Folks, it’s been a loooong and thankless week at work. I’m exhausted, and I almost didn’t have it in me today, but the show must go on, and so here we are with another Transformers Thursday Feature. I also just spent a shit ton of money on new sneakers for my car and no small sum at the bar around the corner while I was waiting for the work to be done. I am quite tired, fed up, and most definitely inebriated. I picked up the car and literally screamed at the new tires, “I HATE YOU, YOU’RE MONEY I COULD HAVE SPENT ON TOYS!” Anywho…. today, I’m continuing my leisurely (now going on three weeks!) stroll through Takara’s big imported box of Combaticon goodness. So far, I’ve checked out Onslaught, Blast Off, and Vortex. Today I’m finishing up the individual bots with a look at the Deluxe figures that will form my Bruticus’ legs: Swindle and Brawl. What’s that? You can make them into arms too? UNACCEPTABLE!!! Once again, I’m looking at the alt modes first, so let’s jump right in and start with one of my favorite Decepticons of all time… Swindle!
Oh, Swindle, what have they done to you? G1 Swindle was originally a yellow and purple military jeep and now he’s ahhhhh… well, I guess a modern yellow and purple military sort of jeep looking thingy? With no place to sit? Yeah, there’s a little half sculpted blob in there that’s supposed to be a steering wheel, but I have to be honest here, this alt mode is a goddamn ugly mess. Some of you may remember me looking at Warbotron’s version of Swindle a while back and being content with them making him into a Humvee. Granted, that was an $80 Third-Party Voyager scaled figure, but I still think a Humvee might have worked better here. How could it have been worse?
In fairness, there’s a decent amount of sculpted detail here. You get shock absorbers inside the wheel well, pouches along the sides, and some vents and panel lines. Swindle gets by with minimal paint apps in this mode. His roll bars are painted silver, as are the wheels, and the conspicuous robot hands inside what would be the cabin. You also get some rather striking purple paint showing on the hood and the tailgate.
Swindle comes with a gun that can be mounted on his rear section, either left or right. You can also mount his combiner hand/foot on his roof to make a formidable double barreled cannon. Normally, I’m not a fan of using these pieces with the alt modes, but it worked alright for Vortex, and I think it works fine here. I mean, Swindle’s alt mode is already f’ugly enough, might as well stick a big foot cannon on top of it, right? Look, it sounds like I hate this thing, I don’t. It’s a passable Deluxe alt mode. It does what it needs to do. But as a devotee to my main man, Swindle, this alt mode could have and should have been better. Let’s see if Brawl’s alt mode fares any better…
Yes it does! It’s Brawl. He’s a brown tank. It doesn’t take rocket science to make this alt mode work. You get sculpted treads, some decent detailing, which includes hatches, vents, and, bolts, panel lining. Other than some black, a little silver, and Decepticon insignia on the sides, there’s nothing in the way of paint apps. The turret does not turn, but the gun can be raised a bit. It’s frightfully simple, but it works for me. It is clearly Brawl.
Brawl doesn’t come with a gun, but you can stick his foot/hand part on top of him for added firepower. I can’t say as I’m a big fan, but it’s not terrible. Also, so long as we’re looking at him from the front, his combiner port sort of looks like a third middle tread. Just saying. If this were a contest between the two alt modes, Brawl is the clear winner for me. He looks a lot more like what he’s supposed to be than Swindle does. He’s a tank, not some modern abstract realization of a tank. Maybe Swindle’s Jeep mode has a little more play value, but that’s about it. So, how about them robot modes? Well, let’s turn our attention back to Swindle…
Now we’re talking! The only think keeping this from being the Swindle I know and love is the lack of arm cannon, and you can always plug one of Onslaught’s guns into his shoulder to try to make it work. Otherwise, this figure hits all the right points. He’s got a pretty clean robot mode with loads of sculpted detail showing in his legs and arms. The upper chest is made up of his actual alt mode front, while a faked out Jeep front is situated in his pelvic region to drive home that G1 homage. And speaking of G1 homages, just look at that head sculpt! It’s love. G1 love. I love it.
From the back, we can see the hood and roll bars of the alt mode peg in firmly to his back. The whole assembly sticks out a bit behind his head, but it’s not terrible as far as kibble goes. If it really bothers you, you can drop it down to form a butt flap, but I’d rather not. I also really like the wheel placement on this figure. Two wind up in his armpits, without being cumbersome to the articulation, while the other two wind up on his ankles. The deco here is perfect. You get all that lovely yellow-tan Swindle-y plastic with a little more purple and silver paint showing. Was it worth getting a ho-hum alt mode for this kind of robot delight? Yessir, it is. But I’d still argue they could have done this with a cleaner and more accurate Humvee alt mode.
Swindle comes with a very sweet gun with three barrels. This is the first time I’ve seen this gun in the CW/UW line and I absolutely love it. Let’s move on to Brawl…
OK, so I sense a flipping pattern going on here. Swindle had an iffy alt mode and a rock solid robot mode. Brawl had a decent alt mode, and this as his robot mode. I’ve been playing with it off and on for an hour now and I still can’t make up my mind. Like Swindle, he’s a pretty solid representation of the G1 alt mode. You’ve got the treads facing front on his upper arms, you’ve got the turret on his back with the cannon sticking straight up. You even have those circular hatches sculpted into his lower legs like the Sunbow model showed.
On the other hand, those puny little forearms! Oh, how I wish they could have fixed those. If only they could have cut the arm hinge a little higher. And then there’s that mid section. It’s sort of just a big hinge above his pelvis. It doesn’t really ever lock in securely enough for my satisfaction, especially when I pick him up from the chest and his lower half flops down a bit. It’s not something that really bothers me until I start playing around with him and then it just doesn’t feel right. But… all these quibbles, and I’m still nowhere near to saying I dislike this figure.
The deco here is mostly what you get from his tank mode. There’s a lot of brown and black with a little more silver exposed. The deco is drab and dreary and looks perfectly suited for Brawl… until I get to the head. A fantastic head sculpt, but that neon orange paint is a bit much. I wish they could have toned that down a bit. Here’s an instance where I prefer the Hasbro paint to this one. With all that having been said, when I stand Brawl on the shelf beside Swindle, he looks just fine.
Brawl doesn’t have a gun, although you can angle that turret cannon over his head into a firing position. You can also attach his hand/foot part to either arm to give him a weapon. It looks about as good as one might expect it to look.
Both of these figures get a passing grade from me. Where Swindle stumbles in his alt mode, he soars in his robot mode and becomes my official Generations-Classics-Whatever version of the character. And Brawl sports as solid an alt mode as I would expect, but experiences some design hiccups in his robot mode. It feels like these could have used another trip across the designing board, one for alt mode and one for robot mode, but then if you count the limb modes, these are essentially Deluxe Class Triple Changers, so sacrifices are going to be made. In the end, these compliment the rest of the team nicely and I’m rather excited to get them cobbled together into Bruticus. And I’ll do just that next week in Part Four!