REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS BLURR
I'll admit, it's moderately tempting to write a review of this particular Transformers character as one massive run-on sentence with limited spacing. But, I won't do that to you. Or myself, for that matter. Something like that would be a serious pain to type, and I don't even want to think what it would do to my spell check, which has trouble enough with some of the character and concept names that end up in my reviews.
Following the live-action movie, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen", the toy line has once again resumed production of the Transformers Classics line, this time being marketed under the name Transformers Generations. Popular characters from previous Transformers concepts -- mostly Generation One -- are being remade in new forms, that not only reintroduce these classic characters into the modern line, but more significantly, give them robotic bodies that are far more articulated than their original ancestors.
My one and only gripe with the original Transformers line was that while the toys were very cool in basic design, in their robot modes, they generally weren't articulated very well. All of the moving parts of the toy were devoted to one thing -- switching the toy from its vehicle mode to its robotic mode. This they did very well, but then you were left with a robot that couldn't really do much on his own, completely contrary to the very active characters in the animated series and the comic book.
Fortunately, modern toy design being what it is (computer-aided, I suspect), current Transformers of all types look cool in their vehicle mode, look good in their robot mode, and have all the articulation that one would expect from a more or less humanoid action figure while in their robot mode. That third category has finally been addressed. And thanks to the Classics line, now the Generations line, it's being applied to some of the most popular Autobots and Decepticons of all time.
One of the additions to the series is BLURR, and he's certainly a well-known character.
Blurr was introduced, along with a number of other new characters, in the 1986 animated Transformers movie, a superb piece of animation that I sincerely wish I'd seen in the theaters. I first saw it on videocassette. The Transformers movie, and the subsequent season of the animated series, did something very unusual -- it moved the timeline twenty years ahead, and scrapped (literally, in a number of cases) a significant number of established characters, introducing a largely entirely new cast.
Optimus Prime was replaced by Rodimus Prime. The scheming Megatron was transformed by Unicron into the maniacal Galvatron. Starscream was outright killed, and Galvatron's new associates included Scourge and Cyclonus. On the human side of things, Earth became a distinctly more futuristic world, protected by the Earth Defense Corps (one prominent member of which was the daughter of Flint from G.I. Joe), although the Transformers' adventures were hardly limited to Earth, and teenager Spike Witwicky had grown up to become ambassador to Cybertron, and had a young son named Daniel who liked to pal around with the Autobots. New faces in that crowd included the likes of Ultra Magnus, Springer, Kup, Arcee -- and Blurr.
Blurr, very much living up to his name, was notable for one thing -- speed. He was a dedicated Autobot, and he was also the fastest. This included his speech pattern. The character was voiced by actor John Moschitta Jr., in both the movie and the television series, a man notable for making a career out of being able to run his mouth faster than anyone this side of a livestock auction caller -- and sound better doing it.
Let's have a more extensive look at the history of Blurr, with a little online research. He was used primarily by the Autobots as a high speed messenger. A loyal warrior and friend, he nevertheless tended to have something of a nervous streak when dealing with his superiors. Let's face it, if Blurr were human, he'd consider caffeine a depressant and espresso a relaxing beverage. His top speed was listed as 800 miles per hour, gaining Blurr the interesting distinction of being named by Forbes magazine as the fastest fiction car in existence in 2008. Not too shabby.
In the Marvel comic book, Blurr first appeared in the Headmasters mini-series, as one of the Autobot crew led by Fortress Maximus. He became a Targetmaster, one of a group of Transformers whose weapons were individual characters from a planet called Nebulon. His weapon was a Nebulan named Haywire, who is described as an "impulsive and excitable youngster."
Blurr first appeared in the regular Transformers title in issue #42, where he quickly joined up with the Autobots on Earth, and served under Optimus Prime. Although Blurr didn't receive a major role in the U.S. Comics, he played a large role in the Marvel UK series written by Simon Furman. Here, Blurr's first appearance was in the "Target: 2006" story arc. He was unwittingly sent by Unicron alongside Hot Rod and Kup, defeating the future Decepticon Galvatron in his plan to destroy Unicron in 1986.
