Monday, 6 April 2015

Revenge of the Fallen Breakaway

In the very beginning, one thing you could count on in the TransFormers toyline was that jets would be Decepticons. In the cartoon, it was even stated that Autobots couldn't fly unaided (though that didn't stop 'em, when the plot required it). That lasted until the Aerialbots turned up and, from that point on, it was a free-for-all in just about every continuity.

Jump forward to Revenge of the Fallen and, while there were still no flying Autobots in the movie (except right at the end, via a throwaway deus ex machina), the toyline was still filling out the character roster with a few additional Cybertronians picked out of the licensed videogame.

Vehicle Mode:
Breakaway disguises himself as something very much like an F-35 Lightning II, except that the wings and tail fins don't overlap. Plus it has the typical TransFormers jet beefed-up undercarriage though, all things considered, it's a rather lower-profile undercarriage than usual. It only really starts getting chunky under the wings and, even there, with rather more subtle molding, it could have been made fairly unobtrusive. It's only right at the back, where there are parts molded in a vaguely metallic cyan plastic, and they're fairly obviously folded-up robot feet. On the upside, this bulky undercarriage comes with free-rolling wheels, supplemented up front by a fold-out free-rolling landing gear. The novelty of having three free-rolling wheels goes some way to offset the visual shortcomings of the mold.

Unfortunately, the shortcomings don't end there. First of all, most of the plane is molded in a plastic the colour of exceptionally milky tea, the wings have vaguely greenish beige/darker, flatter green 'camouflage' patterns and the areas above the intakes have a curious coating of glossy brown paint. Just below the cockpit, there are exposed areas of weird, pale green. There are nice touches of silver on the flaps, tailfins and the afterburner, but this just leaves Breakaway looking rather jumbled. The fuselage also has four patches of the metallic cyan, though two are parts of the robot's weapon.

Perhaps the strangest feature of Breakaway's jet mode is that the robot head is perfectly visible inside the cockpit - there wasn't even a token attempt to disguise it by having a solid panel attached to the underside of the canopy - and the fact that it looks like a stylised pilot's helmet doesn't help.

This being the Revenge of the Fallen toyline, he doesn't come with any bulky, gimmicky weapons, nor does he have any 5mm ports for weapons supplied with other characters. It's rather a disappointment that he doesn't at least have a missile to mount under each wing - that kind of thing has been more or less a staple of TransFormers jets for ages... even the Leader class Starscream had that feature, even though he only came with one suitable missile... and even though the real-life plane concealed its missiles inside its fuselage...
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Robot Mode:
This is certainly an odd-looking robot... some of the design elements are familiar, even Seeker-like in execution, but the end result couldn't be more different. Much of his backpack is the top of the jet mode, only compressed such that the wings and tailfins do actually overlap, albeit very slightly. Given this arrangement of the wings, and with the afterburner intact and positioned on his back, it looks as though Breakaway is equipped to fly in robot mode as well. While the arms and legs appear to be in a sensible position relative to each other, Breakaway's head is tiny and appears to protrude from the middle of his chest. He also has a pair of proportionally very large feet - almost rivalling the ginormous hooves of Optimus Prime.

Robot mode reveals rather more of the metallic cyan and pale green plastic than is really good for Breakaway - he looks as though his paint job comes largely from leftover pastel colours that no-one else wanted. Hasbro seem to have taken their cues from the concept art, but dramatically increased the surface area using the colours only hinted at in the source. If only the jet mode was silver or grey rather than 'weak tea'-coloured, the metallic cyan wouldn't look as incongruous... but the green is terribly out of place and probably wouldn't fit any paint job. The only paintwork unique to robot mode is a small patch of beige on his upper groin flanked by a couple of thin green lines, plus the minimal paintwork on the head.

While jet mode was apparently unarmed, Breakaway's right arm is packing a Gatling gun, which is also one of his Mech Alive features - by rolling the wheel embedded in his forearm, the barrels of the Gatling rotate with a very subtle, plastic click. The upper arms also feature Mech Alive detailing - merely rotating the elbow causes the green gear in each bicep to turn. It's not the most impressive Mech Alive feature out there, but this is a fairly small Deluxe.

Breakaway's head sculpt is, as mentioned earlier, rather reminiscent of a flight helmet, albeit with beady goggles. I'm not a great fan of these sorts of head sculpts, considering the amazing detail of the robot faces in the movie, and Breakaway's doesn't even really work as a G1 reference as far as I'm aware. I can't help but think robot mode would have looked better if the head was connected to the rear section of canopy, and so in a higher, more natural position. While he has a separate piece of plastic which runs from the back of his head to his eyes, it's either molded in or painted opaque blue - the only use of that colour in the entire mold.

Due to the way he transforms, he does look rather gappy in his torso and, from some angles, he looks as though a jet simply crash-landed into his back.
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Breakaway's transformation is simple and intuitive - similar in a lot of ways to the old 'cyberjet' model prevalent in G2/Machine Wars, but better executed. There are a couple of points, when getting the nose and wings into place in either mode, that it feels as though something is going to break, but that hasn't happened yet... and it seems to just be an odd bit of molding on the hinge below the jet's intakes. I've done a bit of modification to my Breakaway, to allow the nose to sit lower and the head to sit higher in robot mode, since both barely move on the stock figure.

For such an odd looking robot, he's certainly quite mobile and surprisingly stable, thanks to those enormous, four-toed feet and ankle joints that pivot from side to side as well as back and forward. He further benefits by an upper-thigh rotation joint that connects to his hip ball joint. The molding of the hip limits its range somewhat, but it works well enough.  The arms have elbows that bend and rotate, the shoulders are dual hinges that function just as well as ball joints, and he even has a pinned wrist joint which isn't absolutely necessary for transformation. Ball joints there might have been better, but it's not a bad effort overall. What's strange is that Breakaway has a waist joint that's rendered useless by proper transformation. It's not as if the joint is required to switch him between jet and robot modes, but the swinging strut that connects to his tail section basically comes out from between his robo-buttocks and clips into his spine. There's also a pair of flappy things - possibly air-brakes - which connect via a separate hinge at the knee, just to make him that little bit more dynamic.

Breakaway is a flawed but very interesting mold. I'm a big fan of most of the less humanoid robot designs from the movie universe, and this one is fun and original - there's even something slightly GERWALK about it, although that doesn't appear to have been intentional. In a more suitable colourscheme and with a more interesting head sculpt, the mold has a lot of potential.

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