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Transformers Bumblebee
by yo go re

Angry little man!

Brawn helps his Autobot allies hold the line against the Decepticons before being knocked by an enemy blast.

After the first test screenings of Bumblebee, audiences wanted more scenes on Cybertron. But it was so late in production, ILM's artists only had two months to finish the sequence. That meant there were only two weeks available for the concept phase, so the faster anything could get moved through the pipeline, the better - that's how we ended up getting Ratchet, for instance. Brawn, here, was the first Transformer Stephen Zavala designed for the new scenes, and it went through very few changes. Super easy, barely an inconvenience!

Although the movie was giving us designs that actually looked like recognizable robots for the first time, they weren't afraid to change some things around. Brawn, traditionally, has been a very square, blocky character, while this one is a lot more rounded. The studio shared the CAD files with Hasbro, to help them in making things as accurate as possible (within the restrictions of a physical toy, of course). There are a few elements that feel "G1-y," like the collar coming up behind his head to give him some more protection, or the existence of shoulder and hip armor.

It speaks to the strength of the redesign that, even being such a drastically different shape overall, giving us the right kind of head and the right colors made it clear who this was supposed to be. Brawn's head has always been fairly distinctive, a short, rounded helmet that leaves his face exposed, and that's what the movie delivered. There was a Brawn in the Revenge of the Fallen line, so this isn't his first movie toy, but this one looks much more like he used to.

Brawn is a little shorter than the other figures, but she still moves really well. It's hard to reach his head thanks to that giant horse collar, but it swivels, and then there are balljointed shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged shoulders, swivel wrists, swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swievl thighs, hinged knees, and rocker ankles. He's armed with a massive cannon, because he's overcompensating, and a handheld blade cone thing, because Hasbro wanted to pad out the packaging to justify the cost. Those can store on his back, but not very securely.

Converting Brawn is good fun. Lift his back panel and fold out the wheels, dip the head down, raise teh arms to the sides and rotate them 180°, tuck them into the body (with the holes on the insides of the forearms plugged into place in the roof), spin the waist around, turn the legs so the toes are pointing in, swing the shins around and plug the toes in place, then fold the legs under the bodt and clip the former knees into the sides of the front wheels.

Because the robot design is so round, Emiliano Santalucia had quite the task ahead of him, creating something that would still be suggestive of Brawn's blocky old design. It's still a truck, but it looks more like some sort of hauler than an off-roader like before. The windshield is clearly meant to be the same piece as the robot's collar, but that's been pretty severely cheated here, moving it to the back of the vehicle and doing nothing to hide the head inside it unless you attach the gun to the roof. The blade thing can plug into the front grille to become a drill, a reference to something Brawn used, like, two times forty years ago - not something worth wasting budget on, especially since the movie didn't show him with any such accessory. (It was the suggestion of Takara designer Hasui Shogo - we all know how Japan loves its obscure accessories.)

Brawn would have been better with a design closer to the concept art, but he's still one of the best Bumblebee releases yet.

-- 05/03/22

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