Back in February when Hasbro announced it would be making a toy of the Transformers: Fall of Cybertron version of Decepticon gestalt team Bruticus, I was absolutely ecstatic.
Now that I've got the San Diego Comic-Con variant of the toy in my hot giant hands? Still pretty ecstatic, though that doesn't mean I can't be critical. I'm a Transformers fan, after all — I've got fanboy mode AND critic mode.
So let's take a look at the five smaller robots that make up the one big robot that's gearing up to kick a ton of Autobot ass next week in High Moon's Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.
We'll go from best to worst in terms of how amazing the character is, which basically means Vortex, Blast Off, Brawl and Onslaught take second fiddle to...
Dr. Jeep. The guy that once tried to sell his non-functional teammates for scrap. The 'bot I once wrote a two-page application to play in a text-based online Transformers role-playing game. I love him so.
I'm not really a Decepticon fan, actually, but I do have my favorites, and Swindle is at the top of the list. He's got the most distinctive personality of the whole group, which can lead to Bruticus falling apart at the seams, but you can't make an omelet without killing a few people.
Designing a traditional Transformer toy is tough. Making a robot that twists and turns into something recognizable as a normal human vehicle is a truly difficult task. Making a robot that turns into whatever this is, however, seems much easier.
They've got the color scheme right, at least, and if I were to imagine a Cybertronian Jeep I suppose this wouldn't be far off from the mark. None too shabby.
One incredibly simple transformation later, we have this...
Swindle's robot form is a trifle odd, mainly because the hood of the alien Jeep sits at an angle, which makes for a distinctive look but also an incredibly thin robot when viewed from the side. All-in-all he's what I'd consider a display Transformer — he looks good on the shelf, but take him down and his flaws become readily apparent. Poor guy.
BRAWL IS THE LOUDEST OF THE COMBATICONS, WHICH MAKES SENSE SEEING AS HE'S A TANK.
And he's still a tank here, albeit a sort of strange, futuristic hover-tank. I really dig the alien angles on Brawl's vehicle form, and that muted green color is rather dashing on the boisterous 'bot.
A bit of the old flippedy-doo and...
An incredibly attractive robot form for Mr. Brawl, at least until you notice he has bright purple testicle-parts that droop far lower than where his legs meet. See, Brawl's got a bit of a tank backpack, a common problem with many Transformers from earlier in the franchise's history. Odd to see it now, especially with the fantastic designs Hasbro's been rolling out for the Transformers Prime line. I would have thought futuristic designs would have meant this sort of thing didn't have to happen. Oh well.
Vortex in effect with mah freaks tonight. Vortex, the group's whirly bird, is completely fucking insane. Unhinged, manic, and ready to go off the handle at any minute. Worse, he's easily bored — not a good combination.
He's a little helicopter, a little wasp — he's almost a Waspinator, really. There are some strange little red bits poking out of the front of Vortex's vehicle form, but who knows, maybe they serve some sort of strange Cybertronian purpose I don't know about.
Unfold that strange copter and you get...
...a halfway decent robot. And by halfway I mean the upper half, excluding the left arm, which has a folded-up propeller hanging off of it. What can you do?
I'm loving the red, purple and gold color scheme. I'm not loving the skirt, or the bowed legs. Maybe he just gets a lot of action? I shudder to think.
Distant and aloof, the G1 version of Blast Off was a space shuttle, so he was literally so far above the common rabble that he'd rather not interact with them at all. In short, he's a dick.
And I have no idea what the hell this thing is supposed to be. I mean sure, it's some sort of space ship, but that means fuck all when everyone else is in space and can transform into some sort of space-going craft. Fall of Cybertron Blast Off looks like something DG-1 would find on the other end of a stargate. I suppose it's a distinctive look.
One giant pair of shoulder pads, coming right up!
Seriously, look at those damn things. What function do they serve? Well they hide Blast Off's horrid shoulder joints, for one. Just a simple swivel, meaning his poseability is limited to doing the running man for all eternity.
Not that that's a bad thing. It's a fine dance.
The leader of the Combaticons who'd rather issue orders than take the field, the original Onslaught was the most impressive of the group, forming the massive body while the others formed limbs.
Here he's not quite as impressive.
Somebody forgot to take a picture of Onslaught in vehicle form outside of the group shot below, which is just as well. His vehicle for is essentially a flatbed containing Bruticus' head with Onslaught's tiny arms covering it as if he's playing peek-a-boo.
His robot form suffers in a few areas. The legs are fine, but the arms are puny, necessary since they have to fold to the side to form the big guy. His torso is particularly thick, thanks to having a much larger head hidden in his chest cavity. Your torso would be just as large in similar circumstances.
One giant son-of-a-bitch.
Bruticus, built to be the greatest military force in the universe. The G1 inspiration is evident in the face, but the torso and limbs are definitely current-generation.
He doesn't need foot bases — he's got Swindles grill for toes and Brawl's unfolded bits for balance. He actually stands quite well, given the odd nature of his legs.
And his arms? Well, hrm. On the Vortex side he's got Popeye-style forearms and a tiny black plastic hand that looks like a normal-sized hand was cursed by a voodoo priest. Seriously, look at that tiny little thing. It's useless. It's the t-rex arm of hands.
And Blast Off isn't so much an arm as he is a long appendage used as a base for Bruticus' weapon, a rather ingenious combination of all five robots' smaller ordinance.
Overall Bruticus is a fine looking figure (the version on store shelves will have different coloring), but his beauty is just as one-dimensional as Swindle's. That giant robot is maybe three inches deep at his thickest. So yes, keep him on the shelf so no one ever catches him in profile, though really they might just not see him at all.
For all my petty gripes, I have to commend Hasbro for giving us a new Bruticus to play with, and thank High Moon Studios for making it happen. He might not be the perfect combination of five robotic aliens into one giant robotic alien, but at least he is one. Or five. Something.
Note: As mentioned in the comments, you can also swap the four limbs around, using the fliers for legs and the ground-based bots as arms.