Sunday, 31 July 2016

Titans Return Brainstorm

Titan Force Brainstorm

The new deluxe version of Brainstorm is probably not onto a winner here. First he's been done recently, as Generations Thrilling 30 Voyager Brainstorm, which was a wildly successful and popular toy albeit at a completely different scale to the Titanmasters. Then he's a blatantly obvious remould of Wave 1's Blurr. Finally he's an exclusive, either as part of the San Diego Comic Con Titan Force boxset or, with an altered deco, as a single carded release through the American Drug Store Wallgreens.

Where Blurr's Titanmaster Hyperfire was all blue, Brainstorm's Titanmaster Teslor is cyan with an off white chest, which suggests the chest is on the same parts sprue as the robot's upper legs given the colour and quality of the plastic used. The face of the Titanmaster's head mode is all new: by the look of it it's painted all over and I'd guess it's grey plastic like all the new parts on the larger robot. Attached to the deluxe body the Titanmaster head looks slightly too big: this is my first deluxe Titans Return toy so I can't comment as to how this compares to the others.

Brainstorm comes in robot mode and here his similarity to Blurr is striking. The body & legs look identical to Blurr. Lower legs are a hard off white plastic, painted cyan on the shins, with the upper legs made from a softer off white plastic. Waist is the hard off white plastic again, this time painted cyan, while the majority of the body is a soft cyan plastic with the chest covered by a clear windscreen. The lower abdomen, later the vehicle seat, is dark grey plastic the same as the feet which are the only reused parts to be cast in this colour. The hands, forearms & elbow are inherited from Blurr, cast in cyan plastic (painted grey), hard off white plastic (painted grey) and soft off white plastic respectively. The upper arms, both set of wings, and the hand cover folded under the forearm are all made from a hard grey plastic, with the exterior of the shoulders painted off white. The hand guard hinges are the off white plastic.

Finally the weapons: the gun is the cyan plastic used for the body and, unlike Blurr, is unpainted, while Cyan shield is surprisingly moulded in the hard dark grey plastic and painted! Unfortunately the paint job on mine is a bit poor - could they not spring for a sprue of the cyan plastic to mould it in? So the gun barrels at the front of the shield, grey on this release, aren't an extra paint layer as was first thought (they're the same cyan as the rest on the single carded version) they're the native colour of the piece!

The shield comes mounted on his arm via a 5mm peg on the shield which plugs into a 5mm hole the outer side of either forearm or can be hand held. The guns on the shield, which becomes the front of the jet, are a major problem for me. On the original Brainstorm they were removable as his twin handguns, a feature carried over onto the T30 Voyager. Here they're moulded in place and that's very very annoying. Worse his replacement hand gun is identical to Blurr's in all but colour and seems to be one of the parts reused on the Chromedome & Breakaway/Getaway remoulds too. Dumping that gun and moulding removable guns would have added significantly to the toy. The shield can be attached to Brainstorm's back either way via a pair of slots in the shield that match tabs on the back. However it only looks sensible pointing down. As well as the 5mm handle there's a 5mm peg hole in the gun that lets you mount it on one of the pegs on the side of the shield. The shield can also be detached and, with the aid of a fold out landing gear in the soft off white plastic, be used as a separate vehicle

Articulation: like all Titanmaster toys the head is on a ball joint. The arms shrug up at the shoulders and also rotate. There's a bicep rotational joint, bending elbows and rotational wrists. Waist turns, hips are ball joints plus a thigh swivel & bending knee. Foot bends up as part of the transformation. The outer set of wings, on the outer side of the rear of each arm, are hinged, but the inner wings, hinged on previous versions to form the tail fins, are fixed in place.

At the time of writing I don't own Blurr - I'm waiting for the Legends versions - but I imagine the transformation is VERY similar. Remove the Titanmaster and hand gun. Mount the shield on his back pointing down. Straighten the arms and point them up. Close the covers over the hands. Fold the feet up, revealing wheels, then fold the front of each lower leg out to the sides. Fold the tail fin out of his right (on our left) leg. Tab the lower legs together and then back at the knees so the lower legs fold round the upper legs then close the leg fronts back up. Open the chest front, fold the seat back and sit the Titanmaster in the cockpit before closing the chest front/canopy. Fold the shield up off the back to become the nose in place of where the head was. Pull the arms out to the sides at the shoulder, then towards the back of the vehicle and finally bring them in with the tab on the strut which connects the arm to the shoulder slotting into the inside of the upper arm and the pegs on the side of the shield fitting into holes on the inner side of the lower arms. Peg the gun into the side of the vehicle or under the nose.

Given Blurr as a starting point, they've not made too bad a job of Brainstorm. The new nose, hand covers and wings significantly change the shape of the toy. However there's a price to pay with the wings: the new shoulders, which become side pieces in jet mode, have lost the Titanmaster footpegs. Blurr's spoiler is replaced by one single tail fin which looks very odd as we're used to him having two. I also found the canopy not stretching all the way back to cover the entire cockpit more than slightly annoying. The paint flaws on the nose, mentioned earlier, are particularly obvious here especially round where the landing gear folds out in the shield's stand alone vehicle nose. The off white of the landing gear now sticks out and makes you wonder why it couldn't have been moulded on the cyan sprue. But he maintains Blurr's wheels on his underside which makes rolling him along quite fun.

I can understand why Brainstorm is an exclusive and a remould: he's had his own general release Voyager version relatively recently. But he is a popular character through More Than Meets The Eye and as such probably deserved a little bit more love than this. The vehicle mode changes and choice of plastic for the nose particularly annoy me. This is a fun toy, but it could have been better.

Brainstorm was sold at San Diego Comic Con 2016 as part of the Titan Force Boxset which also contained a transparent version of Sentinel Prime and a redecorated RID Windblade. When this set was sold at the UK Film and Comic Con Brainstorm was renamed Charon due to a trademark problem.

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