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Transformers Generations
by yo go re

Star Wars fans have a reputation as the whiniest, most self-entitled toy collectors imaginable. It may be time to give Transfans the crown, instead.

Within his heavily armored and highly destructive body, Blitzwing has the ice-cold mind of a master strategist. Sometimes. At other times, he is a boiling cauldron of rage, waiting for any excuse to unleash his firepower on the nearest target. And now and again he is a chaotic whirlwind of bizarre behavior and intermittent bursts of plasma fire. His unpredictability makes him a poor soldier, but his raw firepower and unstable mind make him a useful tool for a commander as capable as Megatron.

Blitzwing has gotten a big boost in popularity thanks to the IDW comics, and now that popularity has translated into a fancy new toy. And in general, that's a piece of news that made the fanboys happy, and thus has nothing to do with why some of them may have earned the Petluant D-Bag of the Year award. No, it's the head.

In keeping with Generations' design directive of "take Generation 1, and make it better," Blitzwing's head is an update of the original. He's got a big yellow helmet with the ridge on the top and an angled red visor. His face is gray instead of purple, but that comes from the cartoon, so it's not what set people off. No, the problem was that Hasbro had the audacity to not stop at only homaging Generation 1.

Taking a cue from Animated Blitzwing, this one has three faces: the G1 homage, the thin face with the red monocle, and the black "crazy" jack o'lantern face. They rotate vertically in the head (once you get them unstuck), and it's a fun feature. But these utter chucklefucks got so damn MAD about this - about a feature YOU NEVER HAVE TO USE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO - that they immediately got to work on a "downgrade" kit for it. Not an upgrade, a downgrade. There are Transfans who are so petulant and idiotic that they will spend real money (more money than the figure actually retails for) to make their toys worse. This is like when Star Wars fans were angry about Jango faces on OT troops, but worse. Because again: if you don't move the faces, you'll never know they're there.

Blitzwing is a very "leggy" robot, but he's bulky enough to still look powerful rather than fast. Most of that can be chalked up to his torso, which is all done up in flat areas and angled corners, rather than swoops and curves. His colorscheme is beige and purple, just like it's always been, but we also get red, black and gray to keep him from being monotonous. He has a translucent yellow canopy on the center of his chest, but that's flanked by big, solid-looking pieces with triangular vents and grills in them, and silver plates at the top. His shoulders are wide and square, with sculpted technological details where the arms poke out. The upper legs have similar "vent" panels as canb be found on the chest - if Blitzwing really needs to vent that much heat, he must have one hell of a powerplant burning away inside him! That must be why his TechSpecs list strength, speed, endurance and fireblast as his highest stats.

The figure has good articulation, but with one specific flaw. Well, two if you count the fact that his faces don't want to rotate properly. The main issue is the shoulders: there are thin tabs that are meant to bridge between the front and back of the chest, but for some reason they don't. The chest is just a bit too thick for the tab to reach the way it should, so it flops around drastically. There are two ways to fix this: you can either unscrew the entire robot's torso and sand the two halves of the torso until they're the proper cumulative thickness, or you can attach something to the inside back of the shoulder area, to push the tabs forward; the second option is a lot easier (and you know how I prefer low-tech solutions like that). In fact, I used pieces of the cardboard box the figure came in!

(To get the faces moving, unscrew the head and scrape the thick paint off the post they rotate around. You can probably do it with your thumbnail.)

Blitzwing comes with two accessories: a gun and a sword. If they're the same weapons he carried in 1985, then they're a "Gyro-Blaster Rifle" and an "Electron Scimitar." To you and me, they're just a small, pointy black gun and a two-tone purple sword. They fit in the hands, of course, but the thickness of the forearms keep the gun from fitting in as tightly as it should.

Hasbro doesn't have Blitzwing's instructions on their website, and they're so complex that we're not going to try to explain them in the middle of the review. In the broadest terms, the legs fold under the body and the arms end up on top. The head pushes down into the torso. Everything else depends on whether you're turning him into a jet or a tank.

The jet is more purple than beige, and has red stripes on the leading edge of the wing. The nosecone is mostly gray, but since the tip is PVC instead of ABS, the purple section is a slightly different shade from the rest of the plane. Like we said, the robot's arms end up on top of the jet, but the way they're placed just makes them look like the same kind of booster pack Jetfire had. The front landing gear folds up and down, but doesn't roll (the rear wheels are molded, too). He's got a 6½" wingspan, is 8½" long and 2⅞" tall.

The tank is more beige than purple, and thanks to clever design work, the central body of the tank is wider than the central body of the jet. Nice! The turret rotates but doesn't elevate, and there are four rolling wheels underneath the plastic treads. The robot arms still end up on top of the vehicle, but because they're turned a different way now, they look entirely different. Sculpted elements on them now become hatches for the tank's gunner crew. The main cannon fires a purple missile: it doesn't have an external trigger, but instead launches when the gun barrel is pushed in. The tank measures 6" long, 3⅞" wide, and 2¼" tall.

Overall, Blitzwing is an amazing piece of engineering, managing to look like two separate (but still related) vehicles. The design flaws in his shoulders and head are incredibly annoying, though. They can't help but drag him down. Yes, it's easy to fix them both, but quality control ahead of time means that we shouldn't have to. Once you make the repairs, Blitzwing is great, but straight out of the box, he's... frustrating. Not quite disappointing enough to return, but with more problems than we expect from a release from a big company.

And if it's true that Blitzwing got a toy because of the increased profile the comics have given him, then IDW needs to get to work flacking Astrotrain, too.

-- 09/17/13

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