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Blackjack's Review: Brimstone

Name: Brimstone
Allegiance: Decepticon

When the first movie line began to run out of characters, unused designs and video game guys, Hasbro turned to non-Transformer vehicles in the movie for inspiration of new molds before padding out the rest of the line with an endless swath of repaints. Thus, we get guys like Landmine, Stockade and Incinerator based on vehicles seen in the first movie. The second movie did something similar, although the first toy that is not based on an unused concept, namely Stratosphere, was released fairly early on. The ROTF line is fairly diverse with the non-show characters, since it had lots of unused designs that are workable into toys. Unlike its predecessor, though, the latter parts of the line are padded out with several original Classics-styled molds with Movieverse aethestics like Brawn and Bludgeon, which are simply fantastic.

Now after the buzz of the second movie died down, Hasbro didn't do another Animated/Universe 2.0 dual line. Instead, they launched three lines that are a mixture of the Movie franchise, Classics-styled moulds, new concepts and other bits and bites. The 'main' line is a subtitleless 'Transformers' line, otherwise known as the 'Hunt for the Decepticons' line or HFTD. It's also been dubbed as 'Goldbox Transformers' by some fans, and contains mostly toys with the movie aethestics, although some Classics repaints have cropped up. Two lesser lines run concurrent with it. The first is the relatively self-contained Power Core Combiners, which capitalize on combination, interchangability and Minicons. They have blue packaging. The other line is Generations, the red packaging that's basically Classics mark 3, which also carries WFC toys with it.

Basically Hasbro wants you to go nuts.

Anyway, back to the topic on hand. Brimstone is based on a vehicle prop from the second movie. Namely, the custom chopper bike that shows up in Mikaela's garage. While it's in the background most of the time, the vehicle that Brimstone is based on appeared most prominently in a pan when Wheelie was weaving around it as a cover while eavesdropping on Mikaela.

Thus, Brimstone was born. More or less. The bio at the back of his packaging gave him a rivalry with his wave-mate Hubcap, both vying to be the king of the road. Or something. It's Hasbro's none-too-sneaky attempt at advertising another toy, while at the same time making Brimstone just another faceless evil Decepticon.

Again for my customary name history. Brimstone is a relatively new name in Transformers, first used in 2005's Cybertron line as a pteranodon-like creature loosely affliated with the Decepticons. Brimstone, like most of the planet-bound Decepticons, would later ally himself with the Autobots to defeat Galvatron. The name Brimstone was reused for a repaint of the Minicon Nightscream, who had a paintjob based on the original Brimstone. And then, there is this guy, the first Brimstone not to have a green-and-yellow paintjob or wings of any sort.

Brimstone's robot mode is mainly a dull shade of gray, with black for his wheels and his fingers. A metallic shade of bright blue colours his shoulder, head crest, lower arm and several armour pieces. Silver colour the rims of the wheels, yellow colour the headlamp mounted on his left shoulder and green flame decals decorate some of his blue parts. Finally, a few hints of red are present on his chest and face.

The wheel halves mounted on his arms look like three-pronged buzzsaws of some sort, an effective use of vehicle-mode kibble. It's a nice touch to brighten up a robot mode. His head seems to have three beady eyes, all of them red. The lower part of his head is shaped like grinning teeth, lending to some sort of a sinister, skull-like look. From a distance, his head also looks somewhat insectoid. Coupled with his creepy buzzsaw arms, he looks downright sadistic. It wouldn't be hard to imagine him beating the snot out of Hubcap, cackling as he hacks out pieces with the buzzsaws.

His torso, legs and arms are all rather lean, and his rear wheel is situated like a central spoke in his chest, able to roll around independently. If Brimstone had appeared in the movie, it wouldn't be hard to imagine his wheel rotating slightly up and down as he moves, like how the little parts seen in the movieverse transformers keep adjusting themselves as they move around. However, I do feel that his lower body has too much gray on them. A little additional blue paint application would've brightened things up, but then it'll ruin the pristine vehicle mode.

