Superlink Toy Reviews: Bruticus

in 2004, Action Figure Review, Combiner / Gestalt, Decepticon, Generation One, Superlink

Transformers Superlink

General Information:
Release Year: October 2004
Retailer: Japanese exclusive
Price: $65 (Depending on Import Retailer, purchased at Image Anime)
Accessories: Energon Stars x 4, Five-barrel guns/Hands x 2, Dual barreled guns x 2
Images: Gallery featuring all five team members and Bruticus

Tech Specs*
"He who awakens me shall gain everything!"
This ancient Destron warrior was one of the few among the Destrons to possess a Combination Spark. That power was sealed away for ages, but now his transforming/combining abilities, reputed to eclipse even the Cybertrons', are restored, and once again he alights in utter composure before the Cybertron forces!

Strength: 10 Intelligence: 8 Speed: 8 Endurance: 10 Rank: 9 Courage: 9 Firepower: 10 Skill: 10+


*Tech specs translations by Doug Dlin.

Blast-Off Review

G1 Blast-Off was a space shuttle, perhaps the most "different" member of the Combaticon team since space shuttles aren't exactly military vehicles. In the Superlink incarnation of Blast-Off, we have a more military vehicle: a helicopter.

Vehicle Mode:
Blast-Off's vehicle mode seems to be inspired by Apache helicoptors (although I'm sure there may be a type of copter he is more closely related to that I don't know about). The front section is the part which most strongly resembles the Apache, made up of angular windows and an angular front end. Inside the cockpit you can clearly see a seat and control panel, a small touch that I always appreciate with Transformers since they serve no pratical purpose other than being a visual decoration. Behind the cockpit on either side are large vents, and as you go back there are a lot of little tech details, even on the rotor blades, which traditionally don't get much attention in the sculpting department. One subtle, yet nice detail is a small, raised, sculpted Decepticon symbol on the left side above the vent. Also in the center are two small wings on either side. The rear is mostly made up of the tail, which has line details segmenting it into sections. The middle section has the most tech detail, with several layers of parts and machinery that make Blast-Off look like one complex contraption.

Blast-Off's color scheme is a bit interesting since it serves as a bit of a homage to the G1 Combaticon, Vortex. Blast-Off is mostly grey and purple, with translucent blue parts and various shades of grey paint with yellow used for bright details. This color scheme is not too far off from G1 Vortex, who was mostly grey himself (but used green as his other primary color). What's nice is that neither color outweighs the other dramatically, they share a rough 60/40 type ratio in favor of purple. The yellow details stand out well and don't look cheap at all.

Functionally, there's quite a bit going on here. On the top of the helicopter is the Decepticon Spark Crystal where you can connect an Energon Star. Both rotors move if pushed. On the underside, you can take the weapon for Blast Off, flip the two side cannons to face back and attach the pegs into the hands on the underside. In addition, both wings have holes in them to plug in Energon weapons, giving you the chance to give Blast-Off a powerful arsenal in vehicle form.

The only bit of a flaw I can see some people complaining about is that the robot arms and legs offer a bit of extra kibble that one may not necesarily want in a vehicle. Past Transformers helicopters on this scale or smaller have generally used the same transformation scheme, making the tail/rear section legs and have arms buried in the main body. I appreciate having a new and different design that still looks cool however.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the Energon weapon if attached.
  2. Swing the tail rotor down.
  3. Detach the robot feet from the sides of the helicopter.
  4. Swing the robot legs back.
  5. Rotate the waist section around.
  6. Straighten out the legs and flip the feet up.
  7. Swing the robot arms out to the sides.
  8. Flip out the small panels underneath the front of the helicopter.
  9. Swing the cockpit down to form the robot upper body.
  10. Lock the should portion of the arms into place.
  11. Fold the rotor blades into a V shape in the back.
  12. The Energon weapon may be placed into either hand.

Robot Mode:
Blast-Off's robot mode doesn't introduce a whole lot that you couldn't already see in vehicle form. Perhaps the most intricate, newly revealed part is the head. I was actually surprised just how much detail was worked into it considering this is a basic sized figure. The helmet portion of the robot head very much resembles a pilot's helmet. It's rounded but has a central crest line with smaller parts on the sides in curved patterns. The edges of the helmet (on either side of hisface) has detail in it too at the front. The visor eyes are different than most that I've seen, having two lines running through the center. The lower face really looks like it's encapsulated in this helmet. A really nice sculpting job.

The colors in this form blend together well. He's mostly purple, but there is gold on the chest and a bit of yellow on the feet. Along with the metallic light blue found on his legs and fists, there is a good deal of contrast on the figure that keeps it from looking too ordinary.

