Reverend's Review: TFC JB-04 Broadcaster
JB-04 Broadcaster (AKA Headmaster Blaster)
TFC Toys/Junkion Blacksmith
Another in Junkion Blacksmith's entry of Headmaster-sized characters, Broadcaster is the Nebulon-scale form of G1 Blaster and is a retooling of the Tactical Officer (Soundwave/Soundblaster) toy. He comes with two plastic connecter pieces - one is the standard connecter included with all JB Headmasters, meant to enable the toy being attached to a Headmaster body without plugging the head directly into the port - and it also allows the JB toys to wear each other in a cute super-deformed style. Broadcaster also comes with a right angle adapter that apparently allows him to connect to his G1 self and be his own Headmaster.
Broadcaster is slightly taller than the standard ("large") Hasbro Headmasters. He is easy to identify as the G1 character, with his distinctive (animation) head sculpt, tape door, row of four molded buttons under the tape door and the speakers in his legs. His primary color is orange instead of red - my only guess is that they didn't want him and Justice Leader (Optimus) to be the same color - with grey for his legs and elbows, black fists, and yellow/blue tape door.
In the case of Destruction Lord (Megatron), the robot mode's head was not that detailed - it works, but its a little messy-looking when you view it up close. Broadcaster's is quite well-detailed - with the curved forehead, antennae, yellow eyes and facial features picked out nicely. The buttons on his chest are molded well, and he also has paint apps picking out some more detail alongside the tape door, along with molded lines on his arms, some blue detail on his shins, grey highlights on his hips and so forth. The detail on his shins is nearly replicated on the outer sides of his legs as well, unlike the G1 toy - this is due to the toy's need to transform into its alternate boom-box mode.
Articulation-wise, Broadcaster has ball-joints at each hip and knee. His legs are independent of each other, and he can also move at the shoulder due to the rounded upper arms that won't put pressure against the "backpack" that forms his face in head mode - therefore, unlike the original Headmaster partners, there's little danger of his arms breaking off. He has thin black fists at the end of each arm. On his back, instead of the flipping piece common to the original HMs, he has a curved "brow" piece for the large head mode that obscures the face, though not as much as most of the other JB's.
I tried placing Broadcaster's robot mode into G1 Highbrow's vehicle cockpit just out of curiosity, and he was just a little too tall to fit comfortably. He will fit in G1 Hardhead, and possibly in some other Headmaster cockpits as some are larger than others. He can also stand around on Metroplex's bays or helipad as well as Fortress Maximus's ramps without issue. Heck, you can have him lock Tactical Officer in Fortress Maximus's jail cell, if you like, or perhaps find a space that allows him to ride on Omega Supreme's patrolling tank. And he can ride in Fortress Maximus's various chest compartments as well.
All of Junkion Blacksmith's Headmasters possess a third mode that's supposed to relate back to their original G1 forms. Broadcaster shares his with Tactical Officer - move the arms forward a little bit to give the hips space to move, push the head down into the body, spread-eagle the legs, then rotate the shins forward so that the outer edges are facing you. Bend the lower legs up against the sides of the body to form the portable radio mode.
Broadcaster looks better in this mode than Tactical Officer did - while most of the details are the same, his larger tape door and better-detailed speakers aid the look of the alternate mode well. Since there's no tiny cassettes for him and the tape door doesn't open, I don't know exactly what you can do with this mode aside from possibly display, but it's a nicer attempt than some of the others in the series and actually works well from a visual standpoint. Don't worry, the robot-mode's head is attached to a larger plunger that comes out of his rear (ha, ha) when the head is pushed into the body. Pushing the plunger back up will easily shove the robot-mode head back into place. You won't be using the tines of forks or pieces of toothpicks to pry the head back out.
Again, starting in robot mode, make sure the fists are away from the hips and bend Broadcaster over at the hips. Turn the shins around backwards and bring them up against his chest. Turn him around and make sure the moving forehead piece is in place.
You now have a representation of Broadcaster's (animation) head. You can push the smaller robot-mode head into the body if you want to use the connecters or just don't want to take the risk of damaging the small head's delicate details (but he does trigger Tech Spec readouts in the HM bodies if you want that, which the connecters don't do). Broadcaster is tall in head mode, with an orange base color and a grey face with yellow eyes. The grey face is glossier than the grey used on much of the body, but the features are well-sculpted in a slightly-smiling expression. There's a gentle detail molded into the curved forehead, and he has black vents at the base of his "helmet".
As noted before, as well as being compatible in head mode with all G1 Headmaster bodies, Broadcaster comes with a small plastic right-angle connecter that appears to be intended to allow him to connect to G1 Blaster's body while its head is still left in its untransformed place. I have not attempted to do so as I do not have a G1 Blaster handy, but it looks like it should work. You might have to shave the points of the connecter with a razor blade, as the end that should connect to Broadcaster is a little too big to fit in the appropriate slot behind his robot head. No directions came with the figure, so I'm not 100% sure I'm doing this correctly. I had no problems fitting him into Highbrow's robot mode for photos, though.
Transformation Design: 4
. Headmasters' transformation is, typically, bending over. Broadcaster is more of the same, albeit with independent leg articulation and the improvement granted by the ball joints at each hip and knee. This design enables his third "boombox" mode as well. Best described as a nice modern retake on an old concept.
. Being a retool of Tactical Officer (Soundwave/Soundblaster), Broadcaster has a similar problem of parts tending to rub against each other, and the previously-mentioned fists are a worry-point for me as they're often in the way of the leg movements needed for transformation. Still, if you're careful in that area, I don't think he's going to shatter unexpectedly or anything like that.
. The JB Headmasters fit well with the city-bots. They don't fit well into every HM vehicle/beast compartment (although not all the original HMs do either), but they make a nice accessory and having major characters shrunk down to HM size makes for some interesting moments of imagination.
The paint apps on Broadcaster aren't perfect - although I've seen worse from this company. Bear in mind, though, they were working with a small figure, so I don't see a need to deduct points for that. His bright orange color seems a little strange - shouldn't he have been a darker red? I guess they didn't want him to be the same color as Justice Leader.
. Broadcaster has excellent articulation for a figure of this size, but some of the joints are by-necessity crammed up against parts of the large head or other limbs. It's not a serious impediment, but bears noting.
. As of the time of this writing, BBTS preorders of this series are about $15 US per figure.
. If you can make the included accessory for G1 Blaster work, this might be a fun little accessory to have. Also good to display on Metroplex or Fort Max with Justice Leader (Optimus) or Earth Command (Ultra Magnus).