Tools of the Imagination – Kreo Bruticus

By Hasbro, part of the Kreo Construction Line, released 2013

LEGO knockoffs won’t knock it off

(Image thanks to Hasbro)

As one of the few consistently successful companies over the last decade, LEGO has been the talk of the business world for a while. Mother business model has been closely studied and their product itself is so prominent and popular, the brand itself is the default term for toy building blogs (much like Coke is with soda and Band-aids are with adhesive bandages).

As such, it’s no surprise that the toy giant Hasbro would seek to get in on that. Initially, there were Transformers-licensed LEGO sets. But Hasbro set their sights higher and decided to create their own building block line. For some reason.

Bruticus is the combined form of a team of five four Decepticons known as the Combaticons. Rough, ruthless, and generally so violent, they make other Decepticons uncomfortable, the Combaticons are generally seen as the worse there are. Sadly, while the individual units may be dynamically gifted, Bruticus is dumber than a bag of hammers, leaving him with just his (admittedly tremendous) brute force.

In the Gen-One continuity, Bruticus (and the Combaticons in general) were the result of Starscream’s tinkering. Later incarnations of the story usually maintain some at least tertiary connection between them, but the Combaticons have largely come out from beneath the Big Mouth One’s shadow.

Appearance – 3 out of 5
While the little LEGO Kreo figures look more like Kreo figures than their Transformers counterparts, they definitely have enough traits in common to be able to identify Swindle as Swindle and Vortex as Vortex. Never the less, they still look generic enough to be more Kreo versions of said characters than actually said characters.

Construction – 3 out of 5
The figures themselves are unremarkable. They’re sturdy enough, but are lacking slightly behind LEGO’s famous durability. The pieces are quite small, limiting just how tough the plastic can be. And since the figures are deliberately designed to come apart, there is little overall stability.
It is a little frustrating that the figures do not, in any meaningful way, transform. Each figure must be almost entirely disassembled and reassembled to go from vehicle to robot and back. The process of forming Bruticus is, likewise, less an act of combining the individual units so much as completely disintegrating them and building Bruticus from scratch.

Movement – 2 out of 5
While it’s true that neither Transformers nor LEGO have the greatest reputation when it comes to mobility in their figures, these figures really seem unambitious. Wheels don’t move when it seems like they could very easily while joints seem like they could be a little more dynamic.

Extras – 3 out of 5
This is challenging to score because there are definitely lots of little extras with these figures. Too many, and most of them are pieces needed for the other form. Wheels in vehicle mode have to be summarily removed and left aside in robot mode. Each character comes with a weapon but only one, leaving dual-wielding for Vortex to leave Onslaught without a weapon.

Packaging – 4 out of 5
Hasbro’s excellence in packaging continues. The box is distinctive, showing both the individual figures and the combined form. It also pushes the other Kreo combiners. It also gives the impression that this isn’t one toy you’re getting but a set of four individuals, which really helps for a convincing sale.

Overall – 2 out of 5
This is a really weak idea. LEGO Transformers I could definitely get behind, but not when it’s siding so much more on the LEGO side of things than the Transformers side. It feels more like a LEGO action figure expansion pack or something, not anything truly vehicle-related. The transformation sequence, such as it is, feels very phoned-in with how much ‘okay, now take it all apart’ each process entails. All in all, this just seems like a cheap knockoff. Sadly, of both LEGO and Transformers.

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