I can't help but compare Brimstone to Animated Oil Slick, seeing that they both turn to chopper bikes. But unlike Oil Slick, Brimstone hides his parts better and his transformation feels smoother.

Upon closer inspection Brimstone has a three-pronged claw on the edge of his wrists, although they are easily overlooked with the buzzsaw tires being more attention grabbing. Basically I ignore the tiny hands- you could easily fold them out of the way and let the buzzsaws be the hands themselves. But that's mostly due to my queer obsession with inhuman robots, but it would also work better for Brimstone in a fictional sense. His weapons would be able to bite into the enemy's hide more easily without the armguards getting in the way. Actually, come to think of it Brimstone's segmented buzzsaws bear a resemblance to the funky axe that came with G1 Wreck-Gar. Either that, or the rabid fanboy in me is insisting on everything being a homage.

All in all, a well-executed robot mode, if a little bland.

Brimstone's transformation is satisfying. He takes some cues from Oil Slick, but how the seat and chair fold into place is unique. It's nice, considering how ROTF Knock Out is a lazy rehash of Energon Arcee's trite transformation. The shoulder bits on my Brimstone (the blue parts between the handlebars and the seat) are a pain to get to stay together, though.

Brimstone's alternate mode fits snugly into place, and he's mainly blue in this mode. The green flame deco is more evident here. Most of the robot mode kibble blend in seamlessly in the bike mode, so he could pass of for a cheap bike model. Well, the silver bits on his cheeks could be seen, but they pass as screws easily. The head itself could easily be passed off as some sort of bag carrier. A kickstand flips out horizontally so Brimstone could lean at an angle. Detailing, as always, is plenty and charming.

He rolls on pretty well, considering that his front wheel is segmented. Playability value is almost nil, though, until I realize I could fit other transformers on top of him. Someone bulky like Hubcap wouldn't fit, but a gangly guy like Dirt Boss makes a reasonable fit if you bend his knees, in a vague Laser Cycle manner. I'd imagine some other Scout-class figures would fit too. Backwind, however, fits perfectly on Brimstone. As a Minicon he doesn't look hilariously out of scale, and his long, hooked arms latch onto Brimstone's handlebars perfectly. Well I'll be damned- I've found a use for the little green turd.

All in all, Brimstone's alternate mode is satisfying.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Durability 8/10 Despite having long limbs and whatnot, Brimstone is a brick. He's survived numerous times of suicide jumping from the top shelf in my room without any noticeable injuries. The green flame decals seem to be easy to scratch off with rough handling.
Aethestics 7/10 While unorthodox, Brimstone feels at home among the movieverse Decepticons with his alien look. His paintjob is well-executed, even if the gray bits are a little too plain.
Fun 4/10 Sadly, this is where Brimstone lacks. His saw arms are nice gimmicks, but other than that he's just another troop builder. Having Backwind ride him is hilarious, though.
Price/Value 5/10 I've always thought that Scouts should come with a gun or a sword or something that'll justify the price point. As it is, Brimstone doesn't feel that worth it, although he's certainly a better bang for the buck compared to the PCC guys.
Transformation Design 8/10 Refreshing. Hasbro's designers are starting to create great motorcycle transformations that aren't half-assed copies of Energon Arcee or having half the bike hanging off their body like Cybertron Lugnutz. I like how Brimstone's rear wheel form some sort of gyroscopic center in his torso.
Articulation 7/10 Basically what you'll expect from a good Scouts class toy. Head, shoulders (two different kinds), elbows, thighs, knees and limited ankle joints. And the spinning buzzsaws.
Overall 8/10 Not a bad toy. He loses some points because of the hands and the plain lower body. However Brimstone certainly shines over the sub-par quality of the PCC toys, especially in the design department. But while he isn't jump-for-joy like Thrust or Hubcap, he's still a decent pickup if you're looking for a relatively cheap crowd-filler in your collection that isn't dull crap.
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