Friday, 20 March 2020

War for Cybertron: Siege Brunt

'Brunt' has to be one of the best names ever to grace the TransFormers toyline, right along with 'Scourge' and 'Dirge'. The word means "the worst part or chief impact of a specified thing" and is a very apt monkier for a tank with such an enormous cannon, which can split up to form additional components of the G1 Trypticon toy.

Pretty much my fondest desire, when the concept of Weaponisers turned out to be reimagined versions of all the partsformers packaged with the G1 city-bots, was for a Siege Brunt that paid worthwhile homage to the original. It didn't take long for the first pictures to emerge and, for me, Brunt became the real must-have of the line, even though there are already more than enough tanks in my collection, let along the toyline as a whole.

Since I already have the G1 version, let's take a look at this newer, more elaborate homage to partsforming...

Vehicle Mode:
One look at Brunt is all you need to know that he's a heavy-hitter. His cannon is almost as big as the vehicle driving it around, and the treads are seriously hefty - perfect for rolling right over the rubble created by his firepower.

The tank itself is largely purple - much like the G1 original, albeit a far darker, richer shade with very subtle hints of metallic sparkle - while the tread sections are grey. The sculpted detail is quite modest compared to other Siege figures, but far more intricate than that of the G1 toy, even within its many callback details, such as the armour around the treads. What I like about the sculpted detail here is that it all looks functional and/or intentional where, on some other Siege figures, it looks like detail for the sake of detail. The tank is clearly made up of great chunks of armour featuring little more than panel lining, while the base of the turret features recessed cabling details. Even the rounded protrusions from either side of the cannon - which look almost as if they were designed to accommodate hinges - are referencing similar details of the G1 toy, though those protruded forward, below the orange tip and so are significantly reduced here. The treads are clearly and cleanly defined, such that they barely need the meagre application of gunmetal paint they have been granted, and I quite like the way the front treads are designed to look like two sets of treads on each side, with the free-rolling wheels to allow the toy to roll are embedded in a flat, featureless surface between each pair. I was also very impressed to see the piston rod sticker detail of the G1 toy represented here with painted, sculpted detail on the treads' outer armoured panels.

Where the original G1 toy featured only three stickers - the aforementioned piston rod on each side, plus a box of random tech detail on the underside of the cannon - Siege Brunt has a fair few paint applications, including headlights and grilles on the front, floodlights on the sides, and highlight panels on the top and bottom of the cannon. It's not a massive amount of paintwork, with precious little variation in colour, and still leaves quite a bit of empty surface area to be covered with Reprolabels, but it works well. It is also worth mentioning that Reprolabels' efforts bizarrely replicate the G1 toy's piston rod sticker detail on an armour panel right above the Siege toy's sculpted piston rod, rather than adding colour to the existing sculpted detail!. He has a Decepticon insignia on the left side of the front of the vehicle, and his red visor is just visible poking out of the top, seemingly making the dome of his head a reference to the shallow dome protrusion, further back on the top of the G1 toy.

Arguably one of the other great features of this toy is its minimal 'battle damage' paint applications, amounting to a very slight dry-brushing of silver on the armour panels over each of the front treads. They're barely noticeable for the most part, and likely easy to remove, should that seem necessary. The painted 'scuffing' seems to have proven so contentious that Hasbro have entirely abandoned it for Earthrise.

Naturally, this toy doesn't feature an LED in its cannon, but it still seems like a shame the tip of the barrel is opaque grey plastic painted metallic orange rather than being translucent orange like the original. I don't think it'd be possible for a Third Party company to add a light feature to the front of the cannon without remolding the entire left lower leg along with the orange tip, as there's a screw fastening right where an embedded LED would need to be. I guess a tiny, flat LED could be wedged in there with minor modifications, but it might prove simpler to create a modified version of the TTC-CR component (the grey barrel attached to the righthand side of the cannon) to house the necessary electronics.

All that said, the most significant advantage this toy has over the original Brunt is that its turret actually turns.


