Friday, 20 June 2014

Generations Blitzwing & Doubledealer and Cloud Starscream


Blitzwing has problems. Lots of them.

He comes in robot mode and looks lovely sitting there in the box but then you start to play with him the problems start...

Lets transform him to jet mode: Fold the head & the middle of the chest forward & down so it fits between the legs & locks over his backside. The head then needs pushing down into the nose so it's under the cockpit and the nose-cone folded over it..... at which point it becomes a bit of a struggle partially because the head doesn't fit too well in the nose cone & could have done with recessing further and partially because the nose cone is made of rubber, which is never good for a Transformer toy part. I get that it's a safety issue but why not just the tip? Swing the shoulders back & up so the tops of the body part od the shoulders face up and then swing the back of the body part of the shoulders up to join it. The sides of the shoulder then fold round the back. This whole process involves some pin joints in very thin piece of plastic and I can see potential breakage here in years to come! Fold the tank gun barrel from the back through the empty chest cavity - the rear of the gun barrel feels like it's fixed but it isn't though excessive force may be necessary to get it to move. Fold the purple fins out to the sides. Fold the covers out the forearms to cover the fists and rotate the arms at the bicep so the exposed sides of the fist & sides of the elbow face up. Fold each arm forward and lock the downward facing tabs into the plane body. Rotate the legs at the things so the tank treads face in and the wings face out. Pull the wings out and swing the little fin out the wing so it holds them open. Pegs the weapons under the wings or peg them together and peg between the engines on top of the toy. Lock the feet helves together to form the engines. Swing the legs back so they're alongside the body. There's a little tab sticking out the inner side of each leg part that *SHOULD* lock into a slot on the body: good luck with that. Why they didn's just make two minicon sized pegs sticking out the side of the body the tank treads could peg into I don't know.... There's two more tabs that stick up from the legs that should lock in under the tail fins but I've struggled to get these to peg in ok: the robot legs appear to be positioned too wide for the tabs to both meet the holes they're meant to go in.

I've seen worse looking Decepticon planes than this, much worse, but apart from a fold down front landing gear and an opening cockpit it doesn't do a lot! The instability caused by the poor tabbing is a major issue for me.

Remove the weapons. Unpeg the arms from the top of the toy and fold the forearms out to the sides 90 degrees. Fold the tank gun barrel through between them then lock the arms in place in this new angle with the tail fins folded in. Fold the plane's back through the toy and lock into place so it's hidden in the toy body. Pull each robot leg away from the body and then pull so the waist joints expand to the sides. Rotate each robot leg at the thigh so the tank treads face down and the wings point up. Fold the wings into each leg pushing the tank treads out a bit: they pivot at the back allowing an extra section of tread to fold out the front. Fold this section round the front of the tank mode, under each robot thigh where it pegs in place. Make sure the tank tread is fully pulled out at the back. A tab at the top of the side of the leg fits the same tab hole in the body used in an attempt to secure the tank mode, but a tab sticking out the body fits into the inner side of the tank tread giving this mode additional stability. Rotate the jet's engines so the tail fins are on the inside of the toy. Fold the flaps out the sides of the waist to complete the solid front of the toy and keep the hips from recessing.. Peg the sword into the top of the tank and the gun into the top of that.

Much more stable, thanks to both sets of tabs meeting. Blitzwing's second vehicle mode is of course a tank so it's time for the tank test!

Does the tank turret rotate? Yes! Gun barrel, shoulder assembly and arms are all on a plate that can rotate on the front of the robot's chest.

Does the tank's gun barrel raise? Yes! Ok the gun barrel sits inside the turret and you have to move the sides slightly apart to get it to raise but it does.

But wait! There's a bonus here we don't see on that many Transformers tanks!

Does the tank's gun barrel fire? Yes! Pull back on the tank's gun barrel (The words "Armada Megatron's special feature" are going through my head now.....) and it shoots a missile.

The tank rools along nicely thanks to some wheels embedded in the treads.

My only real complain about the tank mode is that the point of rotation for the turrent is somewhat forward of the centre of the turret base.

To transform from tank to robot mode start by folding the waist flaps in. Unpegs the legs and rotate down in front of the tank. Unfold the feet. Unpoeg the tank treads, fold up and recess into the front of the legs. Rotate the legs at the thjigh so the tank treads are the same side of the body as the cockpit. Pull the tank barrel up and out the turret. Fold the rear fins out and fold the arms back do they point out the back of the tank, top of the robot. Fold each shoulder 90 degrees out to the side, then fold forward and down so the meet the top of the robot's body. Fold the front of the side of the turret into the robot's forearms to reval the hands. Fold the nose-cone up & back then pull the head out the body. Fold the tank barrel so it points up behind the folded back nose-cone. Place the gun in one hand and the sword in the other.

Let's start the robot mode with looking at the weapons: The sword is good, in two tones of purple with a darker hilt and a lilac blade. 5mm peg hole handle with an opposing 5mm peg & 5mm peg hole either side of the hilt which makes it easy to store. A nice good size too ...... unlike the gun which is far too small. It'd be a good weapon for a smaller toy though. It's almost like they made Blitzwing as a deluxe to match the size of Classics Astrotrain and Universe Tall Tankorr/Octane, upscaled it and forgot to do the gun! A better option would have been to have the tank's cannon be his hand gun by being removable and have a 5mm peg that he could hold it by. Instead it sits on his back, no longer surrounded by the turret, useless in robot mode. Yes the original Original Blitzwing had the turret & barrel on his back back, but sometimes a slavish reproduction of the original can hurt a toy's playability. Unfortunately one of the features not found on the original also hurts the toy: I mentioned earlier that there were problems getting the head to stow in plane mode: this is because it's a bit too big and that's partly to do with it containing a "Man-E-Faces" face swapping gimmick as a homage to Animated Blitzwing. I like the idea here, but size of the head harms the toy when transforming it.

