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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Clay's review: Brawl (leader class)

Name: Brawl or Devastator
Function: Tank (not just literally, but figuratively, too)
Scale: 1/36

Iíve managed not to spend too much money on movie toys, but when teaser pictures of Hasbroís 2007 Botcon and San Diego Comicon display were made available on the internet, I decided that I wanted the leader class Brawl. Aside from being big and mean-looking, it also looked very detailed and complex. I was not let down!

Alternate Mode:

Brawlís alternate mode is a modified M1 Abhrams tank. The modifications, as far as I know, are limited to adding many extra guns. I calculated the scale using the width of the tank (12 feet) instead of the length because of the robot feet hanging off the back end. It works out to about 1/36 scale, which is the same as the two deluxe Bumblebee toys.

Anyway! Brawlís tank mode is absolutely spiffy! Heís the first Transformer toy Iíve ever bought that doesnít have annoying electronic sounds. Instead, recordings of realistic gunfire are used, as opposed to some random effects. Sometimes thatís perfectly suitable, but Brawl is a realistic tank, and deserves realistic sounds.

As for the tank itself, itís top notch. Aside from the hole in the front armor for the head to pop out and the robot feet hanging from the back (rather inconspicuously, though Ė they look like bumpers), itís an excellent disguise. The turret and sub-turret both rotate independently of each other and trigger their own sounds.

It is a toy though, and the three primary gun barrels detach fairly easily instead of breaking off after being dropped from the table. This ultimately is not an issue since, after repeated fiddlings-with, you learn to not grab the barrels.

Brawl, as a tank alone, is worth a look. But it turns into a robot, too!

Robot Mode:

The robot is much like the tank: big, green, and intimidating. But instead of being an impregnable statue like the G2 Megatron lawn ornament, heís rather quite limber. He has sensible points of movement for a large figure: knees and hips with ratcheting joints for stability, and considerably more in his upper body since balance is less of issue there. Brawl has what very Transformers do: articulated hands, or claws rather. Brawl has large claws that are sturdy enough to hold a deluxe figure completely off the ground. It makes for quite an intimidating display!

Feature-wise, Brawl retains all his electronic sounds from the tank mode, and gains a couple of automorphing features. Whereas the smaller figures in the line have their automorph tricks incorporated into the transformation, Brawl is big enough to have the gimmick confined to the self-contained weapon pods mounted on his arms. The right arm mounts the four-barreled gun that he put to good use during his big scene in the movie, and the left arm has the claw-thing that he put to not-so-good use. Itís still good fun though as it has a minigun attached, which also gives a good sense of how big a tank really is. Point of advice is to flip up the minigun first, then slide it to cause the blades to flip out. The blades wonít pop off that way.

The transformation scheme is really something neat in-and-of itself. Most of the tank armor cascades outwards via springs and levers for the vehicle mode, and then collapses like folding tiles and forms the back of the legs. It doesnít get in the way of the legs moving around, and is quite remarkable.

However! Brawlís scheme, while a marvel of engineering, is predicated on getting the animation model of the movie character into a realistic tank. And it succeeds extremely well. The drawback comes when youíre buying Brawl for a child as a big birthday/Christmas present when theyíve displayed no previous aptitude for transformers or other puzzles. Odds are youíll leave them a bit frustrated. Itís not that Brawl is complicated, but there are quite many small steps, and the cascading plates can be tricky to lock down before the springs fold them back again. As such, Brawl is not a figure Iíd recommend as an introduction to transformers for a child.

Transformation: 10. Brawl is probably the most impressive piece of toy engineering Iíve ever encountered outside of Masterpiece Megatron and Starscream.
Durability: 7. Brawl has parts that are meant to come off: the three main gun barrels and the blades on his left arm all snap on and off with equal ease. Aside from that, he is very well built, but you could always lose the little pieces that disconnect.
Fun: 10. Best transforming tank, ever.
Price: 9. Itís hard to rate this. Hasbro/Takara really put everything they could into a $40 toy, and it shows. However, I do wish he were cheaper so that I could buy another dozen or so and have a whole battalion. $40 is a bit expensive, but you definitely get what you pay for.
Overall: 9.9. Brawl is a near-perfect transformer toy in terms of an alternate mode, articulated robot, clever and enjoyable switch-sequence, and mostly kid-friendliness. The only thing he lacks is a strong character associated with him. Highly recommended!

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