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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Blackjack's Review: Generations Blackjack

Name: Blackjack
Allegiance: Decepticon
Subgroup: Stunticon; Sports Car Patrol
Size Class: Legends Class
Accessories: Weird axe-thing, trading card

Decepticon Blackjack is a fierce Decepticon who calculates the odds and hatches his evil plan.

What. The. Hell.

That was literally my reaction when the Combiner Wars photographs leaked a good year ago prior to me writing this review. I cannot believe it. Out of all the characters they haven’t done the Classics/Generations treatment for, Blackjack was dead last in receiving a Generations toy, let alone a brand-new mould.

(In case you didn’t already notice from the name, I kind of have a thing or two for Blackjack)

I mean, he really hasn’t done much in fiction. Yes, Blackjack has a pretty cool name, and I did use him relatively extensively in the site RPG… but in official fiction, Blackjack’s appearances were… absolutely minimal. He showed up in two issues of the original Marvel comics where he and the rest of his Sports Car Patrol (the Micromasters were sold in packs of four) with their identikit sneaky evil bastard personalities snuck on board the Ark and kind of manipulated the corpses of dead Autobots to freak Ratchet out, in a long-winded plot set up by a revealed-to-not-be-dead Megatron to get the Autobot medic to travel to Cybertron. He had minor cameos with barely a line in the short-lived Dreamwave Micromasters mini-series, and showed up in the earliest days of IDW comics in Spotlight: Nightbeat, where Blackjack and the rest of his patrol attacked the titular character on Gorlam Prime as part of a mysterious group of Transformers – and it’s around that time that I looked up his name, thought it sounded cool, made an account on this fansite and it stuck. He may or may not have showed up in the new tie-in comics to Combiner Wars, but I don’t care enough to find out.

He’s really just one toy among many, because the Micromaster set focused more on quantity than quality. He’s the leader of his Sports Car Team, but it’s not until Dreamwave’s profiles that he was actually given a personality that paints him as a calculating gambler that plans out schemes to get his insane team out of situations. Well, defiling corpses to enact a horror movie scene in order to give a doctor a mental breakdown is… a gamble, I am sure.

But anyway, compared to a lot of other characters in the gigantic pool to make a Generations toy from, Blackjack, a toy released near the dying end of the G1 toyline, somehow won over, well, quite a number of dudes that showed up in both the original comic and the cartoon. And I absolutely find this both hilarious and amazing for my little buddy here. Hey, all of you non-Grimlock Dinobots? Predacons? Omega Supreme? Trypticon? Blaster? Half of the freaking Beast Wars cast? Eat your freaking hearts out. Blackjack’s here to play the house.

Granted, the mould apparently started life as an attempt to create Runabout and Runamuck… and I can kind of see how that could work. The car-roof-on-chest and the slight positioning of kibble behind Blackjack’s head does point to the Battlecharger transformation scheme, though the rear of the car forming the legs is more similar to G1 Blackjack. But, you know, literally no one cares about Runabout and Runamuck. Plus, like, having an entirely-black robot mode or an entirely-white robot mode is really ugly.

So yeah, we’ve got a Blackjack toy! Which beautifully fits into the Combiner Wars theme by substituting for the little black roller car that came with the original Motormaster. So Blackjack was created, technically, to become Menasor’s bra. Well, there are worse fates, I guess, and I have to say – having the Legends class toy be actually integrated as part of the combiner instead of turning into a random gun like Powerglide did is definitely a step in the right direction. Especially when it actually confirms to the original design. So Blackjack gets to hang out with a different group of psychotic stunt drivers. Yep.

I think the news of a new Blackjack toy got me truly, truly excited the way that the rest of the Combiner Wars line or indeed anything revealed in the last year ever did. Certainly not those fancy-schmancy-super-expensive Masterpiece toys. And naturally, he was nowhere to be found. I spent a good month or two hunting for him in every single damn toy store and hobby store I can track down, even taking the opportunity of going to a different country to hunt for this accursed little bastard, but waves and waves of Warpaths and Vipers and Grooves and Bombshells and everything from the first and third waves just sit there and mock me, while Blackjack and his wavemate Huffer utterly elude me. Of course, Hasbro just refuses to let me be happy – they went and made a new Blackjack toy, but their distribution system was so utterly crap that an entire wave was missed. Thankfully, after a gigantic amount of frustration I broke down, took out my credit card and bought the little shit from an online seller. Who overcharged me for it, but still. That Blackjack, what a douchebag. I think the sheer amount of hard work I put into tracking the dude down really made me like the wee little fellow a lot more, though. I definitely do.

I could really rant on and on about how holy shit we’ve got a brand new Blackjack toy, guys. It’s a character that’s literally never been touched or homaged in any way since 1989. Holy hell, man.

Also as a little side-note, Blackjack (and all Legends Class figures in the Combiner Wars line) comes with a little trading card showing off the artwork commissioned for this toy. Cool I guess.

Alternate Mode:
Blackjack transforms into a black sports car which may or may not be based on a real-life model. I can’t really tell. It, well, is an absolutely faithful update of the original Blackjack toy. Yes, the original Blackjack was more of a Ford than the new Blackjack’s Lamborghini-esque look, but, y’know, it’s an update. And it’s definitely a good update, because Blackjack does look pretty great in alternate mode. He’s got all these sleek lines and has a fair amount of details sculpted into his car modes. Shame that his sleekness is kind of broken by his two feet pointing up from the rear of his car.

