Fall of Cybertron Bruticus SDCC-exclusive 5-pack Review

  Posted in Reviews, Toys and Collectibles on August 7th, 2012 by JediTricks

This is TFviews.com’s review of the HasbroToyShop Comic Con-exclusive FOC Bruticus 5-pack.

For those who don’t know, this set is an exclusive paint scheme meant to represent the Combaticons as they appear in the upcoming video game, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. While the mainline releases of the 5 Combaticon figures won’t be coming for a few more months, and the game itself won’t be released for a few more weeks, fans who were fortunate enough to either be at the 2012 Comic Con International in San Diego from July 11th through the 15th, or online at the exact right time when HasbroToyShop’s website released their small held-back cache of sets a few weeks after get to experience the Combaticons as they were originally planned for release, before the character colors were changed to brighter mainline looks.

This review will be primarily a photo review, most of you who know my style have seen very long written reviews, but for this review I will list only the broad strokes in brief lists and notes for each character. For those interested, great care was taken to shoot these photos in an extremely natural, realistic lighting so as to present the authentic visual impact of every aspect of this monumental figure set.

- Packaging -

If you’re wondering why there’s no photos of the packaging, it’s because you’ve probably already seen it, and I don’t find it terribly compelling or crucial to the figure itself. Things you should know about the packaging:

  • it’s a 5-panel gatefold box with a handle with game art on the front and Brawl’s thrust vent shape for the upper and lower panels.
  • it has an inner removable keystone package very similar to Masterpiece Starscream’s packaging.
  • inside the gatefold, the character art has the mainline colors on Onslaught, which matches the game’s recent demo.
  • the instructions don’t have the individual character names and don’t show how to turn each character into their combiner component modes, only how to transform them out of those modes.
  • Brawl is mistransformed in the package, being only a stump, while the instructions show a lower foot/toe section and heelspurs, helping greatly with that leg’s stability.

– Combaticons –

As a group, the Combaticons are all Deluxe figures but each has his own size and feel, adding to the variety of the group. Each also has some eccentricities from the compromises in creating 3 separate modes (robot, vehicle, combiner component). While Onslaught and Swindle are sized large almost like Deluxes from the past, the other 3 are much more in line with the new Deluxe sizing, so I’ve included a shot with the just-released Deluxe FOC Optimus Prime figure for comparison.

And comparisons with Bruticus using FOC Optimus, Shockwave, and ROTF Leader-class Starscream

- Onslaught -

- Robot Mode:

  • Onslaught’s colors don’t match the game demo colors, his look is gray with black and green from the game’s first trailer. It’s a nice, modest colorscheme, just no longer accurate apparently.
  • some joints are very stiff while others aren’t, making posing a bit challenging; the ball-joints above the elbows pop out quite easily; the hips hinge out easily but are very difficult to swivel forward or back.
  • aside from that elbow issue, figure is very solid in robot mode, even the back panel kibble pegs in strong to a pair of slots.
  • Bruticus’ face cannot be hidden in robot mode.
  • the weapon cannot be stowed on the back to cover Bruticus’ head.
  • Onslaught’s head requires a panel to snap into place to get to proper height, this panel feels like it’s going to break before it goes.
  • articulation: ball-jointed neck (restricted to mostly swivel); swivel shoulders (restricted above 45 degrees up and below 30 degrees behind, basically what a human can normally do without straining); ball-jointed elbows (restricted to swivel and folding outward for transformation); ratcheting hinged elbows; ratcheting swivel & hinge-jointed hips; swivel upper thighs; and hinged knees.
  • good detailing and bulk, well-proportioned; feet very big, angled for slight spread leg pose making 1-footed poses challenging but not impossible.

- Vehicle Mode:

  • transformation interesting, figure folds in half, easy to miss stuff between the legs and the buttplate despite relatively few steps.
  • vehicle mode is compact compared to bot mode, but still bigger than lil FOC Optimus.
  • vehicle mode solid when weapon attached, otherwise arms can be dislodged easily.
  • decent ground clearance, but front wheels don’t like to roll even on textured surfaces due to their unusual design.

