Blitzwing - Generations - Voyager Figure

Height: 18cm to top of head

Articulation: 21 total points - Swivel neck; 5 points each arm: Universal shoulder, bicep swivel, hinge elbow, swivel wrist; 5 points each leg: Universal hip, thigh swivel, hinge knee, ball joint ankle; Plus additional joints utilized in transformation elements.

Colors: Molded purple, beige, black, grey, clear yellow; Painted grey, purple, lavender, beige, red, silver, yellow

Accessories: Rifle, sword, missile

Release Data: Released in the United States in May, 2013 at a retail price of US$19.99.

Author: ExVee



Within his heavily armored and highly destructive body, Blitzwing has the ice-cold mind of a master strategist - sometimes. At other times, he is a boiling cauldron of rage, waiting for any excuse to unleash his firepower on the nearest target. And now and again he is a chaotic whirlwind of bizarre behavior and intermittent bursts of plasma fire. His unpredictability makes him a poor soldier, but his raw firepower and unstable mind make him a useful tool for a commander as capable as Megatron.

I guess at some point it's easiest to just say that since Classics began in 2006, everyone has asked for everything to be remade in that style. Now, I'm still waiting for my Classics G2 Hooligan to be realized, but everyone has their own priorities. Blitzwing was generally felt to be a prominent omission though, especially when Universe (2008) produced an Octane. It's taken nearly seven years since the outset of modernized G1 character remakes, but Blitzwing has finally reached the front of the line, as one of the first two of the Thrilling 30 anniversary line to reach retail. Time to cross another one off the list...

Robot Mode

In an odd step, this may be the weakest of Blitzwing's modes. There's only one serious design issue contributing to that, though. The shoulders hinge down in to the torso for robot mode, but in almost all samples of the toy, they won't catch and lock in place. So moving the arms will typically pull the whole shoulder loose instead. If you remember what it was like trying to pose Reveal The Shield Jazz's arms (or the arms of any other use of the mold) you already have a sense of this. The shoulders can be held in place while the arm is posed, so with a bit of care it's not a fatally damaging problem. Thing is, I've figured out why this happens and why the extent varies from instance to instance. A panel is attached to the back and is used for rotating the turret in tank mode. The panel is made of the unpaintable plastic typically used in stress-bearing places on Transformers. The panel is kind of thin, and the plastic can and does warp. And the tolerances, that is the degree to which the parts can deviate from perfect alignment and still work is incredibly tiny, so just about any degree of warping pulls the shoulders back to where they can't lock in. I've heard of trying to correct for it by sanding down some of the toy's internal structure as well as thickening the tabs in the torso so they can catch again, but what method, if any, you should choose to try to address this will depend what you're comfortable attempting with your toy.

Blitzwing is something of a fusion between the G1 character and aspects of the Animated take. The torso now greatly resembling that of a Seeker is a good example of what's borrowed from Animated. Tall shins decorated with tank treads are also an Animated trait. The feet are G1 inspired, in a way. For those not familiar, the original Blitzwing toy in G1 didn't have feet. It stood on its jet nozzles and used the tail wings as a toe. This Blitzwing has feet ...which are styled to look like spread out jet engine nozzles. Neat way to acknowledge the original, I suppose! But yes, the major Animated callback is the face-switching head that cycles between a G1 style Blitzwing face, and the two distinct faces of Animated, Crazyface and the calmer "Icy" personality. The ability to switch faces can be ignored easily if it somehow offends you. The side effects kind of can't though. The helmet is a bit oversized relative to the faces in order to give clearance for the pieces to move easily. The faces and the helmet have all been cast out of soft plastic as well. I have suspicions of practical concerns around this, but outside the unlikely case of official comment on the matter there's not really any evidence in one direction or another. In any case, being soft plastic doesn't seriously affect them in any way that they wouldn't already have been.

I'd say I'm happiest with how Crazyface was realized. Icy is actually much too round looking where the Animated design was made to look like it had a thin face with really high, pronounced cheekbones. I also don't like that Icy's nose has been colored black in attempt to emulate what Animated looked like. Except that Animated's noses worked differently, being protrusions of brow ridges accounting for often being differently colored than the faces. In a face of this style, the nose should be the same purple as the rest of the face. The standard face has style issues too. There's "guards" around the edge of the face that really needed to be painted in order to delineate from the actual face because being all the same color makes the cheeks look puffy and the face awkwardly wide. Switching faces can be tough sometimes too. Each face is a separate piece rotating around a central post, and sometimes they take a little extra encouragement to start moving freely again.