Robot Mode:
There's something a little reminiscent of Beast Machines Tankor to Brunt's robot mode, and it's hard to believe it's not at least a little bit intentional. From the simple, comparatively featureless head to the shoulder-mounted weapon and the enormous crab-claws there are distinct similarities in the design cues, despite a very different execution. Both are extremely heavy-set and clearly intended to deliver a powerful blow against their enemies. Both are bipedal, though you get the impression that both would prefer to move around in their vehicle modes. Both are equally imposing in either form.

Most of the sculpted detail on show here was already visible in vehicle mode, with only the upper leg details having been covered over by the tank's turret panel, and the details on the 'insides' of the elbows having been concealed within the tank. Many of Brunt's components are just as boxy as those of other Siege figures I've complained about but, on Brunt, even that looks intentional - everything about him says 'heavily armoured' and, while the lower legs seem very squared-off from the front, there's a subtle depth to the detailing, not to mention bevelling of the corners, which seeems to have been absent on the likes of Starscream. It's actually quite interesting to look back on the Siege toyline now, with Earthrise coming out, as there's a clear delineation between certain sets of figures - those which are very boxy an excessively detailed to the point of being downright ugly, and those which aren't.

As with the sculpted detail, there's very little paintwork visible on Brunt's robot mode that wasn't apparent on the vehicle, and it's in much the same places - the upper leg details feature applications of silver paint, and there's purple paint on the circular details on the inner face of Brunt's elbows. Having the floodlights on his shoulders makes for quite a menacing appearance, since he'd effectively be blinding any opponent in front of him, while the applications of silver on his shins help to break up and define the multiple layers of armour. What's really good about the sculpted detail here - aside from the fact that it's far more intricate than that of the G1 toy, yet reined in compared to much of the Siege line - is that it cleverly serves the requirements of both vehicle and robot modes, to the point where it almost looks as though Brunt has a more complex transformation than he really does.

Considering how gappy a lot of the Siege (and Earthrise) figures have been, it's nice to see there are no cavernous parts on Brunt. His inner thighs feature strange bevelled slots, but even these seem intentional, as if there's an accessory somewhere that can plug into them. Granted, he doesn't look quite so good from the back if you remove the turret base panel... but, even without that, he doesn't look hollow, it's just that his largest transformation joint is exposed.

Weapons-wise, Brunt - surprisingly - kind of drew the short straw. Since the bulk of his tank cannon now forms his legs he only has the cannon's metallic orange tip and the grey side attachment to wield in robot mode and, by default, these are to be mounted on his shoulder - left or right, and the jury is out on which is supposed to be the 'correct' position - and end up pointing upward. The pegs are too short to allow him to wield this weapon as a handgun via his claws, but it can also be plugged into the 5mm ports on his forearms or, if you're feeling especially wierd, those on his legs.

Despite the lack of humanoid features on Brunt's head, I find the sculpt somehow rather cute... almost like he as a Dalek as a HeadMaster, thanks to the dome-like crown. The silver-painted grille acting as both 'mouth' and 'nose' is very BM Tankor, but they he has recessed 'cheek' panels set within his protruding collar. I'm assuming the red-painted visor is meant to wrap fully around his head, but the back of his head represents the sole evidence of Hasbro going cheap on his construction, with two slots cut into the very top of the head. Considering how solidly-built he is everywhere else, this seems a little petty, to say the least.


Weaponiser Mode:
Brunt comes with only two Weaponiser loadouts specified in his instructions. The 'Demolition Loadout' is the fairly typical Siege Weaponiser form, with ridiculous 'shoes' made out of Brunt's arms, a shield made out of his turret panel, and the rest of him used to form weapons which are referred to only by abbreviated 'TTC' (TrypTiCon) designations. One is the combined form of the TTC-AD, -CR and -CMA, which is a large, arm-mounted gun, while the other is an over-the-shoulder cannon, designated TTC-HP, which takes most of his tank cannon and mounts it on a backpack created out of Brunt's lower half. The 'shoes' and shield are the weakest parts here, which should come as no surprise, and they're not especially useful on Flywheels - the only other Siege figure I currently have available - due to his heel spurs getting on the way of Brunt's shoulder bulk, no matter how it's oriented. The guns actually look pretty good, with the arm-mounted gun reminding me a little of G1 Galvatron's primary weapon.


