Tag Archives: Blaster

5 Surprisingly Memorable Moments from Bob Budiansky’s Marvel Comics Transformers Run

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Bob Budiansky is a integral part of the early days of Transformers. He came up with many of the names of the original characters, writing basic names, outlines and bios that would be used as reference points for the Transformers characters. A Marvel Comics writer, editor and artist, he wrote or co-wrote issues #5-#55 of the Marvel US Transformers Comic Book.

While free to write his own stories in a different continuity than the cartoon, Bob’s stories also had to endure frequent cast cullings, that is whenever new toys came around, he was forced to write them into the story, leaving other characters in the dust, or having to abandon old stories in favor of entirely new ones. It’s not a job anyone would really ask for, but Budiansky did his best, and his stories breeze along at a breakneck pace. Here are 5 of the most surprisingly memorable highlights from Bob Budiansky’s Marvel Transformers comic book run.

 

5. DECEPTICON PRETENDER SKULLGRIN GETS A JOB AS A PROFESSIONAL ACTOR

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In one of the most surreal stories in any Transformers fiction – Decepticon Pretender Skullgrin  follows Shockwave’s orders to gain energy for the Decepticon cause by any means necessary on earth. Reasoning that there is no reason why he should not just earn the energy, rather than steal resources like other Decepticons, Skullgrin gets a job… as a professional actor.

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The irony of a Transformer “Pretender” becoming an actor is too delicious for words. Unlike some of the Autobot Pretenders, who had human disguises as outer shells, Skullgrin was a hideous monster, so perfect to play the part of… a hideous monster.

skullgrin famous actor 3.jpg

The story is not unlike Frankenstein, or even King Kong – Skullgrin refuses to be a simple monster who terrorises, and instead develops feeling for humans, only for it all to go pear shaped in the third act when the humans inevitably turn on him.

Far from being just a comedy issue (the intended tone is never clear, but the scenario is ridiculous) Skullgrin shows his true colors again in a later issue (#54) that calls back to this story when he is reunited with his Decepticon Pretender brethren, now under the leadership of headmaster Scorponok.

skullgrin not terminate humans issue 54.jpg

Skullgrins fellow Decepticons want to kill humans who are simply in the way during a battle. Skullgrin rather than admitting to his fleshbag sympathies, simply says that there is no need and instead he will keep the human prisoner – thus avoiding killing humans, despite the Decepticon mandate from leaders such as Megatron, Shockwave or Scorponok to kill, destroy and terrorize. It is an odd story about an evil monster who refuses to simply be a monster, we’ve seen it all before, but it is one of the most bizarre and memorable Transformers comic book stories ever written.

 

4. RATCHET STANDS UP TO THE MIGHTY LORD MEGATRON

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With the majority of the autobots temporarily out of action, Ratchet is on the run and desperate. When Megatron confronts him, he expects no challenge at all from a medic, instead a confined Ratchet stands up to Megatron, fighting him with everything he has in him.

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Knowing there is no way he could ever beat Megatron in battle, Ratchet takes a big gamble that he can take care of the traitorous Shockwave for Megatron, he tells Megatron Shockwave was previously defeated by the Dinobots, and Ratchet promises he can use that knowledge to beat Shockwave once again.

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Surprisingly it pays off, with Megatron doubting Ratchet’s ability to stop his adversary, but no doubt savoring the delayed satsisfaction of killing Ratchet, having nothing to lose by leaving the worm Ratchet dangling on Megatron’s hook just a little longer.

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Ratchet bargains for time, out-bluffing Megatron in a deadly game of cat and mouse, fortunately for Ratchet it’s the last page of the issue, so he is temporarily saved by the “to be continued next issue” box in the corner I conveniently cropped out.

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3. SHOCKWAVE SINGLE HANDEDLY KILLS NEARLY ALL THE AUTOBOTS

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It’s debatable if or how a Transformer can truly die. In most fiction, their bodies can be destroyed, but as long as their brain survives (or is copied/downloaded) and they have a spark (heart or energy/electromagnetic spirit) then they can revived from “death” seemingly an infinite amount of times. But even these simple details vary in each fiction.

When Shockwave “kills” the Autobots, they are effectively in stasis lock, meaning as good as dead, but not yet disassembled , and it was only a matter of time before he pulled them apart or committed some atrocious experiments on his dead/comatose victims. The point is that when Shockwave came to town, he trashed the majority of the Autobots single handedly, proving his superiority to Megatron for the first of several times during Budianky’s stories, and living up to his boasts as being more intelligent, capable and in a word… superior in every way as a Decepticon leader.