- Weapon:

  • only his twin cannon accessory, no sonic stun rifle, no shield/truck bed accessory either.

- Component Mode:

  • instructions show weapon as core of Bruticus’ blaster, but the ugly hollow back is meant to be covered with the twin cannon weapon via a pair of pegs only usable in this mode.
  • hips tend to unpeg themselves easily which dislodges but does not cause collapse of the combiner.
  • shoulder horns get knocked out of position constantly.

- Brawl -

- Robot Mode:

  • Brawl is lankier than his G1 counterpart, but still wields a turret on his back.
  • turret can be brought to bear in robot mode.
  • toes aren’t tight enough to hold figure’s weight, heelspurs are sculpted slightly rounded, so Brawl is the one in the group that has a hard time standing.
  • articulation: ball-jointed neck; inward-hinging shoulders/upper chest sections; ball-jointed shoulders (restricted to a swivel); side-hinged lower shoulder; ball-jointed elbow; hinged wrist from transformation; hinged lower torso; swivel waist; ball-jointed hips; swivel thighs; hinged knees; hinged toes for pointing (or mostly for falling).
  • lower torso and waist articulation are difficult to engage, require pulling torso piece down and pulling waist up, often dislodging waist.
  • very creative pose possibilities, but lack of foot-stability make freestanding poses challenging.
  • twin turrets rotate on their long axis for robot mode, not sure what this feature is meant to say since it’s not strictly necessary for transformation and visually barely noticeable.

- Vehicle Mode:

  • no wheels, use your imagination to hover tank.
  • turret rotates freely and can be elevated using transformation joints.
  • very small vehicle mode, but quite solid.
  • rear vents dig deep to snap onto lower fuselage.

- Weapon:

  • turret integrates the twin cannon weapon into its concept, so only his lowly electron gun for this figure.
  • barrel is grooved.

- Component Mode (leg):

  • packaged entirely wrong, so I won’t bother showing that, do the Hasbro instruction people think those extra joints and tabs are there to waste budget?
  • instead, instructions show transforming out of a lower leg mode with a real foot/toe section.
  • lower leg uses fists as heelspurs, arms as back of leg which tab into turret top folded out as foot/toes, making this very solid.

- Component Mode (arm):

  • not included in instructions, this is my educated guess based on transformation shown on G2 Bruticus and Ruination repaint shown at Comic-Con.
  • this is the only reason for the mid-torso joints to exist.
  • cannon can be brought to bear from here, sucks to be at the other end of that.
  • only hands that cannot grasp anything, instead there are a pair of 5mm pegs in them which aren’t nice to use, and a second set just above them in the wrist.
  • uses the bot-mode toes to swap thumbs from left to right.

- Swindle -

- Robot Mode:

  • Swindle is the biggest in the group, a reversal of fortunes from classic days.
  • shoulders have an unusual transformation joint which moves them back, but also feels like they’re not going to fully engage, basically it requires manually sliding the post back as you fold it up; and then that joint never wants to stay where it’s supposed to go, its stop not really doing a great job holding it up when the shoulder is being posed.
  • chest is vehicle shell and locks into tabs at the waist and below the collar, it’s easy to miss the collar one which makes him look weird.
  • articulation: swivel neck; ball-jointed shoulders (restricted to swivel and hinge up-type movement); ball-jointed elbow; swivel waist; ball-jointed hips; swivel upper thighs; hinged knees; hinged toes to point down.
  • bulky boots make posing challenging, but he can stand on 1 foot easily.

- Vehicle Mode:

  • transformation is challenging despite simplicity, tabs and panels and stuff get in the way of each other and need pinpoint precision to line up (especially the forearm-to-hip tab)
  • rolls nicely.
  • scatter blaster accessory has 360-degree clearance.
  • with everything locked correctly, vehicle is very solid.
  • exhaust pipes swivel around to cover hands.