The weapon included with Blast-Off is a gun with five barrels of firepower. If you're thinking that the gun looks an awful lot like an open palm hand, that's because it is. The gun also serves as Bruticus' hand. In this form however it can be a multi-barrel gun or you can detach the two barrels on the right and left sides and have Blast-Off wield them as individual guns. If you wish, you can also have him hold those gun pieces upright to act as melee weapons.

Blast-Off has twelve points of articulation in this form, most using good old fashioned ball joints.

Final Thoughts (on Blast-Off):
Blast-Off is a cool toy. He pays nice homage to a classic Combaticon while being very different in both forms. Having his weapon be able to have multiple uses, and the nice sculpting job on this toy gets high marks from me.

Brawl

G1 Brawl was a tank, so it's fitting that his 21st century upgrade homage is also a tank. It has been pointed out to me that this tank form is in fact based on a real life tank, the Tunguska M1. Neat!

Vehicle Mode:
Outside of the Binaltech and Alternators line, it is always cool to see a Transformer based on a real life vehicle nowadays. As mentioned above, Brawl is based on the Tunguska M1 tank. Intended for low level air defense, this tank has twin cannons which can aim up and down and a turret that can turn around 180 degrees. It's pretty cool how close the designers stuck with the design of the Tunguska, with some tweaking of course. If you attach the Energon weapon for Brawl to the top of the tank, the vehicle has the right basic shape. The Energon weapon satellite dish mirrors one on the real life vehicle. The real life vehicle also has two main cannons and some sub-cannons. While the real life Tunguska has a round piece in the front that is closed off, Brawl has a round Decepticon Spark Crystal in the same spot.

Brawl is mostly green in this form. Some lime green is used for details such as vents on the sides of the tank. Silver is used on the turret for both the turret base front and back as well as the cannons. The cannons themselves have a really nice black spray op on them with orange at the ends.

There's a fair amount of detail in this sculpt. The cannons have a lot of raised surfaces along the length of the barrels, the front has two small machine gun ports and along the sides are small circles indicating bolted parts.

While you cannot attach a Mini-Con to the toy itself, the Energon weapon with the radar dish portion had a Mini-Con Powerlinx port, allowing you to Powerlink Brawl to a Mini-Con!

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the Energon weapon if attached.
  2. Swing the sides of the tank out and down.
  3. Swing the turret around so the turret platform is over the rear portion of the tank.
  4. Swing the robot arms out to the sides, rotate the lower arms around and rotate the cannon barrels to face forward.
  5. Fold the section with the Spark Crystal down onto the chest.
  6. Fold down the platform with the robot head on it, then turn the robot head (along with the gun ports next to the head) around.
  7. Fold down the flat parts on the front of the tank to form the robot feet.
  8. The Energon weapon may be placed in Brawl's hand.

Robot Mode:
I cannot help but be amused by Brawl's robot mode. Why? Because it is so reminscent of the G1 Seeker Transformers that it's not even funny. I'm sure this was not exactly intentional, and the resemblance is a bit of a stretch. Basically, the tank treads wind up becoming wing-like structures on the back. On either side of the head are triple cannons, reminding me of the rectangular parts on either side of say, Thundercracker's head. Then you have long rifle like cannons mounted on each arm. At first glance, Brawl really looks like he transforms into an aerial vehicle instead of a tank, and that's just awesome.

Brawl's green color carries over into this form, but he also utilizes light blue, silver and orange for details such as the knees and robot face. The light blue is metallic, which looks really nice. Personally I would have liked to see some dry brushing or something to give him a more "worn" look, but that's a minor quibble.

The two weapons on Brawl's arms can rotate around, and his fists are the standard size for holding Energon weapons. Brawl has twelve points of articulation in this form. Most of these are ball joints, allowing for a wide range of movement. I'm glad to see that despite there being cannons on either side of his head, he can still turn his head, albeit with the cannons as well.

Final Thoughts (on Brawl):
Brawl is one awesome toy. Even without being part of a combiner group he'd be an excellent basic sized toy. Being a part of the Bruticus team is just a bonus.

Onslaught

Every combiner team needs its leader, and in this case it is Onslaught. Larger than the other four team members, Onslaught qualifies as a deluxe sized toy.

Vehicle Mode:
Onslaught's vehicle mode is a missile truck. This is a perfect form for him as it alludes to his G1 predecessor's vehicle form (a truck with a dual barreled cannon) but ups the ante. Instead of just having two barrels of firepower, Onslaught has eight missile tubes sculpted onto the missile launcher mounted on the back of the vehicle.

The sculpt on this truck is really nicely done. The front has a angular design that gives it a futuristic look while still being blocky enough to give the impression of a powerful machine. The letter "X" marks plates on the side that indicate extra armor while other, raised tech details help complete the picture.