The so-called 'Serpentine Loadout' looks more like construction equipment than battle gear - almost like an Aliens-style Powerloader attachment made out of Brunt's legs and arms. The stock configuration - with the knee joints facing forward - feels rather flawed, in that the arms have very limited forward reach via the hip joints, since both of the arm joints bend in the same direction, and the bicep swivel joint isn't very helpful. This way, the arms seem designed more for self-defense or self-maintenance, rather than for grasping/attacking enemies. While counterintuitive, keeping the backpack in much the same configuration as the 'Demolition Loadout' allows the arms to reach forward by angling the hips forward and the knees back, then the arm joints can deal with the fine-tuning of the claws' positions. The main drawback with this loadout is that the peg used to attach him to other Siege figures is on the end of a rather weak hinge so, not only is the figure automatically going to become back-heavy, but the backpack will be inclined to slowly lean backward itself, exacerbating the problem.


Despite the fact that Brunt is very much a partsformer, he's not without interesting features in his transformation. Unlike the others, his upper and lower halves can remain connected between tank and robot modes, and some parts are sculpted such that they are ideally used in one specific position. The lower legs, for example, connect in vehicle mode via a peg that folds out of one foot and slots into sockets in the other. Then, while the cannon can attach to the turret either way round, since the pegs required appear on the back of both lower leg components, the slot in the front of the turret is there to accommodate the peg on the back of the right lower leg, thus preventing the cannon from sagging. This also puts the socket on the sides of the cannon at the back on the right and at the front on the left, and the TTC-CR component is intended to attach on the right side, closer to the back of the cannon. While it's not exactly innovative, I like the way the head seems to sink into the body just by hinging back as the chest hinges upward. One strange aspect of his partsforming is that the arms switch sides between robot and vehicle modes, with the floodlights on the shoulders partially concealing the robot's slim waist area.

Ignoring the fact that the arms and lower legs are actually designed to detach, articulation on this figure is excellent. All the usual joints are there, and the legs in particular have quite a surprising range of movement in all directions. I very much appreciate than the removeable lower legs grant him knee rotation in addition to, but entirely independent of his upper-hip rotation. As with most Siege figures, his ankle articulation is side-to-side only, but it offers a full 90° range, and the other leg joints can mostly compensate of the lack of up/down tilt. Brunt's claws can, theoretically, grip weapon pegs, but they'd need to be longer than average to reach due to his bulky forearms.

Brunt is very cleverly designed for a partsformer, with the vehicle mode's side-mounted floodlights ending up facing forward on his shoulders, the cannon's shielding panels becoming his knee pads, and his claw 'thumbs' coming out between the pairs of treads on his forearms. Where Seige Sixgun was created based on an unconvincing robot built out of G1 Metroplex's spare weapon accessories, Brunt is derived from four minimally-detailed chunks of purple plastic and a huge electronic cannon which never had a robot mode. A huge amount of careful thought and consideration has gone into his robot mode, making for - I think - a far superior toy to Sixgun.

That said, as with Sixgun, there are issues with the fit of certain parts. The shoulders and left knee are nice and snug, but the right knee connection, while not loose to the point that it falls off, is far less firm. The orange cannon tip is fairly loose in just about every 5mm port on the figure but, again, not to the point where it would simply fall off. There's also a rather dubious bit of construction related to transformation, in that his forearms extend at the elbow, with the bicep held together by a mushroom peg in an open slot... and it sometimes feels as though that rotation joint might give before the forearm extends.

Brunt is easily my favourite Siege figure, despite the fact that I may never have any other figures worth connecting him to. To be honest, I bought him as much as a companion for my G1 Trypticon, supplementing the existing partsforming tank rather than wholly replacing it. The hook here was that he now has a robot mode which looks fantastic in its own right, while paying homage to the G1 plastic chunks and, to a lesser extent, the concept of transforming tank drones, like Tankor from Beast Machines (Brunt, after all, didn't even get a mention in Trypticon's Tech Specs). I'd almost be tempted to troop-build with Brunt, except that I have neither the space nor the finances for such an exercise and, since my interest in the War for Cybertron series doesn't look as if it's going to grow a great deal, there's really no point in my having more than one of any of the Weaponisers that interest me... And that's even taking into account the amazing gestalts being fan-made out of multiple copies of the Weaponiser figures.

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