Cliffbee.com: Movie Leader Brawl Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Brawl
Series: Movie Tie-Ins
Allegiance: Decepticon
Alternate Mode: Tank

Thanks to kup for loaning me Brawl for this review



TANK MODE
Height: 9.5cm Length: 30cm Width: 11cm

   An army green tank with grey camouflage patches, black painted treads, black drums on the back and grey mine plows (thanks to Fit For Natalie for the correct term) on the front. The tip of the main cannon, along with two quad-barrelled guns at the top of the turret are composed of colourless plastic, for the sake of his electronic gimmicks. Other than the rather silly transparent plastic, it's a good colour scheme. The colours are drab and suitable for a military vehicle such as a tank and the camouflage is well done.

   The mine plows, along with the secondary turret on top of the first one, are modifications made to the design of a normal tank made for the sake of the film, but both work here since they make Brawl more menacing. The secondary turret has two smaller cannons as well as the two transparent guns, and a smaller still black twin-barrelled gun on top at the front. So Brawl may be over-armed, but that helps with the menace he presents - suitable for a bad guy, whilst still looking like a credible (if not actually realistic) tank. There are a couple of visual shortcomings, one of which really does bother me. The drums at the back aren't really drum shaped, instead they look like folded up claws - they're actually his feet. The one that bothers me is the gap in front of the turret where the robot head pops out for his automorph. Whilst I could deal with this on a Legends figure (for what it's worth, the robot head is concealed on Legends Brawl), the robot head being so visible on a toy this size is just lazy design. It would have only needed a fairly simple modification such as a panel to cover the head.

   The play value is both good and bad. There are five small wheels underneath - the fifth is underneath the tank itself rather than his treads - allowing him to roll, but he tends to slide. The turret can turn through about 320, with the limitation that it cannot face backwards. You'll expose a gap underneath the rear if you turn it more than about 45 to the slide, but this is more than enough for most play. The main cannon lifts up, although it can only raise 20, even though a wider range wouldn't have been difficult to engineer. The secondary turret also turns, doing so will cause teo different electronic gimmicks, depending on the direction. The clear guns can turn out to the sides about 100 while the black gun is, sadly, fixed.

   If you press in the main cannon, Brawl emits a firing sound. If you rotate the secondary turret to the right, at about 45 he will a shot firing sound, and repeat until you move it out of position, at which point you hear a something that sounds like a rocket flying through the air (which doesn't really make sense). At the same point on the left he'll emit machine gun fire, and this fades out when you move it out of the position. The secondary turret can actually rotate through 360, but when you turn it back the sounds start again. The tip of the main cannon flashes red while it emits sound and the quad-barrelled guns flash green. I can understand the red, but I don't see why the tip needs to be transparent. The green is frankly quite cheesy, and the colourless guns are just ridiculous compared to the otherwise detailed and realistic tank.

   Now those who read my reviews regularly will know I'm generally not a fan of electronic gimmicks because Hasbro tends to focus on the gimmicks at the expense of the Transformer. And to some extend that is the case here. The size of the tank is impressive, but as I'll get to, the transformation doesn't really expand on that of the deluxe. Instead we have lights and sounds - with limited success. The red light and cannon sound are good, but the ease with with the cannon sound is emitted makes it annoying very quickly. The shot firing is also good, but it will trigger about four times during transformation - and when you lift up the robot. Or answer the door to fend off the Jehovah's Witnesses. The green LEDs are just a bad idea - we have a realistic tank - unusual amongst the usually stylised or fluoro (as in G2) tanks Hasbro has often released - and it has to carry transparent guns for the same of green LEDs. It's not like guns flash green.

   Now we have the option of removing the batteries, which means the sounds wont activate all the time, but doesn't get rid of the colourless plastic. It also means that the better sounds cannot activate at all. What I would have preferred are sounds that are slightly more difficult to activate - not sounds that activate when you bump the toy. The other aspect that's infuriatingly annoying is that all three large cannons pop off with ridiculous ease. No doubt this is so they won't break off (kids can just as easily poke themselves in the eye with them, in fact it'd be easier without a tank attached!) - but it will have the opposite effect long term as they are very easy to detach and lose. I can imagine Leader Brawls without the cannons becoming very common on the secondary market while the cannons become hard to find.

   This should have been a good tank mode. It's mostly realistic, the size is imposing, there are some worthwhile sounds he can create and the colours are mostly good. But Hasbro didn't bother covering the head, the colourless guns look horrible and the cannons pop off far too easily. I don't hate it, but to be honest, the smaller toy's tank mode is a lot better, even if it doesn't have the imposing scale.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Simple yet annoying, as I said this toy doesn't really expand on the transformation of the earlier deluxe - the only significant expansion is in the feet. You might as well detach the cannons before you start, since they're going to pop off anyway.

