If you ask any fan of the original Transformers cartoon to name some of the more memorable characters from season 2 onwards, there’s a fairly good chance that you might hear Swindle mentioned at some point. The conniving, devious huckster is a standout of some of the latter-day episodes, even amongst a group as relatively well-defined as the Combaticons. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Ocular Max’s take on him was always going to be one that created a bit of excitement.
Fraudo (presumably meant to be pronounced as in “fraudster” and not at all like I was saying it all throughout my recent Unboxing video on the toy!) makes an instant first impression as soon as he leaves the packaging, with that colour scheme packing quite the punch on first glimpse.
The purple is pleasing enough, but it’s the particular shade of mustard that really does it for me. It’s a colour so entwined with the character that anyone hoping to take a crack at Swindle had better get it right (and not fade it out in the way that Unique Toys so unfortunately did), and to their credit, Ocular Max have nailed it. He really looks superb!
Complementing the good looks are a plethora of attractive smaller details, including some zinging blue headlights, beautifully-applied paint flourishes and attractive moulded detail. Just as with Incursus, who we examined in the last part of this series of reviews, it seems like Ocular Max haven’t spared their eye for detail when decking this lad out in 3D form.
It’s a fairly tidy little thing, too, although perhaps a little boxy in terms of the overall shape. There is some kibble present on the underneath, but everything is stowed away quite neatly as to be relatively inoffensive. It’s unmistakably an attempt at a real-world Jeep, and I think it works, by and large.
After all, despite some angles being less flattering than others, it’s the front view that really sells it here. The bonnet section is marvellous, with the front grill, windshield and wheels all making terrific accomplices.
Really, my only pause here was how best to apply the Decepticon logo to best ape the cartoon look. In the end, I reasoned for placing it further up the bonnet due to the large panel seam running through its middle, but now I’m thinking to give it another go and split the decal in half in order to place it further down. Worth a shot, right?
After all, it would be the crowning glory in terms of bringing the animation model to life, given what a stellar job Ocular Max have done in terms of their work. Fraudo really does look like the cartoon come to life.
Moving around to the back and everything remains mostly on-point despite some of the more obvious compromises being evident to see. The robot feet hang below the rear bumper and leave the unmistakable presence of joints up top, too. Fortunately, there’s more than enough to compensate for them, with the spare tyre and some more paint all drawing your eye away.
Then there’s that all-too-important weapons mount, made up of no less than four separate pieces overall. It sits incredibly firmly atop the rear of the vehicle form and can be swivelled round and positioned at just about any angle you wish. It looks spot on indeed.
There’s even an attempt at a real-world interior going on here, with seats, a dashboard and a steering wheel all present and correct. I’d say on the whole it works quite well and definitely looks good enough from a glance, although I do find the wheel itself a little odd, especially with how the hollow sections have been filled in. Still, a good attention-to-detail here.
It is also possible to have some of the small Masterpiece human minifigures sit inside Fraudo’s interior as shown, although in reality they’re a little small in scale, to say the least!
In fact the size of this guy is an interesting one, as he’s definitely larger than the likes of Masterpiece Hound, as you can see. He makes for a pretty beefy Jeep!
That said, I personally care not a jot, as accurate vehicle mode scaling is not something that’s ever going to work in the Masterpiece line (official or non), and definitely not in the case of the Combaticons. Some vehicle modes are just destined to always be out of scale with the majority of other toys in this style, and so it is with something like a Jeep.
That’s also true of tanks, jets, motorbikes… the list is seemingly endless!
After all, it would be impossible to have every vehicle scaling appropriately with the likes of the MP Carbots and still have their robot modes standing at the heights we expect to see based on how they appeared in the cartoon, so why even try?
Besides, it’s not like the cartoon itself didn’t swing into this kind of ridiculousness. Big Jeeps, tiny construction vehicles and massive cats are just par for the course, really.
In fact the point is compounded when you line him up next to his own teammate, Volatus. When you have a space shuttle and a Jeep both needing to turn into limbs for the same combiner, you know you’re going to run into scale issues, right? Best not to worry about it and just admire the respective vehicle forms for what they are, I say!
Besides, there’s little doubt to me that Fraudo looks fantastic next to the rest of the Combaticrew, with his hot mustard tones bringing a much-needed pep to the overall palette.
He’s just another example of how much fun it is to see these chaps interacting with one another, and yet further evidence that Ocular Max are onto a bit of a winner overall here.
I do feel like Swindle was an important one for them to get right, particularly given what a distinctive member of the team he is (both in terms of his character and his design), but I’m pleased to say they’ve cracked it.
I mentioned it last time but it’s long been a dream of mine to see a set of Combaticons brought to life so vividly and so faithfully in Masterpiece-style. There’s just something quite potent about their designs that it really is a joy to have them recreated this well!
As much as I will enjoy getting to their robot modes and (of course) the combined mode eventually, it has to be said that I’m fully appreciating spending some time with them as vehicles too. It’s a joy to behold, and Fraudo is a crucial part of that!
Join us for the next part when we’ll be taking a look at the next member of the team!