Thursday, 2 March 2017

Titans Return Broadside with Blunderbuss

Titans Return Broadside with Blunderbuss

At the end of August 2016 a prototype image for a Titans Return version of Broadside was leaked. This was almost expected: Broadside was the only one of the 1985/6 Triplechangers not to receive a classics update and the range already included Astrotrain, who'd previously been a classics deluxe and Megatron & Optimus Prime who looked suspiciously like new version of Blitzwing, who's Generations Voyager had several issues, and Octane, who'd been a Universe 2 deluxe. These toys were all but confirmed by Computer Listings the day after the Broadside prototype emerged and eventually unveiled at Toyfair 2017.

It was immediately spotted that parts of Broadside's legs resembled Alpha Trion which stoked to the ongoing debate about "what is a retool?" Since Combiner Wars started Hasbro and TakaraTomy have been presenting us with toys that share less and less parts with each other which is confusing some people no end. Now when I write my reviews for my site I tend to write for the original toy and then write about it's repaints and retools so I've got a vested interest here in identifying toys that are related to each other! So for my money Broadside IS a retool of Alpha Trion, and Lio Convoy, because they share a number of parts. Broadside's robot and jet mode were shown at New York Comic Con 2016 with his aircraft carrier mode revealed in the Official Images for the same event.

Out the box the robot has some obvious parts reuses: the feet, ankles, outer side of the leg & connected hinge & deck plate plus the Titanmaster robot Blunderbuss are the same as those on Alpha Trion. Less obviously so are his hips, shoulder hinges, neck collar, upper arm and elbow. The hips, shoulder hinges, neck collar & Titanmaster robot body are all a dark red: on Alpha Trion they're purple and Lio Convoy they're red, so we can be reasonably confident they're on the same sprue. The feet were pinky red on Alpha Trion, white, but painted, on Lio Convoy and red here while the outer legs were purple on Alpha Trion, white on Lio Convoy and red, but painted, here. He looks a decent chunky robot with the Titanmaster given a new faceplate and the horns replaced by pop up missile banks deployed by a button on his chest which are a lot easier to retract and fare less trigger-happy (small T) than the horns on the lion/spaceship versions of the toy. The chest is a big clear blue cockpit window. The shoulders are big and blocky and, like Voyager Optimus Prime, have large tops that have been folded back behind them and are presumably meant for his repaint. Articulation is one step down from Alpha Trion, he's lost his wrist swivels, but he makes up for it with some additional 5mm holes to mount weapons on on the underside of his arms, tops of his shoulders and, oh dear, his crotch. Broadside has lost the tri gun and sword found with the previous versions but gained a large clear blue hand gun with a Titanmaster seat in the back, 5mm pegs on the bottom & both sides and a 5mm peg hole on the top.

Transformation to jet mode: Remove the Titanmaster. Fold the jet nose up off his back into place on the neck. Fold the hands back into the forearms and straighten them, rotating at the bicep so the pale grey panel at the back of the hand faces rear. Fold the feet behind the back of the leg. Straighten the legs then bend the hip forward 45°, putting the tabs on the sides of the crotch into matching holes on the inner thighs. Bend the lower legs back at the knees so they're horizontal. Fold the backs of the shoulders up into place to form the pointed tops. Pull the shoulders out to the sides and move the shoulders, and arms with them, down the body so the shoulders are at hip level. Hook the tab on the lower arms into the rectangular hole on the lower legs. Fold the wings out from under the arms. Open the cockpit and sit the Titanmaster inside. Peg the gun into the 5mm peg hole behind the cockpit.

There have been better Transformer jet modes. There have been far far worse too. In it's favour are a well defined nose at the front, a cockpit you can sit a Titanmaster in and wings to the side so you can tell it's meant to be a jet. The case for the prosecution hinges on the rear of the jet and the way the legs and lower arms are arranged. It looks odd but it really isn't helped by the tail fins and wings pointing the wrong way! This was noticed on his Official Images and a correction was hoped for but didn't happen. Almost the first thing I did the first time I transformed Broadside into jet mode was pop them all off, turn them round so they faced the right way and swap them with their opposite number! Others have gone further and believe a better jet mode is formed from keeping the legs straight. In addition the wings are mounted level with the bottom of the jet, which looks slightly odd and the underside of the jet isn't great, being mostly flat. The jet mode is covered in Titanmaster pegs: one each side of cockpit, two on each wing, one on each of the engines formed from the arms and one on each tail fins - is he meant for some stunt flying with passengers stood on him? The gunner's seat, behind the cockpit, is also rather exposed.

