Friday, December 7, 2012

Silas Breakdown AM-24

Way back in my review of Cyberverse Breakdown, I mentioned my hopes of getting a larger sized version of Breakdown here in the US. Shortly afterward, I saw Takara-Tomy's take on a voyager-class Breakdown and assumed we'd see it here stateside soon enough. Well, Hasbro said we won't. Rumor has it that "not made to our standards" means "too expensive to retool to not include the roughly nine-hundred 5mm ports intended for Micron figures" the Japanese mold sports. This somewhat makes sense as the Prime toy line in Japan is heavily geared around the companion Micron figures whereas in's not. Instead, we get normal weapon accessories, or on larger figures, clunky piles of junk that "transform" and light up and are still nowhere near as cool as just a little Targetmaster-style companion bot. Even though I liked the look of Breakdown, I waffled on ordering him because I wasn't sure how the mold was in hand, plus the hammer/rhino Micron he came with didn't interest me that much. That changed when pictures started to surface of a black repaint with a new praying mantis Micron, Silas Breakdown!

Now I admit, I haven't seen any episodes of Prime, but after reading up on Breakdown for this review, I really want to, as Silas Breakdown's story is quite an interesting one. Spoilers relating to the plot of the Prime series follow this picture, so you might want to skip ahead.

Besides the Decepticons, the Autobots in Prime must also contend with human antagonists, including the sinister M.E.C.H. organization that seeks to understand and reverse engineer Cybertronian technology the direct way, by ripping still living Transformers apart and studying their innards. Led by an ex-military operative with special forces training calling himself Silas, M.E.C.H. clashes with both the Autobots and the Decepticons several time in pursuit of their goals. After events lead to Silas crippled and Breakdown killed, M.E.C.H. recovers the body and directly grafts Silas' broken frame into Breakdown's systems, creating a Frankenstein-like Transformer of both flesh and metal. Calling himself CYLAS (CYbernetic Life Augmented by Symbiosis), this cyborg attempted to offer his service to Megatron as a true Decepticon and, didn't go quite as he envisioned, I'm sure.

What strikes me as interesting about the packaging is that minus the obvious Japanese text, the layout is fairly close to the design of the US Prime line, the box is even the same dimensions as US voyagers. You could plop this guy on a shelf in Walmart among the Bulkheads and Primes and he would blend right in at first glance. The left side of the box showcases the toy transforming and has his tech specs across the bottom.

The right side displays his mantis Micron in both beast and weapon mode and provides a small statistics chart for him as well. This is a nice touch as most Hasbro releases that include a smaller companion figure are lucky to have a single line in the larger figure's bio mentioning the sidekick, never mind individual stats.

Even though he's packaged in robot mode, I'm going to start with Breakdown's vehicle mode to mess with you. Like his Cyberverse counterpart, Breakdown is a massive truck that still looks like lovechild of an off-road SUV and an armored car to me. Black replaces the blueish-purple of the first release with a bit more color added by a few stickers. Additional bits of blue are present in his windshield and windows, whereas silver appears on the painted mirrors and chromed grill piece. The grill is one of the three pieces that make this mold not just a repaint but a retool, as the standard Breakdown lacked this shiny accoutrement.

One thing that makes American fans (myself included) wary of collecting Japanese Prime figures is that Takara-Tomy uses an included sticker sheet to provide decos on a lot of figures that are simply painted on for US releases. This is most prevalent on deluxe class figures who often have windshields and windows that lack paint and must rely on large stickers instead, and applying these in an even slightly sloppy manner can ruin the look of a toy. Thankfully as a voyager, Breakdown has only a few stickers to apply and most of them are for vehicle mode details like headlights, side windows and the rear windshield. As I applied these stickers however, I was struck by how involved Takara-Tomy got with them as many of the details highlighted by stickers would have been left completely unpainted on a Hasbro release. An excellent example is in the decals for the headlights behind the edges of the grill piece. You can barely see these lights in vehicle mode and they're irrelevant in robot mode, but just the idea that they took the time to make stickers for them is a sign of the amount of dedication Takara-Tomy's designers put into this.

