"Generations" Combiner Wars Brawl Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: December 2015
Price Point: $18.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Hand/Foot/Weapon, Tank barrel/blaster

Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
This Deluxe Class Brawl figure can become part of a Bruticus Combiner build. Collect all 6 Combaticon figures (each sold separately) to build a Bruticus figure. Some bots suffer from blind rage. Brawl is not one of those bots. His rage is laser-focused. It's the fuel that powers his destructive fury, and the angrier he gets, the better he is in combat. He combines with his fellow Combaticons to form Bruticus. Onslaught forms the torso, Decepticon Vortex and Decepticon Blast Off form the arms, Brawl and Swindle form the legs, and Decepticon Shockwave becomes a Combiner weapon.

Collect all 6 Combaticons figures to build a giant Bruticus Combiner robot. (Figures are each sold separately.) The Combiner Wars universal connection system makes this Brawl figure compatible with Voyager Class Combiner Wars figures, so there are numerous combinations that can be created. Bruticus 5 of 5. This Brawl figure changes from robot to tank and back in 14 steps and, with a blaster accessory, comes ready for battle. It also comes with a collectible Combiner Wars comic book featuring a Hasbro-exclusive Brawl cover, specially created character content, and a look inside the Transformers design desk. Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

The theme for the "Generations" segment of the "Transformers" toy line in 2015 was "Combiner Wars". The segment reintroduced Combiners from the past in updated forms(with some new elements thrown in for good measure). The idea is to take lessons learned from the Bruticus released a couple years ago and create better Combiners featuring a Voyager Class central body piece with Deluxe sized limbs. To spice things up a bit, some of the Legends Class figures released for "Combiner Wars" will be able to serve as weaponry for the combined giants.

The final wave of Deluxe "Combiner Wars" figures in 2015 brought out the long awaited Combaticons! It's quite appropriate for the Combaticons to bookend the first year of "Combiner Wars" as it was the last Bruticus figure that inspired this line.

Brawl is unique among the Combaticons in that he is the only member of the team who is an all new sculpt and not a redeco and/or retool of a previous sculpt.

The packaging for this wave of the Deluxe "Combiner Wars" figures is significantly different then the first wave. The first wave was a typical bubble on card, with the character art printed onto the card and a separate trading card featuring art from the "Transformers: Legends" mobile app. The back of the cards contained a ton of multi-lingual information with photos of the figure and a diagram of a Combiner made up of four Aerialbots and Dragstrip.

For this wave however a lot has changed. The card now features a repeating pattern featuring "Combiner Wars" characters on it. The back of the card has a brief bio of Brawl with less legal information all over the place. Interestingly Brawl's 3D model is used on the packaging and not photography of the figure. I speculate this is a time saving measure to get the packaging printed as far ahead of time as possible. Laid on top of the card is a comic book with Vortex's package art. Since the comic adds some extra weight and thickness, the bubble put on top of the card actually wraps around the edges and is taped onto the back to hold it in place. A sticker wraps around the edge of the bubble mentioning combining into Bruticus. The figure is in a tray inside the bubble in robot mode. There is no more trading card included with the figure.

One of the most interesting points of this new packaging style is the back of the comic book. It features a full page bio of Brawl written from the perspective of the the Decepticon Communicator, Soundwave. It really helps give more color to the character's personality and sticks with many G1 elements such as his horrible temper. Overall the packaging for this final 2015 wave of the Combiner Wars Deluxe figures is much more robust than the first wave.

Brawl includes two accessories. One is a blaster that doubles as his tank cannon. This piece has a couple of subtle callbacks to the original Brawl's gun including some vertical notches on the sides and a small rectangular piece in the middle. The way the barrel of the weapon gets thinner towards the end calls back to G1 Brawl's animation model. This accessory has a 5mm peg at the base allowing it to connect to Brawl's tank turret or fists. This piece is entirely cast in black.

The second accessory is his hand/foot/weapon piece cast in silver plastic with black plastic on the joints. This is a unique piece and not recycled from previous "Combiner Wars" figures. It features two cannon tubes in front and mechanical details that resemble engines and machinery on top. This piece can become a hand or foot for Bruticus or a weapon for any "Combiner Wars" figure.