Blackjack is, as his name implies, mostly a beautiful shade of black. Like his G1 counterpart, all his windows are coloured yellow, but since we’ve got a better budget this time around, Blackjack has gained a couple of new colours in alternate mode. Purple racing stripes run along his doors, a Decepticon insignia sits on the center of his hood, and the headlights are picked out in a nice shade of silver. And of course there’s the matter of the robot feet being purple, which isn’t exactly a proper part of the alternate mode but still helps to break up the black.

Blackjack doesn’t roll that well, actually, since his wheels aren’t secured by pins as they normally are, but by these, well… whatever the technical term is. The point is, they’re not pins. And while they roll, the don’t roll that smoothly. Let’s leave it at that.

You could attach his odd-looking axe-thing to kind of become a spoiler of sorts, but that really works more for the planned Hot Rod retool of this toy than Blackjack. (I really have to note how surreal it is that such a big name like Hot Rod is retooled out of a nobody like Blackjack)

Overall, a really solid alternate mode, despite slight nitpickings. He’s sleek, he looks great and definitely still embodies the ‘sports car’ aspect of his original design.

Robot Mode:
Blackjack’s transformation is pretty basic, but it achieves a robot mode that’s a great update for the original Blackjack, except with more gold and purple added in. It’s not exactly a dead ringer, though… comparing it to the original toy, the transformation is different – the roof of the car forms Blackjack’s chest instead of the car hood, though it still does get the same silhouette as the original, giving Blackjack a big chunk protruding from his chest. The shoulders also start at, well, where shoulders normally start out for humans, but these giant shoulder kibble-pillars are all the rage among Micromaster cars back then. Also he’s got a faceplate instead of a mouth, but really that’s not that big of a deal either.

Despite those slight differences, though, Blackjack is unmistakably an update of the original character. However those infidels try to insist that he’s designed as Runabout, it clearly has been eschewed in favour of something more resembling the original Blackjack. He’s definitely more colourful – with his lower arms, thighs, abdomen, helmet and parts of his shoulder blades cast in purple plastic, and parts of his chest, his faceplate, his knee-spikes and part of his shoulders picked out in a nice shade of yellow.

Articulation wise Blackjack’s got all the articulation you need in a Legends class toy. In an ideal world he might be able to move his waist, but it’s not. He can move everything else, though – his head, thighs and shoulders are ball jointed, while his knees and elbows are hinged. He can strike a fair amount of poses thanks to his big stompy feet being really stable.

He comes with a weapon that most people claim is some kind of an axe. It kinda does, if you squint, but it really doesn’t look like a practical battle axe or pickax, and really looks more like he ripped out Hot Rod’s spoiler, dipped it in purple paint and is now using it to taunt people or something. It’s an odd choice for a weapon, certainly. Some sites theorize that this accessory was initially meant to be the hilt to Menasor’s sword, and I can sorta see that, and it would be awesome to have Blackjack hold Menasor’s giant sword all “I HAVE THE POWER” like, but alas, it’s not to be and Blackjack’s stuck with this impractical-looking accessory.

But other than the weird axe? Blackjack is definitely a really solid robot.

Combined Mode:
Blackjack transforms into Menasor’s bra. Well, not so much transform as just basically get pegged onto Menasor’s chest and just kind of hang out there. You can kind of attach the weird axe thing so Menasor has a decorated bra that kinda has chest-wings like Bruticus and Devastator do… though really Menasor’s chest-wings aren’t going to compete with his two Decepticon gestalt brothers.

Apparently Blackjack does a poor job of sticking to Menasor’s bosom, probably a slight little rebellion from the little dude because he’s not a Stunticon damn it he’s a member of the Sports Car Patrol. Not having a Motormaster to try it out for myself, the validity of this claim shall forever remain a mystery to me.

Marks out of ten out of the following:
Transformation Design: 6/10 Great, solid transformation. It’s a bit iffy and awkward how the arms peg onto the sides of his car and the odd hood-piece settling into place, but overall it’s a pretty well-done, if unspectacular, transformation.

Durability: 9/10 Nothing really seems prone to breaking.

Aesthetics: 10/10 Blackjack looks absolutely gorgeous. Oh, and the toy looks great too.

Articulation: 8/10 He’s missing the waist joint, but he’s got most other points of articulation and has enough range to use them properly.

Fun: 9/10 A bit subjective but I definitely had a lot of fun with him. Such a fun little toy to just muck around with.

Price/Value: 9/10 Definitely a solid toy if you manage to get him at retail price. I mean, I get overcharged for buying mine, but I’ve got an immense and inexplicable amount of love for the character so I think those two factors even each other out. You’ll probably get more value out of him if you have the rest of the Stunticons.

Overall: 9/10 Blackjack is truly a solid toy in both alternate and robot modes, and it’s not just by obvious bias talking. Definitely and easily one of my most solid and favourite purchases throughout this entire year. He’s a great-looking toy, slightly short of being perfect, but is definitely a solid choice to complement any collection. I, personally, am truly thankful to whoever decided to create this toy and even make it a charming, solid little dude. I mean, freaking Blackjack, man. Such an unexpected choice. I still can’t believe that this toy exist and I’m reviewing it.
 
 
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