Clay's review of: Brakedown and Brakedown GTS
One of the neater aspects of the Galaxy Force/Cybertron line is the use of context for alternate modes. Robots from Earth have alternate modes based on Earth vehicles; robots from the Jungle Planet have alternate modes based on animals, etc. Along with the Giant Planet and ‘Cybertron’ planet (a few figures with unique alternate forms and special keys with Autobot or Decepticon faction symbols molded on), there is Speed Planet.
The theme of the Speed Planet (or Velocitron, as it’s called in the cartoon) is a current of racing vehicles skewed from lack of need for practicality. Some of the modes are simply corollary, ‘future versions’ of existing vehicles, but some are a bit stranger. Brakedown is one of them.
Brakedown’s alternate mode, if identified as a object from Speed Planet, is a wildly redesigned drag-racer, but without a spoiler or a parachute. Only knowing a token amount about drag racing, I can say that the idea of equating a vehicle that is only capable of short, frenzied bursts of energy and then requires long down-times is pretty accurate to the old-as-dirt character attached to the toy.
Intellectually abstract traits aside, it really is a good toy in vehicle mode. It’s molded with all sorts of fanciful engine and exhaust details, and best of all it rolls rather well on carpet.
Brakedown’s robot mode is absolutely what scout/basic-sized transformers should be. The transformation from the vehicle mode is complex enough to be interesting without being frustrating, and the process itself uses some of the joints from the robot mode (mostly the hips and shoulders) so that the stability of the figure isn’t compromised by too many superfluous bendy-parts. Marvelous!
Also, since it’s from the smallest price point, the figure is small and light enough to be fully ball-jointed, making for some great poses. (Brakedown has feet large enough to be stable and small enough to be proportionally correct).
Of course, going back to the ‘planet theme’, Brakedown has his Speed Planet key that unlocks an action otherwise barred from use. In his specific case, Brakedown’s front engine must first be removed, and then the key inserted. It causes a small blade to flip forward, turning it into a weapon. The engine doesn’t look enough like a weapon on its own to work without being ‘activated’, but it can be neatly stored on Brakedown’s back when not in use. Handy!
Brakedown and Brakedown GTS
As is pretty typical, Brakedown also has a repaint from the tail end of the Cybertron line, called Brakedown GTS. Whereas Brakedown’s original paint décor is fairly unique (there aren’t a lot of brown Transformers that aren’t also animals), the repaint scheme is an almost exact reproduction of Kup from Generation One.
It’s rather interesting since, aside from the Takara reissue of the original toy (packaged with Wheelie), there have been no ‘updated’ versions or homages to the character. Of course, it’s also fair to remember that Kup was a comparatively minor character, serving only to fill the ‘grumpy old man’ role. Appropriately enough, this is Brakedown’s character archetype as well. Given that, assigning the identity of Brakedown to a toy in Kup colors is allegorically valid.
It is pretty neat though since it’s not a straight recolor (different colors, but the same layout). The patterns of color are altered quite a bit, and it’s nice to see a bit of effort put into a repaint to make it to appeal to a small portion of the potential buyer pool (i.e., people who know who Kup is and what he looks like). Cool beans!
10. Very well thought-out. The process isn't too busy, and it's not so simple as to be boring, either.
9. Brakedown is small and light, so he can survive a fall from a shelf of any height. I don’t know how he’d fair against being stepped on, though, so if he stays out of the floor on a typical day, he should last quite a while.
10. I rate this very high for several reasons, but they are not necessarily universal criteria. See ‘Overall’.
10. It’s an easily found toy that’s been released in many markets. On top of that, it’s rather cheap to begin with, and occasionally on sale (I picked up mine for about $3 sealed at a Big Bad Toy Store summer sale).
X. Really depends on how you view the alternate mode. If you like transformers that turn into real objects as I do, it’s a bit of a hard sale at first. Taken in context
of the ‘Speed Planet’ though, Brakedown certainly has a nifty design and, combined with the low price, high durability, and well-articulated robot mode, you’ve definitely got a winner. He was a welcome surprise, and I full well recommend the little bugger(s) if you’re keen on the reasoning behind the alternate mode.