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The sight of the Autobots strung up, hanging upside down like slabs of beef is disturbing, even more disturbing was Optimus Prime’s decapitated head that Shockwave questioned and tortured for information while keeping Optimus alive. Over the course of two and half issues Shockwave dominated everyone and everything in the Transformers world, making for one of the most memorable Marvel Transformers stories with horrifying consequences for anyone that dared to get in his way.

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2. GRIMLOCK BECOMES LEADER OF THE AUTOBOTS

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With Optimus Prime out of the picture Grimlock takes over as leader for no reason other than he chooses to. Grimlock insists he is the the strongest in physical strength and will power, not caring for the plight of the humans, Grimlock not only ignores them but actively encourages Autobots not to to help humans, as they are so inconsequential to his concerns.

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The autobots refuse to follow many of Grimlocks more nonsensical orders of course, proving just how unfit Grimlock is to lead. Later Grimlock realized the error of his ways, and quits as leader only for the other Autobots to refuse his resignation, and insist he stay on despite his shortcomings, as Grimlock did manage to trash most of their enemies while making a complete ass of himself as self-deputized leader.

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Grimlock’s reign was short but lasted several issues. He became more bossy, lazy, dominant, incompetent and slothful as King Grimlock’s leadership soared briefly before nose diving into the ground. The contrast of how good a leader Optimus Prime was, and how flawed Grimlock’s self indulgent leadership was, was driven home effectively. Grimlock continued to belittle any Autobot who questioned his decisions and of course Grimlock spent more time talking up how great he was, while accomplishing very little as leader, making his run as leader even shorter than Bumblebee’s.

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1.BLASTER FAILS TO SAVE HIS FRIEND SCROUNGE, WHO DIES A HORRIFIC DEATH

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Blaster fails to save his friend Scrounge from the smelting pits on a Decepticon dominated Cybertron. In a single issue Bob Budiansky introduces us to new character Scrounge – a nobody – we see his friendship with Blaster, the tension between the conservative Autobots cowering and hiding in fear from the brutal relentles Decepticons. We see Blaster’s reckless but brave heroism and Scrounge’s untimely death.

Issue #17 is the single saddest issue and moment I’ve read in any Transformers comic book (and I’ve read them all). In one short story we see the bravery, heroism and unbeatable determination of Blaster, contrasted with the lack of morale and hopelessness of the Autobots trapped on Cybertron hiding from the Decepticons.

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We see in the middle of an ongoing civil war, two friends who do their best for the Autobot cause. In most kids comics the hero triumphs, he saves the day and his friends. But in this story, Blaster fails to save his friend  Scrounge who dies a cruel, horrific and painful death, to be recycled into metal for the Decepticon war campaign.

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The smelting pit is the final death sentence and resting place for robots who are not only considered inferior, but beneath consideration, particularly not from the zealous war mongering Decepticons. It is as close to genocide as you will see in a kids comics produced solely to sell toys, and the serious tone makes it something that would never have aired were the same story conceived as an episode of the animated series.

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Well that’s it for this short list of Memorable Moments from Bob Budiansky’s Tranformers run for Marvel Comics. Stay tuned, I’ve got some more highlights saved for my next posts covering some of the cool battles, EPIC moments  and the best forgotten stuff from Bob Budiansky’s Transformers US Marvel comic book stories.

It’s a scene recreated in stunning pin up art with all the emotion, horror and desperation of the origianal scene by Casey Coller and John Paul Bove

 

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5 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT TITANS RETURNS BLASTER

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5  TRANSFORMATION

Generation One Blaster has the same simple transformation as Soundwave. It’s simple fun and intuitive. Personally I’m a big fan of simple transformations, rather than needlessly complicated – these are kids toys after all – not rubiks cubes. Then again, some fans enjoy more complex transformations, no doubt people who may enjoy slide puzzles or the dreaded rubiks cubes (I hate both of those things), and Titans Return Blaster has enough complexity to satisfy that crowd, while still simple enough that once you learn how to switch between Bot, Base and Boom-box, it’s still fun and challenging without being a headache.