   Press down on small grey tabs on what I'm calling the front fenders, and those fenders snap back. Swing the rear part of the treads (with the fenders) out, allowing you to pull the arms out from underneath the treads. Fold the front down, press a grey button at the front causing the head to pop up (it did anyway just then for me, it's on a hair trigger) Lift up the front treads as shoulderpads, rotate the turret on his back, rotate the secondary one up so that he has the smaller cannons behind his head, lift out the quad cannons and rotate to point forward. Split the legs, fold up the shellforming sides onto the outsides of the boots, rotate the boots leaving all this shell on the back, fold out his feet and heelspurs. Position the arms and the weapons on his forearms. Lastly, open the left side of the turret, swing the cannon out to the left and fold forward as a hipgun in a similar fashion to Armada Megatron.

   During that transformation, the cannons popped of four times (yes, I rettached them, so I could keep a tally) and the sounds triggered eight times, four while reattaching the front cannon. Why couldn't this toy have had triggers or buttons to activate the sounds? Folding the arms out is quite easy but they have to be lined up perfectly for the shell-sides to reattach for tank mode, making the reverse transformation even more frustrating.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 30cm Width: 20cm

   A large green robot with black treads on his shoulders, black feet and black claw-hands. His face has some silver painted details and red eyes, while there's grey on his chest and knees. Brawl has a few gold painted details here and there and those cheesy transparent guns behind the arms. The colour scheme is better now - even the colourless stuff can work on the robot mode. There's more black but hardly any camouflage - much of it is folded up on the panels behind his boots. The colour scheme works well and the sculpt is good enough to befit a toy of this scale.

   I really fail to see why we need the main cannon on his hip. Apart from the fact it's going to get in the arm's way (and pop off when you move that arm), Armada Megatron is not a toy that needs tributing, frankly. The cannons behind his head are nice and the colourless ones also work well. The right arm carries a quad-barrelled cannon and the left a double-knife, but I'll come back to those in a moment. The legs are quite detailed but also carry a lot of junk on the back. Thankfully he has large footprints which allow him to stand despite the speaker and batteries in turret on his back.

   The poseability is good, but there are a few issues. The head turns about 20 while the waist is fixed. His shoulders rotate and lift out to the sides, the elbows bend and rotate while all three claws on the hands open independently. The hips swing and lift out to the sides - both are tight ratcheting joints, needed with the weight on his back. The knees rotate and bend about 20*, which is pretty pathetic. The limited knees are due to the kibble behind the legs, but I don't really see why his feet are fixed. Anyway, the arm poseability is great (aside from the fact I have to retrieve that cannon again) but the leg poseability is awful.

   The sound and light gimmicks are still available. You can depress the main cannon on the side of the torso (which is why they swung it around there, I suspect) while the grey panel on his chest can push down, activating both of the green LED gimmicks one after the other, as well as the red LED. The green LED gimmicks have a tendency to activate randomly as you play, anyway. There are gimmicks on either arm which are far more satisfying, although trying to squeeze them back into the tank takes the fun out of them for me. Anyway, the right arm has a squaring pod, push the slider on the outside forward to reveal four black barrels. The left one has two grey machetes, slide back the black plate on the outside and they flip forward. There are grey spines which can fold forward on the shins, which don't really seem to serve any purpose, I guess the designer wanted to make use of the real estate. The Hasbro pics of this toy don't say what to do with them, so they may be part of an abandoned gimmick.

   Visually, this robot mode is fairly impressive, and I like the gimmicks on his arms. Having said that, the gimmicks on his arms aren't really an upgrade of the arm weapons of the deluxe and the light and sound show gets annoying, especially when it triggers randomly. The kibble on the back of his legs really reduces the range of leg poses, although Brawl's arms are very versatile, save for that cannon on the right hip.

VARIATIONS

   There will be a "Desert" repaint released at a later date.

OVERALL

   A frustrating toy that so easily could have been fantastic. The basic transformation scheme of Brawl hasn't really been expanded upon here - instead the designer has crammed light and sound gimmicks in, and made them far too easy to trigger. The tank mode suffers visually as a result, so the smaller Deluxe works better as a tank despite not having the imposing size. The robot mode displays well, but the poseability is hurt by the lazy transformation and the designer's fetish for electronic gimmicks (the hip cannon). Throw the loose cannons into the mix and this is a very frustrating figure, even if you take the batteries out. Whilst it's not a bad toy, it's far from the great toy it should have been, and there's no way this figure is worth three times the Deluxe, which is more satisfying despite the problems it has with its shoulders. I'd recommend the deluxe over this figure - it's barely worth twice the price of the smaller toy (and that's mainly for the size difference), let alone four times - which is the difference in RRP. I actually find Leader Megatron more rewarding, because while Brawl takes a good idea and stuffs it up, Megatron takes a crappy idea and makes it respectable - 4.5/10

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