Blackjack's Review: Generations 'G2' Brawl
‘Generation Two’ Bruticus Combiner Set
So, unlike all the other Combaticons, Brawl already had a pre-existing model prior to Fall of Cybertron’s Bruticus. Yeah, Onslaught does too, but his model looks terrible. So anyway, during the first game, War for Cybertron, Brawl is a playable character in one level, and a fairly prominent NPC in the others. In Fall of Cybertron he didn’t fare too badly either. While he wasn’t playable, he’s still a pretty important NPC in the Vortex level. And he’s got a pretty design too, a great melding of the G1 and Movie designs. The face is perfect, two giant cannons on the back, and he looks so positively bulky and threatening. He is one of those designs that simply exude character.
Also, I really, really like Movie Brawl (Devastator, whatever), so that’s a bonus.
So Brawl’s already had a complex and distinctive design, yet he still has to function as part of Bruticus. Of course this was no problem for the game designers, since they can rely on CG magic, but for the toy designers Brawl is a veritable nightmare.
Brawl probably is the most appealing toy out of the set to some people, and I know he is to me. After all, out of the Combaticons Brawl is the only dude who looks like the G1 Combaticon design instead of merely vaguely sharing an alternate mode. Unfortunately, he is not a very good representation of the game model, nor a good toy.
As with all other reviews of the Combaticons, I shall be reviewing it with the G2-themed repaint instead of the SDCC-exclusive G1 colours or the fugly retail version. Brawl changes the least between all three versions, mostly because he is green all the time. G1-colours Brawl is a nice muted shade of military green, retail Brawl is a shade of puke green and G2 Brawl is a bright, nice shade of neon green.
So Brawl has to transform between the tank and robot mode already present from his WFC model, Bruticus’ leg from the game, and since Hasbro likes Scramble City he has to form an arm as well. I cannot help but think if Hasbro focused on only three modes instead of four, Brawl could be a much better toy… or maybe they realized Brawl’s going to be terrible whatever they do, so they added in the Scramble City gimmick to appease buyers? Who knows.
Brawl’s alternate mode is a tank, which, in the game, could either hover in place or plant its treads down. Obviously the toy can’t do that and I don’t blame the toy designers for not including it, so Brawl is permanently in ‘hovertank’ mode. But what a spindly and light-looking hovertank it is! It takes all the essential details from the concept art, sure, but only the essential details. The fact that Brawl looks like a tough tank has been eschewed in favour for a spindly looking tank that looks like any small explosion could tip over. They also cut off the minesweeper-like details on the rear half of the tank, as well as all of his rear tank treads. Coupled with the fact that seems to have gotten huge chunks cut off between the translation from game to toy…
That said, after I got over my surprise by how spindly and tiny Brawl’s tank mode is, like I said above he’s got all the details down. The two prong-like things that jut out from his side, the engine decals on the back, tank treads on the side, and those two giant cannons coming to bear on anything in front of Brawl… the cannons are longer than what Brawl has because they’re longer in Bruticus-leg form, but I’m not complaining. After having so much mass disappear from the main tank body Brawl’s giant cannons get a warm welcome from me. Also, unlike most tanks he’s got no tiny wheels under him, but considering he’s a funky hovertank it’s kind of logical.
As part of his G2 colour scheme, Brawl cosplays as G2 Megatron! Guess he’s the loyal sort. Or the trendy sort. Brawl gets painted in a tasty neon shade of green covered with purple camo splotches, black cannons and some additional black and silver detailing here and there. And a giant G2-era Decepticon insignia smack dab in the center of the tank mode, so when he runs people over (can hovertanks run people over) they’ll know it’s a Decepticon that did so. It’s a look I like.
Despite all my bitching above, Brawl’s still a fairly good alien hovertank, if a small one. His turret spins 360 degrees (although you can’t adjust the elevation). In Fall of Cybertron Brawl is capable of extending parts of his tank mode to form feet-like things to plant himself onto the ground to turn himself into a stationary weapon emplacement or something. The toy obviously can’t do that without transforming into robot mode.
He comes with a dinky little gun that can attach between his tank turrets but honestly do you think Brawl will need a dinky little gun like that?
Overall, a serviceable tank mode, if a little disappointing.
Hey, Brawl is this big burly chunky boxy dude laden with weaponry! And High Moon Studios nailed that aspect of him down. The toy, though? Not so much. Brawl is a spindly toy, and a short one. Swindle easily dwarfs him by a head, even though by rights their positions should be switched. And he’s got these slim legs that look malnourished. His shoulders and chest seem to have shrunk as well. That won’t do, Brawl.
