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mAgic rAt's review of: Blast-Off

Name: Blast-Off
Faction: Decepticon
Sub-group: Combaticon
Function: Space-Warrior
First Cartoon Appearance: "Starscream’s Brigade – Episode 63"
"I destroy Autobots by choice, not command."

Removed from the type of close-quarters combat his fellow Combaticons engage in, Blast Off soars through the vast vacuum of outer space feeling literally and figuratively above the other Transformers. He exudes an aristocratic air, believing that the problems of others are too petty and foolish for him to be concerned with. He appears quite happy in his role, orbiting hundreds of miles away from his comrades. But his happiness is an act, a disguise he uses to hide his long-distance loneliness. His aloof and superior manner is a front that prevents the other Decepticons from knowing his true feelings. None of this interferes with his performance -- from his perch high above, he is cruelly efficient at raining destruction down on the world below. Perhaps because of the remoteness of his targets, perhaps because that's just the way he is, Blast Off feels not the least trace of remorse about his actions.

Blast-Off was my second Combaticon. Literally Onslaughts right-arm. I liked him as a toy ‘cause in essence he was a plane (well, a space shuttle) and, although the Stunticons and Aerialbots had already appeared, I still felt by that time that Decepticons should be planes and Autobots should be cars.

Blast-Off, in the cartoons, wasn’t really a cool character. He seemed not to fit in the team of Combaticons, who were all kind of rough, sneaky and destructive bad-guys, and Blast-Off always acted like a Decepticon on his own. The way he made it to the big screen was being basically as the successor to Astrotrain in functioning as a space transport for his fellow warriors.

Now, I would say the Combaticons were pretty much the A-Team of the Transformer universe. Onslaught would be “I like it when a plan come’s together” Hannibal, Brawl would be B.A. Baracus, Vortex would be the insane Murdock and, well, Blast-off would be Face.

And that’s the whole schtick making this guy -- basically a boring, unnoticed and uninteresting character -- endlessly enigmatic for a kid. Because every team needs a “Face” in it. Every band needs a sound-guy, every Spice Girls needs a Victoria. You can’t have only Oliver Kahns, or David Beckhams. You need the background guys in every team, simply for the interactions. But at the same time Blast-Off does this as a toy, in the cartoons he does basically the opposite, by taking off, literally, on his own. And that’s exactly what makes him cool, once you start locking in on this guy. (Which you’ll probably never do...)

Alternate Mode:
Well, like I said, it’s a space shuttle. Not too close to the real thing, but unmistakably a space shuttle. A BROWN one nonetheless. I guess he had to fit into the military colour scheme, and the green, yellow and grey were already taken. Now there’s the thing. The brown colour, although maybe unusual, isn’t the problem. The space-shuttle thing IS. Maybe Blast-off shouldn’t have been a space shuttle, but a fighter plane. An A-10, like Powerglide, would’ve done the trick. But alas, in the midst of these low-tech, hard-core rugged, military dudes we find a space shuttle...

It’s brown, has two wings, with purple stripes, three black exhausts, a big (too big) black nose-cone, and a purple windshield that looks like they forgot it in the first place and rapidly painted it at the end of the assembly line. There you go, one space-shuttle. (I think it’s because of the Challenger-disaster of ’86 -- the year of Blast-Off's release -- that Hasbro made him brown, since the black/white paintjob would not have been a positive advertising link. Maybe. Or it might be a conspiracy... hmmm.)

Blast-Off comes with two fairly-sized brown guns which have to be mounted in what basically are his tailpipes. (These are of the wrap-around-the-back type). Alright. Yes, you read that correctly. In his tailpipes. wHat!?! In his tailpipes?????? Huh?

Imagine this:

<--- All battle and shooting and explosions and stuff going on, Skylynx’s closing in and de Stunticons have run amok once more....--->

Megatron: “ Blast-off, get us outta here!!”
Blast-off: “ I cant’t !”
Meggie:” Why not, you’re insured right?”
Blast-off: ” Yep “
M “ Registered?”
B “Yep”
M “Animated?”
B “Yea...”
M: ” Handbrake is off? Seatbelts? John Denver is playing ? Bruce Willis on board?”
B: yeayea, that's all set...
Blast-off: ”...errr well Meggie, remember you made me stick those huge guns up my ASS? Well errrr... I’m all constipated now and and therefore my ass doesn’t blast...”

Now here’s the first real turn-off. I realize that if it weren’t for those guns, Hasbro probably wouldn’t even incorporated the tailpipes, or exhausts, or whatever you call them, into the mould. But it looks ridiculous. Not only because you close down those two jetpipes, but even more because it makes the gun go forward OVER the wings, which makes the already nippy wings look even shorter.

