Height: 13cm to top of head
Articulation: 15 primary points - Ball jointed neck; 3 points each arm: Shoulder swivel, shoulder hinge, ball joint elbow; 4 points each leg: Ball joint hip, thigh swivel, hinge knee, hinge toe. Plus 3 points of articulation in tank turret.
Colors: Molded green, black, grey; Painted black, dark green, gunmetal, yellow, purple (Decepticon insignia)
Accessories: Hand gun
Release Data: Released in September 2012 in the US at a retail price of US$14.99
It's possible that the rage that drives Decepticon Bruticus to his untold feats of destruction is contained entirely within Decepticon Brawl. Barely contained at the best of times, this brutal bot's anger is unleashed on the battlefield, turning him in to the eye of a storm of devastation.
Early in the course of posting this series of reviews, one of my readers commented to me that he anticipated Brawl would be my least favorite. While I didn't confirm or deny that at the time, I already knew that wouldn't be the case. I'm not surprised he or anyone else might make that guess though, because while I can see the good in Brawl and enjoy the figure, it's not to say it is free of problems.
Brawl has a little bit of a problem, to do with how the toy forms an arm for Bruticus. See, the toes have to be able to flip 180 degrees, from folded away in vehicle mode to pointing down to act like a thumb. Since there's no catch in between, Brawl's toes are not very solid at all. The severity seems to depend on the given instance of the toy, but I've seen examples where it's pretty bad. With some care, Brawl is capable of standing and supporting himself without help, but it's kind of a balancing act. Were the feet not assembled with a metal pin it may have been able to turn out better. A ball joint for instance could have allowed for all the needed movements and provided a means to secure the toes in robot mode so they would be sure to hold solidly. The knees are also pinned, and while my example of Brawl has perfectly fine knee strength, I have heard of others that start out being loose and difficult to work with. While the hips are normal ball joints, the design of the feet makes extreme or even active poses a challenge to say the least. Add the weight of the backpack and that the already small heel spurs are on the outer edge of the heels and so off the ground in all but a standing pose... well, it's possible to have Brawl do more than just stand around, but it takes some doing to make it happen. A Dreamwave Squat isn't too difficult though!
The arms are a little odd as a unit, but the individual elements are basically typical. The shoulders have two joints to accomplish a full range of motion, and when you include transformation joints, Brawl even gains the ability to reach across his own chest, putting him a bit ahead of any of the other toys in the batch. What you should keep in mind is that for the most part, the shoulder joint flush with the torso is only to let the arm swivel and point forward. If you want something like raising Brawl's arm in to the air, the upper arm hinge serves the task a lot better than trying to get the shoulder block to rotate that far. Much like the way a universal joint works, between the two points you can get the arm to point basically anywhere you need it, this is just done in a less compact structure than the typical Transformer-employed universal joint. Like on Swindle, the ball joint elbow has to serve a dual identity as the upper arm swivel. This elbow though only gets a 90 degree bend in comparison. Finally, the wrists are on hinges for transformation, but kind of like the feet have some room to bend past the standard position for robot mode. It's far less detrimental here, since the most weight these need to hold up in the middle of that arc is the included gun rather than the entire figure.
While the awkward toe setup does hurt the figure some, Brawl is otherwise easily the most poseable of all the Combaticons. The legs have a wider, more free range of movement than any of the others, allowing for things like a stable kneel, and utilizing the transformation joints in the torso Brawl gets a lot of potential in the arms. It's not difficult at all to set Brawl up on hands and knees as if firing the backpack cannons - and Brawl can still look forward at the same time. And much of what the toy is capable of doing isn't actively hindered by the weakness in the feet. Other figures in the group might have a couple more joints, but Brawl makes better use of the ones present than anybody else in this assortment.
If I had to name only a single complaint against Brawl, it would not be the
feet. Rather, I would point to the coloring. Brawl is green, and while it may
not be easy being green, there is nothing inherently wrong with it either. What
is wrong is having no other colors to interrupt that green. There are little
bits and pieces of black elements visible in robot mode of course, but when you
look at Brawl, all you really see is a solid body in a single shade of green.
Brawl is in desperate need of contrasting color to try to break this up.
Despite a few paint applications for the sake of the robot mode, the toy looks
majorly unfinished, like it left production before getting the majority of its
detail work done. Typically I avoid those kind of judgments against a toy
because I know the way paint is doled out and that if there was any way to do
so without costing more money more paint would been applied. But Brawl is a
special case just because of how detrimental to its appearance this lack is.
