SDCC Exclusive Bruticus San Diego Comic-Con International Exclusive
Transformers Generations Exclusive Toy
Item No.: No. A0743 Manufacturer:Hasbro Includes:Many mini weapons, 5 transforming toys Action Feature:5 vehicles transform into robots, combine into big robot Retail:$99.99 Availability: July 2012 Other: First release of this mold
I dragged my feet looking at SDCC Exclusive Bruticus mostly due to the sheer confusion of wonder just how the heck I review it. Is it one toy to be done on one day, five toys, or even six with a bonus day for the combined mode? One thing's for sure, it's going to be a huge pain in the neck and to make things worse, there are three versions of Bruticus in the US market alone with a fourth metallic deco coming in Japan. So here's what we're gonna do: seven days of Bruticus. There will be a day for this set (the game-themed SDCC exclusive), another for the shared Amazon/BBTS G2-themed set, and five days for each individually packaged robot, so we'll just do it like they're sold. Easy!
See the individual robot reviews for comparisons of each of the individual toys. We'll look at some comparison of the big bot here and do quick rundowns of each of the five parts.
Based on the video game Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, the combined robot is big. Standing 11-inches tall, it's made up of 5 smaller robots: Vortex, Blast Off, Swindle, Onslaught, and Brawl. Each limb can be a hand or a foot, although the instructions are not particularly good at showing you just how to get everything in to every possible form. So I'm going with the default as packaged for the master robot mode, simply because shooting every piece in every mode from every angle is sort of time-prohibitive.
The combined robot is big and nasty, with large limbs and a small head for Bruticus which is part of Onslaught. The giant robot has jointed shoulders, hips, knees, and elbows plus other moving bits which work to varying degrees of success. The combined hands are designed to have moving thumbs, so each limb can be a right or a left hand. Nice! I'm impressed how they managed to get more movement in some limbs, like Vortex in arm mode. It makes use of the figure's robot mode articulation to add to the giant robot mode, the waist joint becomes a swivel in the elbow, plus the legs allow the arm to bend a little. The Blast Off arm is sort of wonky, huge, but at least it's interesting to look at. Swindle as a leg just looks like a vehicle on its back, while Vortex unfolds into a very different-looking mode with guns and panels branching out to make a better limb mode.
Each part seems to be inversely as good as a "combiner" part as it is a stand-alone toy... except Blast Off, which is pretty weak in any mode but vehicle. Onslaught is a great torso, Swindle is functional (and looks decent) as as a foot, Brawl makes a great foot but isn't very fun as a robot, and little Vortex works well in most possible forms. I really like how that one turned out.
Now, this is where I get confused. The individually-packaged retail Onslaught seems to be colored more closely to the game than the one in this set, but the four toys making up the limbs in this set are pretty darned close to the games, minus some pink/purple paint details. The figure has a pretty solid individual vehicle mode, a very good "torso" mode, and a so-so robot mode. He looks OK standing on a shelf, but I don't find him too fun to play with. His weapon is a decent update of the original, and forms the central hub for the combined mode's mega-weapon. Which, uh, looks pretty dumb, I gotta say. You can also store Bruticus' weapon on the combined Bruticus' back, which looks pretty swell and is how the toy was packaged.
For most Bruticus toys, the coloration of Blast Off is perpetually confusing. Here, the space shuttle is a brown color with purple highlights. Why? Cybertronian vehicles are often quite bright, and it's not like Earth's space program (or science fiction, on the whole) really favors brown ships. The shuttle mode is pretty solid and looks appropriately alien, clearly coming out of the world of 21st-Century Design with fins and panels and little greeblies that I can't possibly hope to understand. The arm unfolds nicely, with the combiner Bruticus' hand molded inside the robot mode's feet. The hips serve as the combined robot's elbow joint, and I'm told a shorter arm mode is possible but stresses the plastic... so I won't be doing that. There's some floating in the shoulders in the individual robot mode for Blast Off, so I don't think he feels particularly solid in that form. He does have two blasters, though!
The most compelling design in the set is probably also the largest, with Swindle. Of the entire Combaticon squad, he seems to get the most love in the fiction, and from fans. The tan version looks great here, but there's a yellow version sold individually which looks good and a bright red G2-inspired version which is also great. The "leg mode" feels like you flipped a couple of panels and stood the vehicle mode up on its backside. It's pretty easy to pull off, and there are some nifty Hot Rod-esque pipes on Swindle's robot mode forearms. A black Decepticon logo rests on a purple stripe on the vehicle's hood, and the wheels have some nice purple markings on the hubcaps. He has a sizable black blaster painted silver, and I like it. Easily, it's the best weapon in the set.
This version of Swindle is notable in that he's the only one to have a painted face. It's silver, and it looks way, way better with the silver paint. The retail Generations and exclusive G2 versions have unpainted, black plastic faces.
As a hovertank, Brawl works nicely. It looks like a tank! What more could you want? This version of the mold is a respectable quasi-military green, while the individual release is much brighter and the G2 version is basically even brighter, but with purple deco. The toy as sold to you in the box needs some fidgeting to massage it into a stable foot mode, as there are lots of folding panels, tabs, and grooves to get just right. As a foot, he's pretty solid, and that's good. As a tank, he's solid. As a robot, I have a hard time getting the shoulders and head to behave how I want. He includes a small black pistol.
Without question, my favorite part of this set is Vortex because he's fun. He makes a good arm, a good helicopter, and a really fun robot! While not perfect, he has twin swords and a spinning rotor blade. There are landing skids, and the deco is close to the game but not exactly perfect. It's certainly good enough. The giant robot arm mode has a jointed thumb and has no problems holding a weapon, which is nifty because the other arm in the main configuration is a closed fist. While it still looks like a giant robot with a broken chopper for an arm, the toy is more fun than the others on its own. It reminds me of a lost Beast Machines-era Vehicon, and gosh darn it I just like it. I almost wish he sucked more because it's annoying to keep him as part of the combined Bruticus, I just want to futz with him on his own.
As bang for the buck goes, this set may not be "worth it" on the secondary market. The SDCC Bruticus was $100 (now closer to $200-$270) while the Amazon/BBTS G2 version is only $60, and the individually-packed retail bits are $15 each for a grand total of $75. And it's the same mold, so really it's about deco and packaging. The SDCC version comes in a massive suitcase, which has a smaller window-boxed toy inside with the set in its combined mode. It's a gorgeous box, as the outer box has a top-notch painting and the interior has graphics, plus the inner box looks like it was designed as a high-end collectible rather than a retail toy. Without question, this set has the most lavish Transformers packaging in the USA this year, which in and of itself may make it a worthwhile purchase. I totally dig it, and I liked it so much I felt compelled to get the other versions. I hope if Hasbro ever does do an all-new Devastator for the "Cybertron" games or classics, we see alternate deco versions like this. (As in, wildly different.) For $100 it's worth it. For $200? Suck it up and get another release.
The big question everybody asks me is, if money is no object, which is the best of the three Bruticus toys? For game authenticity, get the SDCC one and the regular retail Onslaught for the torso. The SDCC one may be best for displaying as individual robots, with G2 having an excellent combined form. I've got nothing really bad to say about the individual set, although it may be the least essential overall of the three.
... there are a ton of images below. The combined shots of the toy on the red background are how it came out of the box-- slightly mistransformed, but I thought worth documenting all the same. The packaging itself is massive, too big to fit in my studio and, apparently, too awkward to shoot well. Here ya go! (Big thanks to Hunter PR for their assistance in obtaining this sample for your review.)
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