The missile launcher on the back of the truck can turn around in a full circle. However, you don't have to stop there. On either side of the missile launcher is a hole for Energon weapons and a Mini-Con Powerlinx peg. This gives him a lot of potential for adding on weaponry, and of course, play value!

Onslaught's color scheme is very reminscent of G1 Onslaught. His primary colors are grey, blue and metallic green. Black plays a role as well, along with light green and dark green. The original Onslaught also used blue, grey and green a lot. This Onslaught distributes the colors a bit more evenly, resulting in a very militaristic looking vehicle in form and color.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing the missile launcher back and snap the hinge it rests on into the back of the vehicle.
  2. Separate the halves of the missile launcher and twist the lower legs around.
  3. Rotate the waist around.
  4. Swing the front of the vehicle back.
  5. Swing the robot arms out to the sides.
  6. Swing the robot head down.
  7. Flip the missile launcher ends up to form the robot feet.
  8. On the back of the robot feet, flip out the black pieces for added stability.

Robot Mode:
When I first saw the robot mode design for Onslaught, I liked the design, but something kept me thinking "There's something familiar here." and then I saw it: his feet. Seriously. Onslaught utilizes a similar lower leg design as the G1 Onslaught with a fairly rectangular foot section. Other than that, it's the colors that really give him any resemblance to his G1 predecessor. Here there is a fair mix of the light and dark greens, blue, black and silver. The silver is found in two forms: the flat, silver color of the plastic and metallic silver paint on the chest and robot head.

The sculpt for Onslaught is really nicely proportioned and designed. The head has a very unusual design, with a cylinder on either side of the face and a piece moving across the chin area. It looks like he's wearing some type of communication gear on his head. Very cool. The chest area has so many layers and details it's surprising. He has tube details on the sides, cross hatch on the center and small tech details on the waist.

Onslaught does not come with any weapons for himself. He can hold any Energon weapon in his fists and he has three Mini-Con Powerlinx points, two on his knees and one on his left shoulder. This gives him enormous potential to utilize both Energon weapons and Mini-Cons to take down his enemies. Very cool. Onslaught has sixteen points of articulation in this mode. He utilizes a lot of ratchet joints, so he has quite a bit of stability.

Final Thoughts (on Onslaught):
Onslaught is a very cool toy. Like his fellow team members, being part of Bruticus is simply a bonus. Had he been a stand alone toy (with some Energon weapons included of course) he would have rocked all the same.

Volter

"Volter" obviously refers to "Vortex", the name of the original G1 Combaticon helicopter. However, back in G1 and again in Superlink, the name was changed by Takara, perhaps to make it easier to read/say. Either way, this time around Volter is a redeco, not an original sculpt. In this case he is a redeco of Blast-Off. This section of the review will just focus on the changes made to the toy.

Vehicle Mode:
Interestingly, while Blast-Off is in the same range of colors as the original Vortex, Volter is nowhere close. His primary colors are orange, gold and brown. It sounds like these colors are a bit garish, but because the designers used more subdued tones, they actually work well. A bit of blue is used on the end of the helicopter cockpit and on the sides. The blue is an interesting choice as it does not really blend with the other primary colors, but rather just adds something to them that they wouldn't have otherwise.

Volter comes with the same weapon that Blast-Off does, however his weapon is easily distinguished since it has an orange center section. In keeping with the use of translucent blue plastic, the cockpit windows are translucent blue on Volter.

Robot Mode:
In robot mode, Volter shows off a bit more brown and gold on his arms and robot head. The helmet section of the head is brown, with translucent blue visor eyes and a gold face. Most of the blue winds up on the legs in this form, offering nice contrast.

Final Thoughts (on Volter):
Volter is made up of a nice set of colors, and if he was just a stand alone toy it would be fine. As a part of a group that pays homage to the G1 Combaticons however, it would have been nice if he was in say, the colors of G1 Blast-Off (since Blast-Off is already in G1 Vortex's colors). Still, this doesn't make Volter a bad toy at all.

Swindle

Swindle is a redeco of Brawl. Like Blast-Off, Swindle's name feels a bit misplaced here as he color scheme used on this toy feels a bit more like the scheme one would expect to see on an "updated" Brawl.

Vehicle Mode:
In vehicle mode, Swindle is a lot more subdued than Brawl. While Brawl is a rather strong green, Swindle is a drab olive green. Silver is used for highlighting details, and black can be found on the cannon barrels and the part of the turret with the Spark Crystal.

I actually prefer these colors as they look a bit more like the colors a real military would use (though I'm sure the military uses a wide range of greens). The silver is used nicely here, offering just enough to highlight parts without drowning out any green. I do wish that Swindle had been given a spray op on his cannons like Brawl. It would have added a bit to the gritty look of the colors. Still, this is definitely the better looking of the two
tanks.