Robot Mode:
When the first wave of "Combiner Wars" was released, it was clear the designers were using the "Generation One" designs of many characters as the springboard for these modern designs. Brawl is perhaps one of the strongest examples of this. From overall body shape to small details this figure instantly strikes me as a blending of G1 Brawl's animation and toy models in a new toy. Let's start with the general shape. This robot form has the tank turret on the back of the figure, very obvious tread sections forming the arms and legs and a chest that sticks out a bit in front more than your typical Transformer. Also most of his parts are rather thick and blocky, which reflects his G1 predecessor very well. But that's not all! There are plenty of smaller details that also pay homage to G1 Brawl in both toy and animation form:

  • The head design is right out of G1, favoring the toy design. This includes his distinctive crest and flat panels on the sides of the head.
  • The top of the chest panel has two, thin raised sections that could be vents or lights of some sort. Similar details could be found on the animation model for G1 Brawl.
  • On either side of the chest are three small barrels which appear to be some type of launching tubes. While the G1 Brawl toy does not have these details, the G1 animation model does! I was pleasantly surprised at this detail.
  • The waist section has two small sections with horizontal lines sculpted into them. This is based on a sticker detail from the G1 Brawl figure.
  • Each lower leg has a circular detail on it, in this case they are hatches for the vehicle mode.
  • Towards the ankle/foot area there are horizontal vent designs based on stickers from the G1 figure and a detail on the animation model.

The deco on this figure is also very much based on G1 Brawl. While the shades are not exact matches, Brawl is made up of military green, gunmetal grey and silver plastic. Green makes up most of the figure with the gunmetal found on the head and waist area. The hip joints and thighs are cast in silver. You'll also find a bit of silver on the elbow joints. This green is a darker shade than the one used on either the G1 animation model or toy, but it works with the theme of the group. The gunmetal is a beautiful color and the silver offers a nice bright color that contrasts well against the other darker colors.

Paint applications are done in grey, light blue, red and silver. The grey is the most heavily used color. It's a dark shade that seems to match the tone of the gunmetal grey plastic. This is used on the treads (so they are very obvious on the arms in this mode). Light blue is found on small details on the chest. This is a callback to G1 Brawl's chest sticker, which featured a light blue rectangle. Red is found on the robot eyes and the horizontal lines on his waist area. Silver is used to paint the horizontal line details both on and above his feet. The finishing touch is a tampographed Decepticon symbol in purple and silver on the left side of the chest. There are definitely places where the designers could have added more paint such as the lower legs or the top of the chest, but I mostly say this because something like a black wash would have been helpful in really bringing out a lot of the sculpted detail. That said, such a level of detail is rare of in the "Transformers" line so I didn't expect it.

There are eighteen points of articulation on this figure. This includes four in each arm and leg and waist articulation. Unfortunately the left arm joint on my copy of this figure is more loose than the first. It's bad enough that he can't hold his hand/foot/weapon piece in that hand without the arm flopping down. Fortunately the right arm on my copy of this figure does not have that problem. I also found the ball joints at the hips a bit less tight than I would have preferred. He stood and posed fine, but I wound up putting some clear nail polish on the ball joints to tighten them up a bit.

There is one design choice on this figure that has caused some frustration among fans. The top part of the body is connected to the lower part via a series of hinged panels. Now, so long as those panels are nice and tight (which they are on my copy of the figure) this is fine. However if those panels are loose in any way, the top half of the body will go flopping around. This was a very strange design choice and I think the designers were going for something more interesting than what we actually got. This would have worked much better if the flat panels collapsed down against the waist section. This isn't an issue on my figure, but keep it in mind when you purchase yours as other fans have had a loose hinge, causing issues with figure stability.

Brawl has four 5mm ports between both his arms. He has two additional ones on the tank turret on his back. While technically his weapons are meant to connect to his hands and/or arms, you can recreate the more traditional "G1 Brawl" look by attaching the cannon barrel to the front of the turret on his back. This is actually my preference but he looks great either way. The top of the turret has another 5mm port and even a peg that can swing forward for weapon storage.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms, legs and feet.
  3. Push the robot head back.
  4. Swing the forearms up against the upper arms.
  5. Swing the tank turret up, pushing it over the area where the robot head was located.
  6. Rotate the arms back and push them in.
  7. Rotate the waist around.
  8. Swing each lower leg up over the thighs.
  9. Push the two lower legs together.
  10. Swing the central hinge piece up, connecting the lower legs and robot arm sections to fully form the treads.
  11. Attach the tank cannon to the turret.
  12. The hand/foot/weapon piece can be connected to the top of the turret.

