Last year Hasbro gave us the very cool Soundwave gift set as their Transformers SDCC Exclusive. This year, it seemed only natural they compliment that release with Soundwave’s Autobot counterpart, Blaster. They also seemed to up the production numbers on this one, possibly as a response to how quickly Soundwave sold out last year. So is this set as impressive and desireable as last year’s offering? Yes and no.
Hasbro pulled out the stops on the presentation of this set, making it look even more impressive than the formidable Soundwave release. The set comes packaged in a reflective cardboard sleeve with a huge Autobot symbol and Blaster’s name written in a cool, funky retro 80’s style that certainly suits the figure’s character.
Slide off the sleeve and you have a pleasingly large box decorated in a G1 fashion very similar to Soundwave’s release. The key difference, besides it being bigger, is that Blaster’s box has a front flap that covers the window display. Open the flap and you can see photos of the toys on the reverse side and the window revealing Blaster and three of his cassette minions, Steeljaw, Ramhorn and Eject, all in their robot forms. On presentation alone, this set gets full marks.
Slide out the inner tray and you can get to the goods. Blaster is a satisfyingly large figure, much bigger than Soundwave. He’s colorful, boxy and the epitome of glorious G1 Transformer design. His stickers come already applied, and mine were applied pretty well. The only real disappointing thing about Blaster is the complete lack of detail on his back. Granted, it is authentic to the original toy, but it looks lacking, especially compared to Soundwave’s belt clip and opening “battery” compartment-slash-weapon storage. Oh yeah, his head always looked way too small to me.
Blaster has pretty limited articulation, which is to be expected for a G1 Transformer and most of his existing articulation is a by-product of his transformation process. He can turn his head, his arms rotate at the shoulders, his hands can swivel, and his legs can move laterally to change his stance. That’s pretty much it. His tape door is spring loaded and ejects with the press of his eject button. Its a first for me, since the eject button on the original G1 Blaster I owned as a kid was broken right out of the box.
Transforming him into his boom box mode is only slightlly more involved than Soundwave. Its a very simple conversion, although there are a few neat tricks, like the way the arms fold in or the way the grab bar comes out of each of the legs and joins together. The final result is more toyish looking and less convincing than Soundwave’s walkman form, but it gets the job done.
Blaster’s cassettes are a bit of a mixed bag. Steeljaw and Ramhorn are pretty cool, although they suffer from the same two-dimensional design as Ravage and rely on their added parts to give them depth. Both figures are pretty well designed, though, considering what they transform into, and Steeljaw in particular has a ridiculous number of shifting plates to help along his transformation. Eject has never been one of my favorites, probably because of his weird looking arms. He’s certainly not awful, but compare him to the Rumble and Frenzy design and he comes up severely lacking. As with the Soundwave reissue, all of Blaster’s cassettes come with clear plastic cases.
Blaster retails at the same price as last year’s Soundwave set, $49.99, and I’d say that’s quite a deal. While original G1 Blasters can still be commonly found for sale at the usual places, his tape door is often an early casualty of play wear and tear, and his cassettes can be a lot tougher to find in good shape. Either way, you’re getting quite a lot here for your money.
As previously noted, the production on this set seemed to be a lot higher than Soundwave, as Blaster was still available for almost a week after going up for sale at Hasbro Toyshop. The only sticking point is that I don’t think Blaster has ever reached the insane levels of popularity as his Decepticon counterpart Soundwave. I know that I never much cared for his character in the series, but I always liked the figure. That lesser demand plus the increased production likely led to him sticking around a lot more. Still, any diehard G1 fan would do well to pick this set up. The presentation is wonderful, the figures are solid, and its certainly priced right.