Transformation to carrier mode: remove the gun. Fold the shoulders back to their robot mode position. Straighten the legs & remove the gun. Turn the toy over and fold the deck plate up off the back to cover the nose, tabbing in place. Fold the wings in and tab them into the arms. Fold the robot feet down off the backs of the legs so they point out the end of the legs. Rotate each leg in 90° at the thigh swivel so the grey deck plate portions face you and fold the flaps back into place completing the landing deck, Fold down the front support, the front landing gear inherited from Alpha Trion, and the rear supports, eight side of the jet cockpit. Fold down the jet tail fins & wings. Fold up the command tower and then it's communications array.

Broadside's carrier mode is big, 25cm long x 9cm wide, and flat so you don't really want to be breaking up that jet landing space by sticking the gun right in the middle of it in the one 5mm deck hole sticking up! Fortunately a hole is provided on each side, the holes that were under the arms, for you to attach the side pegs of the to, and it kind of works there like a launch ready to be lowered into the sea: GI Joe's USS Flagg had one. But I'm afraid the first thing that really caught my eye on this mode was the stickers. Stickers, as opposed to factory applied tampographs, re-entered Transformers with Generations Metroplex and have been used increasingly frequently since, presumably as a cost cutting measure, on Voyager, Leader & Titan toys. There were issues with Voyager Optimus & Megatron's stickers in the previous wave of toys and there are issues here. On my copy the smaller middle runway sticker came out crumpled up due to being applied badly. I've tried to fix it, but it looks terrible. The 36 on the command tower is falling off all by itself. Even if you've got a toy that's not got peeling and damaged stickers there's still the issue that several stickers, most notably the rear runway one, are placed over moulded detail causing the sticker to distort. If you're doing stickers make sure the surface they're applied to is flat and doesn't come into contact with anything else!

The deck plate is covered in Titanmaster pegs: four on the front section, formed from the lower legs and identical to the front of Alpha Trion's vehicle mode, plus six more on the middle & rear on Broadside's new pieces. In addition to standing your Titanmaster army on the deck they can also be used with five scaled down Aerialbot miniatures supplied with the toy. These tiny planes are mounted on a cup that fits over the peg. They're too small for me though and are staying on their sprue in the box!

The one structure projecting up from the deck is the carrier's command tower and communications array. By itself it looks OK, but the top is designed to fold back to provide a seat for his Titanmaster. Several have commented unfavourably that this make it look like Blunderbuss is on the throne! He can be attached to the tower base in head mode too, a bit like how Scourge's head attaches to his vehicle, or the weapons can be mounted there.

The one minus point about the jet mode tail fin swap is that the grey fins now hang down under the carrier rather than fold flat against the underside but since they're right next to the red tailfins hanging down the sides I think this could be excused.

There's a small trick here that I think Hasbro have missed: I'd have changed the rear of the carrier, and perhaps the front too, to accommodate a Titans Return base mode connector to allow the carrier to dock with Fortress Maximus, Blaster and Powermaster Optimus Prime.

A qualified success. It's not a functional disaster, like Generations Blitzwing but the jet mode isn't the best and the carrier could have been improved by dumping the stickers. As with all flat surfaces on TF toys made up of parts it can be difficult to get them all in alignment and one of my rear supports is a little keen to move out of place if I knock the toy.

Titans Return Tidal Wave

A Titans Return version of Armada Tidal Wave was strongly rumoured as a Broadside repaint and looking at some of Broadside's design choices you could see why people thought this was a strong possibility.

Titans Return Tidal Wave was revealed at Toyfair 2017 with official images, albeit with a mis-transformed robot mode, released at the same time. He forms part of a Siege on Cybertron boxset, which is believed to have been known as the Strength set in it's development, which will be a BBTS exclusive in the USA. The boxset also contains Magnus Prime, a repaint of Legends Ginrai, Metalhawk, a Triggerhappy repaint, and new toys Pounce & Titanmaster Thunderwing.

Future Repaints

I've always thought that an ideal repaint of the original Broadside would be Micromaster Flattop and the same applies to his Titans Return version.

Tidal Wave's colours don't quite match either his Armada, Micron Legend or Energon versions all of which lend themselves to possible repaints.

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