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4. PLAY VALUE

Blaster is now a triple changer, along with many other Voyager and Leader class figures in the Titans Return line. The base mode is a fun battle station, or in my mind, a night club with upper floor, the little Titan Masters enjoying the groove and phat beats. The base mode configuration is already proving popular with various fan modes popping up online.

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As fun as it is seeing Blaster fighting Soundwave in the cartoon, I like the idea of a music based battle in  a nightclub even more. So much so that I turned a bit of one of my favourite G1 episodes where Starscream and Soundwave run a nightclub into a 12 page parody comic (I’ll post the full 12 pages in another blog soon). Click on the below image to see it at full size.

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Sound-Dave vs the OughtNOT-Obots by Batfan John [click to see full size image]

3. PROPORTIONS AND AESTHETIC

Titans Blaster has a great overall aesthetic to him. He’s big and blocky like his G1 brother, he’s got nice modern articulation, and best of all he looks the shit. He’s stylish, has his own look that just can’t be beat, and is all around one classy Bot.

Check out the pics below to see him with my KFC Mirrorverse Transistor, Generation One Blaster and FOC / WFC Blaster. I think he fits in great with a Titans Return collection, a classics collection or just as a cool stand alone figure. He’s in that great place where he just works in almost any type of collection.

Titans Return Blaster G1 Blaster Foc WFC Blaster comparison.JPG

Titans Return Blaster G1 Blaster KFC Transistor comparison.JPG

2. BUILD QUALITY

Leader class figures are obviously more expensive than Voyager and Deluxe figures. For the price you want something a bit MORE. Not all figures manage it, some are still a bit crap even at the higher price point. But Titans Return Blaster feels nice and solid, his joints are lovely, there is a sense that you are getting a classy looking figure that compares favorably to upmarket expensive toys, but still with the play value of the cheaper toys, toys that look great but you can also play with without fear of breaking them.

T.R. Blaster ticks all the right boxes for me. KFC Blaster is gorgeous, but I don’t transform him simply because I don’t want him to break, and value him as more of an action figure than Transformer. WFC Blaster is kind of fragile too, and his chest gimmick thing constantly jams. T.R. Blaster however I can’t wait to Transform repeatedly and take some silly photos with like this Chthulu inspired Blaster pic below.

Titans Return blaster Chuthulu head BATFAN JOHN.JPG

1. THE HELMET a.k.a. MARVEL COMICS STYLE BLASTER

The single feature that at first put me off the most Titans Return Blaster was the big mask over his head, along with being a Headmaster rather than just a regular robot. but the mask/helmet came to be the feature I now love the most.

The mask face is more like the Marvel Comics versions of Blaster than the G1 toon Blaster. Having just read the entire Marvel US Transformers run for the first time this year, I can say that I loved reading those comics, and one of the best stories in the entire run, was Blaster on Cybertron, as a pseudo-leader, soldier and with a very different characterization than the cartoon.

The US Marvel Comics Transformers issue #17 was a very dramatic action packed issue written by Bob Budiansky (who also wrote character profiles for toy boxes and created many names for the original G1 characters along with comic legend Denny ‘O Neil). Bob did not watch the cartoon, and was free to make up his own interpretation of the characters, personalities and stories within certain limits, such as the initial loose ideas and character bios written down  and shared between Hasbro / Marvel / Sunbow.

I love vanilla G1 Blaster just fine, and this new Titans Return version appeals to me as the Marvel version of Blaster, that is who he is to me. It’s cool to have a G1 Ultra Magnus, and IDW (Combiner Wars) style Magnus AND a movie style MP Ultra Magnus. As fans we can enjoy any or all of those interpretations of our favourite classic characters. It’s great to have options to choose between for different toy representations of character we love – or we can choose to buy them all.

Titans Blaster is a nice mix of the G1 toy, the cartoon model and the Marvel Comics version.

In this image below you can see Blaster’s face as he appeared in the G1 show and 1986 movie.

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Here is KFC Transistor, a third party MP style Blaster that has the white face of the cartoon model, but with the helmet and yellow eyes of the toy version.

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The Generation One toy has yellow eyes, pointy Prime-like antenna ears, and a silver helmet/visor that sits over the top half of his face.

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Marvel Comics Blaster has a yellow face, and full red helmet and visor with blue overlay on top of presumably his eyes and the top half of his face, and longer antenna ears, but with the slight curve on the end of the antenna’s like the cartoon model. Or maybe the visor is meant to be clear and blue is the glow of his eyes underneath. Hard to tell with the simple color palette of 80’s newsprint comics.

