Vanessa safely returned to me two nights ago after being away with her family for nearly a week. When she arrived I was finally able to open my Christmas presents from her which had been wrapped and sitting under our tree for weeks. I had provided her with a short list of options when she asked me which toys I would like. One of the suggestions I gave her was a pair of recently released Transformers, Swindle and Brawl. Those guys are just two of the five Combaticons which can be merged together to form the giant Decepticon Bruticus. I could have asked her for all 5 but they were selling for about $20 to $25 a piece online plus shipping and I didn’t want to only give her really expensive options. A few of the other things on my list were pricier so I figured two Combaticons would give her a relatively cheap gift option at around $50.
When the Combaticons were first released in 1986 it was Doug who owned all 5 figures. These “combiner” Transformers were all the rage at the time. Doug also owned the Stunticons which formed Menasor and the Aerialbots which formed Superion. While I owned the Constructicons which formed Devestator and the Protectobots which formed Defensor. We also had incomplete teams of Predacons, Technobots, Terrorcons and a few others. Each of these combiners were made up of 5 or 6 smaller Transformers that merged into 1 larger robot. The majority of the sets were made up of 5 robots with 1 medium sized leader who formed the torso and 4 smaller Transformers who formed the limbs. There was usually an overall theme such as the Aerialbots being made up completely of airplanes or the Protectobots being made up entirely of rescue vehicles. The Combaticons which formed Bruticus were, as there name suggests, made up of combat vehicles. There was Swindle the jeep, Brawl the tank, Vortex the helicopter, Blast Off the rocket and Onslaught the truck who was their leader. The truck and rocket might be a bit of a stretch but they were heavily armed.
Of all the Combaticons it was Swindle who had the most personality. Swindle was described as a capitalist first and a Decepticon second. He’s a con-man and an opportunistic hustler who’s always making shady deals. This assigned personality made him far more interesting a character than any of the other Combaticons. This is why when I first saw that these new versions of the Combaticons were being released I decided to only buy Swindle. I wanted them all of course but the problem with owning them all is that I would want to display them as Bruticus which would make Swindle, a favorite character of mine, into nothing more than a leg. My only other option then would be to buy them twice and that was far too pricey an undertaking.
I hardly ever play video games but I will purchase them from time to time. The last one I bought was Transformers: War for Cybertron. I bought it the day it came out but after about an hour of gameplay I was bored of it and never played it again. Well a couple of months ago I threw it in the ol’ PS3 and decided to give it another try. You have the option to either play an Autobot campaign, which is what I did the first time, or a Decepticon campaign which I had never tried. I went with the Decepticons this time and was surprised to see that of the 2 or 3 playable characters available to me Brawl the Combaticon tank was one of them. He’s hardly an A-list character so it seemed like an odd choice to me but he’s who I opted to play with that day. Again, after about an hour I lost all interest and turned it off. However that hour I spent in Brawl’s skin gave me a new appreciation for the character and I decided that I must purchase his new toy as well.
So Swindle and Brawl were on my “to buy” list but I hadn’t pulled the trigger yet because I hadn’t fully convinced myself that I didn’t need the other 3 Combaticons. If I were to order all 5 at once it would be cheaper than ordering just these 2 and then deciding to order the other 3 later. I was perplexed. And so when Vanessa asked for my Christmas list I explained the situation. Getting all of them would be cool but just Swindle and Brawl would suffice.
Great girlfriend that she is, she got me all 5. And it was a nice surprise. I expected her to either get me just the two Combaticons I had asked for or for her to pick something else entirely off of my list. I think this was probably my most Transformers heavy Christmas of all time considering I had purchased Wheelie, Ratchet, Ultra Magnus and Sideswipe for myself; that’s 9 frig’n Transformers in total. I also want to quickly mention that Vanessa also bought me a portable photography studio set complete with tent, lights, tripod and carrying case. It was very sweet and hopefully you will see an improvement in my photography because of it. I’m still getting used to it though so don’t look for any vast improvements in these photos here.
So how is the figure? Well let me tell you. First off I will say that of the 5 individual figures my least favorites are Swindle and Brawl. If I had ordered those 2 I would not have gone back and ordered the other 3. I won’t go into why right now as those toys will receive their own reviews later but I was disappointed with them. The other 3 figures are all pretty cool though, Vortex the chopper is probably my favorite. This Bruticus set is available in 3 colors. There’s the one I have which is pretty close to the original’s colors. Swindle is yellow/brown, Brawl is green and Onslaught is blue. His arms are much more colorful this time around with Votex being red and Blast Off being Purple but I kind of like the change though it does make him look less military. There is another version available in Generation 2 colors which I think looks awful (yellow Onslaught and red Swindle, ick) and yet another version available in San Diego Comic-Con exclusive colors which looks pretty cool. Of the 3 versions I like mine the best.
Bruticus is one of those Generation 1 Transformers that I remember fondly but to go back and look at the toy now he looks kinda stupid. He’s really not all that big and he actually looks pretty blocky which makes sense considering how blocky the original individual Combaticons were. This new version retains all of the most iconic elements of Bruticus while making some drastic changes at the same time. His head is similar, he has the double gun turrets on his back, his chest and crotch plate retains the same basic shape and his component pieces all attach in the same places which allows him to keep the same design elements like a tank turret on his knee and a helicopter blade on his shoulder.
I found the individual Combaticon toys to feel very fragile and kind of cheap. I was actually worried about breaking them while I was transforming them. I was worried their combined form of Bruticus would be of similar quality but combined they actually form a pretty sold robot. He’s much more posable than the original was and he doesn’t just crumble apart as I feared he would. The limbs attach firmly and the legs provide a pretty solid standing base. When I first saw pictures of this toy I thought he looked kind of lanky but after looking back at the original toy I prefer lanky to stumpy. The longer limbs help to give Bruticus some real height too so he actually looks like a giant amongst my Transformers toys. I posted of picture of Bruticus standing next to Ratchet so that you can see just how tall he really is. I have chosen to display the Combaticons as Bruticus rather than as individuals because I find the combined form is much sturdier and impressive looking. A pretty damn cool toy.