. In it's own way, it looks perfect - it's very compact, and has two guns on its free-moving turret. Of course, due to the nature of the design, the turret has 360 degree movement in one axis only, but that works well enough. Much like the plane, this tank has nothing even approaching camoflage, except perhaps for that same purple-dashed desert.

For some reason, when I look at these two vehicle modes, I'm reminded of the Metal Slug games by SNK - chunky, cartoonish vehicles, large treads and big guns. Both seem cute, rather than threatening. The paint job doesn't help...
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Robot Mode:
Here's where the triple-changing split personality really comes into play, thanks to a neat little gadget that allows Blitzwing's toy to show off the three different faces he has in the TV show. Given the 'helmeted' design of the head, there's something very militaristic about his looks - the blue face appears to be monacled, the red face resembles a cartoon Schwarzenegger with Terminator shades, the black face... kind of reminds me of Kremzeek... But each one looks like an officer in a desert-based army thanks to that helmet. The 'uniform' motif is somewhat continued in the sandy colour of most of the body, with purple highlights. He appears to be wearing long black gloves, knee-high boots... and jodhpurs.

Blitzwing is reasonably poseable, but the blocky nature of the design and the vehicle parts on the backs of the arms do limit him somewhat. Far better than Generation 1 (who, I believe, had shoulder joints only), but still not up with the best of them from the Animated line. I'm a little disappointed by the open-sculpted hands - great for saluting, but not much else - and the lack of articulation in the arms and wrists does present a few problems.

The face-changing gimmick is also problematic. According to most sources, it's been misassembled - nothing is properly aligned, so the wheel on the back of the head - which should facilitate the change - doesn't move as smoothly or as easily as it's supposed to. Also, going by the TV show, Blitzwing should be able to aim his cannons over his shoulders. Not so with the toy - they're fixed in position on his back.
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Overall, the triple-changing gimmick is very effective. Transformation between the three modes is easy enough, and the only difficulty is in mounting or unmounting the turret between robot and tank modes. The design is clever and true to the cartoon model for the most part.
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