It’s been a while since I last looked at any Transformers, but that’s because the new ones still haven’t shown up in my area yet. Nonetheless, I’ve still got a few sitting on my shelves that I never did get around featuring here and one in particular goes all the way back to the Revenge of the Fallen line. I only just picked up Bludgeon a few months ago. He’s an homage to the old G1 Pretender character and while I’ve never been a fan of the Pretenders, I’m glad I finally got around to buying this guy because he’s a very interesting and in some ways innovative figure.
Here’s a blast from the past… it’s the old ROTF style packaging. I never much cared for it, mainly because the Egyptian style hieroglyphics on the back don’t really scream Transformers to me. Yeah, it’s a tie-in to the dopey movie, but I’d much rather have my grid-pattern back. I do, however, enjoy the fact that the appropriate faction symbol is shown rising out of the Transformers logo. The package also shows off the NEST emblem, which means this figure was released at the tail end of the ROTF line, along with a number of releases of characters that were never actually in the movie. Bludgeon is one of those figures, although he really belongs as part of the Classics/Universe/Generations collection. I’m guessing he wound up here just because there was nowhere else to really put him.
Bludgeon is packaged in his tank mode, so let’s start off with that. He’s an older and more realistically styled tank then we’ve gotten out of Transformers in a little while. I really love the sculpted detail on this toy, as there’s barely any part of it that doesn’t have some detailing. You get sculpted rivets, hatches, vents, and even tools. And holy crap, Bludgeon also has real rubber treads, which is pretty rare in Transformers tanks and always a big plus in my book. The turret rotates 360 degrees and features two non-firing missile pods and a machine gun by the top hatch that also rotates 360 degrees.
The bulk of the tank is a comprised of a very appropriate olive green plastic with some white parts showing, mainly on the weapons. There are some unfortunate neon orange sections peeking out here and there, but not quite enough to ruin the overall military motif. Lastly, there’s a Decepticon emblem stamped toward the front of the apron.
It’s worth noting that the box lists Bludgeon as having an “advanced” transformation, and he does at that. The first couple times transforming him was a real pain in the ass. He’s got some very innovative movements, particularly in his legs and pelvis. Once I figured out what was going on, I found getting him from tank to robot mode pretty easy, but getting him back into tank mode is still a fidgety affair for me. His transformation also involves revealing his two weapons: A katana sword and a tanto. The katana is stored in his main cannon and just pulls right out. You can do it either during or after transformation. As for the tanto… I’ll get to that in a few ticks.
In robot mode, Bludgeon’s design will likely strike people as brilliant or garbage. The homage to the G1 character design is certainly obvious. He’s patterned after a samurai warrior with a skull mask, which is pretty creepy. The high points of the figure include the way the rubber treads disconnect and hang down off his hips and shoulders. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before in a Transformer and it’s pretty cool. I’ll also go on record and say that, unlike the tank mode, the neon orange in the deco works fine for me in the robot mode. Another strong point is the articulation. You get plenty of hinges and swivels to work with. On the downside, the tank plates on his hips really get in the way of decent poses, and those ankles really scream out for some lateral rockers.
The tank turret lands on his back and you can position the barrel straight up, or tilt it diagonally to the side and treat it like a scabbard for his katana. The turret also opens up to reveal a small scabbard inside holding the tanto. While I really enjoy the engineering at work here, it seems like a lot of effort to go through just to store a little weapon. It’s also not really necessary since he has slots on his left hip armor to carry both edged weapons.
Seeing as how I’m not a fan of the Pretenders and I don’t have a Samurai fetish, I’m definitely not the TransFan that Bludgeon is aimed at. That having been said, I dig him in a quirky way and it’s impossible for me not to respect the effort and imagination that went into this figure. He’s certainly one of the coolest and most distinctive releases to come out of this Expanded Universe RotF line, except for maybe Mindwipe, for whom I will have an eternal soft spot in my heart. Now, if you happen to be one of those weirdos that think the Pretenders was just awesome, then you’ll probably go absolutely nuts over this figure. It’s an unexpected homage and a love letter to fans of the waning days of Generation 1. Sure, he isn’t an actual Pretender, but the homage to the character is one hundred percent solid all the same.