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mAgic rAt's review of: Brawl

Name: Brawl
Faction: Decepticon
Sub-group: Combaticon
Function: Ground Assault
First Cartoon Appearance: “Starscream’s Brigade” – Episode 63
"I was built to be wild."

Brawl is loud. Whether he's talking, shooting, or merely moving, he makes a lot of noise -- grating, clanking, booming noise that irritates all those nearby, friend and foe alike. As unpleasant as that side of him is, there are other aspects of his personality that his fellow Combaticons consider even worse. He has a hair-trigger temper and expresses his frequent anger with a savage fury truly terrible to behold. But, at least this seething rage that drives him, that makes him so unpleasant to be with, also makes him a terrifyingly effective warrior. He makes no secret of his blustering belligerence; the mere sound of his approach is enough to unnerve Autobots. His actual arrival can paralyze them with mind-numbing fear. If he weren't always so angry, Brawl might find this pleasing.

And there you go! Another war, another battlefield and craters and smokin’ wrechages. And another Combaticon: here comes Brawl crashing in!

He’s a big, bad, brutal and heavy tank, has loads of firepower and smashes the guts outta you autobobo’s while firing, trashing, booming, shouting, tracking and blasting its way through fire and hell, and then does it all over again, this time bursting Mötorhead from his soundcannons! Why? “Because fine ammo shouldn’t be wasted only on the injured! If you're already dead, you’ll make a fine target too! KA-BOOM!” He would probably drink beer and piss all over ya while splattering your brains all over the bar if he was a human. ROCK! METAL! YEAH!

Or at least, that’s what’s Brawl should’ve been. But he isn’t. Damn.
Like his Autobot nemesis Warpath, he suffers from a severe SCALE-problem. A serious case of driving madness, either for Brawl, for the guys that gave him his personality, or the guys that designed him and designated him a gestalt limb, thus determining his scale. He’s a tank! And tanks should be big and heavy!

Because where Warpath suffers from a highly detailed tank mode, indeed screaming for a bigger size and a detailed paint job, Brawl is mostly undetailed. (Better read Auntie Slag’s Review of G1 Warpath first.) The saving grace for Warpath is,that’s he is an Autobot, that Autobots are just not the destructive type of guys, and that Warpath is, after all, a nice and funny dude in the cartoons. So being too small he can still be a cool character. Now, this is where the trouble really starts for Brawl. Because this guy is not a nice and funny guy. He’s a bad guy, a Combaticon, built solely for battle, and first and foremost, he is a DECEPTICON, destined to be Megatron’s cannon fodder or rule the universe and wreak havoc.

Solution? Well, I guess, by 1986 the decline of Transformer design teams had already begun. (This was just before they went “futuristic”.) As if they we’re drunk 4 days a week, and decided that the Transformers designed in those four days we’re going to be sold anyways because the hype was then at its height. And that if those Transformers were even too ugly to be sold in that hype, well, just sell 'em as gestalt teams! (You can read the Swindle review for more about this.) So.

(I can hear you think now: “yes...........aaaaaand???”) Well, every gestalt has better and worse members. So here’s what I think could’ve been the solution. Some guys make the team, others break it, but get sold anyway because you need it to build the super-robot. (Swindle. Again.) Now this guy here could’ve been either a great Transformer without being a Combaticon and being the size of Blitzwing or even Quake, or should’ve have been a Combaticon but called Onslaught, lead the whole bunch of military militia’s, been the main selling point of the team, AND would be twice the size. Not because of the high detail -- the design has barely any detail -- but because it’s an army green tank, because it’s the Combaticon-guy that appeared the most in the cartoons, and because it would add to the “Your-puny-little-grenade-launcher’s- can’t-penetrate-my-thick-green-armor” image that he has. (Right now Blaster would just shove him with his feet.)

The funny thing is, where Warpath, because it’s an Autobot, should be bigger because of all the moulded details, it’s just the LACK of it at Brawls hide that makes him scream for size. Detail would only make Brawl look old-fashioned and more brittle. It’s the straight lines of grenade deflecting armour that give him the merciless look of a soldier, of a Decepticon Tank, who’s just in it for the fun of demolishing. (Weird how factions, size and detail can determine one’s image.)

Alternate Mode:
Like I said, Brawl's alternate mode is a tank. Not a big one though, too small actually, but, ok, he’s a tank, and that’s cool in itself. Right?

He was the third Combaticon I bought, right after Blast-Off and Vortex, but he was the first one I wanted, just because of the Tank mode and the firepower that came with it. The design of the tank is unmistakably borrowed from a early 1960’s model of a West-German MBT Leopard 1 Tank. (Bet ya didn’t know that, now did you? No really, I do research for these reviews! Really!) The design is completed with an olive-green, ARMY-green armor, dark grey tracks, and a black barrel. Just like any kid would describe thé stereotypical tank. Just like it should.

And I gotta say, I think it’s quite well done. The lack of details, the lack of colours, and the lack of stickers make give him an uncomplicated merciless look. I think this was sheer laziness on Hasbro's part, but somehow for this guy it really works just fine. The tracks don’t move, and the gun doesn’t elevate, but hey: The guy was designed as a tough toy, not as a display model. The front has the sharp anti-landmine and shell-deflecting armor angle that really finishes this tank off quite well. The only really visible sticker is a shiny Decepticon logo on that front, besides a really small one the side.

