As the Transformers brand reached its peak in 1986 Hasbro unleashed a gamut of new toys and merchandise. However, they had nearly exhausted Takara’s former Diaclone designs, and thus turned to unfinished ideas for that series. Most of these new designs were Combiners, which had proved wildly popular with 1985’s Devastator. One of these new combiners was Blades, a Bell 212 civilian “Huey”.
Blades was originally conceptualized for a Diaclone subseries called “Jizai Gattai”, or Free Combination, which would have included the Stunticons, Combaticons, Aerialbots, Protectobots, and Metroplex. Each team had a theme, each limb figure could combine with any other team leader as any limb, and each leader figure had some sort of base mode, usually, with a spring-loaded vehicle launcher. All the figures could also interact with Metroplex. However, Transformers’ imminent success put Diaclone and Jizai Gattai on ice. It was Transformers’ long term success that saw these designs to completion, however. Blades was designed by Kaoru Matsumoto. His US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy helicopter (aka Transformers G1 Blades) was filed on October 24, 1985 (U.S. Patent No. USD294605 S).
Blades transforms into a Bell 212 utility helicopter (identifiable by the flattened shape of the nose) decorated in red-and-white emergency colors. He features a fair deal of molded realistic detail, as well as accurate proportions. He has black painted cabin and cockpit windows, and stickered silver stripes running along his doors. His skids feature four small gray roller wheels, and he has free-spinning two-bladed tail and main rotors. He can transform into an “Attack Helicopter” by attaching his two large cannons to the pegs behind his cabin doors. His transformation is rather simple, forming the legs from the helicopter’s rear, the arms from the inside of the door panels, and flipping back the nose to reveal the robot head. This mode is decorated with molded robot legs, chestplate, and thin arms on the inside of the large door panels. He can wield his large cannons on the sides of his legs, and his pistol by a horzontal peg that plugs into the side of his molded hand. As a “Scramble City” combiner, Blades can transform into any combiner’s leg or arm by flipping the nose back, or extending the legs and flipping the head down toward the chest, respectively, and attaching the appropriate accessory. He typically forms Defensor’s right arm.
Blades is the only truly fragile member of the Protectobots. His main rotor blades are highly prone to breakage when mishandled. Occasionally, his tail elevators can break off, sometimes lodging in his fuselage. Take care when removing Blades, or any other combiner limb, from a leader figure’s socket.
Blades has several production variations over the course of G1. Early 1986 figures had a red-painted die-cast metal chest, while later 1986 and 1987 production used a red plastic chest. A third variant exists from 1991 that does not have a rubsign, but the indent was not filled in.
Blades was available individually carded or in a Defensor gift set in 1986. Due to the popularity of combiners, he was available again in 1987, packaged with or without a random Autobot Decoy. He was available in 1991 in Europe’s continuation of G1, without a rubsign.
Redecos & Retools
Blades’ mold was used again in 1992 to make Operation Combination Fly-Up, available only in the Guard City gift set. Blades was slated to be released in G2, in blue, with SWAT markings. Though the G2 Protectobots were cancelled, a handful of samples exist, including some sealed examples.