For Christmas this year Vanessa went all out and got me the entire set of Combaticons, the military themed sub-team of the Decepticons who merge to become Bruticus. (My poor spell check was working overtime on that last sentence) I promptly reviewed Bruticus and he even became a late addition to my Top 12 Action Figures of 2012. Today I shall be reviewing one of Bruticus’s arms, or Blast Off as I’m sure he prefers to be called.
In my Bruticus review I mentioned how the merged figure was pretty awesome but not all of the individual parts lived up to their potential. The two figures I was most looking forward to, Swindle and Brawl, ended up being the most disappointing. They had potential, as they were reminiscent of the vintage versions with some tweaked detail and articulation however they came across as rather cheap and poorly constructed. The leader of the team Onslaught was quite well done and was also reminiscent of the original toy.
The resemblance to the vintage 80s toy, or more accurately the 80s cartoon design, is very important to me. As I’ve stated here before I was really only into Transformers for the first few years of the line. Those early figures have become known as Generation One (G1). I pretty much lost interest after a ton of my favorite characters got killed off in the 1987 animated movie. Many G1 names have been reused by Hasbro over the years and slapped onto robots who look nothing like the G1 character. The name alone isn’t enough to reel me in, I want modern versions of the G1 characters I loved as a kid. For example, Ratchet will always be a white ambulance mini-van to me, not some douchey green truck. This is why I love the “Generations” line of Transformers toys so much, they’re classic characters, presented in their classic looks, with the benefit of modern day sculpting and articulation. So I don’t know why the other two members of the Combaticons, Vortex and Blast Off came out looking the way they did.
Vortex was a gray military helicopter in the 80s, now he’s a red and purple space chopper. And Blast Off was a brown space shuttle in the 80s, now he’s a purple flying whatchamacallit. The changing of the alt modes actually doesn’t bother me at all. All these designs are based off of the “Fall of Cybertron” video game which features Transformers before they arrived on Earth. Therefore they all transform into crazy Cybertronian versions of the alt modes we’re used to. I actually think some of the Cybertronian alt modes are an improvement over the vintage vehicle designs. What bothers me about this Blast Off is that even his robot mode doesn’t look anything like the vintage character design. There’s no reason for a Transformers robot mode to change when he moves from planet to planet. If the video game designers had radically altered all of the Combaticons that would have been fine, I just wouldn’t have bought them because they wouldn’t have been “my” Combaticons. What I don’t understand is why they would stick closely to the vintage robot designs of all but one member. Even with Vortex’s crazy new red and purple color scheme I can accept him as G1 Vortex because he’s got recognizable traits in robot form. But Blast Off here might as well be an entirely different character than his vintage counterpart.
The body shape is way off, the colors are off (though vintage Blast Off did have a purple chest) and the biggest offense is how off his head design is. If the head looked like the vintage head I would forgive all else but by placing a new head on there the designers have erased all connections between this toy and “my” Blast Off. And by “my” Blast Off I mean the one I read about in Marvel comics or the one I grew up watching speaking in a british accent on the animated series. I never actually owned the vintage Blast Off toy; but Doug did.
So now that I’ve ranted about the re-design and the color change and the unrecognizable head you’ve probably guessed that I hate this figure. Well the thing is I actually don’t. I kinda like it. I think the weird drill looking spaceship mode makes for a cool Cybertronian alt mode for the character. While the purple is an odd choice that diminishes the Combaticons WWII inspired color scheme, it is a nice purple and looks good on this toy. The new head, while different, is still pretty cool. And the overall body design is pretty sweet too. I absolutely love how those rocket engines form massive spiked shoulder pads; they look super cool. I dig that he comes with two guns as well because he looks pretty bad ass when he’s double fisting it. His lower half is a little scrawnier than I’d like but he still stands up alright on his own.
Sure I wish he looked more like classic Blast Off but I have to admit this is a decent redesign of the character. And considering how all his teammates look as they should it actually makes it easier to accept him as the original Blast Off. 7 out of 10.