Name: Blast Off
Series: Superlink (Energon)
Alternate Mode: Helicopter
Note: I have the Japanese version of this set, so I'm going with the Japanese names partly because of the G1 links and partly because Hasbro's reuse of names in this set is so random..
Height: 6cm Length: 13cm Width: 5.5cm
The blade is 13cm long
A grey Apache-style helicopter with a purple tail, purple rotors, winglets, enginepods - at first glance this colour scheme seems made for Vortex, but Blast Off is the dark foil to the lighter Superlink Vortex, just as G1 Blast Off was. There are some pale blue and yellow accents here and there, and his canopy is transparent blue (with seats visible inside) with a brown stripe bordering the "glass". In truth, while the colours do work as a decent tribute to G1 Blast Off, I'd have preferred if this toy was the Vortex tribute. The two main colours are both dark shades, which contrasts sharply with the light-and-dark scheme of Vortex. It's also interesting to note the plastic colours on the two don't match (Vortex: orange fuselage and rotor, Blast Off: grey fuselage but purple rotor).
I'm not sure if this is accurate to an actual helicopter model out there, but it looks like it could be, which is enough to keep me happy. Both the main and tail rotors spin freely and both are single blade. Vortex doesn't have any wheels on his underside, but the arms form runners of sorts on which he rests. The energon weapon forms a sort of gunpod which clip in underneath the chopper, which is why they didn't worry about wheels. I'm not completely sold on the gunpod - the idea is good but a chopper resting on a transparent blue gunpod is a little weird, although it does add about 1cm of height. The pod itself is well put together, so I'm not really complaining. Curiously there's a purple piece of plastic embedded inside Blast Off's Energon weapon, which is purple on Vortex.
Blast Off sports a small purple Decepticon logo on the right, just in front of the rotor's base - it's only about 1/2cm tall, yet is moulded and the grooves are painted white (makes you wonder what happened in Armada!). Behind the rotor shaft is his spark crystal, which actually faces backwards. Behind the spark crystal is a panel which is fairly obviously the robot groin, although it's been done in a way that it's believable as a helicopter surface.
I have only two real complaints about this helicopter mode - firstly without the gunpod it has no ranged weaponry, which is a little unusual for a combat helicopter. Secondly the main rotor has a tendency to pop off (specifically the uppermost half). The colour scheme is a little dark and frankly the homage is misdirected, but the colours still work in their own right.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Swing the tail down and underneath the tailshaft, unclip the engines and rotate them back to form his left, flip up the feet. Rotate the waist, unclip the arms from underneath and swing them out to the sides. There are two little orange panels under the cockpit that have to flip out (not sure why), which will allow you do fold the canopy down to form his chest and reveal his head. Position the arms, give him his gun if you'd like. Lastly, fold the rotor halves together so they hang down on his back, out of view.
Height: 10.5cm Width: 8cm, 13.5cm
Now more purple than grey, and the brown stripe now dominates his chest, which makes the whole Blast Off tribute work here. The grey is surprisingly sparse, in fact the pale blue is more prominent - on his fingers, shins and knees. His mouth is yellow while his cheeks are pale blue, and of course the eyes are transparent, the dark blue lightpipe works reasonably well. His feet are brown, adding to the G1 homage, and helping the pale blue to break up the purple. While Vortex has a light-and-dark theme, Blast Off is really a purple robot with some brown and the pale blue to keep him from being too dark. The overall effect is markedly different between Vortex and Blast Off.
Something that I find I'm enjoying about the Energon combiners is the integration of vehicle elements into the robot modes - it helps gives them a G1 feel. Blast Off is no exception - the chest is his cockpit, the winglets sit on the outsides of his forearms and of course you have the option of leaving the rotor deployed on his back. The tailshaft is actually visible behind his legs, since it doesn't fold away at all, but thankfully it's quite inconspicuous.
The spark crystal is now on his back, but that small Decepticon logo is now on the top left of his chest, standing out against the orange background. Blast Off has the option of holding his rather large, five-barrelled Energon weapon in his hand or attaching it to holes on either winglet, and you can even detach the two outside barrels as single handguns (although since the posts are on the outside sections, if you do this the core piece will be spare kibble).
The Energon weapon is actually quite complex, as these things go. The gunpod mode has the two outer barrels rotated back, while the composite gun has all four swung forward, and the swivels are loose which is what allows the handguns to detach. I like the options, although I suppose detaching pieces makes it easier for stuff to lose itself.
Blast Off's articulation is is excellent for a basic. The head and waist turn while the shoulders, elbows, knees and hips are all ball joints and the ankles are hinged. He's a little back heavy, but his tail can serve as a third leg which helps greatly in posing. Lots of ball joints are one thing, but a toy which can actually make use is even better, and Vortex falls into that category.
I can't really complain about this robot mode. I suppose the colours - purple and blue - are somewhat reminiscent of G2 (Vortex, ironically), but I wouldn't call them garish - if anything the overall look is a little dark and broody - I actually prefer the contrasting colours of Vortex. Mouldwise the tail is kibble, but it's out of the way and actually aides posing rather than hindering it while the weaponry options are good. While it's not what I'd call spectacular, this is a very solid robot mode.
None that I know of, the US name will be Blackout.
Blast Off has a very good robot mode and a good chopper mode, but the colours aren't as nice as they could be - which is proven when you place him next to Vortex, who shares the mould. Part of this is the fact he's wearing G1 Vortex's colours as a chopper, but it's also because the colours just work out too dark. While I'd recommend Vortex first, you need both of them for Bruticus and the vastly different paint masks means both have a different feel to them - 8/10