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TRANSFORMERS TOYS AND MERCHANDISE SECTION

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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Denyer's review of: Browning

Name: Browning
Allegiance: Destron
Function: Gunman
Code Number: D-308
Weapon: Sniper Shot
Level: 50

The only Transformer ever made on a scale for humans. Cannot attack by himself as a pistol, but can deliver a tremendous blow to his enemies using the power of the person holding him. "Final Attack" is the "Capsule Burst" which can fire all sorts of capsules, the type depending on the circumstances. Treated by Cancer as a pet, this Transformer may not have much power due to his little size, but he is willing to do anything for Cancer. While he hates the Cybertrons as his enemies, he is nice to Minerva.
Based on translations by Doug Dlin.

You've probably never heard of Browning. The character never appeared in any US or European TF media, possibly because Hasbro concluded that realistic guns weren't a good idea in countries with widespread gun ownership, stupid people and litigious populations. Ever notice how there are far more Megatron toys that aren't guns than are, and how gun Megatron only lasted two years?

The toy I possess isn't a Japanese release, but does come from Takara and is the same mould. Transformers, as you (hopefully) know, was assembled as a toy line by Hasbro initially from several existing Japanese lines, including Microman and Diaclone. The example pictured here is a Diakron, the name chosen by Takara for the US/Europe release of Diaclone. I doubt I still have the box, but the same assortment 'Browning' came in included the moulds for Starscream and Reflector, plus various other robots which never made their way into the Transformers property (such as the rather distinctive Voltron-like 'Multiforce 14'.)

The differences are cosmetic. In its Japanese release as Browning (1988) the mould was given blue parts where the Diakron has red, and had different stickers (including a Decepticon logo) across the portion of the gun mode forming the chest in robot mode. It originally came with two of the silver cannons pictured, plus a spare set of fists. Most fun, however, it also came with a sprig of yellow plastic bullets which could be launched in either mode: there's a secondary firing pin in the appropriate wrist, so Browning can launch his right fist as easily as these pellets. All originally fired a good metre or two, but the spring has aged a bit, and I've lost all of the pellets which came with mine. I didn't (as today's kids apparently can't be trusted not to do) swallow any, though. [Insert further ranting about incompetent, sue-happy parents.]

When I was a kid, Browning was the perfect stand-in for Megatron, who was probably long off the shelves by the time I wanted him... and besides, I didn't much want the Megatron toy. The trouble with Megatron has always been that his toy incarnation bears little or no resemblance to the model used for the comics and cartoons... plus, Browning has a robot mode which isn't crap. He's like Megatron's much cooler brother. So why wasn't the Browning mould considered for the role of Megatron? Possibly his sizing... the toy stands eye-level with Slag and would have had to have been scaled upwards and given additional accessories in order to be sold at the same price point as the original Optimus. After all, Megatron has a lot of kibble as well as his fusion cannon and is more of a playset in the same way Prime is with a trailer.

Alternate Mode:
Browing is based on a Browning M1910 semi-automatic blowback pistol of the type used to assassinate Franz Ferdinand (it was also very popular in Europe in-between World Wars with various police forces and for self-defence.) It's a pretty faithful reproduction, down to the highly distinctive logos on either side of the handgrip, but I think it's been downsized a fraction. Lots of reflective chromed plastic and metal parts give the gun mode a quality feel I really appreciated as a youngster, and the chrome has survived well.

One thing you may notice is that the parts have a tendency to lock into position as a gun, particularly his left wrist, which is how I think I snapped one of the plastic clips on his right knee.

Robot Mode:
The same quality is strongly in evidence here, with metal toes, hips and knees contributing to the durability factor. Browning's legs and shoulders are phenomenally poseable compared to most of the transforming robots designed in the same time period. He has one point of articulation at each wrist, two at each shoulder, twists at the waist, two on each upper leg, adjustable toes and heels, plus a twisting waist. This is really what a transformation should be: well-proportioned and assisted by the workings of the alt-mode.

Thinking about it, this toy is quite a large part of the reason you're saddled with me as a member of the fandom over ten years later. Standing straight-on, it reminds me of everything from Hammerstein's chunky deadliness to the angular blade ears on Batman's cowl, and various other nuances the photo completely fails to capture.

Transformation: (10) Based on design rather than complexity. There isn't anything I'd change.
Durability: (9) Pretty amazing considering how much play I got out of him. The clips which anchor his legs in gun mode are probably the most fragile part, and the trigger guard or shoulders could possibly be broken if dropped at a bad angle. His weapon is also missing the nub of a top antenna. Generally speaking you're more likely to lose accessories than break the figure, though.
Fun: (10) Displays extremely well, although I'd recommend tracking down the fists and at least one gun if like me you prefer to display in robot mode. Great fun to play with in either mode, just watch out for trigger-happy law enforcement goons.
Price: (X) Probably something through the roof if bought now, although I know at least one person who's lucked into one at a flea market. The trouble is that loose examples may lack accessories.
Summary: (10) There's nothing deficient about the figure apart from the way I've treated mine over the years, but I don't regret that. For me, Browning is one of those 'childhood links' which everyone has a few of, but I don't think I'm over-selling the figure. It's an extremely nifty design.

 
 
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