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The Titans Return version has a mix of these elements. The cartoon style ears which bend outward at the tip, the silver top half mask like the toy, a full visor overlay like the Marvel Comics version, and silver (or white) face under the helmet. All together it gives Blaster a cool unique look that faithfully blends previous different versions into a cohesive whole that works.

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Here’s a final face comparison with Titans Blaster, KFC Blaster, Generation One Blaster and the cartoon Blaster, all of which I dig, as Blaster is my all time favourite dude along with Prime, Grimlock, Shockwave and Soundwave.

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Thank to TFW2005.com for the base mode pic.You can find their full HD gallery of photos here

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Blaster – Cool as Ice and Ready to Rock ‘n Roll

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One of my all time favourite Transformers (Blaster) is being released this year in a shiny new Headmaster version as part of the Titans Return toy line.

I was kind of weighing up whether to get it or not, but man it’s fucking Blaster!

YEAH I’m getting it. Decision made.

I’ve had a G1 Blaster for a while, I’d say 25 years at least. Don’t remember exactly when I got it. My grandfather gave it to me, and I’m pretty sure it was second hand then, as it was missing some bits and was loose, with no box. For whatever reason, I love the chunky G1 aesthetic. Metroplex, Blaster, Soundwave, I just adore their toy designs, the characters and the character art. Loved them then, and now, my taste in robots has never really changed.

 

Transformers g1 Metroplex Blaster Soundwave Overlord

 

For some people those collections of squares and rectangles are a bit of an eyesore. I get it. Some people love nice curves like Galvatron, Cyclonus or Arcee. Some folks like super-duper-sexy robots or mecha like Gundam, Robotech, Neon Genesis Evangelion or Virtual On type designs. Or even just other modern Transformer toy designs. I admire all those designs too, but I LOVE my old school Transformers – big ‘n burly boxy weirdos that they are.

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As far as robot designs go, I love big, blocky and brawny. The wrestler look, no neck, all muscle baby. That I grew up a skinny underweight weak kid certainly plays a part in it.

It’s part of the same appeal when you watch Ah-Nold films, you see a big tree of a man and want to grow big and strong too.

 

TRANSFORMERS ARE CRAP MATE!

Some people feel like Blaster is  a crap character and a crap toy. But not me.

I think G1 Blaster was a decent toy design back when it was released, and it’s a decent toy design now. My old one still transforms perfectly. LOVE the aesthetic. It stands up, the limbs work fine, nothing has ever broken or fallen off in all those years. He’s been transformed literally hundred of times.

CW Devastator requistions a groove John Sorensen Transformers Multiverse Blog

When I spotted a more complete, better condition Blaster on ebay last year going dirt cheap, I grabbed it right away. Now I had a Blaster with the handle on top in boom box mode, his ears antennas were longer (I never noticed they were half snapped off, I’d never seen another one before) and he was bit a brighter, having not absorbed as much sunlight as my old one.

Ebay Blaster sits proudly on top of the closet, next to my other old timey Blaster. I’ve never owned two of the same Transformer toy before, (in this scale) having him in both modes at the same time is really cool, and still a novelty and total luxury to me.

John Sorensen Batfan007 Transformers toys Blaster G1

We grew up pretty poor, so I never had more than 3-4 Transformers when I was a kid, and all but two of them were really boring ones I didn’t care for.

The best two I had as a kid were Blaster and Doublecross (a two headed dragon monsterbot) and both of those came from my Grandfather, except Doublecross I actually chose myself in the shop, he came with the box, the weird red piece of plastic for “tech specs”, instructions and everything. It’s still my number one favourite Transformer toy, and favourite toy, period. Well I also had Beachcomber, he’s tiny, but very cool. Still have him too.

transformers doublecross g1 toy dragon mode-horz

 

WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN

I’ve bought new Transformers, and toys made from the most recent decade of toy lines that were falling apart either in the packet, or bits fell off after you opened it, and to me there is a BIG difference in quality from the G1 and G2 toys, to the modern day toys.

The G1 toys were strong toys, they lasted, they stood up to being played with. They rarely broke, with rare exception. Modern Transformer toys tend to be made of thinner plastic, they don’t hold together so well, bits fall off, all too often the limbs are hollow, their joints go loose and floppy in under a year of play, rather than taking a decade or more to get loose as a goose.