- Weapon:

  • seems too big to be his gyro gun and detailed differently, so I’m saying it’s his scatter blaster.
  • a single asymmetrical detail in the form of a pointy bit.
  • barrel has cutaway detailing.

- Component Mode (leg):

  • vehicle shell is hinged to the combiner joint, limiting range to 1 click; shell attaches to the legs differently than vehicle mode

- Component Mode (arm):

  • not included in instructions, this is my educated guess based on transformation shown on G2 Bruticus and Ruination repaint shown at Comic-Con.
  • nothing locks in at the upper section, so I could be way off, but it’s how Hasbro had him transformed in the panel slide and in the booth.
  • best-looking Bruticus hands in the set, separate hand inside each bot-mode leg to swap from left to right.

- Vortex -

- Robot Mode:

  • Vortex comes off quite differently from his fellow FOC Combaticons, and seems a little more G1-style to me (though not terribly G1-Vortex-style specifically).
  • while a lot of little oddities, lots of personality, surprisingly fun to pose.
  • articulation: ball-jointed neck (restricted to swivel a bit to the sides and up); ball-jointed shoulders; swivel biceps; hinged elbows (restricted to 75 degrees); swivel waist; ball-jointed hips; swivel thigh; double-hinged knees; hinged skirt to get the hell out of the way.
  • although boots hollow, surprisingly stable.
  • rotor panel is not removable.

- Vehicle Mode:

  • arm transformation can be confusing with 3 different twists.
  • nose cannon permanently angled down, gives vehicle a somewhat insectoid feel.
  • skids are a lie, they don’t touch the ground.
  • rotors spin freely, photo is of rotors actually spinning (not photoshopped).
  • congratulations on a flying vehicle that doesn’t look like too badly like random robot junk from underneath!
  • demo has Vortex as a playable character, his vehicle mode transforms from chopper to jet, toy cannot reproduce this.

- Weapons:

  • it’s a sword and a gun, don’t mistake one for the other.
  • identical accessories, not mirror-twins.
  • look better in vehicle mode pointed back I think, so you see both.

- Component Mode (arm):

  • very long in official mode.
  • only Combaticon limb figure to not have a purple connection joint, which is a bummer because those correspond well to the purple coursing energon look characters have in the game.
  • thumb rotates around the top of hand to swap from left to right.
  • despite karate-chop-straight hand, thumb and hand are notched out to hold a 5mm peg.
  • rotors cannot spin freely without realigning lower arm quite a bit.

- Component Mode (arm, unofficial):

  • shortens up nicely but loses mid-arm articulation.

- Component Mode (leg):

  • not included in instructions, this is my educated guess based on transformation shown on G2 Bruticus and Ruination repaint shown at Comic-Con.
  • looks poor as a foot but actually quite solid and stable.
  • uses bits from transformation not used anywhere else, locks foot into place nicely.

- Blast Off -

- Robot Mode:

  • Blast Off sure is caramel-colored. Everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
  • shoulders are very challenging to pose due to unorthodox low, diagonal ball-joint and other weirdness; requires patience and a little faith to use.
  • seems underdetailed but actually has some nice sculpting surprises here and there.
  • narrow feet aren’t that difficult to keep standing due to length and flatness.
  • articulation: ball-jointed neck (restricted to free swivel and a few degrees up and down); ball-jointed shoulders (restricted to rotation); double-jointed elbow, hinged at top, ball-joint at bottom; swivel and hinge hips; swivel thighs; hinged knees with deep range of motion.
  • shoulders actually tab into torso, saves them from uselessness.
  • despite very weird shoulders and hideous caramel color, I like him more than I expected to.

- Vehicle Mode:

  • transformation is more straightforward than it seems, but catches on tabs a lot.
  • rearrangement of colors almost makes caramel color bearable… almost.
  • looks good from the front, sides, and top; looks not so great from the back; and pretty bad from the bottom.
  • cockpit spins independently of the rest of the fuselage.
  • 2 sets of 5mm pegs, one made of the Bruticus fists, other is meant to hold blasters in vehicle mode.
  • second-biggest vehicle in the group.

