"Generations" Titans Return Broadside with Blunderbuss Toy Review

in 2017, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Generation One, Generations, Titans Return, Triple Changer, Voyager

Generations
Titans Return

Broadside General Information:
Release Date: April 2017
Price Point: $24.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Blunderbuss Titan Master figure, Seat/Weapon

Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
Transformers Generations Titans Return Voyager Class figures are 7-inch scale figures that come with a Titan Master figure. The Titan Master figure becomes the head of the Voyager Class figure. It also works with Deluxe Class, Voyager Class, and Leader Class Titans Return figures (each sold separately). In Titans Return, the Autobots and Decepticons unite with Titan Masters, small bots that carry a power boost. Titan Masters are key to controlling an ancient race of warriors the size of cities: the Titans. Character Specs: Broadside: air and sea assault Titan Master Blunderbuss: radar and sonar boost Unite and power up for battle. Figure Specs: Voyager Class Broadside Awesome detail, more advanced conversion Triple Changer figure Modes: robot, aircraft carrier, jet Converts in 18 Steps (robot to jet) Links with Fortress Maximus figure (sold separately) 5 accessories Titan Master Blunderbuss Modes: robot, head Converts in 1 step Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

Very early on in the life of the Transformers line the toy line began to move away from the sole gimmick of transformation. Once figures like Combiners were introduced it became clear Transformers could be more than just a robot that changed from one form to another. In 1987 Hasbro and Takara took a bold step into a new play pattern by introducing Headmasters. Headmasters were Transformers whose heads detached and became smaller figures that could then pilot or ride the Transformers in beast and vehicle forms (or in a couple cases, their battle station or city forms!). Now almost thirty years after they were originally introduced the Headmaster gimmick has returned in a new form: Titan Masters!

Titan Masters focuses on the return of small robots to Cybertron that can unlock incredible power, and it is up to the Transformers to merge with them and harness those abilities and strengths. In some ways the story resembles "Armada" which had a similar conceit for the Mini-Cons. In true "Generations" fashion, Titans Return gives us characters from the G1 era of Transformers in new forms that incorporate this gimmick.

In Generation One, Triple Changers were first introduced as part of the Decepticon army. The first two were Astrotrain and Blitzwing and later Octane joined them. In response, the Autobots has Springer, Sandstorm and Broadside. However, despite many of these characters getting new releases over the years, one has been seemingly left out: Broadside. That is until now! While he is a Titan Master (differentiating him from Springer and Sandstorm) he is a Voyager class figure, fitting in nicely with his fellow Autobot Triple Changers.

Broadside is an extensive retool and redeco of the "Titans Return" Alpha Trion sculpt. That may come as a shock to some as Alpha Trion had a beast mode and Broadside does not, however the key here is the word "extensive". Hasbro and Takara have made great strides in the way they reuse base designs. Figures nowadays can start as one character and convincingly be turned into another. A great example is Highbrow who is an extensive (almost total) retool of Scourge. I think it is worthwhile to read Alpha Trion's review before this one, but given how heavy the changes are on this figure, I will still give it a thorough review.

Packaging:
The Voyager Class packaging for "Titans Return" is very similar to the "Combiner Wars" packaging. The background of the box is black and the right side of the box (if you are facing the box) has the vertical Transformers logo on it with the "Generations" logo above that. The figure is packaged in robot mode in the center and off to the side you can see the Tech Specs card. The lower left side has a bit of Broadside's artwork with the "Titans Return" logo under it. On the upper left hand corner you'll see a symbol with a robot, jet and car indicating the figure is a triple changer.

The side of the box features a more extensive look at the artwork. The back features all three of Optimus Prime's modes with Sovereign in both modes. The right side of the back features the "eco system" for the Titan Master system, illustrating that the Titan Masters can work with various size classes. The cosells on the box are: Autobot Shuffler, Perceptor, Megatron and Sky Shadow.

