Cliffbee.com: Blaster Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Blaster
Series: Generation 1
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Communications
Alternate Mode: Boombox



BOOMBOX MODE
Height: 11cm Depth: 4cm Width: 18cm

   A red and silver boombox with a yellow cassette door, Blaster is actually a "Ghetto Blaster" (hence his name), although I'm not sure that term is really used much, since portable stereo styles have changed and the English vernacular is more politically correct. The central section is red whilst the speaker sections and the buttons are grey, as is the handle at the top. He has black speakers - both standard grilles and the tweeters above the main speakers that were common on Ghetto Blasters, and the grip in the middle of his handle is black. There are stickers below the speaker grilles representing woofers, and below the button rack (which is below the door) is a rubsign, in its own indent. The colours work well visually, and while the silver and black are about right for 70s and 80s boomboxes, the red and yellow weren't quite as common. Still, it's a plausible colour scheme and the colours are needed to make his robot mode interesting.

   I think I've largely covered the look of this unit, so now I'll cover the details. There's a transparent window on the door, and there are four buttons on the rack below this. The one on the right is marked "play" and will stay down if pushed. The two central buttons are a single piece, labelled "stop", and release the play button, although the internal spring on mine isn't enough to spring the play button up - I have to press stop and the lift up the play button. The left button is labelled "eject", and will release the door - again on mine the internal spring isn't quite strong enough and I have to help the door open with the other hand. A lot of Blaster toys actually come with the internal mechanism put together wrong, in which case none of the buttons will actually work. I had to open mine and rebuild it, and I'm happy to report that it's pretty easy, since you only have to take it apart and fit it back together properly to fix it (I've done it twice now).

   There's a power switch moulded above the left speaker, a earphone jack behind the right speaker - it actually says "8ohm OUTPUT EARPHONE" (with an ohm symbol - which exists on my mac but wont work in windows). Just to the left of the tape door is a moulded tuning dial, while on the left side of the door itself Blaster has a large Autobot logo. Assuming the door on your Blaster opens, you can fit Rewind or one of the other Autobot tapes inside. Unlike Soundwave, who ships with Buzzsaw, Blaster's tapes were all sold separately. Still, with three buttons he's got some play value, and you only need one of the six Autobot cassettes, since that's all he can stow.

   A very nice looking boombox, Blaster really does look like an 80s ghetto blaster, and I prefer this look to the Microcassette recorder of Soundwave, even if his Decepticon equivalent is slightly more detailed. The handle really sells this mode, and the speaker grilles add to the effect. If you have one of his cassettes you'll probably enjoy this mode a lot more, but either way it's good.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Slide the grip on the handle to the right to detach the handle-halves, swing down the speakers to the side and then down underneath to form the legs. Stow the handle-halves on the outsides of his legs, fold down the tweeters to form his feet. Slide the legs together so that the grey thighs and shins are flush with each other, flip up his head and rotate to reveal his face. Pull his arms out from his torso, extend the forearms and the fists, give him his handgun. While it's not really an unusual transformation, I've always been impressed with the way the handle disappears during transformation, rather than ending up hanging around on his back.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 23cm Width: 11.5cm

   The first thing you'll notice about Blaster is that he's on a different scale to the other cartoon-era Transformers. The TV show and movie showed him as being as tall as Perceptor, but he's 20% taller than the scientist. Blaster needs to be this tall to incorporate the chest cavity and speakers, but the end result is that he's twice of the height of most of his fellow Autobots.

   Moving along, Blaster is now mainly red from the groin up with silver legs. His chestplate is the yellow door, which is slightly offset to his left, while his face is silver with yellow eyes and red antennae. His elbows, fists and feet are black along with the speakers in the middle of his thighs. The colours work really well here, and as I mentioned earlier would have been really dull if the entire toy was the silver plastic of many ghetto blasters. The red over silver is simple enough that the yellow door becomes the centrepiece.

   As you'd expect from someone who transforms into a brick, Blaster has a very blocky robot mode. They've done a good job of giving him a defined shape, thanks to narrow elbows, sloped hips and a rounded forehead. By today's standards this is a simple robot mode for the size, and was even fairly simple for 1985. There are stickers on his ankles (the sockets from where his feet fold out from) featuring red circles, which have always looked like sonic emitters of some kind to me. Blaster's gun is big, even in proportion to him. It's a long black rifle with a lot of moulded detail, which I suppose makes sense considering how long it is.

   There's not really a lot of play value here. The head rotates as part of the transformation and the shoulders rotate, which is not part of the transformation. The buttons still works, so potentially you can open his chest and pop Ramhorn inside. The only meaningful movement in the legs is hips that swing out, and this is really of limited value. The chest door is fun, but I'd really appreciate if this blocky toy could move around a little.

   Good colours and a well laid out robot mode, but he's blocky and unposeable, which really stands out at this scale. It's obvious to me that the boombox mode takes precedence, simply because Blaster's scale doesn't work in robot mode. There are positives here, but Soundwave's robot mode is a lot better, both in terms of play value and scale.

VARIATIONS

   As mentioned, some Blasters came properly assembled, while some need internal reassembly for the door to open. Additionally, some Blasters have a solid back while others have a removable panel, revealing a storage chamber - although he doesn't have any accessories to fit inside. This panel hails back to the mould's Microman origins - the Microman toy had a working AM radio that fit inside the chamber. Twincast from the Headmasters series in Japan is a repaint and retool of Blaster, representing an update of the same character.

OVERALL

   A toy that's clearly built around his alternate mode, Blaster has a great ghetto blaster mode and a robot mode that makes some compromises. His colours work well and there's play value in the cassette chamber, but the robot mode is a giant unposeable brick. I can see why the compromises had to be made, but I still find Blaster somewhat disappointing overall - 5.5/10

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