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

Name: Bludgeon
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Samurai
Subgroup: Revenge of the Fallen Voyager Class
Accessories: Katana/tank turret, Tanto

Ah, Bludgeon. He had received lots of stunning scenes from the Marvel comics, and has lots of fans from his appearances there. G1 Bludgeon was a Pretender, and his shell, an undead skeleton samurai, was an iconic look. He proved to be one of the most effective Decepticons ever, even leading the Decepticons for a while in the Marvel comics. Bludgeon gives a more mystical aspect to the fiction as a creepy warrior who practices the dark art of metalikato. When the G1 series was rebooted by Dreamwave and later IDW, Bludgeon appeared in both continuities.

Sadly, the original toy leaves much to be desired. The inner robot looked generic, while the iconic skeletal samurai was a blob of plastic. And he didn't even come with his iconic sword!

So, anyway, Hasbro has realised that creating homages to older characters actually do make fans happy (whilst kids just loved transforming robots) hence the reason for lines like Alternators and the two Classics lines. Come the movies, and at the tail end of the ROTF line the designers decided to reimagine older characters in the movieverse aesthetic. Guys like Brawn, Dirge and Breakdown get new Universe/classics toys in the movie aesthetic. Bludgeon managed to luck out after Hasbro deeming that they can't have too many tanks in the first two Classics lines.

Of course, people couldn't wait to use Bludgeon in fiction. Hasbro's Cyber Missions had Bludgeon in their debut commercial episode, while Furman's Titan work featured Bludgeon prominently as one of the lead villains.

The name Bludgeon was used for a toy in late G1, as part of the second year of Pretenders. His inner robot transforms into a tank while his shell was the aforementioned samurai skeleton. After Scorponok and Thunderwing's deaths in the Marvel comics, he succeeded him as leader. This remained until G2 where he got atomized by a reborn Megatron. The name was reused for a toy in the Robots in Disguise line, a repaint of the G2 Megatron toy. The ROTF line brought us two new Bludgeon toys. The first was a forgettable repaint of Movie Wreckage, packaged with a repaint of Blackout as Whirl. When this figure first surfaced, people thought it was supposed to be Wreckage, and Wreckage even got that paintjob in the IDW comics. Later on, as part of the NEST Global Alliance subline, Bludgeon received an all-new mold for himself.

On an unrelated note, this would be the first review where I get more... strict. Gone are the days where I say 'oh, it looks cool and I like it, give it a 9'. Mind, Bludgeon is going to get a positive review, but with other toys? You just wait...

ALTERNATE MODE

Bludgeon transforms into a tank. I'm not a tank expert, so I have to go to the Wiki for this. The specific model is a Japanese Type 90tank. It's realistic enough, filled to the brim with details you would expect from more modern toys. The main colour is a slightly dark shade of green. However, a little bit of orange (his shoulders) shows in the front of the tank, as well as some places on his treads, breaking up the realism a little. Bits of lighter green, black, brown and gray make nice secondary colours.

Bludgeon is not as heavily armed as, say, Movie Brawl, but packs enough with weaponry. His main turret is long and impressive. In addition to that, there is a rubber machinegun on top of his turrets, as well as four missiles mounted on each side of the turrets. The frame is packed full of details; it's adds to the realism that the Animated toys lack somewhat. Unlike, say, the Movie Wreckage mold that his first toy was repainted from, Bludgeon's tank mode doesn't show any robot-mode parts, save for the aforementioned orange bits. Even when you turn him upside down all you can see is his chest and his 'skirt'.

Bludgeon can roll on tiny wheels mounted on the stationary tank treads. The turret and machinegun each rotates separately, and that's about it for the play value in tank mode. There are no projectiles, so he won't have to stay in display with a silly bit of red plastic at the end of his turret.

All in all, a splendid tank mode. The details are what won me over, really. Take away the orange, and tank mode Bludgeon could pass as an unpainted tank model.

