Revenge of the Fallen Voyager Class Bludgeon Toy Review
Release Date: December 2009
Price Point: $22.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Katana sword/part of tank barrel, Wakizashi sword
Text from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
DECEPTICON BLUDGEON was nearly destroyed by a fight with the Metallikato Master AUTOBOT WHIRL. Forced to retreat and hide, he scanned a new vehicle mode and disappeared into the Southeast Asian jungle. He is desperate to prove himself against an AUTOBOT, however, so he has caused just enough chaos locally to attract the attention of IRONHIDE. Now he lies in wait for the AUTOBOT, ready to spring his trap and destroy his victim in an instant. Recreate exciting movie scenes or stage your own living room battles with this awesome DECEPTICON warrior! MECH ALIVE gearing helps bring this havoc-wreaking villain to life and reveals his hidden scabbard accessory! His two “swords” make him even more of a threat in robot mode. Then, convert him to jungle tank vehicle mode and track down his enemies, no matter what terrain they choose for their escape! N.E.S.T.
The popularity of the character of Bludgeon is one of those fascinating anomalies in Transformers history that pops up now and then unexpectedly. The original Bludgeon appeared in the Generation One series as a latter day Pretender. Pretenders were Transformers with armor suits that often resembled organic creatures, sometimes monsters, sometimes animals. In Bludgeon's case, his outer armor looked like a Samurai warrior with a skull head. Inside was the actual Transformer, a small green tank that transformed into a robot.
This character never appeared in any animated series, nor does he appear in either of the two feature films, but he is a fan favorite thanks to his treatment at the deft hands of long time comic book writer Simon Furman. Furman took what could have been an obscure character and brought him front and center as a capable warrior who led the Decepticons for a brief time in the original Marvel series. From there, he would go on to appear in the Dreamwave Transformers comic book series. More recently, the character was introduced into the live action movie universe via the Toys R Us exclusive Bludgeon vs. Whirl two pack. Apparently he lost his battle with Whirl only to return in a new body represented by this Voyager Class figure.
As mentioned above, the original Bludgeon's vehicle mode was a green tank, and from that inspiration "Revenge of the Fallen" Bludgeon also transforms into a tank. Taking yet another bit of inspiration, he transforms into a modified Japanese T-90 tank. This is quite appropriate since the robot mode is heavily reminscent of a samurai warrior from that same country. Several features of the real life T-90 have made their way into this vehicle mode design including:
- The basic shape of the tank is the same as the T-90 including the side panels over the treads extending out beyond the middle section in the front.
- The turret section has a machine gun mounted on top near the gunner's hatch.
- In middle of the front section there are two round headlights. These are similar in design to the lights found on the T-90, however these lights are much closer together than the ones on the real life tank.
- Bludgeon has the same number of wheels on each side as the real life T-90 including two that look more like gears in the front and back.
- There is a rectangular pod (that may hold a sensor or camera) mounted on the left side of the turret towards the front, a similar feature appears on the T-90.
- There are three distinct, rectangular armor panels on the sides of the tank that resemble those found on the T-90.
- On the front end of the tank, each side has a curved "skirt" like cover over the treads just like those on the T-90.
Of course, to escape trademark issues, there have been modifications made to the basic design of the T-90 tank. These include:
- The shape of the turret on Bludgeon is very different than the real life T-90's. The T-90 has a turret with sides that flatten out at angles while Bludgeon has a more traditional "boxy" turret in a rectangular shape.
- The end of Bludgeon's cannon barrel has some extra detailing that stick out to the sides not present on the T-90's cannon.
- There are missile launchers mounted on either side of the turret that the T-90 is not equipped with.
- On the sides of the T-90's turrets are three tubes curved back, here instead are rectangular box-like structures sticking out to the sides that look like storage containers. What could be these tubes have been moved forward a bit, and are completely vertical instead of angling in any direction.
- Proportionally speaking, the middle section of the tank is a lot wider on the T-90 than Bludgeon.
