Hunt for the Decepticons Highbrow Toy Review

in 2010, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Hunt for the Decepticons, Revenge of the Fallen

Revenge of the Fallen

General Information:
Release Date: September 2010
Price Point: $22.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Gatling guns x 2

Images:

*Images and text below from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
You don't get as old as HIGHBROW without fighting a lot of desperate, can't-win battles. He's been through his share, and come out on top, every time. THE FALLEN may be ancient and nearly all-powerful, but HIGHBROW is pretty old himself, and he's learned a lot of tricks over the years. Paired up with AUTOBOT RATCHET, he's sure THE FALLEN will be surprised to learn just how tough two determined AUTOBOTS can be.

Roll out for some serious robot action! This heroic HIGHBROW warrior figure features spinning blade weapon accessories to give his opponents extra trouble. When it's time for combat, convert him into twin-engine bomber vehicle mode so he can "soar" right into the heart of the battle! Highly detailed robot-to-vehicle figure converts from robot to twin-engine bomber vehicle mode -- and back again! Ages 5 and up.

One of the new characters introduced in the "Hunt for the Decepticons" toy line is Highbrow, a Voyager Class Autobot. The character may be new, but the name is going to sound familiar to long time Transformers fans. In Generation One, Highbrow was an Autobot "Headmaster", a Transformer whose head could detach and transform into a smaller figure. This time out, Highbrow is just one character/figure.

Robot Mode:
Highbrow is a distinctive figure in so many ways. He's a figure that takes time to sit down and really absorb thanks to the high amount of detail. He's also rather atypical looking. Part of the figure's appeal is that unlike many Transformers, he doesn't have tons of obvious vehicle mode parts hanging off of him (car hood as a chest, wheels hanging off the sides of his legs etc.) but instead many of his vehicle mode parts fold together into various parts. One of the best examples are his feet, which are made up of parts of the rear of the vehicle mode, where there are vertical and horizontal stabilizers but manage to look like feet with a curved shape resembling a foot and not just a vehicle mode part he stands on. You'll also find many of the parts on the figure are very curved and shaped similar to a human form. These parts include his legs, chest and head. This is due in part to the tube shapes that form a bulk of the vehicle mode, but the chest and head designs are largely curved with some angled parts to remind you of Highbrow's robotic nature.

My favorite aspect of this figure however are the little details. First there's the head sculpt. As you'll see later in the vehicle mode review, Highbrow takes inspiration from World War II pilots and vehicles. His head is designed to look like a human's head wearing an old style pilot's helmet with goggles on it. These helmets typically included some leather, so the texture of the helmet section and its color (brown) both pay homage to these types of helmet/goggles. As if to add to the rather oganic looking parts of this figure, there are lots of tube and wire like shapes. You'll find some of these on the lower part of his torso as well as his waist. Even the design of his fingers look more curved and tube shaped than squared off and angled (as many robotic hands are often designed). While not very organic looking, another set of designs I love are the thigh sections. Instead of just one layer of detail, it looks like leg sections with armor plates on top with small circular rivet details. Another favorite detail of mine is a rocket booster on his back that look like tons of mechanical parts connected by wires. It's a pretty complex set of designs that look fantastic. I could go on and on about the little details (including pistons sculpted into the lower back) but suffice it to say you can tell a lot more care went into this sculpt than you would normally expect.

The primary plastic colors on this figure are light grey, military green, gunmetal, light blue, translucent yellow plastic and clear plastic. The robot mode blends together the colors very well. No one color really dominates. The upper body has most of the green, including the heads, arms and hips. The rest of the body also has the light grey and blue. The light blue in particular is a nice touch as Highbrow is a plane in his alternate mode. The darker green and gunmetal colors help ground him as a military robot while the light grey acts as a nice middle ground between the two extremes of color. The translucent yellow color is used on his head for the light piping eyes. The effect looks nice if you shine a light right into the back of the head, but its fairly subtle otherwise. However, if you slide the helmet piece down over his face, a lot more translucent yellow is exposed, allowing more light to shine into the eyes.

Paint applications are done in a couple of the same colors as his plastic parts: namely light blue and gunmetal. He also has dark red, gold and brown. The light blue is the most prominent color, found on his lower legs and the insides of his feet. You'll also find it on his forearms and torso. Gunmetal is found on the aforementioned lower torso section with tube details. His head is painted brown on top (the helmet section) and gold on his face. The red stripes are on the top of his chest. In a text description there isn't a ton of paint detail, but there's actually quite a bit of paint used, it's just all very uniform. This is especially true on his lower legs which use a huge amount of light blue paint. It's a good looking paint job, but I would have liked to have seen a bit more paint on his waist area to bring out more of the sculpted detail. Interestingly, you won't find an Autobot symbol anywhere on this figure, either painted or sculpted, which is rather unusual for any Transformer nowadays.

