Release Data: Released in individual components in wave 2 of the Generations Fall of Cybertron series in September of 2012 in the US.
Finally we come to Bruticus, the combination of all five toys. To say this was an ambitious undertaking is putting it lightly. Bruticus stands tall at a full 11 inches to the crest of his helmet, putting him head and shoulders above the Energon combiner molds, and even ones with unofficial upgrades installed don't quite measure up to Bruticus. Bruticus is in fact so big overall that it does not functionally fit within the confines of my photo studio, so please excuse today's photos being a bit inconsistent with my normal work. Being comprised of five Deluxe toys, the distribution of mass could favor the central body more than it does, but while keeping all limbs interchangeable that would be an impossible engineering feat. Upsizing Onslaught would have served no better in this task, adding too much weight and compromising the stability of the combined form.
Stability is a key concept here, and a lot of the design reflects that. As noted in Onslaught's review at the start of the series, the hip ratchets are abnormally stiff, and take a lot of push and leverage to be able to move. Bruticus ends up being limited in leg poseability by this and the pelvis armor being snapped in place blocking forward movement, but for good reason. Doing the splits is not something you need to be concerned by with this. And despite Rule of Cool applying, you probably won't be looking to have a Bruticus throwing high kicks or other crazy physical combat poses. The arms are limited only by which toy serves the role and how you have it configured. The universal aspect is the rotation and elevation at the shoulders. It's very important to make sure that when rotating, the shoulders move at the base of the combiner plugs where there is a ratcheted swivel specifically for the purpose; if you allow articulation by the connector sliding around the post on Onslaught, you risk at least wear on the connectors if not eventual damage. Be careful with that. The same is true of the legs, in that you get thigh swivel and knee movement, but I've found it more difficult to properly isolate the movement to the intended points in the legs, so make sure to take extra care in that.
The amazing thing is that the combination does hold together solidly. Once the limbs are attached, I can't see them separating without intentional dismemberment. Of course they'll also act as a "safe failure" point, but in principle, once they're on there they stay put. This is a double edge sword, though. The connectors work by stretching around the post on the torso, and while it's all thick and has shown no sign at all of taking unacceptable stress from the act of attaching and removing, it's hard not to worry about what the future may hold for it. Doubly so when in some cases these connectors want to slide on rather sideways, causing one side or another to bend even further than what it's probably meant to do. But since I've not yet heard of any SDCC editions snapping a combiner plug, I'm hopeful it means wise material choices were made for these critical parts.
Everyone has tried their hand at reworking the formation of a given toy's limb mode. Moreso for Blast Off than any other. I'm here to tell you that there's nothing you can do to make Blast Off a perfect arm. Sorry. Many popular alternate takes involve risk of or actually putting a load of stress on connecting joints, or sometimes limb dislocation. None of it is really good for the toy, and the help for the combined mode is minimal at best. Most cases you'll find what little articulation the limb sports is lost in the effort or otherwise rendered useless. There's some options to at least lessen the length of Blast Off as an arm so he can play better with others, and while imperfect, they're at least not any active danger to the toy. My preferred formation will be included with the image gallery for illustration.
Surprising many, Brawl is actually able to take on a pretty decent arm mode thanks to a transformation joint in that toy's torso that went unidentified for a while. It even features one of the more useful giant robot elbow joints among the team, and only really stumbles by not being able to hold a gun normally. Conveniently, the arm comes armed (yes, I went there) with its own giant twin-cannon, so who even needs more gun on that side? Swindle also makes a very nice arm, aside from some of the parts taking a little creativity to find a way to stow up securely. But the range of motion is really good and it carries a convincing "arm" shape for the most part. The only hindrance is Swindle's rear wheels sticking a bit far inward, but it's small complaint. What you'll find is that some toys have more of an affinity for one function or the other, but it's not the obvious ones in the obvious places according to the "standard" Bruticus combination. Brawl can make a good, flexible arm, moreso than anyone else while being able to usefully handle a weapon, while Swindle or Blast Off have elbows that can't be helpfully bent while keeping the hands oriented to hold a gun. So a combination using Brawl and Vortex as the arms will give you the greatest degree of normal arm movement, but in trade you might have to live with arms that aren't quite equal length.