Some people write this off as nostalgia.

I tend to go more with “observable reality” that anyone can test for themselves by comparing toys from different lines, and seeing the difference in build quality first hand. Modern Transformer toy  by and large have more and more cost cutting measures applied, leaving them feeling cheap and hollow. Not every toy and not every toy line suffers so much from this, but it is distinct trend that any long term fan has noticed over the years.

Sometimes I see comments online such as “But modern Transformers have so much better articulation, sculpting, yadda yadda yadda, they’re better” and I think, sure they have those things, but a decently sculpted toy can ALSO have good quality joints, plastic and other things that made those G1 toys last build-wise.

The truth is that Transformers are TOYS, not models or die-cast or whatever, they are toys made for kids. That sell (relatively) cheaply in chain stores around the world. So there is always going to be an element of cheapness to them.

 

DESTROY ALL ROBOT DESIGNS

Nothing beats quality, great toy design, and cool art design.
I’ll be happy to pick up a Titans Return Blaster and most likely KFC Transistor/Blaster at some point too.

Coolest most laid back bot in the galaxy if you ask me… well next to Beachcomber.

As far as robot designs go, I love big, blocky and brawny. The wrestler look, no neck, all muscle baby. Check out Metroplex, Soundwave, Blaster and Overlord in the picture below, you can see the toy on top and art based on the toy underneath. Love those chunkimus proportions. Arr-ARGG-AHH!

tim allen drill

Transformers g1 Metroplex Blaster Soundwave Overlord

transformers generation 1 toy art metroplex overlord blaster soundwave
Your contestants ladies and gentlemen, for the the 2016 SUMO ROBOTO TOURNAMENT

 

I’ve got nothing against other types of  robot designs, but the big Gladiator / Titan look just excites me. It’s the same basic appeal to those old Godzilla movies, where Godzilla would fight MechaGodzilla or some other monster of the week, just two giant bad asses knocking seven shades of shit out of each other. Who doesn’t want to watch that?

Metroplex vs Trypticon
Godzilla vs King Kong? Nope – Trypticon vs Metroplex

 

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JAN! KEN! PO! – Best of 3!

 

So yeah, I love the big ‘n boxy look. And Blaster pulls that look off perfectly.

Blaster also received a Generation 2 fresh coat of paint and was re-released as the toy Twincast. I didn’t care for that color at first, but seeing more pictures of it recently – it has really grown on me, and I would like to pick one up at some point. Being an exclusive Japanese release, it is of course silly expensive to buy.

But there have been various reissues of the toy over the years… also silly expensive to buy.

Twincast and MC Blaster
Can you hear us, pump-ing on your stereo oh!

While there is not yet an official MasterPiece Blaster by Takara/Hasbro, there have been three unofficial MasterPiece Blaster toys by Keith’s Fantasy Club (KFC).

Well more like three variants and one mould to rule them all.

kfc-blaster vs G1 Blaster
He’s bad, he’s cool, he’s nobodies fool!

KFC’s Blaster is called “Transistor”. It is a damn sexy toy, and while I don’t own any of them, I am determined to pick up at least one of them.

KFC have made the regular G1 RED/YELLOW/GREY colored Blaster, his Generation 2 toy (and cartoon) variant Twincast in primary BLUE/YELLOW/GREY and another really cool variant. an evil Mirrorverse Blaster in GREY/BLACK/BLUE.

All three are fantastic looking highly detailed toys, and super-duper expensive, as most 3rd Party limited production run Unofficial Transformers toys tend to be.

KFC Blaster variant Double Deck
He may be Blue, but he’s smiling on the inside baby
mirrorverse transistor kfc MP blaster
Wonder Twins Activate! Form of… Empty Wallet. Shape of…Toy Induced Bankruptcy

 

So I look forward to picking up Titans Return Blaster this year, and hopefully a KFC Transistor, maybe that cool evil version, just for something different.

No doubt I’lll have more to say about one of all time favourite TOP 5 Transformers character/toy and  you’re gonna hear it right here on this fan-gushy blog.

Next I’ll be looking at some G1 era box art, vs the animation models vs the toys, and seeing where they differ or are similar.

Stay tuned Bot fans!

**Thank to TFW2005 and Brr Icy’s blog for some of the excellent toy photos used for reference in this post. Images remain property of their respective owners.**

You can find Brr Icy’s fantastic blog at http://brr-icy.blogspot.com.au/