Highbrow has twenty one points of articulation in this mode. This includes five points in each arm and four in each leg. I'm not counting the wing flaps with the middiles mounted on them connected to the hips. Several of these points are ratchet joints such as the ones on his hips that really give the fibure stability. There are two primary action features on the robot mode, though one is perhaps a bit more deliberate than the other. On the head, the helmet/goggles slide down over his face, which is absolutely awesome and looks fantastic. His other action feature involves the propeller blades on his forearms. If you swing the robot fist in the blades point forward. Press the gold engine piece on his forearm and it spins the blades like a melee weapon. That's a particularly viscious image and fits with the "old school" warrior persona that Highbrow embodies. Highbrow has two Gatling gun weapons that he can hold in his fists. These weapons can also be attached to the wing panels on his hips, freeing up his hands to go into "melee" mode. While not strictly an action feature, there are several missiles attached to the wing pieces on his hips. This really has cool implications as to how much firepower this guy is carrying around and can bring to bear even with his hands occupied by Gatling guns!

Transformation to Vehicle MOde:

  1. Detach the Gatling guns from his hands.
  2. Swing the fists inward against the forearms.
  3. Swing shoulders up, so the two halves of the vehicle's front nacelle come together over the head.
  4. Swing the propellers up so they face the same direction as the central nacelle.
  5. On the back, swing up the rocket piece and swing the two armor halves over it, forming the cockpit section.
  6. Split the lower body at the figure's waist and swing each half up, connecting it to the robot arms.
  7. Swing the cockpit piece down.
  8. Swing the green panel from the back of the robot legs forward.
  9. Rotate the wings from the robot hips around and point the missiles forward.
  10. Swing the robot feet back.
  11. Rotate the feet so the flat heel piece/panel faces inward.
  12. Swing each of the flat panels out, rotate them flat and connect them together.
  13. Swing out the vertical and horizontal stabilizers.
  14. Conect the Gatling guns to the wings.

Vehicle Mode:
Fitting in with the theme of Highbrow being an older warrior with an older vehicle mode to boot, Highbrow transforms into a Lockheed P-38 Lightning style plane. This plane was distinctive for having a large central nacelle, two sections on either side with propellers in the front with stabilizers in the back. The unique shape of this vehicle is fantastic and looks really awesome. It almost looks like something that came out of a science fiction book set in the World War II era, but knowing it's based on a real life vehicle makes it even cooler.

The details of the plane mode are just as retro as the vehicle mode itself. All over the figure are rivet details showing where plates connect to the skeleton of the vehicle. On the two booms are engines right behind the propellers with vertical lines on the front and curved shapes on the four corners. Behind the engines are pipes that curve back (perhaps for exhaust?). Each of the wings have four missiles mounted on them. On the underside of the vehicle are some of the details from the robot mode, that now look like critical parts of the vehicle mode including the lower details of the rocket from the back of the robot mode. Take a look inside the cockpit and you'll see a seat and control panel in front of it. Another subtle detail are tubes in the middle nacelle of the vehicle where you can imagine machine guns installed. Like the robot mode details, the ones on this mode are wonderfully done.

The same colors used on the robot mode are present here, with the addition of white. However, this mode brings a lot of the colors together. On the top side the vehicle is mostly dark green plastic and paint while the underside is mostly light blue. The gunmetal parts are still found on the propeller, missiles and gatling guns. A bit of silver paint is found on the central nacelle at the front. On the sides of the middle section (near the cockpit) is "P+10" in large white letters while each of the rear horizontal stabilizers has a tribal tatoo type pattern on it. The gold paint on the engines becomes very prominent in this mode as well. The color scheme isn't anything amazing in this mode since it's so uniformly green, but at the same time it's completely appropriate to the vehicle being a military vehicle with a very singular purpose of acting as a fighter.

In this form it's easier to press the engines down to spin the propellers. The placement of the gatling guns and missiles looks really awesome, but then if you think about it for a second, firing those weapons would actually involve him blasting off his own propellers unless he deliberately stopped spinning them. My guess from a fictional standpoint is that Highbrow has other propulsion mechanisms aside from the propellers to help him move along, otherwise the placement of these weapons wouldn't make a whole lot of sense (aesthetics aside). On the underside, there are wheels that swing down from the robot chest piece. On the side booms there are single wheels that swing down to provide stabilizing landing gear.

Final Thoughts:
Highbrow is fantastic in both his modes. He's a different kind of Transformer than your typical race car or modern fighter jet (or tank). I'm a big fan of "period piece" style Transformers and like Hubcap and Ransack and Highbrow adds another to the roster of well done figures of that style. Highly recommended!