So while Blitzwing has received a number of new traits from Animated, everything is rendered in a Classics style. ..except maybe Crazyface, who actually is an even better match for the animation design than the Animated toy somehow. But I kind of like the result of this merging of design concepts being to make Blitzwing look like a bigger, tougher Seeker, even to the way the jet nosecone hangs off the back of the head. Original Blitzwing was mostly notable for being a stack of indistinct boxes. I'm honestly happy they decided to bring in some additional elements to up the visual interest. Though somehow I can't help but be reminded of the number of custom Blitzwings I saw over the years that used Classics Seekers as a starting point.

Blitzwing is another of a recent class of toys that see very sparing use of ball joints in the articulation model. In fact as posing joints go only the ankles use ball joints. The tail winglets to the side of either foot also use them, but those aren't load bearing. Blitzwing makes use of big, thick universal joints at the hips and shoulders. None of them are ratcheted joints, but they're solid to hold poses all by virtue of friction. Blitzwing has a really great range of motion at all the major joints. Even the wing edges sticking out from the back of the legs has no negative impact on the range of the knees. Blitzwing has a chunky, blocky appearance, but has a very surprising freedom of movement overall. The only place where it gets screwed up is at the shoulders because they won't lock in place. Though to look at it from another perspective, the way those panels are made to fold, you can really easily fake some extended range of motion out of the shoulders.

Blitzwing doesn't immediately appear to have a lot of paint, since few small details are executed with paint. But Blitzwing still uses quite a bit. Most of it takes the form of color matching parts of limbs where the mold layout disagrees. So the toy isn't shortchanged on paint apps, they're just used in a way where they end up not standing out very much in order to make parts of the toy not stand out so much. The helmet is painted over in yellow, and the yellow isn't adhered especially well, because yellow paint is generally terrible. Just in the short time I've been messing with my own Blitzwing I've noticed spots of the paint having rubbed off. Below the chin is an especially likely spot, since you'll invariably rub or scrape over that edge if you try to rotate the faces.



You will know pain and despair. But just with the nosecone. Because changing Blitzwing in to either of its vehicle forms - and especially switching directly between them is far, far more simple than you would probably ever expect. Except for that one detail that will probably have you stopped for at least as long as it takes to accomplish the entire rest of the process. The very soft plastic nosecone was very likely intended at the engineering stage to actually be a more rigid piece, because I think like that it would actually be able to work. The tabs that seem like they should be involved somehow in keeping the nosecone in place for either vehicle form ultimately do nothing but get in the way and make it harder to jam the nose shut. The groove meant to catch under the front edge of the cockpit canopy can't do its work in a plastic this soft; it'll just distort around the tab until it comes loose. The spring forcing the robot head up isn't helping matters either, and after photography is done I may look in to whether it'll be practical to disable that.

But that's really the bummer about how the toy transforms, because it's the only part that is a complete failure. If it could have been the material that it looks like it was meant to be, there wouldn't be any significant issues with how the toy transforms. Just having it in hand it's fairly easy to understand with only the package photos as reference how the parts will move to form either of the vehicle modes and it's not a great difficulty to get them all there. The one bright spot with the nosecone situation is that you only ever have to secure it in place once along the way, and it can stay as it is when switching from tank to jet or vice-versa. Otherwise direct conversion from one vehicle mode to the other largely just requires quarter-turns of the robot limbs to change the outward facing surface and swapping between which set of vehicle-specific parts is hidden. It's actually kind of surprising how distinct the tank and jet are from each other when you realize how much of the major parts of the toy stay in the same locations for both.


Tank Mode

It's hard to decide which vehicle mode works better overall, but the tank probably has less of the other mode plainly visible. As tanks go, it's a bit on the stubby side. Actually, using the turret as the point of reference, it seems like it's missing an inch or so of the back end of the drive base. Despite the abbreviated appearance, it sells pretty well as a tank. The footprint is wide and square, it has enough panel coverage to be able to give the illusion of a solid structure (no H's here) and from the front, top, and sides there is very little of the jet standing out visibly. Now, look from the back or of course underneath and it's a different matter. The back really betrays the nature of things since there's no natural cover for the empty spaces inside. You can adjust some of the vestigial aircraft surfaces to help close those in. It'll never be a perfect result, but sometimes just not having a gaping hole is good enough. I won't act like there aren't other gaps and spaces visible around the tank where from the right angles you can see to the jet bits contained inside. But what I think makes it work is that from the majority of points of view you can't see that.