Whether or not the figure is totally "real life accurate", there's no doubt that Bludgeon is nicely detailed. Everywhere you look there's some small detail to catch your eye. The aforementioned side panels have lines dividing each one into three segments along with raised circles representing bolts. The lower section of the tank is choc full of bolt details, tubes, vents, cross hatch patterns and even non-detachable "tools" sculpted into the back of the figure including a shovel. Towards the front are small headlights mounted on either side of the vehicle, and the turret itself has several hatch details and more vents and tubes towards the back. It's clear the designers wanted to work hard to evoke the feel of a real life vehicle that actually gets used by soldiers and they succeeded wonderfully in my opinion.
Bludgeon is cast in several distinct plastic colors. The most omnipresent is military green, making up most of the body of the tank turret and main body. Light grey plastic can be found on the turret for smaller parts such as the missile launchers and the end of the cannon barrel. You'll also find some grey on joints towards the front of the vehicle used in the transformation. Orange plastic also appears, though here it is kept to a minimum, showing up only in the front end of the tank and on the back wheels. Black plastic is mostly found on the lower section of the vehicle, making up not only several wheels on but also the treads themselves. While the treads are soft plastic, they do not roll but rather the soft plastic is a funciton of the transformation. Also note the machine gun and the end of the cannon barrel are also soft plastic due to safety concerns.
Metallic green, brown and black paint fill in the details on this figure. Metallic green is foun don the top of the turret towards the back as well as on the panels that stick out on the sides. Brown is used to paint the ends of the missile launchers and the "skirts" in the front. Black is used for details on the orange parts in the front as well as two large Decepticon symbols on the sides. I was rather surprised how few decos there were in this form, but I think it looks great as it is. It is admittedly a very "clean" looking tank, without any spray ops that would indicate wear and tear, but while I do loves me some spray ops, I think this is meant to represent Bludgeon soon after he gets his new body so it would still be new, at least that's how I rationalize it.
Bludgeon rolls on four small orange wheels on the bottom of the vehicle, connected to the center of the treads. As indicated before, the treads themselves do not move. The tank barrel can turn from side to side, but due to the transformation scheme the cannon is not able to move up and down. This is just enough functionality for a tank and it looks great either way.
Transformation to Robot Mode:
- Flip the tank over and detach the front and back tread pieces from the center one. They'll just dangle there and that's okay, it's how they're meant to be.
- Lift the center green panel on the top of the tank's rear section.
- Swing down the green panels on either side of the center panel you just moved.
- Swing down the tread sections form the center to the back, this also takes a good portion of sides of the tank down as well.
- Swing the black hinged piece forward and then connect the two brown waist pieces together.
- Swing out the green panels on the lower legs, and swing out each of the feet and heel pieces.
- Split the front of the tank and swing each half out.
- Push the waist section up to reveal the robot head.
- Straighten out the halves from the front of the vehicle.
- Swing the orange panels down over the shoulders.
- Fold the ends of the treads pieces on the arms up.
As a long time Transformers fan, seeing a robot mode such as Bludgeon's simply puts a big old smile on my face. While G1 Bludgeon did have an inner robot (and a rather generic looking one at that), he was most often portrayed with his Pretender shell on most of the time. This Samurai armor inspired form looked fantastic in G1 and was quite different than the other more animal-based monsters most other Decepticon Pretenders had. This robot mode takes several elements of that armor and updates them while integrating them into the tank form. In essence, the vehicle mode serves as the homage to G1 Bludgeon's vehicle mode while the robot mode calls back to his Pretender shell, and that is an inspired way to celebrate the character.
There are several features in this robot mode that serve as homages to G1 Bludgeon's design:
- The head design looks like a samurai helmet on top of a skull face. The helmet has a V shaped crest on the middle, resembling the original Bludgeon. Unlike the G1 head which had distinct rows of teeth and a jaw, this one looks more like insectoid mandibles going over a tube-like piece that runs across the bottom of the face. There is no nose sticking out, and instead there is just a raised section with an indentation in the middle. The eyes are large, with a flat top and curved on the bottom. It's a creepy looking face, but it definitely takes influence from the movie aesthetic with its insectoid mandibles hanging down under the "nose".