- Weapons:

  • mirror-twin set.
  • 2 5mm pegs, a shallow one at the grip and a second longer peg behind that off to the side; pegs can theoretically be plugged into both vehicle mode pegs at once, but this is not recommended.
  • 2 5mm holes, one on the inner side above the grip, and another is the barrel itself.
  • barrels are grooved.
  • pistols look cool in sculpt, too bad about the color.

- Component Mode (arm):

  • oh bother; why is Bruticus a giant gangly ape with arms past his knees now?
  • sports a pair of flip-out thumbs to swap from left to right, kind of clever.
  • cannot lower his shoulder all the way down.

- Component Mode (arm, unofficial):

  • this is pretty much how Blast Off looks as an arm in the game, except with either a fist sticking out or a blast emitter.
  • it even hinges at the elbow like in the game.

- Component Mode (leg):

  • not included in instructions, this is my educated guess based on transformation shown on G2 Bruticus and Ruination repaint shown at Comic-Con.
  • Hasbro’s Ruination and G2 Bruticus actually had no toes, and that section wasn’t flat against the ground making their leg very unstable, but the bot-mode arms fold around to make excellent toes that are flat against the ground.

– Bruticus –

- Robot Mode:

  • Bruticus stands about 11 inches tall, not counting little pointy bits like shoulder kibble and horns. While roughly the same size as a Leader-class figure, there’s something less impressive about this robot which feels like a step backwards.
  • this figure is not fragile, nothing falls off, not much easily dislodges, but it is a bit wobbly.
  • unlike G1 Bruticus where the limbs plugged into the core, this figure uses Power Core Combiner-style blocks to interconnect, Onslaught’s core having non-rotating blocks at each connection point and each limb figure having a corresponding hollow cube which is cut away at each wall to flex open; the connections are strong, and they’re all attached to the limb figures via swivel joints.
  • each hollow cube connection point has its own distinct sculpt.
  • another PCC-reminiscent situation is the core component, Onslaught, who barely tucks the bot-mode arms away and hides bot-mode thighs behind a plate to feign combiner bulk, and is underscale to the limb components.
  • the arms have a lot of hollow sections in this mode.
  • Bruticus’ colors are somewhat muted and repetitive between Swindle, Blast Off, and Vortex, so it’s not surprising that this look was revised for a broader audience. Since this is a “Scramble City” type figure and there are 4 paint schemes planned for this figure, fans should be able to mix and match their favorite colors and even repeat the same limb in all 4 positions.
  • while the limbs are not strictly side-specific, each limb figure has screw holes showing on 1 side which alternates between pairs – Vortex has them on his right while Blast Off has them on his left, same with Brawl and Swindle respectively, from figure to connection cube system.
  • articulation: swivel head; swivel and hinge shoulders; swivel bicep (Blast Off only); swivel upper-elbow (Vortex only); hinge-up elbow (Vortex only); hinge-in elbow (Blast Off only); swivel waist (yeah, really!); swivel and hinge hips (restricted, forward movement is not possible, backward movement is possible but very tight); swivel upper thighs; swivel lower thighs; and hinged knees.
  • not really sure what the point of leg articulation is if he can’t raise his hips forward.
  • Hasbro seriously needs to stop using “bicep curl” elbow articulation unless they want to make a new line of hugging Transformers, because that’s all it’s good for.
  • Bruticus is challenging to balance or pose, partly due to the amount of play put on the core figure’s hips, partly from play between the various leg parts, and partly because the ratcheting on the hips is placed so that he’s leaning slightly forward – that one was a boneheaded move for such a topheavy figure – it is basically Onslaught on stilts carrying Blast Off and Vortex around. Balance is best found clicking the hips 1 stop back.
  • another source of wobble, none of the ratchet points on each limb’s connection cube system matches the other, each having detents at slightly different spots than the other.
  • for some reason, the shoulder connection blocks on Onslaught are rotated about 30 degrees from straight, so Bruticus can never put his arms all the way down or straight forward.
  • my copy came with mispainted eyes, the only real paint flaw in the whole set.
  • there’s a lot of Decepticon energon purple throughout, but really there could stand to be even more.