The side has the zig-zag lined armoured plates to protect the tracks that is characteristic for all post WWII tanks, and gives, being the most detailed part of the tank, a surprisingly high amount of realism to this little brick. The only main offset to Brawl's alternate mode are the two moulded air vents on top of the turret, which are too big and too simple in design to add to the tank’s credibility. Some people say the turret’s too wide, but for a Leopard tank it’s actually a pretty correct reference to its real-live ancestor. Personally I think it adds to the -- although scaled down -- ‘massiveness.’

On the slightly sloped back, which is a typical asset of all Leopard tanks, there are two big holes, meant to take Brawl's HUGE, super-stereo-sound-blaster cannons in. Too bad, I think it would’ve looked better without. I would only put it there if I had to blast my friend’s Aerialbots out of the sky, ‘cause this double barrelled piece of anti-aircraft artillery doesn’t look too good on display. (But, when the need arose, Brawl did what had to be done. Hehe.)

Note that that there is almost no clue to the fact this guy’s able to Transform into a robot, not even from the bottom of the tank. You’ll only find a bit of leg there.

Robot Mode:
Now, from the pictures I’d seen in the 1986 Hasbro catalogue (which I guarded with my life), I’d always tried to figure the transformations out just by looking at the two displayed modes. Usually I could figure them out, but for this guy I didn’t right away. What amazed me was that the tank’s tracks would be at the back of Brawl's limbs and the turret too would be on his back. In tank mode they were obviously on opposite sides. (Duh.)

So to transform, first pull the thing apart. This provides space to fold out the back of the tank, which will become his legs. Now the back of the turret is in its way, so you have to lift the turret straight up. Don’t pull too hard because it’s not meant to come off. Now fold the whole front downwards. You’ll notice that the mid-section only folds 90 degrees, and the rest all the way down. Do it, and while you discover the head, put the guy on his feet. Now, give him his electroshock gun (way too sophisticated for a tank-dude, don’t you think?) and there you go: one military mercenary ready for captain’s inspection.

Okay, this is not Brawl’s most spectacular mode, as could be expected for a G1 gestalt limb of this size (and price.) His head is kinda small, as with all his fellow Combaticon limbs, to fit into Onslaught's stinkin’ feet. But like Swindle, it's very much the face we know from the cartoon. Unlike Swindle however, his arms and legs have decent proportions, and look cool with the tank tracks along the back of both. He has the big heavy shoulders that go with this. They make him look as tough and strong as he looks clumsy, lazy and stupid. Kinda like the ignorance, laziness and simple-mindedness of a private waiting for the inspection of some high ranking officer who only gets his respect from having more stripes on his shoulder rather than combat experience. Look at the picture and see what I mean. (“Aargh..I dont give a **** about you. Just lemme blast away. Or gimme some booze. I don’t care.”) See? Cool huh?

But this is also where the trouble lies with the robot mode of Brawl: he only looks good in that pose, and of all the Combaticons this one probably has the worst articulation. Because of the front of the tank being his chest, his arms will never reach beyond his chest, and to make matters worse the arms and the chest will form the front of the tank again in doing so. This looks absolutely ridiculous!

Effectively this means that whenever Brawl tries to point his gun at someone (which IS the main thing for him to do, obviously), the cursed Autobot would probably die LAUGHING his head off, before he can BLAST it off! Last big minus: the turret on his back prevents his arms from rotating more than 15 degrees. Very sloppy!

The main feeling I always have with Brawl is: ”Man, they were almost there. They almost designed a gestalt limb that would be cool in his own right. Damn. So close, yet so far away.”

Yep, decent alternate mode, half-decent robot mode, OK transformation, but, because of the size of it, rubbish articulation... and therefore a waste of potential. Because of this unfulfilled promise of a Decepticon, ARMY-green, G1 tank, he can make you want the other Combaticons to try to fulfil this promise.

He bolstered my ranks and added firepower, so I liked having him as a toy. Besides, as a kid, you could see your own figure on TV. That’s what’s cool about G1! Maybe I’d have had him even without the other Combaticons, just because tanks are just unearthly cool. But for the rest, well, he fits in with the team as a tank and as a limb. That's all. It’s a shame for the tank-mode, but basically I sadly believe that that’s the only reason people will have this guy.

Transformation: 5/10. Decent, not too tough, but okay for his size. Doesn’t give away the robot in tank mode.
Durability: 9/10. Absolute brick. Maybe if you ran your dad’s car over it, the barrel would break.
Fun: 6/10. Just because the tank looks really good and it’s a cool paintjob. The rest of the fun will come only as a team member or as part of Bruticus. Articulation is rubbish, even for a G1 gestalt limb.
Price: 8/10. Won’t make you starve. $4-10 for a complete Brawl.
Overall: 6/10. A bit of a sad story. They were almost there, making a decent G1 Transformer, but a 95% job only gives half the score. Won’t shine in your shelf display, won’t kill it either. Ok, +1 because he’s a tank.
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