BLUDGEON v.1 (2013)
Last week I was waiting on a shipments from MattyCollector.com, BigBadToyStore.com, WBCollect.com, and Ebay. All of them had shipped out within the past week or two so I was expecting a deluge of packages to arrive at the door at day. Well last Thursday I came home to find a post office tag in my mailbox which is always exciting. I went down to the post office to pick up my package, curious the whole way down as to which shipment it was going to be. When I got there my friend Scott who works the counter handed me a large narrow package, kinda shaped like a giant box of cereal. For a moment I was confused. I hadn’t ordered anything this large. But then it struck me. Oh yeah! This must be the San Diego Comic Con exclusive G.I. Joe set that I pre-ordered a few months ago. I had actually forgotten all about it. I hurried home with it and tore open the box. This was a pretty pricey set and I was really hoping that once I had the items in my hands I would be so blown away with them that the price would seem justified. So how did that work out, you ask?
It worked out pretty well. For the most part I am quite satisfied with this set. The key selling point of these G.I. Joe/Transformer mash-ups from SDCC these past couple of years have been the vehicles. In 2011 it was a Joe skystriker painted to look like Starscream which I thought was an amazing idea. An iconic Transformer in Joe scale was something I had always wanted. Sadly the thing didn’t transform but it was still super cool. Starscream came packaged with a flight suit Cobra Commander who was carrying a little Joe sized Megatron gun. Now had I bought the standard Skystriker jet, which came packaged with pilot Ace and a gun, from a retail store I would’ve been the proud owner of one unique character, a plane, and a gun. Technically that’s all I got in the San Diego set as well but I saw it more like getting 3 unique characters (considering the plane and the gun are people too). In 2012 a Shockwave HISS tank was the shining star of the SDCC mash-up set. It also included a new Destro and BAT in Transformer themed outfits, plus a mini tape deck and 3 cassettes. It was a stretch but technically you could’ve viewed this set as containing 7 characters since the tape deck was intended to be Soundwave and the cassettes his minions.
I loved both the 2011 and 2012 sets but I had to be honest with myself. I’ve never been a big collector of Joe vehicles. Mostly because, as cool as some of the vehicles are, they lack the personality of the figures. Joe vehicles painted to look like Transformers were very cool but they were taking up a lot of room in the man-cave and were very expensive. If the trend of releasing big Joe vehicles painted to look like Transformers was going to continue year after year I was going to have to bow out at some point. It was a sad truth that if they offered up an APC painted like Optimus Prime or an AWE Striker painted like BeachComber in 2013 I would probably have had to pass.
When the 2013 set was finally revealed I was quite surprised at the scope of it compared to the previous sets. It contained 2 vehicles, 3 figures, an “animal”, and a mini Blaster with his 3 cassette tapes; which is essentially 10 new characters. The Joe’s standard Jeep known as the VAMP was deco’ed to look like the Autobot Hound. It’s faithful to the characters original look to a fault. It can hardly be differentiated from the standard VAMP which makes it kind of boring. The set contained another skystriker only this one was deco’ed to look like the Autobot Jetfire. This was very well done but the skystriker is one of the bigger Joe vehicles and one of the most difficult to display. Had those two vehicles been the only items included in the set I probably would have passed on it. But this year it was the smaller pieces of the set that really drew me in. The Snake Eyes..meh, whatever. The Blaster and tapes, a neat add on but again..meh. The hero pieces in the set are ironically the bad guys. The Baroness with Decepticon Ravage on a leash is an amazing idea and then there’s this guy, Bludgeon.
For those of you unfamiliar with Bludgeon he is a Generation 1 Transformer whose original figure was released back in 1989. I was pretty much over Transformers by then. I had stopped reading the comic, the cartoon series had ended, and I had stopped collecting the toys. One of the main reasons I lost interest was because of characters like Bludgeon. Not the character really, I shouldn’t blame him, but the concept. You see, Bludgeon was released as part of a subsection of Transformers called Pretenders. The Pretenders were crappy little transformers lacking in paint aps, detail, and articulation, that came with a two-piece shell that snapped together, hiding the robot inside. The shells were big, clunky and cheap looking. The Autobot Pretenders had human shells and the Decepticon Pretenders had monster shells. The whole concept didn’t make any sense to me. The Transformers were already robots in disguise, why did they need stupid shells so that they could pretend that they were giant people and monsters? Who were they trying to fool? They would have had much more luck blending into the human world disguised as regular sized human vehicles as opposed to hulking armored humans and beasts. It was stupid. Bludgeon was a little green and maroon robot, able to transform into a tank, who hid inside a shell that made him look like a skeletal samurai. It seemed as though Hasbro was running out of ideas and just trying anything, no matter how nonsensical. This strategy of introducing weirder and wackier concepts year after year is what drove me from collecting most of my favorite 80s toy lines.
As time went on it seemed that all of the Pretenders were brushed aside and forgotten, except for Bludgeon. I remember when the 80s Transformers comic came to an end with issue 80 in 1991. That final issue featured Bludgeon on the cover. I remember thinking, “they put THAT guy on the cover of the final issue?” When the Transformers returned to comics years later under a new publisher, Dreamwave, Bludgeon was featured in a few of their stories. Their very thorough character bible gave me my first chance to really get to know the character. He was described as honorable, superstitious, very religious, and a master of the art of Metallikato. I found myself won over by this Cybertronian martial artist. He’s gone through a few redesigns over the years, so much so that I’m no longer sure if he even wears a pretender shell. The skeletal samurai look seems to have worked its way into his robot design. He’s a very unique Transformer and he has become a favorite of mine.
I do not have a Bludgeon Transformers toy. Hasbro has yet to produce a version that I’m happy with. This figure fills that void in my collection. When I saw pictures of this figure online for the first time I thought it was a brilliant idea. They basically took the samurai themed body from the upcoming Budo figure and slapped a new robo-skeleton head on it and voila, an awesome version of Bludgeon in all his Pretender glory. The body does a very good job at replicating Bludgeon’s look from the comics. The terminator-esque head is really cool and I’m glad they opted to make it cyborg-ish as opposed to a straight up human skull. It allows him to retain some of his robotic roots. I was unable to snap a decent pic of the head to showcase all of the detail so I lifted this picture from Justin over at GeneralsJoes.com, I hope he doesn’t mind.
The included accessories are great. The two swords are two toned with silver blades and red handles. His black coat is removable and he looks good with or without it. The best accessory is his helmet which does a great job of capturing the original look of the character. It locks into place pretty snugly.
The paint apps are fantastic. Bludgeon features a wide array of colors, all reminiscent of the original character design. They look great together and it really improves on the look of the mold which seems rather bland when cast in all red for Budo. The articulation is decent even with the layered clothing, the detailed sculpt is amazing, the paint is great, and the overall concept is top-notch. Watch you back Gears, I think I’ve got another contender for toy of the year here. 10 out of 10.