Thursday, 3 October 2013

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2013 (Timelines) Breakdown

So far, the output from the TFCC Subscription Service has been variable. On the whole, I've basically got what I expected, though the last one, Circuit, was a pleasant surprise.

Breakdown, meanwhile, is a bit of a sore point. Most of the figures in the set are straight repaints, with a couple of remolded heads, but the molds delivered thusfar have all been fairly new and interesting (at least to me). Breakdown is not just the billionth re-use of the Sunstreaker/Sideswipe mold from 2008, it's been used for two Club Exclusives already, one of which was the G2 version of Breakdown, so his inclusion in the 2013 Subscription Service seems very cynical.

Still, it can't be all bad... can it?

Vehicle Mode:
What you have here is the full, original version of this mold, with the roof-mounted... thing. I've never been entirely sure what it's supposed to be, other than the protruding supercharged engine of Sunstreaker, re-imagined as a small attachment. I guess on Breakdown it's the vehicle mode weapon - a 'modular vibro-projection engine', according to the bio card.

It's still a nice, sleek mold but, with so many other usages of this vehicle, both mainstream and Club Exclusive, it just seems rather tired... not to mention outclassed by some of the figures that have come along in the five years since it made its debut.

The colourscheme is obviously very Breakdown - the creamy colour of the majority of the car is pleasant enough but it's flat colour - no metallic flake or pearl effect - and the blue paint, while used sparingly, evokes the simplistic molding of the original very well. He has the traditional red trapezoid on his bonnet, but the lion's share of the detailed paintwork turns up at the back, which has a blue bumper, silver framing, black background paint and red indicator lights - the kind of thing Hasbro generally skimps on, but which the Club sometimes does very well. There's an additional blue flash on the inside of the molded 'scoop' details on his sides, which does a fair job of breaking the monotony of the side views, but the weirdest use of paint is on the outside surfaces of the headlights - painted cream, to match the surrounding area. Now, granted, G1 Breakdown was molded with his headlights retracted... but that's no reason to disguise them here. Frankly, I'd have much preferred silver on the insides... but you can't have everything. This is how the Club painted their G2 Breakdown... and Punch/Counterpunch.

Robot Mode:
Now, I've only got two other usages of this mold, and I'm already bored of it - Sunstreaker and Sideswipe are sufficient, thankyouverymuch. I also saw no reason for releasing G2 Breakdown if the Club weren't also going to attempt a Classics G2 Stunticons set... but I can see a small measure of sense to this version, since there was a semi-exclusive/premium version of G1 Drag Strip, repainted from Classics Mirage, and a Henkei version of Wildrider repainted from Classics Hot Rod/Rodimus. Dead End has appeared in several other guises but, strangely, not in Classics.

All the reuses of the mold may prove how adaptable it is, but for the club to do a straight G1 repaint of one of their other exclusives is just cheap. Perhaps that's to be expected in the first year of the Subscription Service, but it's still very disappointing. It's also not really the best mold to use for Breakdown, especially not in the default/prescribed configuration, because the car's bonnet was on his back on the G1 model, and the roof/windscreen makes for a terrible chest on this model.

The Club has always had a mixed reputation for its head sculpts - some have been excellent, or at least imaginative... while others have been dire. This is one of the latter, because it's too close to be boxy shape of the original, while simultaneously getting the details all wrong. The original had a three-panel visor, while this sculpt takes the 'large, square sunglasses' route. The Club also seems to have a thing about giving their 'male' characters very defined lips (BotCon 2012's Gigatron, anyone?), and Breakdown has a very curious protruding bottom lip above his jutting, oblong chin. It's both a surprise and a disappointment that they didn't go with the animation model's head design, which would have been completely inaccurate to the original toy, but far more interesting than this block.

One thing this mold does fairly well is transforming smoothly. The shoulders/front wheels can be a pest - and certainly seem moreso on this latest use of the mold than they were on the first two - but, by and large, its a fairly solid and simple set of movements, and everything connects nicely.

It was also one of the most poseable Classics molds when it first came out, and still sits in the top few. The feet can be a little awkward and the ball joints on the shoulders don't offer much outward movement, but he's still pretty dynamic. On the downside, whether it's through excessive reuse of the mold or just QC issues, several parts of my Breakdown are extremely floppy - notably one ankle and both of the transformation 'knee' joints. The robot's knees are fine... but he has a habit of becoming a bit bow-legged or knock-kneed due to the second joint. I'm also rather dubious of the way the head sculpt includes a squared-off neck, since this inhibits the head's movement on its ball joint.

I wasn't expecting much from Breakdown, and he's the figure I was least looking forward to, but he's such an unimaginative choice for the début year of the Subscription Service. Coming after a figure that turned out to be a pleasant surprise, Breakdown would have been more appropriately named 'Letdown'. Even his bio card is a disappointment, because it refers to all kinds of things from associated fiction I'm not even aware of, let alone well versed in, and says very little about the character himself.

This fellow will stand on my TFCC/Exclusives shelf, but FansProject's Car Crash is my 'real' Classics Breakdown.


  1. I must admit that when I heard of Breakdown being in the sub, I was pretty unexcited to say the least. The G2 version for Botcon a few years ago got away with horrid colours and the hook to Botcon's of the past. This guy though, just seems kind of disappointing.

    That bio, GAH! It hurt my eyes to read it! Did they just try and cram as many made-up words as they possibly could in there? At least the comma count is down I guess.

    1. He's certainly the filler of the bunch... Well, him and Scourge/Nemesis Prime (which has, itself, had a couple of reuses by the Club in the short time the mold has been available), but this one really is the lowest point of the first year of the Subscription Service.

      I'm beginning to wonder what the point of the bio cards is. They're mostly poorly written and the figures rarely seem to turn up in the Club fiction - I'd hoped the 2013 storyline would include more than Ultra Mammoth and Depth Charge - but unless they come up with an overarching theme for the Subscription Service - such as those they use for BotCon sets - that would be next to impossible. That said, there are pages of a comic featuring next year's figures turning up online sporadically... Maybe they just didn't have time to sort out this year's fiction... in the six extra months it took them to roll out the figures...