The rotating turret also surprised and impressed me. At least at first. I like that the functional detail was designed in, especially since it doesn't serve any additional purpose to the toy. The point of rotation is not doing any favors though. It swivels under the front edge of the turret, and so the back end swings really wide of the body. In doing it also uncovers a big chunk of the previously hidden jet anatomy, which all by itself makes me inclined against turning the turret at all. And since I'm certain this rotation is what led to the shoulder problem, in the end I'd have been just as happy to see this function left out. I kind of love the main gun, meanwhile. In basic functional terms it's not doing anything new or groundbreaking. It's a missile launcher, and fully contains the loaded missile which is very nice to see. And you get a normal spring-powered launch. But it has a novel trigger method. Rather than directly pressing a button or lever, you pull the cannon barrel back to release the catch. So to launch the missile, you end up emulating the recoil action you might see in a real tank. That's decently clever by itself, but I think what finally really sold it for me was the actual feel of the action. There's something intensely satisfying about a pump-action missile launcher. I really really wish this could have had a magazine designed in so that multiple projectiles could be carried and auto-loaded. Expending four or five missiles in quick succession this way may have just been too much fun. But even as a single-shot system, this is pretty great. The missile doesn't launch all that far, maybe two feet if you're lucky. But at this point I think the method trumps any result.

The tank-specific surfaces are detailed accordingly. And while the drive base tends to blend together well enough, it ends up clashing some with the turret. Partly the basic shapes are to blame, as the tank elements on the base are more squared off, while the turret has more flowing curves. The style and pattern of the sculpted detail is also distinctly different between them. It's the part of this that does probably the most damage to the idea that this is supposed to be a single cohesive vehicle form. Making the tank "skin" less specifically tank-styled probably could have helped everything blend better overall while not taking away from the tankness at all. Also, one final note of caution: The jet canopy hangs a little bit low under the body. There could be paint scrape issues if rolled repeatedly over rough, irregular surfaces such as trying to monster-truck Autobot cars or something.


Jet Mode

As a jet, the toy is less concerned with the practice of hiding parts. The only major element of the tank that might be thought of as "concealed" is the main gun, and that's debatable. Partly because the instructions suggest swinging the cannon forward under the body for an attack configuration, and because when stowed within the body, I'd be surprised if there wasn't at least a vague intent for the gun barrel to be interpreted as an engine nozzle. So yeah, while the tank may do more of a job of hiding the alternate mode elements, the jet takes some steps to try to just incorporate them. In these two different approaches, both vehicles can probably be seen as reaching an equivalent success in their execution. The jet mode has more "good" angles to be able to look at it, since even the robot details underneath can almost be passable as just generic machine elements. The decided squareness required for the tank mode is the biggest sacrifice the jet has to make. As long as you're not trying to look at this with the expectation of a realistic vehicle form, you won't really notice anyway.

Though I think the tank does the best at securing itself together, the jet manages pretty well too. The tabs used to fix the robot arm elements in place could stand to be a tiny bit more snug. That's the main source of a feeling like the jet is fragile. The way this mode is designed, the arms and legs are supposed to be mutually supporting to some extent. Both portions also have tabs elsewhere to help anchor in, but the legs get a much more solid lock in to the vehicle body overall even discounting the hip connections. It's little surprise that the boosters or whatever the arms are supposed to become in this mode end up the weak link as they have the weakest connection to the rest of the body structure in general.

There's some thoughtful design elements. The wings have additional panels that can be swiveled out to help fill out the wing shape which would otherwise need to be truncated to fit within the legs. The robot feet are left to hang out at the back of the jet, but instead of a hearty shrug and moving on, the feet got sculpted detail that resembles jet engine nozzles. It's a hell of a stretch to try to pretend they are any sort of real jet component, but the sculpt at least helps bridge the fantasy to some degree of reality and make these robot feet more believable as intentional parts of the aircraft. The canopy is hinged and meant to open a bit, but in jet mode it mostly can't at all. The tab that theoretically holds the nosecone in place is part of the canopy, and no room is left for it to hinge open while engaged with the nose. It's one of those things where you can see what someone had in mind at the time, but the way it works out they might as well not have bothered.