He would appear in many of the movie-themed future stories, time-traveling again with Kup and Rodimus Prime to recapture Galvatron, battling the Unicron-controlled Decepticons on Cybertron, and battling the Quintessons on Earth. Matters came to a head when Galvatron's continued presence in his own past opened a time rift that threatened to destroy both Earth and Cybertron. Blurr was part of a group led back by Rodimus Prime to deal with the threat, but even they could not stand against Galvatron and a clone of Megatron. Only Optimus Prime's defeat of Galvatron, and Shockwave depositing the body of another future Decepticon, Cyclonus, into the rift saved the two worlds. Blurr returned to his own time along with the other future Autobots.
Given the massive lifespans of Cybertronians, it's reasonable to assume that most of these characters probably existed in both time periods, but were simply performing other functions before they became known to us and involved in the adventures of the Transformers on Earth.
In the animated series, which is generally regarded as somewhat more canonical than the comic books, Blurr first appeared in the Transformers animated movie, and continued in the third season of the animated series. Although generally seen as moderate comic relief, and frequently in the company of Wreck-Gar and Wheelie -- who had their own interesting speech patterns -- Blurr nevertheless managed a number of more serious and fairly prominent appearances, including the five-part mini-series that took place immediately after the events of the movie, and started off the third season.
In this mini-series, "Five Faces of Darkness", Blurr and Wheelie are charged with delivering a transformation cog to Metroplex, the Autobot City on Earth. This subplot runs throughout the entire five-parter, and serves to introduce the Predacons, a new Decepticon combiner team that was particularly popular (and no direct relation to the Predacons of the Beast Wars). Additionally, Blurr and Wheelie are the first to meet Sky Lynx, yet another new Autobot.
Following this, Blurr would have a starring role in the episode, "Forever is a Long Time Coming", in which he, Blaster, and Wreck-Gar are thrown back in time and assist a young Alpha Trion in a Quintesson overthrow. Later, Blurr appeared in the episode "Face of the Nijika", where he is injured and for the first time, speaks at a normal pace. Blurr was also among the uninfected Autobots who teamed up with Optimus Prime in the legendary two-parter, "The Return of Optimus Prime."
Alternate versions of Blurr have appeared in other Transformers concepts, although these are not the same character. He appeared in Transformers: Armada, where he was regarded as something of a snob. Unlike the original Blurr, this one spoke at a normal pace. Another character named Blurr, seemingly not the same individual, appeared in Transformers: Cybertron. Here, he was pictured as a retired race champion on the planet Velocitron, who taught rookie Transformers how to race.
In Transformers: Animated series that fell between the two live-action movies (not affiliated with either), an Autobot named Blurr turned up, as something of a functional homage to the original. Although bearing little resemblance to the classic Blurr, he transformed into a futuristic race car (that honestly looked more than a little like the Mach 5 from Speed Racer in basic structure), and interestingly enough, actor John Moschitta, Jr., was brought back to reprise the character role!
So -- how's the toy? Pretty cool, although its resemblance to the original Blurr in either mode is somewhat debatable. The original Generation One Blurr, in vehicle mode -- well -- let's discuss that for a moment. When the original group of Autobots and Decepticons arrived on Earth, and were awakened from their long period of slumber, suspended animation, deactivation, whatever you want to call it, the computer board their crashed vessel altered their vehicular modes to resemble Earth vehicles, which at that time it perceived as mechanical life forms. As such, Optimus Prime resembled an Earth truck, Starscream and his fellow Seekers were transformed into realistic jet fighters, and so forth.
Although this practice was never entirely abandoned, a number of later Transformers had far more fanciful vehicle modes. One can assume that this was a result of not having their alternate modes rewritten to match Earth specifications. Two of the more notable examples of this were Kup and Blurr. The former, a grizzled veteran, was supposed to resemble something along the lines of a pickup truck - hence his name -- while Blurr was listed as a "Cybertronian hover car". Neither one of them especially resembled anything that had ever rolled off an assembly line on Earth. They were cool enough designs, just nothing you'd see on the road.
The new Blurr is another matter. Let's assume he decided to pick up a more Earth-like form at some point. As such, he now resembles a sports car. In point of fact, the toy uses the same body as another recent entry in the Generations line, an Autobot named Drift, who was developed by the current comics licensee, IDW, and who appeared in his own Spotlight special as well as a mini-series.
There are some differences between the two toys, besides the color. Blurr has a different spoiler on the back of his vehicle mode than Drift. And of course, there is the color scheme. Drift is predominantly white. Blurr maintains the color scheme of his original Generation One version, which is to say he's several shades of blue, ranging from a very light blue, to mostly a light to medium blue, to a certain amount of dark blue.
