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Highbrow is the other figure in this assortment that carries forward engineering from an earlier figure. In this case it's Scourge. It's a lot less evident than it was with Chromedome and his Combiner Wars cousins, but it's here when you know where to look.
The hands, the thighs, the thin part of the feet - they're heels on Highbrow, and toes on Scourge. There's also less obvious parts, like a small bit of the jointing in the biceps. And when you pull them apart, they have the same spinal column used in transformation.
But basically everything else about Highbrow is new. But that's maybe not the good news.
There are definitely issues with this figure. Prominent are the helicopter rotors. They're unable to collapse in any way, can't fold or lock in a position. They just are always there, hanging around, getting in the way and looking kinda bad. I feel like they're a symptom of a bit more substantial problem, but that'll come back around in a little bit.
Highbrow's sculpting is top notch. There's a wealth of surface detail especially in the torso and arms.
The legs are more on the plain side, but still visually involved enough to fit in.
The deco isn't very involved for the most part. It mostly relies on the plastic colors to be right in the right places. The pelvis is a notable exception having a not particularly matching grey paint applied to tie in with the grey legs. It becomes an issue because the major surfaces of the body don't get to have much color detail and so end up looking a bit underdone.
The arms have a little bit picked out, and that looks nice. But apart from the pelvis and the different bit of blue on the kneecaps, little of the paint on the toy exists in service of the robot mode, and the majority is not applied in a way that makes it stand out.
Highbrow has a movable panel in the chest. It recreates some of the shape of the G1 toy's torso. It's a little too easy to unintentionally push back in, to a degree that can get just a bit annoying. On the other hand, it does absolutely nothing in any functional capacity, so if you don't want to bother with it or prefer the aesthetics, it's fine to leave flat with the chest.
The shoulders have these great big ball joints. Despite being seated pretty deep, they give a lot of room to move. The shoulders structurally do not, however. Highbrow has that Blurr thing where you'll probably smack the head a lot posing the arms. The transformation hinges are usable, but their contribution level is perhaps questionable.
The elbows do single hinge action well, and the bicep swivel works as expected. The wrists are not in fact poseable, but it's as good to note here as anywhere that they don't lock in any meaningful sense and are able to pivot to either side of aligned with the arm.
No waist joint. In their natural range the hips feel a little limited going forward. But the spinal column can pull down just a bit to give them a bit more space without looking weird.
That's true of the outward movement too, but the default range there is just fine. No surprises in the thigh swivels, and the knees get the have a deep bend. But at the cost of no cover piece for the back. Finally, there's no useful articulation in the feet.
Now, Highbrow is based on Scourge's engineering, and sadly another of the carryovers is the open neck clip. Thus Highbrow bobbleheads just as badly. In this case, you can reverse the Titan Master's head and get a better connection. But the tiny face is also perfectly visible in there, if that's gonna bother you.
I like Highbrow's face sculpt. Good representation, and the lines are all strong and sharp and everything has pleasing proportions. Plus I love the gunmetal helmet.
Xort - which is to say Trox in a mirror - is built on Fracas's body sculpt. The head is new though, and has a little paint. So that's nice.
Less nice, this example has rather loose joints in the legs. They catch enough to stand, but in any other position they have no real grip at all. It's not a huge big deal in head mode since they're folded around anyway, but the head shape can and will distort in the course of trying to pose, or maybe even on installation. Hopefully it's one off QC and the run in general doesn't experience this problem.
With Highbrow decapitated, we can go right to transformation.
Fold the fists away, pull the lower body down, turn the legs outward 90 degrees, and fold in the heels.
Now collapse the legs, and get ready for an annoying part.
Like Scourge there are guide slots here, and tabs on the legs that go in them. Unlike Scourge, there's no elegant way to bring this together, thanks to this tab and slot on the shins. One side or the other has to be forced in, there's no way around it. Anyway.
The arms pull down a little, and tab in here, and on the legs.
Push in the chest if you haven't earlier, and then bring the cockpit around.
First thing I'm gonna talk about is these helicopter blades. If you didn't catch it before, they're bent.
REALLY bent. They're nylon exactly so they will bend instead of immediately breaking, but when carelessly jammed in packaging, they end up permanently warped.
Stupidly, the rotors are placed so that they also cross each others path of movement. If both spun, they'd hit each other. I guess the warping is a benefit in this case? But like, placed where they can't spin, giving up on having them be free moving pieces and instead fixed in a position could have been better and maybe made for keeping them out of the way in robot mode too. But I said close to the start that these were symptoms of a bigger problem, right? The arms just don't have a clue what they're doing here.
They're sat outboard from the body, which is not by itself terrible. The arms looking completely tacked on and non-integral IS a bad thing. These intake vents don't line up to anything.
And there are obvious gaps between the arms and body farther back. Yeah, there's rotors and winglets that the helicopter needs, but in every other respect, they feel like they have nothing to do with the helicopter. This is an awful instance of needing to dispose of robot parts within the vehicle and simply giving up and leaving them where they were. Combiner Wars Aerialbots to the next degree.
But nothing about this helicopter is particularly good. The body proportions are weird starting with the huge tail volume but tiny stabilizer and tail rotor.
If you took the cockpit and about half the body length behind it in isolation, things would look okay. But the substantial volume of the back half gives internal scaling conflicts. Like, the general idea reads to me like a gunship helicopter, and I can accept a variety of that being kind of huge. But the cockpit is so big that it makes the rest look like it should be a tiny helicopter and then everything falls apart.
It's a shame too, as I like a lot of the details in isolation. The wingtips and nose having small guns, the details layers around the cockpit block, and even the rotor pylons, while simple look nice. But none of it gets to integrate together well.
The cockpit is bland and basic, no effort was made to dress it up like a functional pilot seat. Xort fits inside, but doesn't really lock in place. I'm not too bothered about that unlike with Chromedome, because this canopy opens without special, potentially pilot-flinging effort.
We're gonna roll straight to the accessories, because they're actually semi-important parts of the vehicle mode. Under the wings you have these hexagonal ports.
You might think you're supposed to plug the guns in by their 5mm pegs. And you could. But it's really designed to have these thick tabs fit in there, with the 5mm handles pointing inward.
That gives the helicopter its rear landing gear as well as main armaments.
I like these as guns. The Titan Master occupancy cavity is small, so they don't look particularly unusual. Being painted gunmetal helps too, I'm sure.
They tab together to become a Babyseat Cannon, though with only the Titan Master's feet enclosed, it's more like a Footbath Gun. As far as I can figure, this is the only actual use for the 5mm ports on the sides of the cockpit. But then you're back to no landing gear for the helicopter.
It's not impossible for the robot mode to carry this, but it is mildly awkward.
Highbrow looked pretty interesting until I started messing with it. I probably should have realized sooner that the vehicle mode was pretty much a write off, to be fair. The robot mode is okay, but does nothing to impress me, and those helicopter blades just hanging out is something I am not a fan of. Honestly, the arms feel a little awkward to use in general. Whereas Chromedome took another toy's design characteristics and cleaned them up and improved things, Highbrow feels like it had no idea what to do with Scourge's moving parts when trying to make them be something other than Scourge. I applaud the effort to try to get something so very different out of it, but this one just didn't work. At least Highbrow looks overall pretty good ...as long as you just have it standing somewhere and aren't doing anything with it.
|Date||September 14th 2016|
|Score||(5 out of 10)|
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