Articulation: posable feet, thanks to the TF, and a ball jointed ankle. Bending knees, a thigh swivel and universal joints at each hip. No waist :-(. Turning head. Turning wrists. Bending elbow and bicep swivel. Then we have the shoulders.....

Here's what the shoulders are designed to do: allow the arms to raise out to the sides and rotate at the shoulder joints. Because of the way the toy transforms the shoulders are made up of three bar hinged panels: the top, which is hinged to the back of the toy, a rear panel that folds down from top panel and sits against the back of the toy, and a side panel which is attatched to the rear panel and has the connection to the arm. Top and rear panels should lock into the the front of the toy behind the upper chest. They don't. You can just about wedge the top panel into the rear of the chest, but the side panels get nowehere near locking onto the tab they're meant to attatch to. It looks messy to start with, and gets worse when you try to use the toy. Trying to raise the arms at the shoulder means the entire shoulder assembly swings back and out the body which is just dreadful. I've remarked before that I'm not keen on arms that aren't solidly attatched to the body and this is by far the worst example I've seen yet. How it ever got out the factory I don't know. Trying to raise the arms out to the sides is even more worrying: the joint is quite stuff and, just like when you swing them forwards/back during the transformation, it puts A LOT of stress on some very thin panels and bar joints. Very, very worrying. A google for Blitzwing Shoulders will reveals some pictures and several attempts to fix the problem which seem to involve taking the toy to bits and sanding down some parts to reduce the width of the body but that's the sort of modification which is beyond my ability to make. The fix is described in Post 245 of the TFW 2005 Blitzwing review thread.

For me the minor issues all summed up and the major issue with the shoulders kill the toy. There's no way it should have got out the factory with this many problems! See also TFW 2005 Resources Blitzwing & TFW Blitzwing gallery for more pictures.

Blitzwing was released in the USA in mid 2013 sharing a case with Springer. He's popped up in several subsequent Voyager cases as well. He was released in Japan with a modified more metallic deco as Generations toy TG-22. You can see pictures of that at Alfe's Toy Blog entries 2041 and 2042.

SXS Generations Blitzwing Upgrade kit

I'm not keen on Third Party Transformer toys when they toy is a straight rip off of an existing Hasbro Transformer. However I'm OK with 3P toys that add to or improve an existing toy. With Blitzwing having so many faults it was inevitable that an add on for him would emerge.

SXS add on is a 6 piece set: I bought one off eBay and the set I bought is missing parts: a pair of two missiles, each pair mounted on a 5mm peg to fit on the wings or behind the shoulders in robot mode. Nice additions, but not essential.

The third piece in the set is a new gun, in purple, which is essentially an upsized version of the gun which comes with the toy. It validates every criticism of the original gun being too small by looking just right on the larger toy. So now you can give the original away to one of your smaller toys.

We then have a new head for the toy: the original one is relatively easy to remove, just slide it back (with some force) out of the slot it's mounted in and slide the new one in. The new head adds a ball joint allowing better movement but also includes just Blitzwing's usual face with an added lightpipe. It's a little bit smaller and fits better when you transform the toy.

The most important components in the kit are the parts to fit the shoulders. In other modes they peg into the new gun to form what look like radar screens. In robot mode they need to be slid over the top shoulder piece and occupy some of the empty space inside the shoulders. There's a hole in the side of these piece that the shoulder side panel fits into. Fitted properly it allows you to raise the arms with no problems at all. It's maybe less succesful with curing the problems raising the arms to the sides but probably highlights that this is maybe more due to the joints within the shoulder being too stiff.

I like this kit. Solves obvious problems and improves the toy.

Decepticon Doubledealer

Powermaster Doubledealer wouldn't be my first choice of a toy to use as a Blitzwing repaint (see bellow). His ground vehicle mode was a missile launcher which his air mode is a bird, not a plane. However you can see that both bear a resemblance to what Blitzwing's modes are.

Purple, beige and grey are swapped a pale grey, sea green, black, lilac and pale blue. The clear yellow canopy becomes an orangey red.

The plane mode features some bird mouth detailing over the nose-cone which unfortunately is broken in places by some moulded detail. The nose features a purple Decepticon symbol.

The tank meanwhile features an Autobot symbol on the front which kind of belies the Decepticon portion of the toy's name.

The robot mode features a new head with a lightpipe in the same orange red used for the canopy.

Unfortunately every moulding fault Blitzwing had with the shoulders and where the legs fit in the vehicle modes are still present here.

Decent inventive repaint. But still limited by the design.

Cloud Starscream

Again Starscream isn't the first choice of character I'd use as a Decepticon Blitzwing repaint. The robot mode works as a Starscream, apart from not having anywhere to plug his new null rays into. The Doubledealer head works well as a Starscream head. The plane mode works just by virtue of being Starscream's colours. The tank..... Hmmmm, looks OK but Starscream has no prior history as a tank, save for his association with the cancelled G2 ATB repaint.

It looks nice but you need to pay through the nose for it which isn't something I see many western fans wanting to do especially if the mould issues aren't fixed.

TF Cloud Starscream was available through the E-Hobby website during 2014.

Possible Repaints

I can't claim credit for this one as it never occurred to me till I saw the pictures: repaint Blitzwing as Duocon Flywheels alongside a repaint of Springer as Battletrap.

If I was repainting Blitzwing I'd do him in silver as Megatron: He'd have a Tank mode, like the G2 version, and a jet mode, which is appropriate as the leader of the Decepticons, plus being a homage to his role in the intended G2 ATB repaint mentioned above.

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