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Next it's Brawl! The new mold! This will save the wave for sure! Oh, if only...
So, first thing is very obvious, the color is not even close to the promo renders. Those images were a very definite green, and the toy itself is very definitely not. It is a green, but very olive and it visually reads more like a brown as the line between the two blurs pretty easily. I find it a very ugly, unappealing color. It's little to do with whether it's right for the character, it just doesn't look good.
It's broken some by the grey painted treads, light grey plastic mainly visible on the legs, and some black here and there. But there's still a lot of this brownish green, and I'm still waiting to become numb to it.
The head has a nice gunmetal paint coat and bright red visor that contrast really well. The paint brings out a lot of detail in the sculpting, too.
The paint on the treads looks thick and way glossier than I think suits the locations. That paint feels like it's taking away from the molded detail. Applying that gunmetal to the treads probably would have served everything a lot better. The treads seem like they ate up a lot of paint, since the coverage is a little sparse otherwise.
There's a good amount of molded surface detail. The legs seem a little too symmetrical by mirroring each other's details exactly, but it's not distracting or anything.
There's touches I really like, such as the knees and hips being these cylinders, and having vents down the thighs. It interests me because it feels like the visual design was influenced by thinking about how an especially heavy robot might need to be designed: Tougher reinforced load bearing joints, cooling for the motors driving it, and even hydraulics to back it up.
There's more mundane things too like the torso guns, but it's just a package of neat detail molding.
The unfortunate counterbalance there is these stumpy forearms which call attention to proportion weirdness.
Like the short but deep chest, above a mostly empty space of an abdomen.
This then sets off the thighs looking oddly long and slender. It can be a mixed bag, and the best thing to do is focus on the visual elements you like and try to disregard the rest. You really need to focus on the visual positives, cause this is where we start sliding down a hill.
That hollow abdomen is the biggest failure on the toy, and not for the aesthetics. Look at this. The lower torso is made up of a folded panel running between upper body and pelvis. That's not a great idea in the best of cases, but it's worse when that panel is not capable of locking in place.
It looks like a ridge here is supposed to snap in to this lip here and firmly connect the top and bottom together. It doesn't. One side or the other ended up wrong, and it doesn't catch.
In most cases Brawl will balance and stay upright, but beyond a point there's nothing stopping the upper body from falling backward. It's a serious design flaw and hurts the figure a lot.
The arms aren't fantastic either. The shoulders are hinged to get a good amount of movement, but it's still limited feeling.
The stubby forearms also make the elbows of limited use. If you bend them all the way the fists almost disappear under the enormous bicep.
The legs get off better with unencumbered movement from hip to knee. And to help get around the blocky lower legs, Brawl has ankle tilts!
Sorry, Brawl. That's not gonna save you.
Brawl's transformation is no more complex than any average Combiner Wars figure. A couple parts are a little hard to get going, like collapsing the legs. But past that it's easy and intuitive.
Brawl's tank mode certainly holds up better than the robot mode. But it does have alignment issues. The tabs that should hold the arms together as the front half of the tracks more want to just push apart. One side is worse than the other, but neither works great. The back half is also bad about sticking together, but that's from a lack of tension rather than being forced apart.
Ultimately, the back half is slightly flimsy, and while the front is more solid, fights against lining up and closing all the way. But it's also not buckling at the waist, so there you go.
I like the shape of the tank mode. It's a nice compact design that suits Brawl well.
The turret cannot rotate, but the gun is hinged so it can raise up.
Doing so reveals a bit of a flaw in execution, however.
And if you're thinking turning the head during transformation will help, I'm afraid not. If the face is pointing in, the head isn't able to fold in fully.
The turret's transformation hinge is available, but using it is sort of dumb. Unless you want the El Camino of tanks or something.
Brawl has four little wheels under the treads. They serve okay, but I feel like it's still dragging the undercarriage a little.
Brawl has some 5mm ports around the tank. But only the topside one is really useful with what comes with the figure.
Sadly, everything is now the unfortunate brownish green. In a perverse way it does look better though the way the color is balanced here between the armor color and the grey treads. Despite that I still think the finish of the grey paint doesn't look very good.
So, one of Brawl's accessories is actually the cannon, and I like how they set this up. The cannon can stay attached to the turret at all times with no problem, as you've seen through the review so far.
But you can pop it out, and it has a 5mm post to act as a gun. You could also plug it in one of the forearm ports if you like.
When you put it back in the turret, there's nubs inside that catch the sides and form the hinge. It's a pretty elegant arrangement, and I like that it can pretty much be a hidden hand weapon that has perfect storage across all modes.
And of course the other accessory is the combiner hand/foot. This also has a turret interaction. Flip up the peg on the turret, and the hole in the bottom of the combiner part plugs in and emulates G1 Brawl's larger cannon parts.
Plus if you also have Swindle available, and Rook, you can start getting silly by borrowing their combiner parts.
I like this piece too, with not only the dual engines but also like a driveshaft between them. Cool details.
Let's talk limb modes. Leg mode is wacky, for the transformation. This port is where the foot is going to plug in. But it's on the bottom, so how do we fix this?
By pulling the back end out and swinging it over so the port passes through the inside of the body. It comes to rest facing down where it needs to, and the rear end pieces snap in place on the back. Was that really the best way to make that move happen? It's kind of neat and novel, but it seems seriously overcomplicated for what it's doing.
The arm is by comparison more straightforward. Like most arms it's the halfway point between robot and vehicle mode. It's made for the treads to tab in to the sides of the bicep. But that's really loose and unsecure. More of a guideline than an actual catch.
Thankfully the weak waist joint doesn't pose a direct problem for the arm mode. The waist panel does have to hold up the forearm, but it has a functional locking point in this position and the arm can actually be useful. Sadly the turret has no way to point in a useful direction, in any case.
I think we all had a lot of hope for Brawl, since the rest of the team either is or is seen as just mold reuses. And as it turns out, the lackluster reality is not because of expectations trending unfairly high, it just is a troubled design. Theoretically the torso problem could be solved pretty easy, and hopefully that will be the case for not just a TakaraTomy version, but also maybe the Botcon use of this mold. But right now the robot mode ends up pretty fragile and that's hard to excuse. The arms bug me too, but they're not a disaster or anything.
Brawl would still be bothersome even without the torso flop, but it'd be much easier to overlook the remaining issues. Brawl is functional as a component of a combiner just fine, so it's still good for finishing off Bruticus, but unless a fixed version turns up at some point, I don't feel like it's worth pursuing on its own merits. But! All hope is not lost, because Brawl is not in fact the only new mold toy on the team. And I'm not implying Shockwave.
|Date||November 21st 2015|
|Score||(6 out of 10)|
|Link||Combiner Wars Brawl Review Gallery|
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