ROBOT MODE

After a surprisingly un-frustrating transformation, considering other ROTF Voyagers like Long Haul and Mixmaster, we get Bludgeon in robot mode. He is predominantly orange and brown, with the green, black and gray brightening him up. It's unmistakable that he is modeled after a Japanese samurai armour, with the kibble and details (like the chain-like tank treads hanging off his shoulders) helping the overall look.

All in all, Bludgeon looks like a hybrid of his iconic shell and his transforming inner robot. I really like the new robot mode design. When I first saw pictures of Bludgeon on the net, I was not impressed at Bludgeon's headsculpt. It was too robotic for my tastes. However, in person it doesn't look so bad. The red eye sockets might look a little too large and Bludgeon is missing the humanoid skull teeth, but all in all it lends to the more inhuman feel. It does resemble Figueroa's Bludgeon design for IDW, as he seems to be missing his lower jaw.

Bludgeon has a decent amount of articulation, and he is able to strike a large number of poses. His legs, despite the rather tight ankle joints, are able to support his weight. Again, the designers use the raptor/chicken leg claws thing, so Bludgeon is not front-heavy. The arms are also able to strike several neat poses with the swords, and he can even hold his katana in a two-handed grip a la Drift. He can swordfight with Optimus Prime!

Bludgeon comes with two swords. The front half of the tank turret could be pulled out to reveal a long sword (identified a katana in the Japanese instructions). It is one of the better usage of a tank turret rather than having it hang off the back or turn into an arm cannon every time. The turret splits into two pieces with gears, revealing another sheath inside. It contains a dagger, which is identified as a tanto by the Japanese instructions. Personally with my limited knowledge of Japanese weapons, the tanto looks more like a wakizashi (however you spell it) judging by its length relative to Bludgeon, but then I might be wrong. In any case, Bludgeon could strike a wide range of cool poses with his weapons. The hands grip the weapon well and they don't slip.

The long sword included with Bludgeon is a nice touch, considering how stingy Hasbro has been with weapons recently. Sadly, the rubber of the katana bends easily when you reinsert it into the sheath/turret (mine was already bent when I got the toy) so be careful. It could be bent back into shape with ease, but I'm worried about the plastic warping.

Oh, the tank parts on the left side of his hip double as sheaths for both katana and tanto, so Bludgeon has two ways of storing his weapons. It's nice touch.

Bludgeon is a nice hybrid of the three major designs he had (original shell, original robot and IDW's hybrid design) whilst still keeping some originality for himself. He is a serviceable Classics substitute, and undoubtedly one of the better toy-only additions to the ROTF line.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 8/10 Well done, really. Unlike many figures, the tank kibble feels ingrained into the robot mode, like the proper movie designs. While there are a few precarious steps, like when you move the head up, it's still well designed?
Durability: 6/10 Some of the rubber parts look like they would bend and stay that way with too much force. The katana, in particular, was bent from the start. Some of the ratchet joints feel weak.
Fun: 9/10 He's Bludgeon to hardcore fans. Even to kids, seeing a tankformer with a skull head and samurai swords... it's cool.
Aesthetics: 9/10 Once you get past the slightly iffy skull head, Bludgeon makes a wonderful display piece in either mode. He is a nice blend of the movie's complex design, as well as both shell and robot from G1. The swords help to enhance his badassery.
Articulation: 8/10 The tank kibble doesn't get in the way of poses like pictures seem to imply. However, the claw-like legs don't really support too many poses. The cool weapons do make up for it somewhat.
Value/Price: 7/10 Any way you put it, toys are insanely expensive nowadays. Bludgeon is worth the Voyager class than some random shite like Stratosphere, though.
Overall: 9/10 I would give it a ten, but I need to raise my standards and everything, so nine it is. Bludgeon is a nice toy that would please both Movie and Classics fans. He's a well-thought-out toy, with an excellent design. Highly recommended.
 
 
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