- Weapon:

  • the official version of the weapon is a bit of a mess and is too long to actually be held by the figure, being as long as the arms themselves. Moreover, while the core of the official gun (Onslaught’s gun) does appear to be designed with some of this in mind, it’s also clear that Onslaught’s gun is meant to be attached to the figure’s back not only to cover up Onslaught’s head and the gaping chasm of a back, but to lock down the shoulders via a set of pegs and tabs.
  • the gun seen in most of these images is not from the instructions, but is most likely what the designers had in mind, as notches on Brawl’s gun line up perfectly with tabs on Vortex’s swords. While still unattractive, it is short enough for Bruticus to hold.
  • both combiner guns are surprisingly secure thanks interlocking 5mm and 3mm pegs and holes, as well as the aforementioned notches and tabs.

- Robot Mode (with unofficial shortened arm configuration):

  • I think this looks much better, as long as you don’t mind that Blast Off has no hand (you could fudge half a hand, but it’s particularly ugly).
  • the arms are in better scale to the overall combined robot and thus also represent the character as seen in the game; they also hide a lot of the unattractive emptiness in the official layout.
  • the arms are beefier this way, Bruticus looks more like a brawler.
  • articulation loses range of motion on the Vortex elbow (you can get some rotation but not hinge movement), but the new configuration on Blast Off has its own elbow from the bot-mode transformation joint.

- Robot Mode (with alternate limb layout) -

  • not included in instructions, this is my educated guess based on transformation shown on G2 Bruticus and Ruination repaint shown at Comic-Con.
  • I quite like Vortex and Blast Off as legs; Brawl is a very strange arm and still long and can’t grab things but I confess I sort of like it, Swindle makes an alright arm but there’s too much lower arm bulk and too little stability in the upper arm kibble; that said, Swindle is a slightly shorter arm and has a very nice hand design and the best range of motion of any limb figure as an arm.
  • articulation changes: Swindle as an arm has lower bicep rotation and hinges in; Brawl as an arm has about 30 degrees of up and down elbow rotation plus it hinges in as well; and Blast Off adds shin rotation and pointable toes, for whatever that’s worth.

– Conclusion –

Bruticus is less than the sum of his parts, unfortunately, and a lot of that is due to Onslaught simply being too small. They tried their best, but there are a lot of cut corners to get Bruticus out of 5 small Deluxe-sized figures, and ultimately this doesn’t feel like a significant leap forward in the rather middling “scramble city” philosophy of Transformers combiner – yes he’s less blocky, but the cost is he’s also not as attractive or stable, and he doesn’t gain much in articulation or size.

That said, I like all of the Combaticons separately despite a lot of foibles, each one has a unique character and presence; so it’s very cool that 5 nifty figures can slap together to make a tall, wobbly combiner robot. This set cost $108 after tax at the convention, and while there is something to be said for the exclusivity, it’s not quite delivering on the promise of the big box, big pricetag item that it is claiming to be. It’s a shame that metallic dyes for the plastic came out too subtle on most of the figures (you 3 in the beige family) and corners were cut on things like the color of Vortex’s combiner cube.

So, for the concept, I can give a a thumb’s-up to the G2 exclusive at its lower price, and even to the mainline releases (so long as you can stomach their colors), but as for this Comic Con piece it’s more of a mixed bag result because there’s higher price which mostly that seems to have gone into a big empty outer box, not a better product – aside from being not as much an eyesore as the Skittles rainbow that is the mainline release.

Discuss this review in its TFv forums thread.


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