Review: Transformers Titans Return Highbrow

As I’m moving into wave 2 of Titans Return, you may be wondering why I didn’t put up a review of Scourge, despite showing him in my Galvatron review. The explanation is simple: I really don’t like Titans Return Scourge, so much so that I have very little positive to say about him and have absolutely no desire to write a review for him. I also figured that since the basic skeleton of the Scourge would be reused for the much nicer-looking Highbrow, I could get away with just reviewing him, a toy that I thought I would enjoy much more than Scourge. And I was right. Barely.

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Vehicle Mode

True to form, Highbrow is a nonsensical futuristic helicopter-plane fusion vehicle with two rotors and wings. I have to give it credit for at least looking sort of cool, even if it makes no sense. How does it achieve forward thrust? Does it just fly up high enough and glide the rest of the way? How can those small propellers actually lift the large vehicle? So many questions!

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To its credit, though, Highbrow’s altmode features a ton of very nice sculpted detail, and even sports some gunmetal paint applications to show it off. The grey plastic, despite coming off a bit bland, is at least good at highlighting the detail on the engine/wing sections. And check out that gorgeous translucent red cockpit, too!

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Oh, and one thing I’ve forgotten to mention in previous TR reviews is that, unlike Combiner Wars, the line has been very consistent about having 3mm holes in each mode to interact with stands (like Tamashii stands), which is less useful for folks like Hardhead or Skullcruncher, but fantastic for flying guys like Highbrow.

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Titan Master

Bucking the trend in a very small way, Xort (seriously what kind of name is that) actually gets away with having a single paint app: a silver visor. Hooray! Also, the fact that these Titan Masters are so small makes it really hard to notice when they’re actually reused molds: Xort is straight-up Fracas, just with slightly different colors and someone else’s face stuck to his back. Unfortunately, my copy of Xort has crazy-loose joints, which is more of an issue in head mode than anything else. Speaking of which…

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Robot Mode

While the vehicle mode did a good job of making itself look unique, the transformation scheme provides the first hint of mold reuse, and Highbrow’s robot mode really just reeks of Scourge. He looks different enough, but the feel is the same lightweight, rickety, hollow yuck that put me off of Scourge. This isn’t something that can easily be described in a text review; you’d just have to feel the toy for yourself.

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That aside, he does look good, if a little bit bland. I think the sculpted detail is actually a bit of detriment here, seeming to only make him look more unpainted (though he does feature some nice paint apps). There’s a strange grey bit that flips out a little to protrude from his chest, apparently to just give his torso more depth. It’s a neat idea, but in execution it feels a little unfinished, as it doesn’t really lock in fully, just sort of softly stays in one place.

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Unfortunately, my copy of Highbrow does have some QC issues. The Headmaster port is extremely wobbly, something that plagued Scourge and seems to be universal for all Highbrows. The problem seems to be that the plastic clip part is just too flimsy to keep any tension, resulting in an extremely loose neck. Also, the wrists on mine are very loose, and his left fist is a tad too large for his gun, which can only loosely rest in his hand. These problems in addition to the overall flimsy feel make Highbrow come off as rather sub-par.

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It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as Highbrow does have good articulation! His head (when it’s not bobbing around everywhere) is ball-jointed, his shoulders have both ball-joints and swivels in the torso, his hips are universal, his elbows and knees hinged, and he has bicep and thigh swivels. The lack of a waist joint is irritating, as I feel like there should be room for one. Otherwise, he can pose pretty well. His twin guns can attach together so that Xort can, uh, stand in them, but it’s a very tight connection and honestly isn’t worth doing.

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Overall

I was hoping Highbrow would feel like a much more polished and solid version of Scourge, and sadly that is not the case. I’d still consider him a step up from Scourge in that he’s not a solid sea of ugly blue, but now he’s just bland grey and blue. Highbrow at least has merit by being one of the original Headmasters, which does count for something. Putting him in a lineup with Chromedome and Hardhead (and soon Brainstorm) does give you that satisfaction of completing a team, so for that purpose I would hesitantly recommend him.

Where to Buy:

 

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