Transformers United Bruticus
& FansProject Colossus Review

One of the problems I keep running into lately is that I keep buying bigger & bigger toys. Toys too big for my “studio”, toys too big for just 6-8 pictures, toys that probably should get multiple reviews. I tend to put them aside when I’m choosing what to review, but not today!

I’ve had more money to… we’ll call it spending… spend on my collection this year. We scrimped & saved a lot for our house and that success put some best practices in place that have seen me buying some more expensive toys in 2013. One addiction that has been murder on my wallet is Third Party Combiners.

When I was a kid, Transformers Combiners were some of the coolest Transformers. One of the few Christmases I still remember vividly was the year my parents picked up both Defensor & Bruticus for me. My family would always get up way too early to open presents – this was usually instigated by my brother and I – and then after we exchanged gifts, has Christmas Breakfast, take lots of pictures, etc., we’d all go back to bed. The year my parents spoiled me with Defensor & Bruticus (well, technically they only got me one, it was Santa who went and doubled me up) was the first year I stayed up all morning. I played with those guys for hours. I still remember the look of surprise on my Dad’s face when he & mom got back up later in the morning and I was still plugging away. Those were awesome toys.

I lost all my Combiners in The Great Flood™; only a few parts remain – Hot Spot & First Aid, Brawl, Nosecone, and none of the parts. I’ve never gone back to pick up any vintage versions or reissues. I always kinda want to, but in most cases I’d rather have modern takes. Updates like so many other great toys from my youth have received. And while Hasbro & Takara did bring Bruticus back to market this last year, it just wasn’t the same. I teased the idea of buying it now and again. I did bring home a Swindle, but had to return him because bad QC prevented him from transforming.

Similarly, I had hesitated to pick up the third party FP Colossus mostly due to the price. Now Colossus isn’t like Giant, Hercules, or some of the other 3P Combiners you might have seen. He’s an add-on kit to an already existing Hasbro toy. Until recently, that made him difficult to pick up. The Energon Bruticus Maximus was a bit pricey. The Fansproject Add-On Kit was particularly pricey. That changed earlier this year thanks to both Takara & Fansproject reissuing everything you need to make an FP Colossus – and maybe even better than before, with everything in colors more true to the G1 Bruticus.

I paid $130 or so for Takara’s Transformers United Bruticus. When it arrived, I had some of the worst purchase guilt ever. This toy, a repaint of the Energon Bruticus Maximus, is just not that great a toy. The biggest problem is that the limbs are repaints of each other: two tanks & two helicopters. Now, I will tip my hat to the designers. The beancounters at the time would only spring for so many new molds and the folks behind the line wanted to make all three Energon combiners. Making the limbs repaints got them a whole extra toy. That’s smart. (I also have to give FansProject props – the instruction booklet gives an in-universe explanation for the clone limbs and how Colossus came about. That was a fun read).

But the toy still has issues. Some are just my opinion – I don’t like the design for the Bruticus head, but others are just bad design choices like the strange pieces that make up the hands and feet, they don’t work well or look good. The individual toys themselves are kinda fun to transform, each of the three molds have some character, but if I wanted a good update to Bruticus on my shelves and this is all there was, I’d be mighty disappointed. Heck, Bruticus Maximus did get a domestic release years and years ago and I barely even noticed. The toy just needed some work. Continue to Page 2…

19 thoughts on “Transformers United Bruticus
& FansProject Colossus Review

  1. I never had any of the original G1 Comabaticons and also balked at the Energon set due to the “clones” issue. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had a complete team of any combiner? almost every G1 (among many others, like both my Unicrons!) was “Lost in Storage”, anyway.

    I did manage to find a complete set of the FOC team…but I wound up taking them back. I could probably get them again this wkd, but I don’t think I would be able to complete the team, anymore. Something about the set just wasn’t “right”, which is part of the reason I took them back. Of course, right now, they are on a “price break”/rollback, whatever, but the Cybertron modes and garish coloring don’t do much for me.

    I don’t see myself getting this set, either, but if you’re happy with your purchase, more to you.

    I do recall seeing the Target exclusive set, which was the Energon re-release, and didn’t they do the Aerialbot/Superion set at the same time? I want to say it was released at holidaze, so didn’t last long?

    1. There was a Superion set released, and FansProject released an amazing upgrade kit for that one as well. It wasn’t exactly in the same vein as this Colossus add-on, though. Instead of replacing 2 bots with new ones, the Superion upgrade kit basically has accessories for each of the individual Aerialbots. The great thing is that when combined, the accessories can be added to Superion as well to make him look much, much better.

      1. It does vastly improve the set, but that nostalgia factor is a big thing and he just doesn’t look right to me. He does look much better with the add-on kit though. I think these add-ons and the Magnus upgrade were really crucial to the rise of the third parties.

        I think there’s a third construction one too, if I recall.

    2. Yeah, the FoC team tempted me time & again (and even the upcoming repaints one more time), but they’re just not as solid some of the FoC stuff is great, but other times it’s like a skeleton in a shell. Swindle was that way and I didn’t like it even before his head wouldn’t fold down during transformation.

      1. I bought the FoC Brutics because at the time, the Asian Bruticus and Add-Ons were both sold out. Then they came back in stock, so I ordered them. And compared to these two kits combined, the FoC Bruticus is just horrible. It ain’t all that special when you look at it on its own.