Titans Return figures come with a collector card, similar to last year's "Combiner Wars" series. However these cards are shaped differently, with corners cut out on two sides. The front features the character's artwork, giving you a better look at the full body. The back features something fans have wanted since last year: tech specs! These are not traditional specs with a full motto and so on, but instead there are four qualities reflected here (via icons). The four icons are: A robot flexing arms (strength), a character running (speed), a brain (intelligence) and a missile (firepower). These are laid out on the X axis of a bar chart with lines going across from a scale of one through twenty. Traditional tech specs only go from one to ten, but these tech specs take into account the Titan Master being combined with the Transformer. This extends the line into the zone past the number ten. I'm really glad these were added in as I think it was a missed opportunity not to do so last year. I also appreciate the bright and colorful icons and lines used on the back of the cards.

Accessories:
Broadside includes one blaster weapon. This weapon has a wide base that doubles as a seat for a Titan Master. The front half is a long weapon barrel that comes to a point at the end. The weapon has a 5mm peg on the bottom and sides, allowing you to attach it to other "Titans Return" figures. This piece is cast in translucent blue plastic.

Blunderbuss

Head Mode:
Before we get into the figure, let's define a rather unusual name. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines Blunderbuss as "a muzzle-loading firearm with a short barrel and flaring muzzle to facilitate loading" which...basically makes no sense for this character. It also defines it as "a blundering person" which could be what the designers were thinking, but that would just be a shame for the character. Either way, there you go, two possible explanations for the character's odd name.

When Broadside was originally developed for Generation One, there was a prototype toy that differed in appearance from the final toy that was released. This led to two distinct animation models being created. Both models were very different in appearance, but this figure uses the model based on the figure that was released in G1 as its inspiration. You can see the two different models on the TFWiki.

This head sculpt is based on the G1 toy which featured a rather square shaped head, visor eyes and a mouthplate with a "chin piece" at the bottom. There appear to be a bit more details on this head sculpt such as indentations on the parts of the helmet section flanking the mouthplate, but overall it is very clear where the source design for this head sculpt came from.

The head sculpt is cast in light grey and red plastic. However the face plate is painted a slightly darker, metallic grey with red eyes.

Transformation to Robot Mode:
Holding the front of the head, unfold the back half to reveal the robot mode.

Robot Mode:
In this form Blunderbuss shares the same design as Sovereign (Alpha Trion's Titan Master). The head, arms and legs are light grey while the torso is red.

There are five points of articulation in this mode. The hip and knee joints cause both legs to move together. All the joints are nice and tight.

Broadside

Robot Mode:
If you look at the photo of Alpha Trion and Broadside above side by side, you will see they share almost no parts in this form. I believe only the side panels on the legs and the feet remain unchanged (I guess we can count the hip joints too). However most parts including the shoulder armor, forearms, torso, thighs, lower legs and even the back pieces are all different from Alpha Trion. Still, if you look at the two figures next to each other, you can see how several parts move in a similar fashion to accommodate the transformation (the most obvious being the panels on the lower legs and the feet). Often retools and redecos are frowned upon by a segment of the fan population, but in this case the work is so extensive that it is practically a whole new figure.

The basic shape of this figure is very similar to its G1 counterpart. There is a faux jet cockpit in the center of the chest. That section is flanked by rectangular areas. The arms are blocky and the legs have the stabilizer fins from the Jet Mode on them. Also like G1 Broadside, this version of the character has blocky looking feet (though they are slightly more sleek looking on this figure). Truthfully, a totally faithful reincarnation of G1 Broadside would have been really dull as it is a rather plain looking figure by today's standards. Instead, I really appreciate the way the designers worked a ton of new details into the sculpt including overlapping armor panels on the arms and legs and the hints of equipment from his vehicle forms on his left arm and chest (where you will see landing gear).

Broadside is cast in dark grey, light grey, metallic red and translucent blue plastic. In general, the designers used the G1 figure as their starting point, but then changed the layout of the colors to make the figure more visually diverse. The original figure was basically a transition from light grey to dark grey to red (from top to bottom). This time out, the colors are mixed up a bit more. For instance, the shoulders and forearms are grey, while the elbows and fists are light grey. The chest has red on the sides with the light grey landing gear inside while the rest of the torso is dark grey with a bit of translucent blue and light grey in the middle. The result of this color placement looks great, and it definitely helps keep the figure from looking dull.

