Thursday, 7 January 2016

A Concise Combaticon Review of Combiner Wars Brawl In 500 Words Or Less

Pricepoint/Vintage: Deluxe, 2015/2016.
Modes: Robot, Tank, Arm, and Leg.
Transformation Style: CW deluxe limb, collapsible legs.
Play Patterns: Robot and aircraft, combiner, 5mm weaponry, a pack-in comic in the USA.
Points of interest: Only original deluxe in Combiner Wars Wave 5, suspected Technobot in waiting.

The Good
Done up in olive drab, lots of detailing and with integration of both weapons, Brawl looks pretty good in tank mode. The combiner piece attaches in a way that evokes the G1 toy, and there's three 5mm ports in useful places. Brawl also makes for a very beefy leg or arm, matching Swindle well, with those ports still being convenient. The robot mode has 16 points of articulation, happily including ankle tilts, and uses the tank gun as a rifle, or an arm cannon. It engineering meanwhile attempts to replicate the G1 toy in terms of transformation, while the smoke launcher in robot mode evoke the old Marvel design.

The Bad
Brawl is infamous for his waist, which does collapse fully or securely, drastically affecting the appearance and the articulation. While I took steps to minimise this, careful use of glue and fiddling with the combiner post, Brawl has other design flaws. The turret is fixed, an almost unforgivable sin on a tank of this size, and there's a minor case of Visible Head Syndrome. His combiner piece suffers from an over-large fist hole on one side, and things don't peg together as they should. Robot mode proportions and cavities are also iffy. He also has loose shoulders.

The Mediocre
While the transformation is obviously new and therefore interesting, but fiddly.

The Alternatives
Due to a quirk of fate, the Combaticons struggle for legitimate alternatives within Combiner Wars, but is well-served elsewhere. Putting aside the unreleased Takara and G2 versions, there's the Energon era toys, the Fall of Cybertron toys, and the upcoming TFSS 4.0 Mayhem Attack Squad. The Energon toys are popular, if having their own repaint paint issue, but the FOC toys aren't. The TFSS toys are based off known Combiner Wars moulds, made a bit nicer, at a bigger price. Brawl lacks convincing alternatives in either, so I'd point you towards Generations Warpath instead.

The Verdict
Brawl makes for a sharp contrast between himself and any other CW deluxe, demonstrating how good the line actually is, by being one of its few misfires. I'd personally rank him above at least two of the Constructicons, but the designers clearly bit off more than they could chew, and I feel we'd all have been better off if they had just turned Rook into a tank. Then again, he wouldn't be as G1 that way, and the tank mode looks nice. Long-story-short, he's not as good as he should be, you wouldn't buy him if he hasn't needed for Bruticus, but you're gonna combine him anyway, so whatever.

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