Sunday, 7 March 2010

TransFormers Collection #21 - Broadcast & Steeljaw

Another of Generation 1's MIAs, Blaster got a US release, but never came to the UK. While it was understandable with the likes of Perceptor, it was strange, disappointing and downright annoying that Blaster didn't get an official UK release - he was basically Soundwave's counterpart, and played quite a major role in many of the Marvel UK comics.

That said, while Soundwave had a fairly subdued and complementary colourscheme, Blaster's seems to have been decided upon by a five year old, and was designed to fit his robot mode at the expense of his alternate mode.
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Alternate Mode:
What can you say? Soundwave was a small cassette recorder/dictaphone... Blaster was a boombox. The model itself is actually not bad - quite stylish in some ways, though the speakers look a little small. The downside is that the bright red body is flanked by two beige speaker blocks that just don't fit.

The model is littered with signs that it once had electronics - from the now-molded on/off switch on the left speaker block to the sealed-over headphone jack on the back of the right. It has often been said that, like Soundwave, he had a battery compartment on his back... but, unlike Soundwave, it was a real battery compartment. This is, in fact, not the case. The space in his back - now completely obliterated from the mold - was once home to an AM radio. The batteries were housed in one of his legs... or possibly both. It must have been really cool to have an original, functioning Microchange Blaster.

Another difference between Soundwave and Blaster is in the functionality of the cassette door. On Soundwave, it was a simple pushbutton affair - a fact acknowledged by the cartoon, which regularly had him pushing his own button to eject one of his minions. That wasn't weird. Blaster, however, has three buttons on his belly - Eject, Off (double width, in the middle) and Play. Eject frequently doesn't work on its own - you end up having to press Play, then Off first. However, Blaster can contain two cassette minions by default, while it took a remold for Soundwave (or Soundblaster) to say the same.

And, while Soundwave's head was visible in alternate mode, I'm sorry to say Blaster's is far more obvious... even though they've effectively cut his head in half so it sits flush with the top of the boombox.
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Robot Mode:
Good grief, Blaster is tall! Easily one of the tallest Autobots. Shame he has such a small, flat head, really, as he might otherwise look pretty good. That said, 'flat' pretty much sums him up... and he doesn't have a massive shoulder cannon like Perceptor's (or Soundwave's, for that matter) to break up the flatness. At least the colourscheme works better in this mode.

Articulation-wise, Blaster is a brick. His head moves quite freely (thanks to his transformation) and his shoulders and wrists rotate (again, due to transformation), but that's it. It's a real shame he hasn't had a proper reimagining with today's technology. All we've had is a repaint of Galaxy Force Soundwave, without even a remolded head. I considered, very briefly, picking up the Universe 2.0 Blaster and transplanting this head... but it's so flat, it really wouldn't work.

One amusing feature held over from the Microchange radio version is that Blaster's gun was designed to hold the headphones - the large hole in the body of the rifle is where the 'in the ear' headphones would go when not in use, and the wire would just wrap around the stock, with the jack plugging into the hole in the shoulder rest.
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Transformation is remarkably similar to Soundwave, but with the arms folding in at the sides rather than behind the shoulders... I can't get over how much taller Blaster is than most of the other G1 Autobots. It's just a massive shame that he has neither elbows nor knees, as they alone would have added plenty of playability to the toy.

Steeljaw:
As a packed-in extra, one of Blaster's cassettes was an absolute necessity, and Steeljaw was a great choice. A cassette that turns into a lion with winged lasers mountable on its haunches, to counterpoint Soundwave's stealthy, missile-toting saboteur. While his legs don't quite have the range of motion of Ravage's, he's an excellent, reasonably stable cassette, with plenty of molded detail on the robot side
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I cannot express how pleased I was when Blaster became available as one of (the last of) Takara's 20th Anniversary TF Collection. It may not be the best example of what a Generation 1 TransFormer has to offer - either in complexity, articulation, or even colourscheme... but he was a big character in the comics, and so I'd wanted him for ages. Hasbro made some strange choices back in the day and, while it still neglects some characters in the UK, it's better than it was. Curiously, though, while Perceptor got a US commemorative re-release, Blaster did not...

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