Silas Breakdown has a lot of 5mm ports in vehicle mode, fourteen to be exact, meaning he can carry a lot of weapons and Microns. Additionally, the posts on either side of his spare tire are the right size to plug weapons or Microns/Minicons with the proper holes onto, raising his potential number of weapons to sixteen. I can see how Hasbro would find retooling all these spots to be a bit daunting. I should note that there are Decepticon logos on the sticker sheet meant to be placed on his doors, but I personally think he looks better without them. The sheet also includes some extra silver stickers that resemble scratches and dings to replicate the beat-up nature of Breakdown's body when it was recovered, as well as some M.E.C.H. logos. I didn't apply any of these bonus stickers, but again it is nice to see a company offering you a little variation and the ability to customize your Transformers without needing painting skills.

Whereas the first version of Breakdown came with a rhino Micron that transformed into his hammer, Silas Breakdown includes a new purple mantis Micron. I haven't seen a translation for this little guy's name yet, so I'll just refer to him as Mantis (Toboggan.)

Mantis resembles his inspiration close enough that you know what he's meant to be just from a glance. He sports giant scythe-bladed arms and the cyclopean red eye customary of Decepticon Microns. Mantis sports about five points of articulation, having lightly ratcheting joints at the shoulders and elbows and the ability to bend forward or back at the waist. His spark crystal is on the top of his abdomen and is a light blue in color. Mantis is a bit larger and bulkier in beast mode than most Microns which fits well with the nature of his wielder.

Mantis folds up into a bladed gun of some sort. It's somewhat odd looking, but fits with the brawler nature of Breakdown, I imagine him using the blades like double bayonets to impale enemies then blast them off his gun with a squeeze of the trigger.

In theory, you could attach Mantis to any of the multiple ports in vehicle mode, but the instructions suggest the one on the right side of Breakdown's hood and I'm inclined to agree.

Before getting into the full robot mode, I wanted to point out the second mold change made to Silas Breakdown, the inclusion of Silas himself. It would look a whole lot better with a few licks of paint, but you can definitely make out Silas' mug buried in the middle of Breakdown's inner workings, nestled between two piston-like details. This is another great little touch as you never see Silas normally, this piece is only visible during mid-transformation before you lock the chest into place.

Robot mode is where Silas Breakdown really shines, the black and silver paint scheme looks great and the figure itself is nice and bulky with a air of menace about it, this is one mean looking cyborg. Articulation includes ball jointed head, shoulders and hips, outward swinging shoulder hinges, upper arm and leg swivels, hinge elbows, knees and feet and a swivel waist. Breakdown has even less stickers in robot mode than in vehicle mode, just a few added areas of silver and black for his legs and feet and some black and blue details at his waist. He honestly looks just as good without them though, making this a figure you could display straight out of the box without applying a single sticker (though Mantis would look a bit plain without his.)

The third and final mold change for Silas Breakdown is the addition of an all new head sculpt showing how beaten and battered he has become. The right eye is gone, replaced with a round lens that is incongruent with the otherwise organic design, which makes sense as this eye was ripped out by M.E.C.H. and replaced with human technology during the series. My picture is too fuzzy to see it clearly, but the rest of the head also has an asymmetrical design with chunks missing from his armor or plates of a different design replacing original parts. The effect is pretty cool and really sells the "Franken-bot" nature of the character.

Silas Breakdown can wield Mantis (or any correctly sized weapon/Micron) in either hand and can still flip his wrists around so weapons appear to have extended directly from his actual arm. In robot mode, Breakdown sports a whopping eighteen 5mm ports with which to attach weapons or Microns and even a single C-clamp rail on the left side of his backpack section to attach Dark of the Moon/Generations weapons to. This is fantastic, I'm not even sure you can have each spot occupied at once without everything banging into everything else, but you can really outfit him if you want...

Something like this
All in all, Silas Breakdown is a pretty amazing figure with a ton of play value. It's a shame that as of this moment, the only way to get one is to import him, but perhaps Hasbro will surprise us and find a way to get this mold to US fans after all (and hopefully not through a Botcon boxed set.) If you just can't wait however, I'd highly recommend importing one version or another of this figure. Besides the Silas version,  there is the  standard Breakdown with a dark purple/blue color scheme and a rhino Micron, and also a repaint/retool of the mold as an Autobot named Swerve with an awesome rescue saw Micron. All three will probably run you around fifty bucks a pop and as I write this, Big Bad Toy Store is out of all of them minus Swerve. So looks like it's off to eBay with you!

"But...but you're DEAD!"

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