Sunday 29 January 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers War for Cybertron: Kingdom Blaster & Eject

Transformers Kingdom Blaster & Eject 01

Release Date: January 2022
RRP: $29.99/£24.99

Transformers has moved out of the War for Cybertron trilogy and now entered the Legacy era, but one of the last releases as part of the Kingdom line is a particularly interesting one as it straddles them both. Transformers War for Cybertron: Kingdom Blaster & Eject were announced as a very late entry to the final part of the WFC trilogy, but by the time they were released in Kingdom packaging it had already leaked that they would be part of the initial range of Legacy figures as well. Unlike fellow carryover Galvatron (who lacked the battle damage paintwork in Legacy) there are no differences between the two versions, so collectors can simply choose from which version is more readily available (or perhaps more importantly, cheaper).

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Blaster comes in a voyager class-sized box bearing the standard Transformers Kingdom design and layout, which follows Hasbro's recent move to use less plastic in their packaging.The front of the box is adorned with some brilliant artwork of Blaster transforming from robot to boombox mode, set against a volcanic landscape. This artwork stretches out on to the diagonal spine section, although not really in a way that it can be appreciated without seeing the whole thing. The other spine features another bit of Kingdom artwork, with Optimus Prime and the Autobots teaming up with Optimus Primal and the Maximals as the threat of both the Predacons and Galvatron looms over them. The back of the packaging features the usual Hasbro renders of the figure in both modes (as well as the number of steps the transformation has), and then inside Blaster is neatly fixed to a cardboard tray with a number of elastic ties.

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If you've purchased the Kingdom release of the figure rather than the Legacy version, inside the box will also be a randomly-assorted "Golden Disk Destiny" card. These cards each feature a foil image of something that heavily featured in Kingdom's storyline, and peeling back the image will reveal one of the many fates that could befall them. My copy of Blaster included a card of the Ark, which in its second destiny could one day become the "Dark Ark".

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Kingdom Blaster is the ideal update to the iconic G1 character, making very little in the way of changes to the design but at the same time giving it all the qualities you'd expect from a modern Transformers toy. Most importantly his tapedeck/boombox mode hasn't been sacrificed, which probably goes to show that these toys are more aimed at nostalgic collectors now rather than children. Blaster features lots of nice moulded detailing across his body to give it a bit more depth, while elements like the speakers in his lower legs are separate parts rather than simply painted on. His main gimmick is his spring-loaded chest compartment, which can be opened by pressing down on the row of grey buttons just underneath. Inside you'll find space to hold a cassettebot. It's a staple part of both Blaster and his Decepticon arch-rival Soundwave, so no figure of either would be complete without it.

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Like nearly all modern Transformers, Blaster is very nicely articulated - altogether featuring;
- Ball jointed head
- Swivel hinge shoulders and hips
- Hinged elbows, knees, ankles and feet
- Bicep, waist and thigh swivels
The wrists are also hinged, however this is more part of the transformation than to add more poseability to the robot mode. Boxy as his robot mode may be this is more than enough articulation for Blaster to pull off some fantastic action poses - from wielding his weapon to opening his chest compartment. While he can't quite push down on the buttons with his own hand, you can certainly get close enough to pull off a convincing pose. The combination of the swivel hinge shoulders/hips alongside the bicep and thigh swivels do wonders for the limbs, and as always the fantastic ankle tilts modern Transformers have are perfect for getting the figure flat-footed in action poses.

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Blaster comes packaged with his Electro-Scrambler rifle, which is moulded in black plastic without any additional paint detailing. It is however very nicely moulded, with lots of detailing to give it a good likeness to that of the original toy's. The fact it's a pretty sizeable weapon is another plus, with both the size and detailing feeling that little bit more than you usually get with Deluxe or Voyager class Transformers. The rifle can comfortably peg into either of Blaster's hands, however the moulded trigger finger on the right hand arguably makes that side a much better fit for it.

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Naturally a 20-step transformation into a rectangular boombox isn't particularly difficult, but it does include a lot of making sure parts are lined up correctly to ensure they all snap together properly right at the end. There are also some really nice touches among this relatively simple transformation, such as rotating the speaking parts around on the legs and then bringing up the parts at the very end to make the handle. But simplistic as it may be this is all you could ever want from a G1 Blaster alt mode, recreating his classic tapedeck/boombox mode perfectly. Colour and layout wise it stays pretty close to the original G1 look and anything new it adds only enhances the look - particularly the additional dials either side of the cassette dock.

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In boombox mode Blaster retains the same opening cassette slot as he does in robot mode, still activated by pressing down on the line of buttons underneath. Other than that the alt mode has very little in the way of additional features, however the scale of the boombox would make him a rather nifty (and almost in-scale) accessory for Titan class Transformers like Fort Max or Metroplex. Like most modern alt modes it also has a handy little bit of weapons storage, in that the rifle can be pegged to the back of the boombox (largely) out of sight. It isn't particularly elegant, but since you'd mainly be viewing Blaster's alt mode from the front it does the job nicely.

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But the fun does not end there! As should always be the case for either a Soundwave or Blaster release, a cassettebot has also included with the figure. This time around Hasbro have decided to go with Eject - the blue humanoid cassettebot that first made his debut in Transformers: The Movie. Like Blaster himself Eject's design remains extremely faithful to his G1-self while also retaining his original mini-cassette alt mode. One slight divergence this toy makes though is the deco, with Kingdom Eject adopting translucent plastic for all of the blue parts as opposed to a more conventional opaque plastic. Why Hasbro decided to go this route isn't fully clear, but it could be to do with the fact that many of the figures in the Legacy range come with translucent plastic accessories. As Blaster was a very late entry to the Kingdom range, Eject looking the way he does could mean that he was technically always intended for Legacy instead. It might seem a little odd at first, but it's not like the colours are inaccurate. If anything it just looks like Eject is brimming with energy, which is ideal for looking like he's suddenly launched out of Blaster to attack. Some fans might worry about how well the translucent plastic will hold up over time, but only time will tell on that. For now, it looks pretty spectacular.

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Eject sports ball joints in his neck, elbows and knees as well as swivel joint shoulders and pin joints in his upper arms and hips. Altogether this gives him a reasonably good amount of poseability given his small statute, and even without any weapons or such to call his own has plenty of personality from posing alone. Plus the transformation is so straightforward anyway that posing him launching out of Blaster's chest is satisfying enough - whether it be in cassette mode, robot mode or some mid-transformation stage that captures elements of both. Overall though it's just really satisfying to get at least one of Blaster's cassettes bundled with him given that Hasbro could easily just release them separately as part of the Core Class instead. Are we likely to see any of his other tapes get produced? While there's no guarantees with Studio Series 86 also including Core Class releases it would make perfect sense to see them there given that was where they first made their onscreen debut.

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Simple and straight to the point, Blaster & Eject are a mini-masterpiece whether you're buying them as part of the Kingdom or Legacy ranges. Blaster is everything you could want from a modern update of the G1 character, retaining that iconic boombox look and alt mode whilst adding in all the articulation and poseability the original toy was lacking. Meanwhile if you're on the fence about Eject's translucent plastic, rest assured that the figure looks superb in person - and the addition of a cassettebot (not to mention the lower price tag Voyager Class figures had when Blaster was initially released) make this the perfect package. The War for Cybertron really upped the game for modern Transformers toys, and with Kingdom Hasbro really saved the best for last.

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