Monday, January 22, 2007

Breakaway Speculation

Last week, we learned that the 2007 club exclusive to be given free with paid membership will be named "Breakaway." It'll probably be some time before the figure is properly revealed, so it's time for some speculation.

We know for a fact that the toy will be a recolor of one of the "Energon Combiner" limbs (the torso will come out in a couple of years, completing a club combiner figure over the first five years of the club's existence). There were three combiner teams that came out during Energon: Superion Maximus, Constructicon Maximus, and Bruticus Maximus. All the limbs from these three giant robots were designed to be interchangable with each other. Any limb robot can be an arm or a leg for any of the combiners. Because of a cost-saving measure on the part of Hasbro, each team consists of only two (rather than four) distinct limb molds (each mold being recolored once on the same combiner). This means that only six distinct limb molds exist over the whole of the "Energon Combiner" line.

We have already seen two of these: Skyfall, a repaint of the Sky Shadow/Terradive mold (a jet); and Landquake, a repaint of the Blight/Kickback mold (an anti-aircraft vehicle). That leaves four possibilities:

  1. Treadshot/Windrazor: The remaining Superion Maximus mold, another jet.
  2. Blackout/Stormcloud: The remaining Bruticus Maximus mold, a helicopter.
  3. Bonecrusher/Sledge: One of the Constructicon Maximus molds. This is a front end loader, although you'll hear a lot of people mistakenly refer to it as a bulldozer.
  4. Duststorm/Wideload: The other Constructicon Maximus mold, a crane.
If I had my personal preference, we could eliminate 3 and 4 right now. I really don't care for any of the Constructicon Maximus molds at all. This opinion is by no means universal, however, and several people feel that Breakaway needs to be one of these molds to ensure some measure of representation across the whole spectrum of available Energon combiner limbs. I tend to be more of the opinion that, especially given that you can't have "equal" representation of three teams over four limbs, FP shouldn't bother trying. The only thing that should matter is the quality of the mold itself. Although my opinion is just that, mine (and not necessarily shared by other fans), let me explain my problems with the molds.
  • The crane mold: Just look at that left arm! Although Shockwave is legendary for his gun arm, I really do think that most Transformers should have two hands. And if one arm has something other than a hand on it, the arm should still be in general proportion to the other arm (as is the case with Shockwave). The left arm on this mold is simply way too long, and this kills any potential desire I might have had that FP would use it.
  • The front end loader mold: The robot mode on this one is passable, as is the vehicle, and the accessory for the combined form looks enough like a fist or a foot to be viable (My desire for such appendages is the same for the combined form as it is for the individual robots). Basically, I just don't like construction vehicles that much, nor do I think that a construction vehicle makes much sense in the context of the other vehicles we've already seen (this obviously also applies to the crane mold, but that mold's inherent problems override this admittedly less important concern). However, of the two Constructicon Maximus molds, this is the one I'd be more willing to live with, if they had to use one.
There are only two more molds to choose from, and with two more limbs to ultimately be revealed (including Breakaway), I'll either get both of them or be disappointed by having at least one of the construction molds I don't like. The odds aren't in my favor! But here are the other two possibilities, and their comparative benefits.
  • The helicopter mold: This one is my favorite mold of all the Energon combiner limbs. Excellent robot mold, decent vehicle mold, and a combiner accessory that even makes a okay hand, complete with a thumb! I'd be even happier if we get totally new combiner accessories in Year 5 that really look like hands and feet, but I consider this unlikely. This would be the next best thing.
  • The remaining jet mold: The one also has decent robot and vehicle molds, but requires an additional part that has no apparent place in either of these modes to transform into an only passable limb (it's a much better foot than a hand, also). This "extra" part is a liability, and if I only get one of these two molds, this is the one I'd rather give up. It really only ranks above the front end loader because I like jets more than I like construction vehicles.
There's one more factor that we have to account for. What kind of vehicle does the name "Breakaway" work for? I suppose that an argument could be made for any of the vehicles on some level, but it seems to me that the name works best with the front end loader. The unused jet mold seems next most likely, with the helicopter and the crane coming in respectively in terms of probability.

Of course, just because I think that something works better than something else doesn't mean that anyone else does. And I haven't even begun to speculate on what colors of undoubtedly-transparent plastic Breakaway will feature. I'm sure that the answers will be revealed within the next month or so (Landquake, last year's exclusive, was revealed toward the end of February).

In unrelated news, there are reports coming in of the BotCon hotel rate for the Westin. You can find this information in the updated unofficial BotCon FAQ.

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