Robot Mode:
Swindle is a much darker looking toy in robot mode. This is mainly due to the olive green and black which are both used liberally. A quick look at the legs indicates that Swindle is not just a straight one to one color replacement redeco. He actually has his own distinct paint pattern, with black paint used on most of his lower legs. Silver is still used on parts too such as the knees and robot face.

Swindle looks fantastic in robot mode. The sculpt is awesome, and the color scheme just tops it off.

Final Thoughts (on Swindle):
If I had to decide between Brawn and Swindle, I would pick up Swindle first. His dark look befits an evil warrior. Very nicely done.

Bruticus

They may be cool toys on their own, but ultimately you buy a gift set like this for the giant. In this case the giant is Bruticus, an updated version of a classic combiner.

Onslaught Transformation (from Robot Mode):

  1. Swing up the lower legs so that they overlap the upper legs, then swing the black heel pieces in to help lock things in place.
  2. Rotate the waist around.
  3. Swing out the three panels that make up the front of the vehicle mode.
  4. Fold the arms into an "L" shape, connecting the pegs on the shoulder pieces to the holes on the lower arms.
  5. Swing the robot head back.
  6. Swing the combiner head down.
  7. Swing the side panels forward so the two hinges overlap and snap the panels into place.

Blast-Off & Volter Transformation (from vehicle mode)

  1. Swing the robot legs out to the sides.
  2. Rotate the lower legs so the insides of the legs face up.
  3. Flip the foot pieces up.
  4. Rotate the waist around.
  5. Swing the end of the helicopter tail up.
  6. Fold the two rotor blades together.
  7. Swing the robot arms out, straighten them out, then swing them up.
  8. Swing the cockpit/arms section down on the central hinge, allowing you to move the connection joint used to link up with Onslaught.
  9. If you wish to form an arm, attach Blast-Off/Volter's weapon vertically to the holes on the underside of the feet.
  10. If you wish to form a leg, rotate the two outer cannons on the weapon back, then connect the holes on the underside of the feet to the pegs on the weapon, with the middle cannon facing forward.

Brawl & Swindle Transformation (from vehicle mode)

  1. Flip the radar dish portion of the Energon weapon back, and connect it to the two machine gun ports on the front of the tank to form the feet.
  2. To form a hand, fold the radar dish and the cannon barrels up and attach them to the machine gun ports in front.

Assembly:
Like Superion, Bruticus utilizes octagonal joints to join his team members into one robot. Like a majority of the G1 combiners, this allows you to mix and match limbs from within the team, or from other teams. This is the easiest phase of the transformation, just attach the limbs to the proper place and you're set!

Review:
Like his G1 predecessor, Bruticus cannot help but look like a mass of military machinery - primarily because that's exactly what he is! However, whereas G1 Bruticus had a very distinctive outline thanks to the various parts being so different, having two limbs match each other at any given point actually streamlines the look of this toy compared to G1 Bruticus. Nothing juts out or gets in the way. He looks pretty much as uniform as three distinct sculpts being slapped together into one giant can.

Not much here is new, in fact the only part of Bruticus that you haven't already seen in the individual members' forms is the robot head. What I really dig about this robot head is that it looks like a futuristic extrapolation of the original Bruticus head. G1 Bruticus had a large central crest, something used here. Next to his crest were two smaller parts that moved from the front of the head to the back. These are present as well. Where G1 Bruticus had straight antennae, Superlink Bruticus has horns on the sides. Where G1 Bruticus had a segmented mouthplate, the central part of Bruticus' mouthpplate is a triangular piece with grill lines (not too unlike a certain Star Wars Sith character...). The head design is fantastic as it evokes the original while being distinctive.

Thanks to the hinge joints each limb has, Bruticus winds up with twelve points of articulation. That is a lot for a combiner robot. It's not just the numbers, it's the type of articulation. For instance, the legs can bend at the knees, and swivel at the knee joint. The arms can swing outward and move up and down. This is all thanks to the joint design. What's impressive is that the joints work with the limbs as arms or legs. Kudos to the designers for creating something so simple, yet so effective.

In this pile of good cheer however is one bad thing. It is very easy to detach the Energon pieces that form the hands and feet. A couple times I would have Bruticus just standing there, I'd pick him up and a foot would still be on the table. This is mostly because they just don't attach very tightly. This is less of a problem with the arms since the parts just dangle there. But with the feet, if the kiddies play with this guy, the hands and feet are going to go flying.

Final Thoughts:
Bruticus is one awesome set of toys. The individual toys are a blast on their own, but their ability to make one big mech of destruction just sends it over the edge. I am subtracting points however for the "hands/feet" problem mentioned above. Still, I do recommend this set even if you just want to enjoy the individual toys.