Not too long ago, I updated the Fwooshdom on the status of not one, not two, but THREE different Brainstorms coming from some of the heavyweights of the Third Party industry. And, in a twist surprise worthy of James Roberts, ToyWorld got theirs out first!
Now, straight up, I am a ToyWorld fanboy — no point in denying it. I have everything they’ve done thus far except Hegemon, and I don’t think I can avoid him forever. But how Brainwave jumped ahead of the third Throttlebot, or Orion, or anybody else’s Brainstorm, is one of those things maybe only the magic briefcase can answer. I don’t know.
But, hey, you know what? I’m glad he did. The ten-cent review: big, impressive figure with the craziest un-photographical color teal you’ve ever seen, damn-near perfect and solid, with a couple of funky quirks that are just fickle enough to keep him out of my top 5.
For the full-price review, we’ll get into a little exposition, character history — that kinda thing. Feedback tells me you guys like it, I like doing it, so I’ll keep it up.
Brainstorm is another third season alumni I have a certain soft spot for. Part of the 1987 lineup like his predecessor Hardhead (or Hardbone in Toyworld-speak), he was an indispensable part of my Autobot strike teams, owing in no small part to his better-than-most articulation and aircraft alt mode. In proper canon, though, he was considerably less interesting. In the Headmasters three-parter, he and his Headmaster partner Arcana were the driving force behind all the head-named Autobots putting weird green dudes in their noggins. That’s about it. Marvel did about the same, but with Mole Man driving, and the Japanese series … you know what? Screw all that.
Brainstorm became awesome in about the last five or so years of IDW comics. Taking his G1 toy bio much more seriously, and hilariously, Brainstorm is a genius tinkerer who isn’t about to let things like “ethics” or “morals” get in the way of showing how much better a scientist he is than Perceptor. He doesn’t have times for your petty “shoulds” or “safeties” or any of that nonsense! He’s busier than you’ve ever been and doing more important things than you’ve ever done!
In my head, he sounds like Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear. He’s just sophisticated enough to keep you thinking he knows what he’s doing, and just refined enough to make doing things like punching dickhead CNN pundits in the face sound like totally acceptable scientific process.
Anyway, as far as figures go, Brainstorm came out pretty good from G1. And ToyWorld did a classy job updating it without losing some of its better elements. The vehicle mode is a little X-Wing-ish, like everybody says, but it pays homage to the original’s mode something fierce, and their changing the stabilizers to wings is pretty cool. I especially like the option of placing his photon pulse cannons on the sides of the nose, giving him frontal firepower and canards just like G1.
Let’s talk color for just a second here. I messed around with the camera settings a bit, trying to get a decent representation, but let’s leave it at this: he is NOT blue. When I opened him up, I started to think I got a different figure than everybody else. His color is very close to the original, maybe just a little more vibrant. But goooood luck trying to get that from pictures. It is really cool looking in person, though.
Transformation to robot is nice and direct, with just some pulling and twisting to get the arms in place. Robot mode is just shy of excellent — he’s got great voyager/ultra class size, lots of articulation (ankle tilt!), and some cool features. The biggest issue I’ve seen so far, and it’s not a very big one at that, is his shoulders don’t peg in securely. The truth is, though, the gray plastic section between his chest and arms is plenty strong enough for posing, so after a little messing with it, I just leave them unpegged. Other quibbles include some blockage of his elbow swivel when trying to raise his arms — you’ve got to have them lined up, otherwise the forearm hits a super-tight clickety joint on his neck swivel. Those are fairly small complaints, but when you’re talking at least $100, it’s worth mentioning.
Extras are pretty slick, though. Among them, his wings are very articulated, so while I’m obviously a fan of the neutral look of having them on his back a la the Seekers, you can point them forward, upside-down, whatever works for you. And to add to those flight poses, he has small maneuvering thrusters hidden in panels on the back of his legs. And if the dogfighting gets up close and personal, he stows a couple of curved daggers in his shins. Excellent. Also, like in vehicle mode, there’s no shortage of pegs for his cannons, but I like them attached to his forearms. The faux-cockpit on his chest also opens, which made sneaking my notorious Cybertron glow Autobot logo in there very easy. All this adds up to subtle but effective play value, and I dig it.
While I think I’m a little more a fan of the sleeker IDW look, this Brainstorm has a pretty good mix of modern and G1 elements, so I’m overall very pleased with his aesthetics. Even the head sculpt is better in person than I had anticipated; the only downfall there is that the light-piping is completely obscured by the headmaster’s legs. He scales-up perfectly with Hardhead and adds some much needed in-between size to my Autobots, being slightly taller than Springer, sufficiently bigger than the Masterpiece cars, and coming up to Masterpiece Prime’s chest. All that’s left is locating a proper briefcase, and I can scratch off one staple of the Lost Light.