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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Warcry's Review: Brakedown

Name: Brakedown

Decepticon scout Brakedown avoids contact with the enemy at all costs. His job is to observe and report, not fight. That's why he's geared for speed, not battle. Unfortunately for him, Mudflap has other ideas, and now he finds himself racing for his life away from the determined Autobot warrior.

Although the Movie lines reuse a lot of names from the original line, most of the time these new characters don't have much in common with their namesakes. Brakedown is an exception to that rule because he looks exactly like what G1 Breakdown would have looked like if he'd been a Movie toy. Most of the previous attempts at merging G1 colour schemes with Movie design aesthetics have been less than impressive, but Brakedown caught my eye right away. I always liked the original Breakdown's colour scheme, I'd been impressed by Dead End (another Stunticon who has been reborn as an ROTF Scout), and Brakedown's transformation looked surprisingly unconventional. I was looking forward to him quite a bit and I snagged him the first chance I got.

Robot Mode: Like the best of the Revenge of the Fallen Scouts, Brakedown manages to look incredibly complicated in robot mode while actually being pretty simple. He features a lot of molded detail that makes him look like he's made from a billion moving parts like the Transformers are on-screen without actually having any more moving parts than is strictly necessary for his transformation and to provide the robot mode with joints.

Brakedown's robot mode has four main colours. His chest, thighs, shoulders and all of his alt-mode kibble are white. His face and the taillights on his chest are red, his hands, the outside of his shins and the tips of his shoulders are black and he has a grey bumper and Decepticon symbol on his chest. His eyes are a nice shade of gold that really stands out against the rest of his palette.

Rather uniquely for a car transformer, Brakedown transforms 'backwards'. He has the 'bumper chest' look pioneered by the likes of Jazz or Prowl, but in Brakedown's case it's the rear bumper instead of the front one. The front end of his car mode ends up hidden on his feet, his doors become bracers on his forearms and he's got a backpack made up of his roof and windshield. Unfortunately, the backback hangs nearly an inch away from his torso and looks very silly and ungainly if you're looking at him from the side. Brakedown also has really funny proportions, even for a Movie toy. He has a fairly normal head and legs for a Scout, but basically no chest and arms that are almost long enough to touch his toes without bending over. But in spite of the weirdness, his look works.

Brakedown scores pretty highly as far as playability goes. He's got more articulation than a Scout has a right to -- triple-jointed shoulders, double-joined hips, articulated elbows, knees and ankles, and ball-jointed wrists and neck. And even though he's almost nothing but kibble, none of it really reduces his range of motion. His feet are pretty small, but with joints at the ankles and car kibble to use for support he's actually got pretty good balance. His ridiculous backpack comes in handy here and makes him a lot more stable than it could have been if it had been better-integrated into his robot mode.

The only real complaint I have is that like most Scouts these days, Brakedown is completely unarmed. Not only that, but because his hands are sculpted in an open position he can't even steal a weapon from another toy if you have a mind to arm him. It's a fairly minor niggle in the grand scheme of things though, and Brakedown is still a very good toy.

Alternate Mode: Brakedown transforms into a generic sports car that does its' best to look like a Lamborghini without actually being a Lamborghini (because then they'd have to pay license fees). It's a neat touch, because the original Breakdown also turned into a Lamborghini. Most of the original-series cars who've shown up in the Movieverse have been pretty heavily revamped -- Jazz going from a Porche to a Pontiac, Sideswipe transforming into a Corvette instead of a Lamborghini, Dead End now being a Peugeot, Bumblebee abandoning his classic VW Beetle alt-mode for a Camaro -- so it's nice to see at least one character sticking to his roots. But alas, Brakedown ends up looking pretty deformed after he went through the trademark-aversion machine.

Brakedown is mostly white in this mode, with a red hood that sports a silver Decepticon sigil. His headlights, hubcaps and some details on the back half of the car are different shades of grey and his tires, front bumper and windows are black. He has red taillights, but they're painted over with big blocks of red paint instead of just colouring the small molded-in taillight details. His rear bumper and the space between his taillights are grey, and he's got a silver Decepticon symbol where his license plate should be.

My Brakedown has a manufacturing defect in this mode. The front wheel on his left side doesn't turn very well and tends to get stuck, which means that he doesn't roll very well even over a flat surface. Since that's really the only thing you can do with a toy car, it's a pretty big issue. It's hard to say if this is something that happens to all Brakedowns or if mine is just lucky.

Brakedown is a pretty mediocre little car, all things considered. He's not bad, but he's nothing special and his robot mode is much, much better.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: Unconventional, but it works. Brakedown has a few obvious flaws that could have been fixed with a better transformation, though. 7/10

Durability: Brakedown has a lot of alt-mode kibble that could be snapped off. It would be hard to do unless you were doing it on purpose, but if you gave this toy to a little kid he'd probably find a way to do it. 7/10

Fun: Since he's a Scout, Brakedown doesn't have any special features or gimmicks to speak of. Simplicity has an art all of its' own, though, and what Brakedown does he does really well. 7/10

Aesthetics: A good-looking little Scout with a nice paint job that successfully calls back to an old character who doesn't get enough love. 8/10

Articulation: More than he has any business having, really. 9/10

Price: Brakedown's a Scout, which means he's going for a fair price to start with. And if you can still find one today the odds are pretty good that he'll be on clearance. Move quickly, though, or eBay will be your only recourse. 9/10

Overall: Brakedown's not without his problems, but he's a good toy with a small price tag. Not a must-have, but a good addition to your collection if you can find him. 8/10
 
 
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