There are some paint details on this figure, but they are not immediately obvious. There is some yellow on the shoulders, which is easy to spot. However on the legs the stabilizer fins are painted using red and grey paint, but they blend very well with the plastic colors so it is not obvious until you realize they are shinier than the plastic under certain light. Interestingly, some details are not paint applications but rather they are stickers. In this mode, the Autobot symbol on the chest is a silver and red sticker. I can only speculate but my guess is the stickers on this figure are (in part) a cost cutting measure, because the way it is applied it is not 100% flat/smooth and it does not look nearly as good as a tampograph would.

There are twenty one points of articulation on this figure, though I am being rather generous. I am counting the two hinges on the back of the feet and the abiliaty of the shoulders to swing up slightly. Like Alpha Trion, Broadside has a gimmick where pressing a button on the torso (in this case the light grey piece) causes pieces to pop up on either side of his head. Instead of horns like Alpha Trion, Broadside has small rocket launcher pods that pop up! Each of his fists have 5mm ports on them allowing you to attach weapons or Titan Master weapons. For those fans who like to display their figures on Bandai stands, Broadside does have the necessary port on the back, but you need to swing the back panel out to get to it.

Transformation to Jet Mode:

  1. Detach Blunderbuss and the weapon and set them aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  3. Swing each fist into the forearms.
  4. Push the rocket pods from either side of the head down if deployed.
  5. Swing the back panel up to form the front of the jet.
  6. On each lower leg, swing the feet back against the lower legs.
  7. Swing the red stabilizer fins out, then swing the grey ones up.
  8. Move each leg up, connecting the tab on the waist area to the corresponding opening on the inside of the thighs.
  9. Swing the lower legs down.
  10. Swing the wings out from the back of each arm.
  11. Swing each robot arm down.
  12. Rotate each forearm so the clip on them connects to the square opening on the sides of the robot legs.
  13. The blaster can be attached to the port in the middle of the jet.
  14. Blunderbuss can sit inside the cockpit or inside the weapon.

Jet Mode:
It is not often that any alt-mode for a Transformers figure leaves me this conflicted. The Generation One Broadside figure had an okay vehicle mode, with the primary problem being that for a jet, the central section was basically a big rectangle so it did not look as sleek as it could have. In the case of this figure, the front and middle portion of the jet is fine. It is a bit chunky, but that's fine given that it has to be a robot and an aircraft carrier at the same time. The problem is more towards the back. Once you get there the mode kind of falls apart. Not literally, but visually. The forearms are very obvious, due in part to the elbows showing. Then the rear of the vehicle...hoo boy...it looks like the robot legs at an angle in some type of abdominal exercise position. Worse, the vertical stabilizers are angled backwards. Now, you can just lay the legs flat and if you really want to push your luck, you can snap off the vertical stabilizers and swap them for a much more "normal" looking jet mode, but really, you shouldn't have to literally break pieces off a figure to make it look right in an alt-mode.

The same plastic colors that show in robot mode also feature here including the light grey, dark grey and red. The newly revealed cockpit section is dark grey with red paint applications and a translucent blue cockpit cover. the wings are translucent blue as well. The wings feature grey paint applications and stickers that feature red line designs and Autobot symbols on top of them. The designs are based on the stickers used for G1 Broadside's wings, minus the blue details. Since the wings themselves are blue, they kind of fill that void on their own.

The new parts revealed in this mode include the cockpit area and the wings. The cockpit section features a cockpit that can be opened up to seat a Titan Master. The wings spread out at angles on the sides of the vehicle. There are ten Titan Master pegs on this mode, which is great. While it may not make much practical sense for the little guys to be riding on Broadside's wings or stabilizer fins, it looks cool and it is fun to have the small figures interact with this vehicle. You can attach Broadside's blaster to the 5mm port in the middle of the vehicle's rear section, and that will allow yet another Titan Master to sit in the weapon and ride along.