        “Cybertronian” seems to be Hasbro’s keyword for “We can make ONE mode look cool, the others will have to be either bricklike or flimsy as damp toilet paper.”

  2. Excellent review, pics, and great comics, as always.

    These are an amazing couple of sets that work very well together, and I’m thrilled to have them. As you say, the booklet that comes with them is very well done, including the story behind the now-defunct cloned limbs.

    Regarding the problems with the 3rd-Party parts, I had no issues with the combiner right wrist on mine. Like many 3rd-Party transforming items, Not-Blastoff seems kinda fragile, and I’m worried about snapping off some of those hinged panels that form his outer shell. I have trouble getting the giant cannons to stay in place on Bruticus’ back, though. (The pegs seem to be juuuuuust a tiny bit too close together for it to work properly. They go on, but they ain’t very secure.) I haven’t played around with it much, though. I took Not-Swindle and Not-Blastoff between their robot and vehicle modes a couple of times, then slapped everything together into the damned coolest looking Bruticus ever, and he’s stayed that way ever since. Now all I need is the remaining Non-Stunticons, Non-Predacons, and Non-Aerialbots to be released so I can stop having random combiner parts lying around like the aftermath of a giant robot serial killer mayhem spree.

    I passed on the original Bruticus Maximus because, like many others, I didn’t like the cloned limbs. But these two sets combined fill a gap in the collection beautifully. Provided you can afford ’em.

    1. I’m never quite sure about the plastic quality. He does feel like he’s more brittle, but a lot of import pieces are solid despite not having the same thickness I’m used to on domestic toys.

      And, yes, the cannons have trouble staying on if Onslaught’s shoulders aren’t exactly flush. Good catch, I overlooked that.

      The only stray limbs I have are for Intimidator & Uranos. And I guess the Throttlebot thing, whatever that’s going to turn into. lol

  3. My absolute favorite bit about the Colossus add-on kit? The shotguns. No question. They look awesome!

    1. Those are some cool pieces! If I had to pick a favorite part it would be how seamlessly they turned Vortex from being a dud as an arm into a solid piece.

  4. it still amazes me seeing the 3rd party transformers. i have an enormous amount of respect for the guys whose brains work that way. i’m not into TF enough to shell out the huge bucks, but i will say… the mastermind creations feral rex is eating me up.

    1. It’s insane the things Transformers, or non-Transformers, designers come up with. The third party stuff can really throw you because they are some times more experimental (which can be good & bad) than just relying on the tried & true transformation techniques.

      I’m on the fence for Feral Rex. I prefer the earlier Scramble City combiners, but he does look sweet and should be in relative scale to the ones I already have.

      1. i’ve noticed that in some of the reviews i’ve seen, some of them are very sneaky w/ a subtle panel flip here, or a part that’s supposed to snap into place there where a “legit” TF wouldn’t even have articulation there. and then to engineer your pieces to fit into the tolerances of the “legit” pieces, that’s friggin calculus… and i hate calculus.

        1. yeah, I would probably wind up with one of the “un-flip legs and twist this around = done”, if I had to come up with it on my own. These guys seem to reverse engineer, tweak everything, and double the money’s worth, even for a higher cost/lower run figure.

          when G1 was still hitting, for “fun”, I would sit there and stare at the catalog(?), trying to figure out the transformations on everything. the few I did have I would get half-right. :/

  5. Maybe I’m having a slow morning, but this review’s got me confused. I don’t know who/what I’m looking at. Which one is the United and which one os the third party?

    1. It was an odd thing to cover. I tried to avoid talking about the individual bots too much to keep it clear, but here’s a cheat sheet.

      The first picture on page one is the United repaint of Bruticus from Takara. It included the five bots and four clip-on pieces that could be used as hands or feet. Here are the five bots:

      Onslaught (torso)
      Vortex (gray copter)
      Brawl (green tank)
      Swindle (brown copter)
      Blast-Off (brown tank)

      The FP Colossus set was an add-on kit. It replaced Swindle & Blast-Off with the Humvee & the Shuttle respectively, but it also included pieces to buff out Vortex as well as new hands, feet, the back-cannons, and a bunch of weapons. It can be seen in the last picture on page one.

      The review is really just about Colossus, but you have to talk about the United Bruticus release to get there.

  6. Oh my god what an improvement those parts make!

    The 3P combiners this year are out of hand. They all look great, and my BBTS preorder page is a painful reminder as to how much I’m planning on spending on all them.

  7. The “United Bruticus” reissue was the work of Hasbro Asia, not actually TakaraTomy of Japan.

    Hasbro Asia basically serves every Asian market that isn’t Japan. They’ve been ramping up their exclusive releases lately because of the growing Chinese middle class; stuff like the two Classics Seeker reissue sets and Year of the Snake Omega Supreme. You can see most of ’em here:

    The G1 Transformer cartoon(s) (was/were) huge in China when they were broadcast in the early ’90s; I have an article I dug out of Lexis-Nexis from the time that talks about some Communist government body condemning it because it made kids want toys their parents couldn’t actually afford. You can see how that built-up childhood desire might affect people who suddenly found themselves with yuan to burn.

    Some TakaraTomy stuff does get released across Asia (various Masterpieces, other reissues, etc – you can see them on that site under “News”), but as far as I know, “United Bruticus” did not actually come out at Japanese retail, suggesting that Hasbro Asia initiated it.

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