Cliffbee.com: Superlink Brawl Toy Review

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Name: Brawl
Series: Superlink (Energon)
Allegiance: Destron
Alternate Mode: Tank


The US version, Kickback.


Note: I have the Japanese version of this set, so I'm going with the Japanese names partly because of the G1 links and partly because Hasbro's reuse of names in this set is so random..

TANK MODE
Height: 5cm Length: 10cm Width: 5cm

   A forest green tank with black painted treads and a silver and pine green turret - the parallels to G1 Brawl are obvious. The colours are actually slightly closer to those of the Micromaster Bombshock, also inspired by Brawl. The turret itself is mainly grey with some pine green elements mixed in and twin cannons on either side with black barrels and orange tips. There are some silver and lime green highlights and he has white pinstripes (of sorts) on the sides, along with the number 16. While green is an obvious choice for a tank, this colour scheme doesn't really need to be groundbreaking - it works for the mode, works visually and makes for a believable homage.

   The turret is a little broken up, since it unfolds to become the arms and chest of the robot, and while the robot fists are visible on the back it still works as a turret. It's also where most of the action is. The front of the turret sports Brawl's spark crystal, which displays well from the front. On top is a rear-facing moulded Decepticon symbol, painted purple. The turret rotates right around, and while turning it will reveal the gap between his robot thighs, it clicks back into the forward facing position so you wont end up with a floppy turret as the swivel gets looser over time.

   Brawl is armed to the teeth, with the built in twin canons on either side of the turret, twin gatling guns moulded onto the front of the tank and his blue Energon weapon, which clips into the fists (which is why they're visible) and gives him a further two barrels along with a radar dish. The main canons can rotate up and back to about 130, even with his extra weaponry on top, which I find quite impressive - the original Brawl's turret rotation was hampered by the attack guns but this time the attack add-on doesn't get in the way at all - even the logo is still visible between the blue canons.

   Aside from the turret there's not much else in the way of play value, although he does have plastic wheels underneath to roll on, which is really all I ask - let's face it, tanks don't do much but roll, aim and fire. At this scale I think a working missile launcher is asking too much, and it would place restrictions on the robot mode that I'd hate to see.

   With sensible colours that work for Brawl and a turret that provides more play value than we've seen on a low pricepoint Transformer tank, this is a good little tank mode. The exposing of his thighs bothers me a little, but the play value in the turret is interesting enough to mostly make up for that.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Remove the Energon weapon if attached, fold out the arms. Rotate the platform on which the turret rests 180, swing down the head and rotate so his face is pointing forward. Fold out the treads so that they form panels sticking out and down to the sides, which will allow you to clip the shoulder joints onto the sides of the torso. Fold down his feet, unclip the legs from each other, collapse his chestpanel onto the torso, position the arms and forearm cannons, give him his handgun if you like.

   This is a satisfyingly complex transformation for a basic, but it's not difficult. It deals with problem of what to do with the turret better than any previous tank Transformers (while some used the turret as arms, none of those had movement).

ROBOT MODE
Height: 11cm Width: 8cm, 13.5cm "wingspan"

   Again the forest green is Brawl's primary colour, with the grey supporting on his forearms, chest, head and forearm canons. The pine green appears on his shoulders, thighs and twin gunpods on either of his head. His face is orange while his eyes are blue, there's a lightpipe effect but the eyes are quite small so it's not the best lightpipe. Still, the colours work well here - better than on the tank mode actually. Again it's a pretty good homage to G1 Brawl.

   So now he has eight barrels before adding his handgun which provides another two. The side canons from the tank mode are the forearm canons, which are targetable. The gunpods on either side of his head have three small barrels each and sit far enough away from his head to work as shoulder-cannons, even if they do attach to the back of his head. I actually find that the Energon chip is a little big and prefer leaving it off, but there's no problem with this, considering how well armed he is anyway.

   The treads, dangling from his back, attached behind the shoulders, are very much kibble, but don't really get in the way and can fold back and hang backwards if you prefer - I like to leave them visible and make a feature of them, but hide them on Swindle. If you're going to have vehicle mode kibble, unobtrusive and concealable is the way to go. The other aspect that counts as a flaw is the shape of his feet - being the front of the tank they're flat panels, which is a little out of sync with the rest of this robot mode. The upside is the gatling guns now make great heelspurs for big feet, making him easy to pose, even accounting for the big treads hanging off him.

   Poseability is excellent for a basic toy, even better when you consider that he's a Gestalt limb. The head and waist turn, the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees are all ball joints while his ankles are hinged and the canons on his forearms rotate. As already mentioned, the feet anchor him quite well, so the articulation isn't wasted, and the treads can act as supports for action poses that would be unstable on other toys.

   Aside from the weird feet, this is a really good robot mode. The colours are great, he's bristling with weaponry, just as a Brawl toy should be, and the play value surpasses what you'd expect of a basic. The treads are worthwhile kibble, since they're able to stay out of the way and actually help with pose stability, and work as a sort of "cape" if you leave then out to the sides anyway.

VARIATIONS

   None that I know of, although as mentioned the US name is Kickback.

OVERALL

   Two fun modes, weaponry galore and colours that really work and make this toy a great homage. Even if you don't care for Bruticus, I'd recommend this toy. From a G1 fan point of view, I prefer Brawl to Swindle, who shares the mould - but neither toy is really superior to the other. If not for the robot feet I'd give this a perfect score, because it's a great basic - 9/10

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