Cliffbee.com: Movie Brawl Toy Review

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Name: Brawl (strictly speaking it's Decepticon Brawl, for legal reasons)
Series: Movie Tie-Ins
Allegiance: Decepticon
Alternate Mode: Tank



TANK MODE
Height: 5cm Length: 18cm Width: 6cm

   An army green tank with subtle yet noticeable dark grey camouflage, Brawl fits into the traditional colour scheme of military toys. The colours are dull and dark, which is fine in this context, and are more welcome than the tanks we saw during G2 - and even those of Armada (where everything had to have striking colours for the store display). The chains of his treads are painted black while there are black guns mounted on either side of the turret and black drums on the back of the main body. There's a red missile sticking out of the main cannon (which you can always set aside if you really want) and a few light grey connecting pieces, but otherwise Brawl is a well camouflaged tank. The green and grey are suitably matte and even the backwards-facing Decepticon logo on top of the turret is grey and blends in well (similar to that on Wreckage).

   This one of the finest tank modes we've ever seen in the Transformers line - and as I've alluded to above we've gone through some eras where the tanks that were done were far from realistic. The sculpt is quite detailed with rivets, panels, hatches and drive shafts on his treads. While there have been more detailed tanks down the years, I can't think of one with this sort of detail _and_ a colour scheme of this quality. The features are all positives - the drums on the back work well, the quad-barrelled side guns look really nice as do the two smaller green cannons on top of the turret. There are two smallish mine plows (thanks to Fit For Natalie for the correct term) on the front which are an interesting design choice (I assume they're a feature of the tank he's based on). The grey trigger on the base of his main cannon is a little distracting, but it's still quite subtle, really.

   The play value here is good, although it's not perfect. The treads are fixed - as usual - Brawl has four small black wheels underneath, which could have been notched but aren't. The black guns (let's call them anti-aircraft guns) are on twin ball joints, and can aim in pretty much any direction. The main and secondary cannons are fixed, but the turret and its top section (which houses the AA guns and the secondary cannons) can both rotate through 360. Rotating the turret itself isn't recommended, since there are large gaps underneath, along with the red lightpipe of his robot head. On the upside, the solid areas that are exposed are well sculpted, which is nice to see. The main cannon cannot lift up, which is probably my biggest gripe here. The mine plows are ball jointed, which is a nice touch.

   While the play value isn't quite what you might hope for, it's not too bad for a deluxe, and on the whole I'm happy with this tank mode. The movement is on par with (or better than) most tank Transformers, although the gaps underneath the turret are annoying (if understandable). Overall, I love the look of this tank and that's enough for Brawl to work. We don't see many realistic tank Transformers, especially when you consider how many unrealistic ones we do see. There's also some satisfaction in the fact this guy has eleven separate barrels.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Swing the front fenders out and back. Lift the turret back and fold down the front, which has his automorph feature. In theory when you fold it down, the head lifts up and the front sections of the treads lift up to form shoulderpads. The head works fine, but I find that the treads tend to slip gears and not deploy all the way - which doesn't really worry me since doing it manually is easy enough. Rotate the drums to form heelspurs and flip out the supporting brackets to become feet. Rotate the panels behind his legs, which exposes the shins a little better. Rotate the turret section and lift the arms out from within the turret itself. The shoulder transformation is quite involved, and you'll have to make sure you do it right or the shoulders will flop around. The main cannon ends up on his right forearm while the secondary cannons rotate to stick out behind his head. The AA guns extend out to the sides, deploying above the shoulders. Lastly, fold down the mine plows on his chest. Brawl's transformation is quite involved for a deluxe, with some clever details like the permanently attached main cannon and deploying AA guns.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 14.5cm Width: 10.5cm

   Again based on army green, Brawn has some gold and a little more black now. The arms and legs feature these two colours to some extent, including glossy black claw-like hands and black feet. His face is a silver gasmask-like affair with a surprisingly effective lightpipe in his red eyes. The black treads on either side of his head are an interesting feature which brings more black to the toy, as does the rear of the turret behind his head. The Decepticon logo is no longer visible, although the face is very much that of a Decepticon anyway.

   This is beefed up robot mode. The boots are huge, the black shoulderpads help bulk up the upper body (which may be the reason they're up there), the big cannon on his right arm is about twice as long as that arm. Oh, and all eleven barrels are present and accounted for. The left arm isn't forgotten, mind you - it has twin grey blades attached, on the outside of the forearm counterbalancing the cannon. The mine plows sit on his chest, and are readily visible there, adding the the rough nature of the toy. Brawl looks like he's ready for, well, a brawl! The sculpt is again quite good, although Brawl relies more on the obvious visual elements now.

   The play value here is great, with the cannon, the AA guns and the blades all poseable. The arm mounted weapons can rotate, and the red missile fires (in both modes, actually). His head turns, the waist can rotate but it's fixed in place since it anchors the turret, which also connects to his back. The shoulders and hips are ball jointed, the elbows and knees have both rotators and hinges. Brawl's feet are hinged and the heelspurs are effective. The cannon can slide backwards and lock into place, allowing his arm to stay up whilst aiming the missile. The AA guns are again independently targetable, and there's plenty of clearance around them, so their motion isn't wasted in this mode. One note about the shoulders: they're meant to clip into the torso but don't stay attached very well at all. They will stay in place if you transform them right, even if they're not firmly attached. There are panels on either side of the turret which open during transformation to allow the shoulders room to transform - you have to jam them back onto the shoulders once you're done to support the shoulders, otherwise the arms will flop around. This alternate method is effective enough - mine will happily hold on his main cannon so long as the panel is jammed in.

   The shoulders are an obvious flaw, although thankfully not a major one. Otherwise I have nothing bad to say about this mode. He's big, beefy and bad, and suits both the alt mode and his name. I'm a fan of the cannon, and impressed that it doesn't actually have to detach to form an arm weapon. The lightpipe is great considering there's a black panel behind his head. The extra touches really help Brawl work visually - the AA guns, blades, swept back panels on his boots and lightpipe all tell us that the designer really thought about this robot mode. Which makes it surprising the shoulders are flawed, but also make sure this isn't enough to ruin the robot mode.

VARIATIONS

   A later release saw "Allspark blue" elements added to robot-mode only parts of Brawl. ROTF Deep Desert Brawl is a repaint of Brawl (with fixed shoulders).

OVERALL

   Brawl represents a rarity amongst Transformers - a realistic, detailed tank Transformer. The colours are dull military shades, which suit him quite well. Both the tank and robot modes are detailed and armed to the teeth, matching his name and the basic idea of his vehicle mode. The tank mode's play value isn't quite as good as I'd like, but it's not poor either - and the robot mode is very playable. There are some really nice touches such as the lightpipe and anti-aircraft guns which round out a very nice toy. While the shoulders and gaps under the turret are shortcomings, neither manages to seriously undermine a great effort - 8/10

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