Transformers came to its peak in 1986, but Hasbro had nearly exhausted licensable designs from other manufacturers, including old Takara toylines. Hasbro and Takara turned to unused Diaclone concepts and designs, such as the combiners. The Combaticon Blast Off, a dark green Boeing / Rockwell Space Shuttle Orbiter, was born from this development.
Blast Off 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. Blast Off was invented by Daishirou Shibukawa and the US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy space shuttle (aka Transformers G1 Blast Off) was filed on October 14, 1985 (U.S. Patent No. USD293806 S).
Blast Off transforms into a green and black Space Shuttle Orbiter, but his proportions are somewhat distorted due to the small size of the toy. He features a black nosecone, somewhat blunted, and purple painted cockpit windows. His tail rudder and wings are separate pieces, attached by hinges. Purple stripes decorate the leading edges of his squared-off wings. He can form an “Attack Shuttle” mode by inserting the L-shaped cannons into his lower rocket boosters, resting the gun barrels over his wings. His transformation to robot mode is fairly simple. All the wings are folded up and his legs are extended from the back of the shuttle. The arms are formed from dividing the cockpit area out to the sides. His nosecone halves rotate around to reveal peg holes on the inside, which he can use to hold his gun. Blast Off has no fist or hand details. However, his shoulders use an early design of ball-and-socket joints, allowing an enormous range of motion. As a “Scramble City”-type combiner, he can form the arm or leg of any combined robot by placing his arms at his side and retracting his legs, or by flipping out a square post from the top of his shuttle mode and extending the legs, and then attaching the appropriate accessory. He typically forms Bruticus’ right arm.
Blast Off’s wings and rudder are each held by open clips to the main body. If one of these fragile clips is broken, the wing will not stay on. Take care when removing Blast Off, or any other combiner limb, from a leader figure’s socket.
Blast Off has several production variations. The most noticeable was the shift from a painted metal chestplate to a plastic chestplate sometime in 1986. A later version does not include a rubsign on the cockpit side, and the indentation has been filled in, corresponding to the 1990 European re-release.
Blast Off was available in 1986, individually carded. Due to the popularity of the combiners, he was available again in 1987 with or without a random purple Decepticon Decoy. He was re-released on a new gold colored card in Europe’s G1 as a Classic Combaticon in 1990. A giftset was available in Japan in 1986.
Redecos & Retools
Blast Off&resquo;s mold was redecoed in 1992 in Takara’s Operation Combination as Shuttle Gunner, sold only in the Battle Gaia gift set. The mold was used again in 1994 as G2 Blast Off in white and splotches of purple. The mold received minor modifications to the weapons to become Car Robots Shuttler in 2000, and the U.S. release Robots in Disguise Movor the following year. Movor got a gift set-only urban camo deco and rounded-off nosecone in 2003’s Wal-Mart Exclusive Ruination, and a desert camo with the same mold the following year in Universe Ruination. The RiD-era retool of Blast Off was used in the 2009 Takara Encore Bruticus.