Of course, everyone makes a more-or-less acceptable leg, since it's not super difficult to engineer a given toy to transform in to a post thick enough to hold up some weight. If you're in to the sort of thing, Blast Off and Vortex do manage to provide Bruticus with knee spikes, but that's about all the special they give while doing duty as the combiner's legs. Be aware that the footprint Vortex gives is irregular, and that special attention needs to be paid to make sure the stance on that foot is firm enough; I've had some interesting experiences where trying to stand Bruticus on Vortex resulted in the combiner twisting of its own volition by using Vortex as a pivot when the foot wasn't planted flat down. However, when forming Bruticus the "standard" way, don't judge Brawl by the stock photos. As shown, the Brawl foot has no load-bearing capacity at all. Brawl's arms need to be folded back in order to tab in the back of the foot and stabilize the whole mess. That is in fact the whole reason Brawl has those joints in his shoulders, just to be able to stabilize the foot. Along the same line, when using Blast Off as a leg, it helps to rotate the shuttle's drive section to the side and using one of the winglets as a toe. As normal, Bruticus balances on Blast Off's tail fins, which looks bad and isn't very solid for the toy's footing. Turning Blast Off to the side gives a better foot print, and helps make the leg a little more slim to work better with the other leg, regardless of who is taking that spot. Swindle is easily the best as a leg, and really goes unmatched in that capacity. Were you to use two of Swindle as legs, I suspect you'd get a very stable footing thanks to the big, square, boot shape on both sides. Nobody else can really match that. Brawl is the next-most square, but being a lot smaller the stability takes a hit. Like I said, everyone makes at least an "acceptable" leg, but only one of them is really good at it.
While no arrangement is really perfect, no one is objectively inferior to any other, which I would call a success. It can be easy to craft a combiner and have perfect limbs when only one position or configuration is expected of it, but in a case like this it's simply amazing to end up with four limb units that can freely interchange and at no time give the appearance of just having a leg for an arm or vice-versa. You'll definitely need to take time to mess with each unit and find the transformations that please you best, especially since three of four possible arms are very free form and aren't constrained to a single, specific arrangement. But the benefit is that from all of that, you will be able to find something that satisfies you. Likewise, don't take my photos to be "it" either. These are just the forms that I've found to serve the combination best, and so that's the image I want to present to you.
Combining weapons have been an official function on the original Combaticon toy molds since Takara pulled them out for Car Robots in 2000. The same process works with these toys' weapons. Though with these, you have a range of combination options for them. From the single rifle comprised of every figure's weapons at once, to a Power Rangers-style multi-barrel super weapon, or even making a couple of slightly smaller combined weapons, there is a lot you can do with this arsenal.
Except, while the official form of the Sonic Cannon is meant to include Onslaught's double cannon, it's better if you don't. It should be plugged on Bruticus, since it has peg holes and slots which secure and stabilize the combiner's shoulders and actually serve no other purpose; engineering-wise, this is the intended formation. Plus it gives Bruticus his typical cannon barrels sticking up from the back and closes up the gap where you'd otherwise see Onslaught's head chilling out. Taking that one out of the figuring, you're locked in to really just making one or two forms of super weapon, but it's still no significant loss.
There's a variety of pegs and holes on each weapon allowing you to combine them in different ways even without Onslaught's gun as a hub. You can see my favorite combination and another way more likely to be how the designers intended it to work in the gallery. Of course, keeping on the Power Ranger vibe, I'm just as fond of setting up a super weapon when the toys are separated, which does allow you to incorporate Onslaught's cannon if you choose.
As noted earlier, Brawl-arm is not able to hold a weapon the normal way, but has spaces to plug pieces in, making it a viable base for smaller combinations not using Swindle's rifle as a central connector. In truth, either Swindle or Onslaught's weapons are needed as mounting points for self-contained combo weapons, and Brawl's super-wrist is a good starting point of you want to construct something that looks at least partly integral to the limb.
I've been waiting on a set of these toys for a long while because of all the promise held in them. But with the promise comes a great deal of ambition, because these toys have to do a lot of things to fulfill their goals. While their quality on an individual level is of course an important consideration, the criteria which they're really going to be measured by is how they stack up as a multi-part super robot. Bruticus is far from perfect, but it succeeds beyond my expectations. I won't lie and try to make it sound like I don't wish anything was different, but I have to take it in a context. When combiners have been utilized in the recent past, the first set would turn out to be the worst. It was true in Energon when the five-part teams came about, and it was true again with Power Core Combiners. Should more combiners of this sort be made in the future, I have little doubt they will show advancement compared to Bruticus. It's just the way of things, after all. But this time, we're not going to collectively look back at this set of molds and groan at the thought of them. If they do continue, I think we can look back at these Combaticon molds as signaling an evolution in how they can be approached. If not, at least we'll know we got one really good modernized take on a classic combiner team.
Either way? I'm pretty happy and looking forward even more to my G2 set very soon now. Not to mention next year's Wreckers.
|Date||October 5th 2012|
|Score||(8 out of 10)|
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