GeneralsJoes Reviews Transformers: Combiner Wars Swindle and Brawl

I was greatly looking forward to getting my hands on Combiner Wars Brawl, a great looking tank that most assuredly, as the only completely new Combaticon, would be another great addition to my Transformers display.

What were my thoughts once I got him (and Swindle) in hand?

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Transformers: Combiner Wars Swindle

This review brought to you by the fine folks at Entertainment Earth!

Entertainment Earth

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Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve always understood Swindle to be probably the most famous of the Combaticons, and one of the characters that has somewhat transcended his role as merely one part of the larger whole. That might be just because of my fascination with Transformers: Animated and the fact that he had such a distinct role there, but that’s the impression that I get.

Hasbro does a good job of taking the classic elements of Swindle and integrating them a bit more into an effective “combat” vehicle, using a healthy helping of Rook, but adding some very nice tweaks with some rollbars and more identifiable “Jeep” parts. The result is a bulky, armored combat jeep that manages to maintain all the hallmarks of the vintage original, yet plenty of more modern power while they’re at it.

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One of the best parts of the figure is the new head sculpt, which is chock full of that Swindle arms dealer character. With his trademark purple “sunglasses” and grimace, the head and face definitely resemble the Swindle that we know and love. He’s got a very unique head that is translated quite nicely to plastic form here, and I love it.

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With a nice mixture of orangish/brown, Hasbro takes some queues from the vintage version and both the vehicle and robot look the part. It certainly helps that Rook is one of my favorite base figures, too, and I’m really glad they’re leveraging him for both Swindle and Hound. It makes for a great base, and with just the right tooling tweaks, they look separate enough to work nicely.

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Swindle is pretty great. I daresay he’s the highlight of this wave of Deluxes for me, easily pushing aside Brawl, who I just assumed would be my odds on favorite.

Transformers: Combiner Wars Brawl

This review brought to you by the fine folks at Entertainment Earth!

Entertainment Earth

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Out of all the deluxe Combaticons, Brawl was probably the one I looked forward to most, simply due to his alt mode. As a G.I. Joe fan, I really dig seeing Transformers geared up as true military machines, even though I break out in hives thinking of the twisted up scale of some of these vehicles.

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Brawl is the one completely new figure amongst this crew of repaints, and in vehicle mode, I love it. The tank looks cool and distinct, standing out among the crowd, impressing with its armor and cannon when intermingled with repainted pick up trucks, scrawny fighter jets and sports cars. Brawl means business.

Unfortunately, once you get Brawl into robot mode, it starts to feel like maybe Brawl is going out of business. At first glance, he looks great. Broad shouldered, stocky, and very aggressive looking. Pretty much how you’d expect a tank that turns into a robot to look. But once you start posing him, you run into some annoying problems. His shoulders are connected at a very restrictive shoulder joint, connecting stubby arms directly to his torso, and limited his arm movements by a considerable margin. The result is a figure that can do little more than flap his arms or rotate them very close to his body. At the waist, there’s no real connecting joint either, so the top half of the figure just kind of floats there and doesn’t hold together, so he’s constantly pulling apart and is tough to move into a really nice pose. It’s disappointing, because these are two pretty key issues that, from a design standpoint, Hasbro has overcome, at least until now.

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Throughout the bulk of the Combiner Wars line, they’ve (almost magically) been able to mesh design with articulation, and give us two very effective modes without sacrificing play factor. In the case of Brawl, they don’t quite succeed, which is all the more frustrating since this is the only newly tooled figure of the wave. The hope would be that this one newly tooled figure would be great enough to rise above all the repaints, when in fact, it ends up drawing the rest of the wave down a bit.

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I love the colors, I love the concept, I desperately want to enjoy Brawl, but the fact remains that he’s the wave’s greatest disappointment, which is extremely unfortunate.