Transformation to Aircraft Carrier Mode (from Robot Mode)

  1. Detach Blunderbuss and the weapon and set them aside for now.
  2. Swing the fists into the forearms.
  3. Point the robot feet down.
  4. Swivel the forearms in, then attach the forearms to the wing panels.
  5. Swivel the robot legs outward, so the inside of the thighs faces forward.
  6. Swing the support skid on the left leg out.
  7. Push the lower legs together, which begins to form the front of the aircraft carrier mode.
  8. Swing the jet cockpit and the panel under it up, forming the back of the aircraft carrier mode.
  9. Swing the L shaped panels on the legs back, finishing off the top level of the aircraft carrier.
  10. On the left robot arm, sing the bridge panel up, then swing the radar dish piece up.
  11. Swing the red stabilizer fins down.
  12. Swing the translucent blue and grey stabilizer fins in (they will be at angles).
  13. Swing out the skids from the robot chest. Along with the one in front they will help support the ship.
  14. The weapon can attach to the top of the vehicle where you will find two 5mm ports. There are also ports on the firearms which wind up on the sides of this vehicle.

Aircraft Carrier Mode:
The Aircraft Carrier Mode is a much more successful vehicle mode than the jet mode. Of course, all it really needs to do is be roughly the right shape with a tower in the back, and in that respect it succeeds. This is very much a variation of Alpha Trion's space ship mode, but it flattens out the vehicle a lot. There are some great details on the top of this figure including arrows and angled lines indicating where planes would take off and outlines indicating elevators where jets would be lowered into the lower level of the ship. The ship control tower also looks great, with levels of windows and a radar array on top.

The top of the ship is mostly grey with a pearlescent shine to it under certain lighting. The number "36" is found on the front in silver and black stickers. This is a callback to G1 Broadside who had the numbers "86" in the same spot. Large silver, black and yellow stickers are used on the rear forming an angled runway. This is a direct callback to G1 Broadside who had an angled runway indicated by white stripes in the aircraft carrier mode. Right in the middle of this mode is a silver and red Autobot symbol sticker. Overall this mode looks great in terms of colors and sculpt. That said, the stickers used for the angled runway are not perfect. The one with a hinge piece on it is peeling on my copy of the figure due to its transformation, so keep that in mind before purchasing this figure. I really wish the designers had used tampographs instead. I suspect the stickers were a cost cutting mechanism.

Broadside has ten Titan Master pegs on the top of the vehicle. If you want to go nuts, he also has two on each side so you can have a Titan Master sticking to the sides. Okay, now I know what you're thinking. Aren't the Titan Masters supposed to be small? They'd be the size of giants if they can stand on his deck like that. Well...yeah, you're right and frankly with this character scale has always been an issue. Just don't think about it too hard and focus on the fact that the figure has play value. That's what I do! If you want to really make your brain twist around about the scale, the control tower can swing back and form a seat for Blunderbuss. If you're thinking "That makes no sense!" you're right, but hey, it's another bit of play value.

One very unexpected surprise was the inclusion of tiny Aerialbots with this figure. These are non-transformable jets which came on a sprue. They were cast in translucent blue plastic and painted white. Each Aerialbot is modeled after their "Combiner Wars" counterparts. The details are great on them and if you look closely you can tell who is who (for the most part). Each jet features a port on the bottom that is sized to be compatible with the Titan Master pegs! This allows you to connect them to various points on the top of the aircraft carrier mode such as the runways, giving the illusion of Broadside being gigantic in this mode. Of course, as soon as you add on a Titan Master too the illusion is shattered, but it is a fun play pattern for kids.

Final Thoughts:
Broadside is a difficult figure to whole-heartedly recommend because frankly, the jet mode is kind of awful and the stickers are not the greatest idea Hasbro has ever had. That said, there's still a lot to love. The robot mode is bulky looking and pays homage to the G1 version. The aircraft carrier mode is nicely detailed and while wildly out of scale I love the idea behind including the tiny Aerialbots and all the Titan Master compatability. If what you read about the robot mode and aircraft carrier mode appeal to you, I'd say at minimum this figure is worth picking up if you have a coupon code or in-store coupon to save a few bucks. Unfortunately thanks to the jet mode, I cannot highly recommend it even though I like it.

Pros:

  • Good sculpt in robot and aircraft carrier modes.
  • Nice homage details to G1 Broadside.
  • Inclusion of Aerialbot "mini-jets" is a fun and creative touch.
  • Unexpectedly extensive retool of Alpha Trion.
  • Lots of Titan Master pegs and compatability.

Cons:

  • Too many sticker details should have been tampographs.
  • Very awkward looking jet mode.
  • Scale is completely off (but this is a mild point in my book).