For the unintiated, the Transformers: Universe line consists of modern reimaginings of classic transformers characters. It's thankfully no longer primarily a dumping ground for repaints, but a continuation of the previous Transformers:classics line.
So which classic character is Tankor? He's actually meant to be Octane, one of the six original triple changers released in 1986, but Hasbro lost the trademark. If that weren't hard enough for poor Octane, his original toy was objectively the second-worst triple changer. His arms didn't even do anything, simply hanging on the sides of either alt-mode. Again, poor Octane.
However, while Octane may not inspire the nostalgia of his shipping mates Sunstreaker and Prowl, he's an incredibly solid and clever toy, easily surpassing Classics Astrotrain as the best triple-changer ever produced.
The strongest of Octane's three modes, the robot mode manages to incorporate plane and fueler elements without introducing any kibble. The plane nose splits into the arms, resulting in regal shoulderpads and a slight case of Saucer Hand syndrome. The wrist joints and weaponry minimize the latter issue, but there's unfortunately purple paint on two transformation tabs that's just begging to chip off. For those who prefer their transformers pristine, buy one Octane to keep MIB.
The legs go all over the place during transformation, and look somewhat disjointed as a result, but are at least proportionate with the torso. Thankfully, the colors consolidate the legs nicely and draw attention towards the torso.
Octane has the play value of an Voyager in this mode thanks to his myriad reconfigurations. The shoulderpads can point up, back, or sideways to enlarge or reduce the torso's footprint; my personal favorite is back, since it puts the head, shoulder and leg joints in roughly the same plane. Furthermore, the wings are as poseable as the arms on some transformers, and also have three viable positions. If that weren't enough, the legs can be extended, adding roughly 1 1/4 '' to Octane's height and giving him fin-toes. It's Super-Octane (High Octane? heh)!
Octane has two peashooters and a giant claw. The peashooters combine to make a slightly more impressive peashooter, but I prefer mounting them on Octane's legs as Fort-Max style cannons. The real star of the robot mode is the claw. See, the original Octane had a big vacuum-metalized "fig leaf" to cover robot kibble in truck mode that formed a very half-hearted shield for the robot. The claw performs the same function on today's Octane, but integrates into both vehicle modes. And claws are way cooler than "shields".
The nostalgic can use the claw/"fig leaf" as a shield, a purpose it in fact serves admirably. But it serves as a big, Autobot-crushing attack claw far more admirably. While Octane's ball joints aren't strong enough to hold a robot in front of his face, his wing gives enough bracing for him to crush hapless Happy Meal toys over his head. Those happy meal toys had it coming, I'll say.
Robot to plane is simple. Just fold up the arms, turn the legs inside-out, and compress everything. The real meat-and-potatoes is plane to truck, where the front and back ends turn inside out, rotate ninety degrees in opposite orientations, and fold around *all* the remaining jet kibble. The wings don't form anything in truck mode because they're hidden inside, a real feat of engineering.
Every triple changer makes compromises. The plane mode has one major and two minor compromises, the truck mode has one, and the robot has none, making the cargo plane Octane's weakest mode. That said, it looks like a plane from all angles, including the underside, which is far more than can be said of any other triple changer's weak link.
The aforementioned major compromise is the slightly stubby wings, which had to be engineered to fit inside the truck mode. On a fighter jet the wings would be inexcusable, but on a boxy freighter, they look fine in person save for a few odd angles. The minor compromises are a bit of truck kibble on the tail's underside and poorly-matched weapon coloration for the Fig Leaf. The latter can be remedied by removing the fig leaf. Sure, this exposes robot parts, but only on the plane's underside, and results in a much more streamlined plane.
There's not much play value aside from spinning propellers and swivelling "missile pods" formed from the peashooters. Oh well, that's to be expected of a plane TF.
The most amazing thing about this mode is that it stays together. Why? It's held together by tabs and slots, three pairs to be exact. I'll give Hasbro kudos for producing a completely stable Universe figure, especially after recent troubles with Movie Brawl's and Classics Grimlock's awful arm tabs and stability loss.
Also amazingly, this mode represents a real M978 fueler. While the claw/fig leaf still isn't matched with the rest of the vehicle, it's far less of an eyesore than in plane mode. The only major compromise is a hollow back end, but unlike Classics Astrotrain's similar flaw, this design boo-boo is only visible from the back. Even then, I don't mind it.
There's a little play value: the peashooters become side-mounted guns, and he sort of rolls but not quite due to two wheels serving as transformation joints. The latter could have become a major eyesore if not for all wheels sharing the same solid-black coloration. Overall, not a perfect mode, but a strong and realistic one.
Where Astrotrain suffered from the constraints of a deluxe, Tankor/Octane succeeds by attaining the complexity and versatility of a voyager. What's more, he's the only modern triple changer with three decent modes. Buy him.
|Date||July 5th 2008|
|Score||(9 out of 10)|