We don't get a lot of working Headmaster toys at retail these days and for good reason -- find yourself a random Transformers toy and check out the size of its noggin. Those things are tiny. Now imagine that becoming a robot. The tiniest robot! We're talking like a centimeter or so high. Transformers proportions are pretty pinheaded. They make comic book superheroes look like Charlie Brown. The original Headmasters all had proportionately huge heads for a Transformer. They kind of had to.
This new 30th Anniversary Brainstorm guy tries to lessen the head/body ratio math by engineering him in a larger size class. He's a Voyager, and a pretty tall one. He's a wedge taller than, say, Springer, and he doesn't look too far off from Jetfire's height. He feels like something in between. He's way less complicated than either, which may be why he can command such real estate. He's definitely larger than the original Brainstorm, while also having a smaller head. The usual Transformers proportions have persisted despite his gimmick.
He's a Headmaster, meaning his head transforms into a little robot guy (or guy in a robot suit). Brainstorm's neck is actually Arcana's head. (Arcana is not named anywhere, but we can assume it's the same guy as the original Brainstorm head.) Arcana's head is balljointed on his own tiny body, and so Brainstorm's head is also balljointed, which is nice. Usually the Headmaster gimmick precludes neck articulation.
To remove Arcana from Brainstorm's torso, the instructions say to pull down on the gray piece across his collarbone. This accomplishes a little. It does remove some of the plastic obstructing Arcana's head's removal from that hole in Brainstorm's torso, but you still kind of have to yank hard. This may end badly in some cases -- as I said, Arcana has a balljointed head, and it seems feasible to me that one day I may yank and pull Brainstorm's head away while leaving Arcana's head buried in Brainstorm's torso. But then, I have gone through like three TNBA Batmen this month, so I may be viewing things through Paranoia Glasses.
Brainstorm transforms simply, largely because he wouldn't look much like Brainstorm if he didn't still Transform like the original toy, which also transformed simply. You tuck his forearms back and fold his legs under the jet. The shins kind of point a bit far out the back of the jet mode, which I thought meant I missed a step, but everything pegs together perfectly and there are no other moving parts to suggest some additional transformation magic. The head obviously doesn't have to hide anywhere, since it becomes the pilot.
I am biased strongly in favor of this toy since Brainstorm has been appearing very importantly in the More Than Meets The Eye ongoing comic book series from IDW for the past three years and this toy is based on that design. (Minus the Headmaster gimmick, so far as we know.) The toy is a great representation of that iteration of the character, and so I have fits of glee just looking at him standing on my desk in robot mode. I should keep that going, I worry about the neck balljoint thing.