In vehicle mode, Blurr is roughly 5-3/4" in length, and about 2-1/2" wide at his widest point, and not quite 2" high. His wheels' hubcaps are black, unlike Drift's which are painted silver. Honestly, I think it's a little unfortunate that they weren't painted, although it might have been a tradeoff for some of Blurr's other painted details, and it's probably nothing that someone with a sufficiently steady hand and a bottle of silver paint couldn't manage on their own if they so desired. Another difference between the two robots is that Blurr's windows and headlights are molded from a much darker color of transparent plastic than Drift's.
Of course, Blurr rolls well on his four wheels in vehicle mode, although I don't really expect he's going to set any speed records, nor do I recommend trying to do so. This would likely only result in Blurr transforming into a pile of broken plastic, and nobody wants that.
Let's consider Blurr's transformation. Blurr is rated "3" on a scale of 0 to 5, which is defined as "Intermediate". I have yet to see any that are rated "5", which is probably defined as "Pack a Lunch, You're Going to be Here for a While", and I'd probably be reluctant to get one if I did. "Intermediate" I can work with.
I do miss the days when the transformation instructions were written out as well as diagrammed, since sometimes the diagrams are not always as informative as they need to be. It is my sincere hope that the written instructions I provide here will be of assistance to you. I also recommend keeping the package card, with its photo of Blurr in robot mode, on hand, and Drift, as well, if you happen to own him and he is in robot mode.
The first transformation step is one of the most unusual. You need to split the hood apart, and then move additional sections of the hood over so that they overlap. It sounds easier than it is. The hood is secured by a little clasp in the front which is not necessarily easy to undo, but it is possible. Once open, the parts that need to overlap are on swivels and are fairly easily moved.
Next, rotate the separated hood pieces outwards. These will eventually become Blurr's arms. Then push the front of his roof and windshield upwards. This becomes Blurr's chest. This part will be a little tricky, but you can make further adjustments once Blurr is more in robot form.
Now, swing the doors open, and then split the back half of the car open. These will eventually become Blurr's legs. Next, swing Blurr's doors at a diagonal angle backwards. These are actually holsters for Blurr's rifles. This is a design carryover from Drift, and not something that the original Blurr had (although in the animated series, it's an arguable point where any of the Transformers stashed their weapons. They just seemed to be in their hands when they needed them). In Drift's case, he carried swords, and it's a pretty cool feature, really. If you look, the basic design of the door is identical, but the interior of the door is slightly thicker, to accommodate Blurr's rifles over Drift's swords.
The next step in the printed diagrams has you rotating the two halves of the front of the car 90 degrees so that they're pointing backwards relative to the robot, and then inserting Blurr's weapons into the holsters. This second part is unnecessary because they should already be there. However, it does instruct you to fold the windows around.
Next, extend Blurr's legs. This is a bit more comprehensive than the instructions look, because you have to extend the legs all the way out, and then fold the feet up and back into the lower leg. This second part is easier than it sounds, and it really does help at this point to either study the picture on the package, or Drift, if you have him, for reference as to what Blurr's lower legs are supposed to look like.
Finally, fold the arms down. This is probably the easiest step in the entire transformation. And Blurr is now completely in robot mode! So -- how's he look?
Well, to be honest, except for the multi-blue color scheme, he doesn't really look that much like the original Blurr. But then it would be rather hard for him to do so, since the original Blurr was not based on a standard sports car. Let's also be honest in that some of the original Transformers, including Blurr, were just a little clunky, or perhaps chunky, in their robotic appearance, hardly suitable for a high-speed robot. The new Blurr definitely looks like he's capable of being as fast as he talks.
The figure has a completely new headsculpt, though, which isn't like Drift's at all. However, it's not especially like the classic Blurr's, either, which was notable for having a rather rounded top, with a strange rectangular device on top, sometimes described as an antenna. The new Blurr's head is definitely not rounded, but rather has sleek, V-shaped wings on the sides and the forehead. The device on top is still present and accounted for, however.
In fact, this design is in keeping with IDW Comics' interpretation of Blurr, as he appeared in a Spotlight issue. As far as that goes, the head is identical. The rest of the robotic mode isn't all that similar, and certainly not the vehicular mode, but in the comic story, Blurr is still on Cybertron, and has a vehicular design that I would call a more advanced, detailed, and certainly sleeker version of his classic Generation One vehicular mode. Blurr's IDW robotic mode is, I would say, similar. It bears some resemblance to his Generation One mode, but far more detailed and sleeker.
