Blaster was originally released in 1985 as part of the second year of the Transformers Generation 1 toyline. As the smooth-talkin’ Autobot counterpart to the Decepticons’ Soundwave (or the tough-as-nails yet self-doubting rebel warrior from the comics), Blaster has remained one of the more popular Autobots since the 1980s. Today we’re looking at an original vintage Blaster.
I don’t have this Blaster’s original packaging, but the 2020 Hasbro reissue of the figure came packaged in a box very similar to the original. The airbrushed character artwork, with its exaggerated proportions and strange perspective set against an orange sunburst and grid overlay, is among my favorite characteristics of the G1 line.
Rather than cross-selling other figures like G.I. Joe or Masters of the Universe did, boxed Transformers packaging featured gorgeous painted art of other characters, usually fighting in outer space.
The artwork shown here – common to all boxed Transformers figures released in the U.S. in 1985 – is sometimes my favorite of these murals. I love the strange selection of characters – if you want to consider this scene a story, then Whirl, the deluxe Insecticons, and the Jumpstarters make some of their only appearances in American Transformers fiction. Add that to Tracks in his pre-Transformers Diaclone colors and some other oddities and there’s plenty to love here. I wish someone would write a story where the Dinobots fight an army of Insecticons in low-Earth orbit.
This reissue also features Blaster’s clip-out bio card, and they even managed to squeeze all the text in there despite having to print it in two languages.
Blaster’s alternate mode is a radio/cassette player boom box featuring a top-mounted carrying handle, two large speakers, and cassette storage on the front.
Like Soundwave and Megatron, Blaster originates from the Microman “Microchange” subline, where he was intended to interact with 3 3/4″ action figures. The Microchange version of this toy contained a number of features which were excised from the Transformers release.
For example, the “ON/OFF” switch molded over the left speaker and the “TUNING” dial next to the tape door were functional on the Microchange version, because the toy could actually work as a radio!
The back of the device mode is pretty light on details. The robot head is plainly visible folded into the top of the device.
The “OUTPUT EARPHONE” detail on the left side was a functioning earphone jack on the original toy. Additionally, the back of the Microchange version had a removable plastic hatch with a space inside to fit microcassettes, since the front tape door was used for the toy’s radio equipment. This hatch is present on some versions of Blaster, but not mine.
Blaster is nowhere near the size of a real “ghetto blaster,” but he’s still fairly large at about 10 inches across. His bio mentions him functioning as an “Autobot communication center.” Given his size, I could imagine using Blaster as a stand-in for the Teletraan-1 computer station from the cartoon, or some similar device in Autobot headquarters.
Although most of the toy’s functionality was removed compared to the Microchange version, the face buttons still work.
Pressing “PLAY” simply causes the button to push down and click into place. I don’t know if this button had a further mechanical function on the Microchange version, or if it was just for show there, too.
I can imagine other Autobots pressing the button to cause Blaster to play back some intel he’d received from Cybertron. But only after asking nicely.
Pressing the “STOP” button makes the “PLAY” button pop back up. It doesn’t do anything if you press it before pressing “PLAY.”
Though the middle button is sculpted to look like two buttons, it’s actually just one.
Pressing “EJECT” causes Blaster’s tape door to pop open.
This button has a tendency to get stuck on original Blaster figures. I had to open mine up and re-tension all the springs to get it to work for this review.
Unlike Soundwave, no mini-cassette figures came with Blaster. Given the many redecos in the first year of Transformers, I’m actually a bit surprised Hasbro didn’t repaint or retool any of Soundwave’s cassettes to work with Blaster. Instead, he got his own team of unique cassette allies, who were released the following year.
The interior of the cassette chamber has no mechanical detail, unlike on the Soundwave figure.
Shown: Transformers Legacy Blaster; Mini Blaster (MP-25 Tracks pack-in)
Blaster’s transformation is fairly simple, mostly consisting of rearranging the outer edges of the radio into legs and extending the inner edges into arms. The handle folds into the sides of the legs and the head flips up and turns around, like Soundwave’s.
Unlike many Microchange and Diaclone items from the mid-80s, Blaster features very little chrome or die-cast. The only metal I could find on him is in the struts that hold on his arms.
His sculpted detail is rather flat, and very little new texture or color is revealed in robot mode, beyond the foil stickers on his ankles and shoulders. I always thought the rectangular details on his thighs looked like they were meant to slide down that diagonal groove.
The overall attitude of this figure reads “muscular” to me. The smooth surfaces and simple, blocky shapes make him look more like his animation model than nearly any other early G1 figure.
His head sculpt is quite unique among the G1 cast. The strip of metal over his nose, along with his pointy antennae, almost give him a Batman feel. I love the wide silver visor – it looks like it should be able to close over his eyes and adds a knight-like appearance.
The head is molded in red and painted mostly in silver, with spots of metallic yellow for the eyes.
The animation model simplified this design into something a little more human-looking, though the Marvel comics used a design closer to the toy’s for most of its run. I tend to prefer the toy version of the head.
Blaster came with just one accessory, a large rifle his bio card calls an “electro scrambler.” The rifle looks like it’s meant for long-range sniper operations, but Blaster has never been shown using it that way, as far as I know.
The circular gap in the middle of the rifle was designed to store part of the Microchange version’s headphones, and the little hole on the end of the stock was meant for the headphone jack to plug into for storage. Since these features were removed for Transformers, the rifle hole ends up being yet another mysterious vestigial feature common to early G1.
Blaster is articulated at the shoulders, wrists, and head. Thanks to the transformation, the head can look up and down as well as side-to-side.
The wrist articulation allows for some good punchin’ poses.
Shown: Vintage G1 Series Optimus Prime; Throttlebot Goldbug.
Blaster is huge. He’s taller than nearly every other Autobot from the first two years of G1.
Shown: Encore Devastator (anime colors); Vintage G1 series Ravage.
He’s actually a little taller than Devastator, at least by head height.
Shown: Vintage G1 Series Blaster (right).
Blaster has been reissued several times over the years. The most recent reissue is very close to the G1 original, but the gray plastic is a little warmer and less metallic, and the stickers are made of a far more reflective (and thinner) foil material.
Shown: Transformers Legacy Blaster; Super 7 ReAction Figures Blaster; Robot Heroes Blaster.
Only a few modern versions of Blaster – such as the Robot Heroes version – use the original toy head design.
Blaster has always been a favorite character for me, mainly for his role in the Marvel comics, where the universe never seemed to be on his side. Other stories have typically relegated him to a background role, the Uhura of the Autobots, always either relaying transmissions or sending cassettes to run along with the more popular characters.
I’ve owned several versions of the toy over the years. I found him at times to be a little less exciting than Soundwave, with his single accessory, seeming lower quality of features (look at the chrome switches and dials on Soundwave – they didn’t do anything, but at least they weren’t molded in place!), and janky eject button. Among his Microchange brethren, I think he’s the one who suffers the most from the Transformers adaptation. And thanks to his awkward size, I tended to be reluctant to send him on missions with other teammates.
But he’s an important Autobot. Without him, Sideswipe and Bluestreak can’t make emergency phone calls to Cybertron when they run out of space-chips or whatever. And there’s no one better to hang out with during those late nights at the Ark on guard duty. He at least knows where to pick up the best jams. I like Blaster – he’s endeared himself to me for reasons beyond the quality of his toy.