Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Combiner Wars Brawl


I had suspected that the next time we saw Rook he'd have been be extensively remoulded as Brawn: replace the wheels with tank treads. The vehicle weapon becomes the tank turret with a 5mm peg hole in the front that lets you peg his hand gun in to form the tank's gun barrel. Therefore I was surprised to discover at The Botcon 12015 Combaticon reveal that Brawl was a new mould: but I got the hand gun becoming his tank barrel bit right!

Brawl was my first Special Team/Scramble City limb. So I was very much looking forward to him. But shortly after he came out word emerged that there was something very, very wrong with this toy....

Brawl's robot mode looks very like the original: the chest is less sloped than it used to be with a set of 3 barrels moulded into either side which puts me in mind of Universe 2 Brawl and his Energon predecessors. The turret is mounted on the back where it should be and the barrel is removable to form his hand gun. His articulation is excellent with his ankles folding out to the sides and forward & back, bending knees, a thigh swivel, ball jointed hips, turning waist & head, shoulders that fold out to the sides & turn and bending & ball jointed elbows. He's got 5mm peg hole hands, a 5mm peg hole on each wrist and a 5mm peg hole on his back so lots of options for his weapon and Hand/Foot/Gun.

So what's wrong with him then? It's how his chest and waist are connected. I'll attempt to describe it to you:

The lower back of the body is linked to the middle of the waist by a plate that is hinged at each end. Intuition says that the plate should fold flat between the waist and the body. It doesn't. Moulded detail on the underside of the body holds it at a diagonal angle going 45 degrees down and forward. Another piece of detailing on the under side of the body is designed to recess into the top of the plate holding it in place with a clip on the back of the waist stopping the plate from folding flat. Neither does a sufficient job at holding the waist in place meaning Brawl just flops around in the middle, chronically unstable in robot mode.

To make matters worse it's hard to get sufficient purchase on the waist piece to get it's hinge to turn as the waist hinge is far stuffer than the hips' ball joints which inevitably turn first.

A complete disaster. A U shaped piece going up both sides of the body and having the waist attached underneath would have done the job far, far better.

Transformation: this caused me some difficulty but I think I'm sorted now! Rotate the waist through 180 degrees so the hole on the back of the waist faces forward. Fold Brawl's head down and fold the turret up over it. Fold the waist behind the robots back. Pull the lower arm back at the elbow and then fold it forwards so the tank treads meet. Fold the arm back, so the front of the treads faces out of the chest/front of the tank, then fold each tread up and out to the sides. Pop each knee out of the inside of the top of the lower leg: note how just bellow the knee is a slot that fits over a tab on the front and back of the knee to stabilise the robot legs. Fold the knee down, there's a bar connecting it to the side of the leg, so it sits above the ankles and tab the legs together. Fold the tank treads down into place locking into their rear formed by the legs. Fold the turret back onto the middle of the tank. Slot the gun into place as the tank's gun barrel.

This looks a pretty decent and solid deluxe tank so lets proceed straight to Phil's Tank Test:

Does the gun barrel raise?: YES! A pair of very shallow pegs hold it in place allowing to to raise and be removed. So it can do something the original Brawl can't.


Does the turret turn?: Regretfully not. And it could on the original so this is a major minus point. Could they have made it turn? Yes, easily. The Turret is attached by two struts, hinged at either end, which allow the turret to move forward and back. Putting a turntable at the top end would have been easy. Another let down.

There's peg holes on each side of the vehicle for his HFG but, like Rook, it also has a 5mm socket underneath that allows for it to be mounted further back on the turret on a fold up 5mm peg. The back of the vehicle is slightly unstable due to the articulation in the feet it's made out of and the thinness and lack of height of the one tab that holds them together.

So a better vehicle mode, but one that could have been a lot, lot better.

Arm Mode: Start from robot mode and fold Brawl's head back then the tank turret up over it. Fold the arms in to form the side of the tank body. Swing the legs down behind the tank body, with the peg hole in the bottom of the waist facing out the bottom of the tank. Peg the legs together and insert his HFG into the hole at the bottom of the legs.

There are better Combiner Wars arms: the robot waist is limited in movement depriving you of the bicep swivel so the only way for the lower arm to move is in towards the body. The shoulder and wrist joints still work fine though.

Leg Mode: Take the tank mode, fold the combiner connector out the front of the vehicle then fold the rear of the vehicle/robot feet underneath to expose the socket for the HFG. Don't get confused and plug the HFG straight into the back of the vehicle that'll result in a leg that's too long to be used with anyone, except perhaps Dragstrip who also has an extension on the back of his vehicle mode that needs folding away.

Much better leg, rock solid. It's fortunate that Brawl is nearly always used as a leg on Bruticus!

A grave disappointment. Could have been so much better. It'll be remaining in Bruticus leg mode from now on.

Generation 2 Brawl

The first Brawl repaint that will be available comes in the G2 Bruticus boxsert and swaps Brawl's greeny brown for bright green, adding the traditional G2 purple camouflage and his dark grey for purple.

It remains to be seen if the waist will be fixed. Judging by the mistransformed waist in the official pictures I'd suggest not!

Botcon 2016 Ramhorn

Brawl's next planned outing is as a new version of Tripedicus' Ramhorn. Um, yes. There's some oddities in this Botcon set alright. A grey and red repaint of Brawl, with a bespoke head, the gun is retooled into a drill which looks like it's lost the ability to mount on the front of the turret and now features a 5mm peg hole to go onto the folded down peg at the rear of the turret. Um .... I'd have kept it mounted at the front of the turret and folded that forwards. Now it just looks a mess!

Future Repaints

Settle in: Brawl has previously been repainted as Operration Combination Destron Sandstorm in white, Car Robots Danger in a sand colour with brown camouflage, Robots in Disguise Armorhide in pale blue with black camouflage, Robots in Disguise Wal*Mart Armorhide in a grey, black & white urban/artic camouflage and Universe Armorhide in a sand colour with a different brown camouflage!

Numerous other Transformers Tanks exist: There's a reasonable chance the fanclub might use him as a Quake to complete their Decepticon dual Targetmasters combiner set.

The existence of Ramhorn has prompted speculation that Brawl might be used to make Nosecone to go with Combiner Wars Scattorshot as part of a Combiner Wars version of Computron.

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