- The chest design looks like two distinct panels covering each half of his chest. This design is layered in the center and is reminscent of G1 Bludgeon's chest armor but with a lot more detail.
- Tank armor winds up becoming side armor pieces on the hips. While the armor pieces themselves don't look like those on G1 Bludgeon, the idea of having hip armor inspired by samurai armor is the element being carried over here.
- Over the center of his waist piece is an armor piece with sculpted segments all pointing downward. G1 Bludgeon had a piece very similar to this as did classic samurai armor, making it a nice homage in more ways than one.
What's interesting about this robot mode is that the designers seemed to take the visual imagery from the skull and expand upon it to the rest of the body. Many of the armor parts on Bludgeon appear to be wrapped around a thin skeletal network of tubes, gears and wires. Such parts are most evident on his arms and thighs, where parts like his elbows are thin and then lead to heavily armored sections like the shoulder. In a way, this borrows from the live action movie aesthetic of having a lot of inner parts covered up by armor, though in this case the outer armor has a lot less jagged parts and form more well defined shapes than many of the movie universe Decepticons. The movie influence even makes it into his hands and feet. The hands only have three fingers and a thumb (for some reason the movie Transformers tend to not have five digits) and his feet are sharp and claw like, with two huge calws in the front with a smaller one in the middle and back. I really love this look as it is both sleek looking and highly detailed at the same time.
The same plastic colors that you would see in the tank mode appear here, but all the colors balance out very well. Green, dark brown, light brown, light grey, black and orange plastic all balance out with no color really dominating any one part of the body. For instance, the torso is cast mostly in dark brown, but the chest panels are painted orange (except in the middle of each side), offering good visual contrast. His shoulder joints, parts of the head and other joints such as the upper arms and legs have grey plastic, but they are connected to light brown and orange parts, giving a nice differentiation from one part to the other. Oramge paint is also found on his waist armor and the front of his lower legs. His eyes have been painted red while the raised details on his shoulders are painted black. I really dig these particular details as they are asymmetrical, with the right side looking like storage pouches and the left looking like the ends of a weapon. In an interesting note, it would appear at one time he was meant to have light piping in his eyes, as the back panel on the head is a totally separate piece than the rest of the head, but it was later abandoned and replaced with grey plastic instead. Shame, I think some glowy red eyes would have looked fierce on this guy!
Bludgeon has a fantastic twenty three points of articulation. This includes five points on each arm and four in each leg. A lot of the upper body articulation is tailored to accomodate his main weapon, a giant sword based on a Japanese Katana. Simply pull on the end of the cannon barrel on his back the the barrel detaches, revealing itself to be the handle of the sword! This fits into both his hands, with one hand on top of the other (as a Katana is meant to be held). The way his arms are designed, he can hold the sword in front of him, to the side or overhead. What's also super cool about this weapon is that it is one the character has been portrayed as carrying since Generation One, except the original toy never actually came with any kind of sword at all! Like so much of the design of this figure, it is a true testimony to the multimedia influences of the past affecting the design of a figure in the present. Bludgeon has another weapon however, and this one ties into his "Mech Alive" feature. Swing out the right side of the tank turret and you'll reveal a gear that turnes connected to several rods. The detail inside the turret is pretty darn incredible, with a small sheath for a Wakizashi style sword that moves up at an angle, tons of tubes, circles and other designs that really give the sense that you're looking inside a complex machine.
Both weapons can be held in each hand in this mode. In a really nice bonus, a small notched piece flips out of his left hip armor. You can slide the Katana inside that notch and there's another small notch next to it to fit in the Wakizashi. I love this design element. It's so simple but it adds a lot to the figure's functionality and appearance. Lots of kudos to the designers on this one!
Bludgeon is an inspired design in so many ways. He draws upon elements of the character's original figure, his portrayal in many years worth of comics and adds touches of the Movie universe design aesthetic to boot. On top of that he simply looks cool in both modes and has a ton of sculpted detail, and proper credit must be given to any figure that can utilize the color orange as a primary color and not look horrific and garish! Bludgeon is highly recommended, pure and simple. Go buy him now!