The tank mode isn't as bad off, but remember these toys are being sold as
robots. That's what has to make the sale.
Brawl has some tabbing steps that need to be paid attention to just to
assure everything secures together the right way, though at no point does it
feel as frightening as the first several times transforming Swindle, so I'd
call that a success. Brawl's transformation is actually pretty forgiving about
order of steps performed, and considering it reaches a stable vehicle mode as a
result, that's kind of an accomplishment. Usually when the order doesn't have
to be rigidly adhered to, you get things a lot less defined in the alternate
Brawl is a very sci-fi tank, and takes advantage of features of the video game series to skip even having the hidden wheels most tank toys utilize. Brawl is a hover tank and isn't going to pretend otherwise. ...despite having what look a lot like tread patterns facing out sideways in front. Despite my best attempts, I haven't been able to come up with a mistransformation that gets those surfaces functionally under the tank body, so I don't think we're looking at a lost third mode or anything like that. As go armed, self-propelled boxes, Brawl folds down in to a really solid one. An impressive element is how few seams are obvious from above. Only a couple of gaps really hurt the illusion of solid body construction for the tank.
What's really impressive is how much range of movement the turret has. Not only can it swivel a full 360 degrees, but the cannon can elevate. You have you unclick the turret to open up all the joints under it, but once you do, it can actually angle from straight ahead, to pointing part way behind as well. The mobility isn't perfect, since there's no elevation possible when turned to the sides because of how the joints are arranged. But considering a lot of Transformer tanks can't even raise their cannons at all, this is pretty well amazing.
The single-mindedness of the toy's coloring is not as big of a problem in
vehicle mode, in part thanks to a couple spots of a darker green painted on,
and probably because the vehicles areas of black plastic and paint are a little
more solid than how it was in robot mode, so it provides places to look where
it's not all green, all the time. Which is not to say the vehicle's coloring
couldn't be better, but I feel less like it's half finished. I may also have
less of an expectation for a tank to look interesting, given that generally as
a rule they're not.
I love Brawl's gun. It took me a little bit to figure out what it was trying to do, but then it all clicked and it's just fantastic. To look at it in terms of a human weapon, it's basically a magnum revolver, of the sort in the 10.5+ inch barrel length. So, think about the biggest non-custom hand gun out there, and then apply that to a Transformers. That's what this is designed to be. You can see a detail behind the base of the barrel that looks like the cylinder, albeit abbreviated on top and bottom for the needs of using the accessory. But other design characteristic like the spine on the barrel and the shape of the sight tab reinforce the idea of what this is patterned after. There's even a hint of barrel rifling grooves visible at the end of the barrel.
Despite being a physically simple accessory, it ends up being one of the most interesting for the degree of thought that went in to making it and putting it with Brawl. On a team full of energy-based sidearms, Brawl's the one firing huge bullets. The accessory all by itself builds something in to Brawl's character, and I love when hints like that can be thrown in for whoever wants to interpret it later on.
Besides being hand carried, the gun can be fit in to Brawl's turret, and serve as a coaxial gun. It seats down pretty deep between Brawl's cannon barrels though, and is kind of tough to get back out. In any case you need to open the turret armor to get enough access, but it also helps if you then rotate the cannon barrels to the side, which will move them away from the pistol slightly and make it at least a little bit easier to take the gun out. Either way, about the only way to do it is by slowly wiggling it loose until it pops out, doing it the way I described makes more space for that to happen. The best solution is to just not put Brawl's gun in the turret. It can still be mounted in vehicle mode. Since Brawl's fists are still accessible in vehicle mode, you can peg the gun in one of them while the fist is still folded away out of plain sight.
Brawl is numbered as fifth of five toys, and in some ways Brawl feels like the last toy. Like after the designers got through the first four toys, Brawl just had to make do with whatever was left over. But somehow it still came out okay. The feet are unfortunate, but seem like they're okay with a little care and patience, and in design terms nothing else majorly bothers me about Brawl, certainly not like how it was with Vortex. Adding some color is a lot easier to deal with at the consumer level than trying to fix a bad design.
I've scored Brawl as Good on the Figurereviews Non-Numeric Rating, and I know my opinion on this toy is probably a bit unique. But I think if you look past the one very obvious design flaw, you'll be able to see as I did that it doesn't have anything else really wrong with it. And it also has a really great hand gun. Don't often get revolvers in Transformer arsenals, and that's good enough for me to earn it an extra point.
|Date||October 3rd 2012|
|Score||(7 out of 10)|
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