The comic story takes place just as the conflict between the Autobots and the Decepticons is heating up. Blurr is not yet an Autobot. In fact, he is a celebrity, a racer, with a huge ego, and little time and less use for the political factions of Autobot and Decepticon that are gathering for war -- until his beloved races are shut down by the growing conflict. He is initially contacted by Starscream, but still wants no part of the impending war. Only later, when he sees the consequences of war, and is contacted by Optimus-not-yet-Prime, does he choose a side. It's an interesting early take on the character, far removed from how we would later come to know him. As to his appearance, as I indicated, I believe we can attribute it to his pre-Earth form as much as anything, regardless of how minimally his Generation One vehicular form may have been altered from its Cybertronian form. As far as that goes, given how long the war between the Autobots and Decepticons laster, Blurr may have simply chosen to alter his appearance to the more familiar Generation One mode somewhere along the way for other reasons, perhaps to minimize his celebrity.
This is not to malign the new toy. The head is a perfect match for the IDW interpretation of Blurr, and the overall look of the toy makes for a good modern Blurr. What else would you expect his Earth form to be but a sports car, and it's to be expected that switching to an Earth-based vehicle would have an effect on his robotic mode. The overall design may have been largely intended for Drift, but it works perfectly fine for Blurr, as well. And it could be argued, I suppose, that Blurr chose to return to an earlier head appearance when he took on a more Earth-like vehicle form.
Color and painted details differ, of course. Perhaps most notable is the fact that Drift has two Autobot symbols, one on each of his shoulders, whereas Blurr has one Autobot symbol centrally located on his chest. The areas on Drift's shoulders where his were have been painted light blue on Blurr, with what look like ventilation slits. An interesting bit of detail.
Weaponwise, Blurr comes with two smaller blaster rifles that fit into the holsters on his hips, and a much larger rifle which he must carry with him if he's going to use it. It doesn't have a holster, although there is a clip on Blurr's back that could accommodate it.
Of course, Blurr is superbly articulated in robot mode, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and feet, although the feet are mostly articulated for transformation purposes. The holsters on his hips move nicely, too.
Any complaints? No, just a couple of observations. Unlike a lot of Transformers, including Drift, Blurr does not have the reflective transparent plastic piece in his head that makes it look like his eyes light up when it catches light from the back. Given the design of the head, especially the little gadget on the top, this might well have been impossible. It's not a big deal, and Blurr's eyes have been painted a very bright blue, so that's fine.
The other observation comes from a couple of other collectors who have purchased Blurr, and have reported that the painted trim tends to chip off, and in fact said that it even looked like it was likely to do so. I have not encountered this extensively on my Blurr, although there's a few pin-point-sized places where I can see how it might happen. I got the impression from these others that they had a more severe problem with it. I haven't known anything like this to happen on Transformers in years, not since the days of the Action Masters, where it was unfortunately a rather severe problem. Hopefully it's not going to become one again. I can only report that my Blurr does not seem plagued with it, but you might want to give this Autobot a good visual inspection in the store. I will certainly commend Hasbro for switching from those annoying plastic-coated wire twist-ties to far easier to deal with twine for strapping their toys into their plastic bubbles.
Blurr's character profile on the back of his card reads as follows: There are those who suppose, based on his high-speed history and fast-talking demeanor, that Blurr lacks patience. Those people are wrong. He appears to be always on the move because he always has to be somewhere - delivering a sensitive data packet, or a round of electro-laser fire to a Decepticon squad. When he must wait, he can do so in absolute silence in stillness for hours, until his target is centered in his crosshairs.
His power rankings give him a "10" in Speed -- as colossally obvious a ranking as ever existed -- a "9" in Rank and Courage, an "8" in Fireblast and Skill, a "7" in Intelligence, and "6" in Strength and Endurance.
So, what's my final word here? Although this figure may only superficially resemble his Generation One counterpart, there's no question in my mind that this is intended to be the original Blurr, and the IDW-style head is a nice touch. The figure is effective, and impressive, and would be a welcome addition to any Transformers collection, especially for those who have been rounding up these modern versions of the legendary characters, first through the Classics line, and now through its latest incarnation as Generations!
The TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS figure of BLURR definitely has my highest recommendation!