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Transformers: Prime
by yo go re

During the planning stages of Transformers: Prime, the writers planned to port Lugnut over to the new series, because they wanted a fiercely loyal brute; but they also wanted a Decepticon with a land-based altmode, so Lugnut was out and Breakdown was in.

Breakdown is a Decepticon bruiser, the sort of 'bot who gets a dirty job done well. Or rather he would be, if he didn't have a fear of crowds and a never-ending worry that everyone is out to get him. But megatron is the thing that scares Breakdown more than anything, and fear of punishment from the Decepticon leader means Breakdown will always follow his orders to the letter.

Breakdown, like the Jet Vehicon, is not available in the US because Hasbro says it won't fit into their pricepoints. All that does is prove how very little we actually know about toy production, because Breakdown doesn't look significantly bulkier or more complex than Bulkhead. Either there's something we're missing, or Hasbro is pulling a fast one.

The figure stands about 6" tall, though his head isn't the highest point on his body - it's set low on his body, to make him look bigger and stronger. It still manages to stand out, though, thanks to the fact that his face is bright red - the only such spot on the figure. His narrow yellow eyes are topped by a thick blue brow, and the entire face is framed by silver.

Breakdown may stand 6" tall, but he's also 5¾" wide. He's more boxy and less pointy than his fellow Decepticons, but it all adds to his character: he's a lumbering monster, not a stealthy speeder. He's Bane, not the Riddler, and by making him thick and squared off, he conveys "power" at a glance. He's got big, hoof-like feet to support his mighty frame, with heel struts sticking off the back for balance. The big sweeping blades that are attached to Breakdown's shoulders make him look really dangerous, and though there's a lot of kibble spread around, only a little of it is because of the toy rather than the cartoon design.

The increased size of the figure does not mean any loss of articulation. Breakdown has a balljointed head, balljointed shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees and hinged ankles. In the cartoon he can transform his hand into a giant hammer, and to duplicate that, you can flip the toy's hand over and plug in the included accessory. Well, once you assemble it.

Since this is a Takara release, that means two things: anything that's not a single solid color is achieved via the use of customer-applied stickers rather than factory-applied paint, and the character's main weapon is actually a Mini-Con. A Mini-Con you have to click together like a model kit. Breakdown's "Arms Micron" partner is Zamu, a chunky little rhinoceros with a single red eye in the center of his head. When you're building him, remember to put the Decepticon sticker on underneath the hexagonal crystal. Voice of experience.

To convert Breakdown, flip the hands away, then fold the elbows backwards - it's very hard to get them to bend that way, but it's right. Rotate the arms upward, and lift the entire chest over the head. Unfold the grill and tuck the shoulders into the cavity, then rotate the pieces into place: fenders first, then the doors. Turn the waist around, unhook the leg armor, retract the feet, and fold the legs away. Lower the rear end, and you're all done!

Breakdown's altmode is a large armored truck - it's like a bank truck modified for off-road use. It's big and blue, with a heavy-duty bumper and chunky tires. The truck is even more square than the robot was! The windows are small, giving you an idea of what scale this bad boy is. There are even side-view mirrors on the doors, and running board steps for the passengers to climb up! How neat! The truck is 5¾" long, 2⅞" high and 2⅝" wide.

He's also got a ton of weapon connection points all over the surface. We'll start with 5mm ports: three on each side, one on the hood, three four on the roof and one in the center of the spare tire. There are 5mm posts flanking the tire, and a C-clip mount on the upper corner. You can turn Breakdown into a rolling hedgehog of destruction!

Like we said, any detail in Breakdown's colors is created by decals, and that applies to the vehicle mode as well as the robot mode. Out here, that means headlights, windows, the stripes over the wheels and the entire rear bumper; inside, it's knees, feet and a little bit of faux kibble on the waist. The stickers are a little forgiving, if you don't get them in the right place the first time,
but they stick well. Clearly paint would have looked better, but this isn't bad.

We know that Breakdown doesn't really fit into Hasbro's pricing structure, but it's crazy that they would choose not to release one of the cartoon's main villains. Even if he was an overpriced store exclusive, that would be better than having to import him from Japan. This is a good toy, but it's way too hard for most fans to get. Breakdown makes a great foil for Bulkhead, and he looks excellent next to his hetero[citation needed] lifemate, Knock Out. But none of that means anything if you can't get your hands on him. If you do cave and order one from Japan, though, you won't be disappointed in the actual quality of Breakdown. The price, maybe... the fact that you have to do your own decorating, maybe... but not the quality.

-- 01/08/13

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