Now wait, you haven’t heard the full story yet. This is where it gets really messy.

In robot mode he carries those same guns on his lower legs, which looks even more stupid. SO, the trick is that the pins to mount those same guns on in robot mode, are under the wing, and you can fit the guns on these, up-side-down, which makes the space shuttle look actually quite ok, with the guns just pointing out from under wings just alongside the fuselage. (I’m obsessed, I know.)

So what we’re getting at here is a extraordinary example, two cases of sheer lack of designer interest in creating a decent Transformer, causing two problems which ultimately solve each other in a collector’s brainwave. HI—HA—HO Hasbro! You need to place those guns at the WRONG spot, the WRONG way around in the WRONG mode, to get the RIGHT result in the other mode! Man, if those guys even knew...

Other small errors are the fact that the front of the thing can split, since they become his arms, and there no pin or whatsoever to keep these tight, so a worn & loose Blast-off like mine is likely to look a bit like he had an accident, because the front wheel is only under one half, thus keeping this side up. But I’m willing to ignore that small error, as well as the fact there’s Bruticus’ shoulder joint on the back of the shuttle, breaking the smooth lines of it.

Robot Mode:
Alright, tear the thing apart, and likely the legs will appear (or basically stretch out a bit, ‘cause they were already there.) Probably the front has stretched too by now, enabling you to split it into his arms, and fold them alongside his body. Put the goofer upright, fold away the wings, and there’s Blast-Off!

Now, right now he’s looking actually quite ok. He hasn’t got any real separate legs, but the moulded ones are good enough. The purple decal'd chest shield is maybe a bit too bright, especially compared to his fellow Combaticons, but somehow it doesn’t really disturb. Part of that chest is the front of the wings (look at the picture or else I’ll take ages to describe this) behind which his arms are kept tight alongside his body.

I always felt that he looks like some guy who's awaiting commands way too eagerly. Arms behind his back, hands straight down the waist, chest forward. Yeah...That’s it!

...hmmm....wait. Did I just mention his hands? Uhoh. Feel the second big downer coming? Because Blast-Off's hands are the front of the shuttle, their position as described above is turned TOWARDS the body. (Now there’s a cool point of articulation, isn't it? The hands!) Now, that looks cool, and gives Blast-Of a really distinct appearance. But now we will give Blast-Off a gun. We turn both bits of shuttle front 90 degrees outward. See? It looks as if he has two buckets now, or scoops or something. He’s Scoop-man! Stupid. (I guess they had the same problem with Vortex, but they solved it more elegantly.)

The rest of the robot is pretty much OK. Nothing special, nothing exhilarating, nothing plain stupid. The head is unnecessarily small and blocky and impersonal, because it isn’t a joint in Bruticus’ formation. I guess they wanted all of the Combaticons to be interchangeable. Articulation is OK, for such a small and cheap ‘bot. It can shrug his shoulders, wave at Onslaught or touch little Swindle’s bottom without any sweat. And because of that crazy solution for the hands it can fire gangsta-style too!

Well, with some creative gun-reconfiguring and a decent hand job (no, not that kind!) this guy actually has a high playability factor. More than Swindle and Brawl at least. And more than you expect from a brown space shuttle.

It’s like the opposite of Brawl. You expect a lot, so Hasbro gives you little. You expect nothing, and stíll Hasbro gives you little. And in the latter case, Blast-off gets away quite OK, mainly because (once you reconfigured the hands) as a robot he is a well proportioned, poseable, cool, little and cheap toy. For an imaginative kid, this is a hit.

But, without that kid to give life to Blast-Off, well... as we make our final judgement... he will always be just another Combaticon and just another brown space shuttle.

Transformation: 3/10 - Pretty much no-brainer.
Durability: 5/10 - Watch out with those shoulder joints!
Fun: 7/10 - For the less demanding kid (like me) it's pretty cool. For an adult collector it's a dud. +1 Because he’s part of Bructicus.
Price: 2/10 - No idea. Mine was F14,95 twenty years ago. That currency doesn’t even exist anymore!
Overall: 5/10 - In his own right, he is just for the kids. As a collector it shouldn’t be the last Combaticon you buy, nor the first. Somewhere in the middle. As long as you buy him as a Combaticon. Would be a 6/10 if it had been something else than a space-shuttle, or if it had another colour... (a BROWN spaceshuttle! Imagine NASA doing that.)
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