Friday, 15 July 2011

Highbrow is Hunting.

Highbrow, one of the toys from the ‘Hunt For the Decepticons’ line at the end of the Revenge of the Fallen series.  Or was it ‘Autobot Alliance’?  I don’t know, they sometimes put too many damn names to these series sometimes.  I am just glad it wasn’t the ‘Revenge Battles’ or ‘Blah blah Battles’ since Hasbro have a passion for the word ‘Battles’ in their series names.

I got Highbrow for a couple of reasons.  The first is because like Mindwipe, he is named after a Headmaster character.  Unlike Mindwipe though, there is more than just a name similarity.  They both have propellors on their arms.  The second and most important reason for my getting him by a long shot, is that he is based on a World War II fighter bomber, the p-38 lightning.  Google it, it’s very interesting.

For the more mature gaming geek, you will also recognise the plane form from a game.  Which I will reveal later….

Ooooh! Mysterious!


Highbrow here comes in a voyager sized box, as he is a voyager sized figure.  Packed in robot mode since the plane is fairly large.  Nothing terribly exciting about the box to say really.  This one I have is the TakaraTomy release as I never saw one come out my way in the local shops.  It ended up costing a bit more than your average voyager, but considering how he was at the very end of the line and as per usual, we got cut off, I was willing to go a bit extra to get one.  I don’t think there is much difference between the Hasbro and the TakTom versions.


I am going to start with the vehcile mode for this guy.  Why? Because that is why I bought it.  The vehicle mode is inspired by the p-38 Lightning made by Lockheed.  those gaming nerds amougst you may also realise that it also looks a hell of a lot like the ‘Super-Ace’ fighter from the Capcom arcade (and later home) shooter known as ‘1942.’  man I loved that game.  ANyway, according to wikipedia, the p-38 was not known as a good plane for looping, something which the ‘Super-Ace’ must have fixed.  That’s why it’s super!  However I digress…

I love this classic propeller look plane. It is so cool and it has heaps of sculpted detail on it that keeps the plane looking like an old plane.  Behold!!


Propellers for a start!  Air intakes, gun mounted bits.  Oh and the engines sitting out of the chassis above the propellers.  He has small wing on either side with a rack of bombs mounted underneath.  They don’t come off, but the cool mini-guns on the top of the wings come off, but hey, why would you take them off?  Except for robot-mode wielding of course!


The rest of the plane body has funky details as well.  I really like the green they have used for him.  It especially screams war-green (to me anyway) quite loudly.  even though camouflage in the sky would be tricky.


Lots of rivet details and the mark on the tail there that looks like a spider-pretzel was apparently based upon the designer’s father’s group who flew this plane.



The cockpit is designed well, with details on the glass and if you look closely enough, you can see a little chair and control board at the front as well.  Very nice indeed.

There is even quite a lot of detail on the undercarriage and very little, if any of the robot mode can be seen.  Yet the figure is nowhere near shell-former level.  the landing gear folds up neatly.


The engines on the top of the propellers create important play-value.  If you press down on them, they spin the propellers for you.  If you want to spin the props manually to get them into a specific position, then I suggest pressing down on the engines anyway as they are linked by gears and mine were stiff when I first tried them, and needed to work them loose a bit.  So the gears could be fragile.  Please be careful if that is important to you.

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Changing him into robot mode is fairly easy, as the head is hidden in the nose and the long bits down the side are his legs.  No great surprise there.


The robot mode manages to keep quite a lot of the plane visible.  Is it bad kibble?  Nope, not in my opinion, I prefer to see vehicle bits in the robot mode as it is what has differentiated Transformers from other robot toys.   The bits don’t hinder the articulation either and generally Highbrow’s is pretty good.  He doesn’t have a waist twist, which I thin is a bit of a negative to him, but he can twist mid-thigh and at the hip joint.  Add to that the incredible amount of movement possible on his feet, mainly due to transformation and you can usually manage to get by without having to have him turn at the waist. 

One thing that does bumb me out a little is that his groin splits for changing, and sometimes when playing with his legs, the groin will come apart a tad.  till I guess it’s better than having the groin stuck together so tight you rip his legs off when transforming him.


You can leave the mini-guns mounted on the wings for some cool waist mounted killing action!  Or you can take them off and chuck them in his hands.


I really like the detailed sculpting on the chest area and how they have made the main landing gear a part of the breast and rib area.  And the sculpting on inconsequential areas is full of detail, not only on the chest, but the arms and legs as well.


The hands are off-centre, at first looked really awkward, but now they don’t look so bad.  I guess you have to get used to them.  They can be folded down and have the props slid forward over them for some robot chopping action.  Very nice little add on there.  The forearms are tiny though and his arms look a little stubby in general, mainly die to the engine being there and the gimmick.  It detracts from the look of the figure, but the gimmick works well and isn’t so obtrusive as to kill the toy.

And of course, he has those min-guns!!  Which are nicely detailed, on one side but sadly hollow on the other…


I was surprised at the poses I could get out of him, the movement of the big feet more than compensate for the lanky look of this guy and his balance is over very very good!

From the back, you kind of see more kibble than one would like,  I had difficulties in deciding how the main cockpit/engine part should hang in robot mode.  It kind of forms small wings of a sort behind him but they don’t clip in anywhere so if you touch him by his back they will get knocked out of place.  The engine under the cockpit in plane mode becomes a single engine rocket pack for him.  I quite like this little detail as they could have skipped it and just had the ‘wing’ bits be larger and chunkier, but they didn’t.  Just a little more effort and the effect is quite impressive.  Just remember to point it down, as the instructions forgot to mention that part.

Wings like this?

Or this?

Jet Pack close up and how it should be in robot mode.

I like the sculpting for his face.  It’s plain, but interesting and although it doesn’t look much like G1 Highbrow, it is still OK by me.  He has excellent light-piping which is mainly aided by the HUGE piece of clear plastic in the back of his head, this is needed as he has one more main gimmick. 


A Mask.  Which looks like flying goggles and they flip down over his eyes.  The best thing is the eyes can be seen through the goggles, including light piping effects!!


It’s so easy to get the light through, even through the goggles.

I thought I would only like Highbrow because of his link to WWII and Capcom’s awesome shoot-em-up game.  I am happy to report that there is much more to like with this figure.  The articulation is pretty good, the robot mode is hidden well within the vehicle and the vehicle is noticeable in robot mode without hindering the figure as a toy.  I wouldn't really say that it is worth hunting down using a lot of effort unless you really like his unique vehicle mode.

I suspect that without a doubt, a recolour of this guy will show up as the Dark of the Moon toys start to run their course. So perhaps waiting for that will work out to be a bit cheaper instead of searching for this guy in particular.

Finally, some screen shots of 1942.  Admittedly they are from the C64 version of the game so… for that I apologise..  but still, you can see the general shape of the plane.  I had a little play of this too and geez it’s hard, I don’t remember it playing so fast, I had a go of the first level and consistently got killed after about the 5th enemy plane.  That’s a bit sad really…


And I also found out that at the time, Capcom were still using their original name!  Wow, the things you learn from loading screens hey? 

Whooo! Capsule Computers.  1984  Arrr good times, good times!

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