I didn't try to pin the tank down as being related to anything real because outside of design concepts shared by most conventional tanks, it just isn't. And while this jet mode is of course not drawing from any real world sources, it may be borrowing from other fiction. With the booster structures on the back, it does mildly resemble a Robotech Alpha Fighter (or Mospaeda Legioss fighter, if you prefer). Not to anything near the same degree that Classics Jetfire was a Valkyrie, but there could credibly have been an influence. The gerwalk mode of the Alpha won't work though, which I only mention at all because I know for some people that's A Thing.



Blitzwing comes with a sword and a small rifle. Small to the point of looking more like an extended pistol. The gun is pretty standard fare in the realm of vaguely teched up handguns, and would be generic enough to look good with anyone that has a compatible 5mm hand or port to hold it. Oddly, Blitzwing almost can't do so himself. The shape of the forearms along with where the fists sit almost entirely prevents the toy from hand-carrying the gun. The most you can do is get the very end of the handle in the hand and then turn the wrist just a little and turn the rifle a tiny bit until it'll stay put okay. Though at this point you have the thing at an awkward angle and it just starts to feel like it wasn't worth bothering that much. It seems like the gun and the forearm may have been handled separate from each other. The stock is all that causes the problem, and that could easily have had its shape modified during development if the conflict had been noticed.

For use in the vehicle modes the gun is fine. It can sit on the tank like a commander's machinegun post, or be placed in a variety of spots on the jet as a fixed cannon. With two extra 5mm posts sticking out to either side, it's not hard to find a spot to fit the rifle on the vehicles. Just the robot mode has a hard time getting use out of it.

The sword works out a bit better. For one it does actually fit in the hands. This is a proportion-tweaked and up-detailed take on the original Electron Scimitar, and kinda has all the essential robot-sword aspects in its favor. The hand guard is needlessly large and complicated, the blade is thick as well as having varying widths and angles as you progress along its length. And there's a vent in the middle Just Because. It looks entirely impractical to use, but since it's for a robot it is suddenly ideal.

There's one side-facing peg to help the sword mount in the vehicle modes, and a "pass-through" 5mm port on the opposite side making it a valid gun mount when needed. For the tank the sword fits as an armor plate on top of the turret, helping to close it in some and make the cannon seem more structurally embedded. A similar purpose is served in jet mode, where it can be used to disguise a large gap between the boosters on the back. I guess if you want to it could hang under a wing too, but that's silly when it has a perfectly functional place to store already in that mode. Robot mode is a little more of a trick if you have the tank's cannon pointing up behind the head as intended. In that case you need to open the cannon armature up a little (which tends to involve pushing the head and cockpit assembly forward to make room) and you can peg the sword to the port on the base of the cannon where it will sit just fine as you snap everything back in place. It looks pretty natural like this too, so I'm well enough satisfied by the solution even if it's a little awkward to place and remove. If you keep the cannon pointed down, however, the 5mm ports on the back are much more accessible so it's really easy to quickly stow the sword.

Blitzwing also comes with a missile. It's designed kind of neat, too. While it of course has the long tail as expected, the first centimeter or so is made to look like a complete round by itself that is attached to the tail. There are a few kinds of tank ammo that look similar, though as far as I understand a form like that isn't standard. Regardless, I like the thought process of the missile's design. It's neat to have a complete looking projectile represented independent of the safety-required tail, instead of trying to elongate details in an attempt to blend the two aspects.


Closing Remarks

Blitzwing is big, chunky, and solid built, all qualities I find positive. But there's also one major and another moderate flaw. I'm not sure I want to characterize them as mistakes in design anymore, because I feel like the problems come down to the materials utilized instead of oversight in development. However you want to acknowledge these issues though, they do exist, and only the lesser of them is something that has options to try to fix. The nosecone which not only impedes transforming the toy but is also known to have a damaging effect over even a short time is something you'll be stuck with. And the way it's assembled I'm not sure after-market parts replacement is something you should count on.

I like what the toy is doing beyond those points though. Blitzwing manages a surprising amount with an impressive economy of parts and actions between each form. I'm still not sure if this is exactly the Classics Blitzwing I've wanted, but I know that it's more what I wanted than not. Including the Animated faces. Now, if Blitzwing had come with Human Alliance Football Coach I think I could just about call this perfect, but I'm happy with it anyway. I have to call this Could Have Been Better on the Figurereviews Non-Numeric Scale because of the nosecone issue, but if I could ignore that I'd gladly call Blitzwing "Good."

DateMay 17th 2013  
Score 5 stars (5 out of 10)  

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