Alternate Mode: Cybertronian Dragster
Height: 4cm Length: 12cm Width: 6cm
A dark brown and light grey dragster with transparent yellow tyres and windshield, Brakedown has extensive copper paint highlights. The four colours work well together, the copper tends to melt into the brown, which works quite well. The yellow doesn't stand out much, which is a good thing. I'm not sure I like the yellow tyres, but then it seems all Speed Planet toys have transparent tyres so I'll let it slide. The colours work well, overall, since the light grey and dark brown provide contrast without clashing.
As is the case with dragsters, the front is quite small and the large big and bulky, and the tyres fit this theme. The front tyres are a single piece, which rolls on an axle and is enclosed by the airdam. There's a cockpit in the middle of the car and an engine block just behind the front wheels - along with another tucked away at the back (which is really for the robot mode). There's also a tiny Autobot logo stamped on the back, which is again really for the robot mode.
The engine block at the front doubles as his weapon - and while you can't access the slot, the key gimmick can be left activated in this mode. Basically there's a scimitar that can fold out and protrude from the front of the car - it's not terribly impressive, or logical, but it's a weapon. On my Brakedown at least it's not hard to pull the tip up and by-pass the key activation, which is a good thing since the key cannot attach at all in this mode. While we're on the topic of play value, all four wheels spin fairly wheel, and the front axles is a nice idea, but his ankles scrape against the table, which not only inhibits the ability of Brakedown to roll but also threatens to wreck the painted ankles.
Nowhere to store the key here - not even the activation slot, no ground clearance and a rather strange stinger-like weapon make for a non-playable dragster mode. The colours are nice, but with two separate engine blocks and a front section that's awfully broken up (with the engine block detaching for robot mode), this isn't an impressive car mode.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Slip out the engine block and set aside. Lift up the rear fenders, swing the legs out from underneath, fold the front of the car up underneath the toy (onto his back). Rotate the shoulders up, position his arms and turn his head around. Flip up the feet and give Brakedown his weapon.
Height: 12cm Width: 6cm
Again brown and grey, Brakedown is brown above the waist and grey below, save for grey forearms and brown feet. The colours are well laid out here. The large yellow rear tyres sit on his shoulders and his face is painted grey with a beardlike chin and yellow eyes with a well executed lightpipe. There are again copper highlights, notably on the knees and ankles. The colour layout is a lot better than on his vehicle mode, making me suspect the robot mode was the focus of Brakedown's design process.
Brakedown sports the small Autobot logo on his chest, below to either side are the pipes from the fake engine block that was on the back of the car. I really like this effect, but I'm not so sure I like the tiny Autobot logo - it's something Hasbro added (Takara's version did not have this stamp), and it's too forced to really work.
As much as the car mode was disjointed, this robot looks really good. The head is detailed and the beard works well, the legs and torso are very well proportioned and the arms work very well despite Brakedown having very short forearms. The huge tyres on his shoulders actually look good and the legs look very natural. The airdam sticks up about 3cm (just over an inch) behind his head and it's one of the most obvious pieces of vehicle kibble I've seen in quite a while, but since it doesn't impact on stability I don't mind so much. The rest of the robot works well, and the airdam isn't enough to spoil things.
The red Planet Key (code: s5f3) fits into the back of his handheld weapon, and there's not much point in leaving the weapon folded up - it's simply an engineblock without the blade. It's a somewhat awkward weapon, mind you - it looks like a bayonet without the gun part, since this sword is held like a rifle. You can't really leave it stowed, either, since you need to remove the engineblock to fold up the airdam. The gun works best with the key set aside - otherwise Brakedown can't bend his arm. With nowhere else for the key to go, this is pretty annoying.
Poseability is pretty good here - the head rotates while the shoulders, elbows, knees and hips are ball jointed. The ankles are hinged with heelspurs, and the end result is a pretty poseable robot mode, and one that looks good in most poses. So while the weapon and key gimmick are underwhelming, at least Brakedown's articulation is a success.
Despite the crappy weapon and airdam on his back, Brakedown's robot mode is actually pretty good - the colours are well mapped, the bodyshape works and there are some great design elements such as the engine details on his waist. I _really_ get the feeling he was designed around this mode, since it's his better mode by a long way.
The Japanese version, Autolander, lacks the Autobot stamp and code on the Planet Key. Unlike the Hasbro version, Autolander gets a function (Guard Patrol). There's also a Cybertron repaint, unimaginatively named Brakedown GTS.
A good robot mode with some minor issues and a good colour scheme are enough to save Brakedown from his mediocre dragster mode and poor key gimmick. As a display piece, the robot mode is worth the price, and while the transformation is fairly unusual, the resulting dragster mode is a loss. If you like the character or robot mode, I'd recommend him, but he's probably the weakest of his assortment (both Undermine and Armorhide are stronger toys - 6/10