Vehicle Mode:
Brawl is a tank in vehicle mode, which suits his personality just fine. I can imagine him rumbling across a battlefield and plowing into enemies shouting angrily the entire time. G1 Brawl was also a tank as well, but this time out the designers put a lot more detail into this figure than his G1 counterpart. Of course, Hasbro and Takara have had plenty of experience creating tank-based Transformers figures over the years, and this mode reflects that in the wonderfully detailed sculpt. There are a ton of details on this mode including:

  • Headlights mounted on the front of the tank.
  • Access panels on the top of the vehicle's front end.
  • Hatches on the top of the turret section.
  • Ventilation fans on the top of the turret.
  • Armor plate details running along the sides of the tank.

On top of great sculpting, the design of the tank also borrows from G1 with the way the weapons attach. When you attach the hand/foot/weapon piece to the peg on the turret, you can swing it back and forth. This calls back to G1 Brawl, who had a dual barreled cannon mounted on the back of the vehicle. I love this touch in particular as it uses a design element common across the Deluxe "Combiner Wars" limbs, but puts a G1 based spin on it.

Brawl has sculpted treads, but he really rolls on four small wheels on the bottom of the vehicle. As mentioned above, his weapon (and turret) can be moved up and down. Sadly, the turret cannot turn, and that is an unfortunate misstep in my book. If the turret hinge was connected to a flat panel with a circular joint, it could have turned and maintained the current design and transformation. Unfortunately that would have required one more additional piece of plastic and perhaps a metal rod so this was likely a cost expenditure issue.

Transformation to Arm Mode (Starting in vehicle mode):

  1. Detach all weapons.
  2. Pull the tank turret up.
  3. Pull the back of the vehicle out.
  4. Swing each lower leg section out to the sides, then down and reconnect the two lower legs together.
  5. Push the waist section up against the underside of the chest section.
  6. Swing the robot arm sections up, then use the small tabs at the top of the arms to connect to the grooves under the sections of the chest with the three weapon barrels.
  7. Rotate the lower arm around depending on which side you want this arm to be on.
  8. Swing the connector piece (built into the chest) out.
  9. Attach the cannon barrel to the turret.
  10. Attach the fist to the 5mm port underneath the feet.

Arm Mode:
I may be in the minority on this, but I've never been a big fan of Brawl as an arm on Bruticus. It's always struck me as somewhat awkward looking and a bit too blocky for an arm. However, with SDCC exclusive Bruticus there was at least an effort to make the tank turret a part of the functionality of that form. This time around I'm still not a huge fan of this mode, but I have to admit it looks rather unique and powerful. I found myself wishing the tank turret could swivel up and face front to give Bruticus more firepower, but that's probably my biggest complaint.

From a functional standpoint, the arm mode offers eight points of articulation. The robot arms have 5mm ports you can connect weapons to, but if you follow the transformation in the instructions the weapons wind up just pointing down. However you can manipulate Brawl's forearms so the weapons point forward. He does have two more 5mm ports on the forearm and fist, allowing you to attach additional weapons. Overall this is a cool looking mode even though it's not my favorite.

Transformation to Leg mode (Starting in vehicle mode):

  1. Detach all the accessories.
  2. Swing the limb connector piece up.
  3. Swing the tank turret forward.
  4. Swing the robot feet back.
  5. Attach the foot piece to the 5mm port at the back of the tank.

Leg Mode:
True to my Old Skool G1 roots, this is the limb form that I prefer with Brawl since this was the one presented in both animation and comic books in the 80's. In both the original figure and this one the leg mode is really just a variation on the tank mode with the turret pointed up so it goes over the knee section a bit. In terms of being a limb this is a fantastic callback to G1 Brawl's leg form. This mode allows for five points of articulation including the knee and heel piece.

Final Thoughts:
Brawl gets some plus marks for being the only fully original Combaticon mold in "Combiner Wars". He also has a chunky, powerful looking design and he's fun to play with. That said, the strange waist design and loose arm joint were really unfortunate and detract from what is otherwise a good figure. Recommended to complete your Combaticon team but watch out for that mid-body hinge piece.

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