I will confess to thinking, when I first saw pictures of Brawl’s alt mode in early leaked movie photos, that there was a bit too much clutter, what with the second turret, rocket pods and minesweepers. When I finally saw the toy, I decided that actually there’s a lot of fun to be had with all these guns though. It helps that everything here moves, the two turrets move separately, the rocket pods do their own thing and even the minesweepers are on a balljoint (so it’s best not remove them in robot mode, or else he looks a little, ahem, naked). It certainly gives the impression of a real engine of destruction, almost unstoppable.
Of course, the original Brawl was a Combaticon, as Bonecrusher was a Constructicon. Why are we getting these characters now, rather than saving them for a future film with the possibility of using combiners? Well if you think about the makeup of the Decepticon army originally, the only ‘troops’ were the seekers, and they were under the command of Starscream. Everyone else was a specialist with some leadership or infiltration role. It wasn’t until the combaticons, constructicons and stunticons that Megatron had a more ‘disposable’ army.
The transformation is sophisticated, fun and original. I especially like how the arms are done, and articulation in robot mode is pretty good bearing in mind the bulk of this figure (which is appropriate in this case), although as with all the other movie figures, there is no waist joint. Getting everything folded back into tank mode and having all the panels line up (almost) flush can be a bit of a pain but it is possible with a couple of attempts.
In terms of movie accuracy, there haven’t been any clear pictures of Brawl yet so it’s difficult to say. We do get a nice automorph feature which unlike some of the others doesn’t break as soon as you touch it, and does more than move a panel 3mm. When folding the front of the tank down to form the chest, the front track sections fold up over the shoulders as the head is revealed, hopefully matching his transformation sequence. Those track sections are highly evocative of ammo belts required for rapid fire weapons. Truly Brawl looks like the ultimate robotic infantry trooper.
Much has been made of the issue with the figures arms/shoulders, which are supposed to clip into place, holding the torso together, but which pop out easily, especially when trying to pose the admittedly stiff ball joint shoulders. I haven’t found it to be too irritating, although it does require one to firmly squeeze them into place, every time the arms pose is changed. The poor quality soft plastic doesn’t fit very well and is probably to short, so this is to blame here I think, stiffer more cleanly cut pieces made to a better tolerance would have made it possible to have the shoulders properly ‘lock’ into place, eliminating this issue altogether.
Highly recommended, the best of the deluxe figures so far, and I think the best ever transforming tank we’ve seen to date. I am very curious to see how the Leader sized version is going to turn out. There’s one more surprise too – and it’s easy to miss. Something seen on the CGI model, in movie, in game and apparently on the Leader class figure, is four barrels of chain gun on his right forearm. Now, if you rotate the main cannon to point backwards, you’ll see the same guns sculpted in after all! It’s little touches like this that really make a figure stand out.