Also, most of the eggplant purple decals disappear in transformation, giving Brawl a very boring mainly-green paint scheme this time around. Obviously the black joints and silver details are here and there, and his headsculpt (pretty good one too) sports an orangey-yellow visor, but it still makes him bland, and really quite ugly. The purple splotches and bright neon colours make the G2 Combaticons look bright and funny and so-ridiculous-it’s-awesome, but bright neon colours just look boring.
As with the tank mode, the sculpting is great – it captures all the details perfectly from the spiky protrusions near his thigh to the shape of his shoulders to the crazy details on his chest to the shape of his toes… what they don’t count for, however, are the proportions. So despite the arms looking nice, they look very stunted and tiny. Also, he’s missing the huge chunks of tank treads on the sides of his legs, which is a shame since putting tank treads there won’t compromise any other of his modes… would make them look better, in fact.
A more egregious problem is Brawl’s backpack. This is the reason why Brawl is so short and spindly, I wager. Having the turret stay there is a logical move, of course, it lets Brawl’s cannons stick up from his back threateningly. What’s problematic is that huge chunks of his tank mode hull and the combiner connector just hang off his back down like some crazy coattails. This is ridiculous and terrible-looking, not to mention it throws Brawl’s balance and articulation out of whack. And all this while I’m wondering if the green coattail things can’t be incorporated into Brawl’s feet or arms to bulk up his silhouette.
And, yeah, he’s got some terrible balance issues. Not as horrid as Airachnid, but a combination with those tiny feet and the heavy backpack, standing Brawl up is a bit of an ordeal. Articulation wise he’s pretty sub-par. The head’s on a ball joint, but it’s on a platform that tucks in during transformation, and it’s pretty loose, so exerting a little too much pressure on the head while posing it will cause the head assembly to slide back in. His arm articulation is pretty well done, with shoulders, pectorals, elbows and wrists all being articulated in one way or another. With that ridiculous backpack a waist is out of the question. His knees and thighs are articulated, but with that backpack, again, the articulation is neutered.
To add insult to injury he comes with a tiny gun.
It’s very sad to see Brawl’s robot mode since I will forever remember him as the giant, massive, Movie-inspired thug from the first game.
Brawl’s default spot in Bruticus’ combined mode is as his leg. And it totally makes sense for the ground-bound guys to form the legs and the flight-capable ones to form the arms. And Brawl makes a very functional leg, if not a particularly game-accurate one. The game has Brawl simply be in his tank mode with a foot attached on, whereas in toy form Brawl actually transforms. It’s again a pretty spindly leg especially compared to Swindle, but lo and behold, Brawl is a very, very stable leg.
G2 Bruticus came packaged in his gestalt form, and Brawl is mistransformed… Brawl’s robot arms are supposed to swing out backwards, and peg onto the foot piece, forming a very, very stable leg that supports Bruticus’ weight. His cannons are not floppy either despite jutting out at that angle, with the coattail piece clipping on to it and holding it in place.
It’s a very functional leg, and I could kind of forgive the non game-accuracy.
He also forms an arm, although it’s not stated in his instructions. By pulling his robot-mode waist slightly outwards you even get a very nice shoulder joint for Bruticus! It’s something I discovered by fiddling and is actually pretty great, giving Bruticus some kind of great-looking shoulder pauldron thing with cannons sticking outwards (the turret is still mobile, and you can aim it anywhere you want). It’s a shame that despite being a great shoulder and arm, his hand itself is crap. Basically you fold out awkward-looking fingers… chunky affairs that barely look like an arm.
The fingers are formed by specific finger-bits that end up on Brawl’s leg in robot mode, as well as either one of Brawl’s feet that serves as a thumb depending on which arm you want him to be. It’s also permanently in a karate-chop pose like Vortex, except worse because it doesn’t look at all like a proper hand. And can’t even hold a weapon. Again, it’s a shame that they didn’t just include removable fists. Much simpler if you want to go the Scramble City route.
Marks out of ten for the following:
4/10 Transformation-wise, Brawl has all that shit backpack business. It’s not all bad news, though, since his transformation into Bruticus limbs are inspired, ugly fingers aside.
6/10 Brawl seems to be made of slightly less-durable plastic than the other toys I own, but otherwise he’s pretty sturdy.
3/10 He does not really look like how Brawl should look like, although the pretty nice paint scheme kind of makes up for it. Somewhat.
4/10 He’s got articulation. He just can’t use them well due to the aforementioned backpack and balance problems.
6/10 I do like Brawl as a toy, and he’s quite fun to fiddle with, if not a particularly stable toy. Shame he isn’t a good toy.
4/10 He’s not a particularly good toy for the price they’re charging him for at retail, nor is he a good representation of Brawl if you want one.
3/10 He’s a pretty sub-par toy…. He’s got a lot going on for him, but ultimately he’s got so many problems, and arguably has the second-worst robot mode of the bunch. It’s a shame, since Brawl is easily my favourite design out of the five. To see it rendered like this in toy form is just painful.