In-between eating, sleeping and occasionally saying hello to my family, I feel like my life has essentially been overrun by Combaticons of late. With all five members of the Ocular Max take on the team having arrived in such swift succession, that’s perhaps no great surprise, but besides, it’s not like I haven’t been happy for it. I mean, just have a look at the likes of Volatus, for starters.
It’s a bit phwoar, right? Well, believe it or not, I was actually slightly underwhelmed by this entry on first assessment, as you’ll no doubt know if you caught my recent Unboxing video. It’s not that I didn’t find things to like about Volatus; it’s just that the bar had already been set so high by Incursus, Fraudo and Impetus (and subsequently raised further by Probus!) that something about this particular effort just didn’t quite make it for me at the time.
One thing that is interesting though, is that I started that process by checking out the robot mode (which definitely has one or two things to grumble about), meaning that by the time I made it through transformation to the shuttle form, my first impression was already becoming well-and-truly set in my mind.
So, a second chance to take a look at him then, and one I’ve been very much looking forward to. After all, today we’re kicking off with his alternate form (which remains my preference in terms of approaching such assessments), and we’re proceeding without the weight of expectations that can colour your opinions sometimes.
And you know what? There’s a lot to like here. In fact it’s only fair to say that Volatus is rather bloomin’ lovely in his shuttle mode.
Truthfully, I wish that Ocular Max had packaged him this way, as not only is it a looker but it’s such a solid and well-built thing that I think the first impression would have been more favourable overall. It all tabs together wonderfully-well and feels very cohesive in hand.
In fact the more I sit and write, the more positives come to mind about this mode, so much so that any grumbles I may have start to feel like mere nitpicks in the grand scheme of things. We’ve already established that he looks pretty great and feels well-built, but let’s not forget that it’s also a surprisingly cartoon-accurate take on the most ridiculous Combaticon form, too.
OK, it’s a little more elongated, but the details are on-point even if there are some liberties with the proportions. Besides, would a wholly-slavish recreation of Blast Off’s cartoon model really work all that well? It’s always been a bit of a bizarre design, and dare I say I think that Ocular Max have interpreted it exceptionally well here. It’s at once entirely reminiscent of the source whilst managing to sidestep looking rather silly, as it so easily could have done.
What you get instead is a well-balanced aesthetic. Simple enough to feel like the animation, but detailed enough to keep it feeling grounded in some way.
After all, all of the right nods are there, such as the three little grooves on the nosecone section, but then they’ve mixed it up by giving Volatus a more realistic-looking windshield. The result is, I think, the best of both worlds.
I also *love* this lad’s colour scheme. That purple is simply breathtaking in hand, and follows suit with the rest of this team in dialling up the saturation a touch to ensure the result is a pleasurable assault on the eyeballs.
The darker colours work wonders too. I’ve heard it said that brown toys are rarely exciting, but I’d submit this chap as evidence to the contrary, as he’s definitely here to prove just how well it can work when done right. It’s a beautiful colour scheme all-in.
Even the plainest sections manage to look good in the overall aesthetic, and areas such as the wings can be spruced up with the simple addition of a Decepticon logo or two.
The rear thrusters are a weird choice, mind. Having four of them smacks to me of being unable to implement the correct number as part of the transformation somehow, although I will say that it doesn’t look bad, as such. One suspects that Blast Off is very likely to be a bit of a headache to deliver in terms of design, so clearly compromises must be made somewhere.
They did manage to incorporate a few welcome touches though, such as how his handheld blaster can be stowed away in what sort-of-works as an opening hatch in the mid-section. Very neat indeed.
Overall then, there’s really not much to grumble about with Volatus’ vehicle form at all. It looks great, holds together well, has some interesting features and does a good job at bringing to life the character from the cartoon. Need I say more?
Oh yeah, and it looks terrific against a space backdrop! How great is that, eh?
As I say, I do wish that I’d had the opportunity to get to know this form first, as honestly I think it makes the better first impression of the two options available, but at least I’ve been able to go back and enjoy it since.
Will this reappraisal carry through to his robot mode? Time will tell, but for now at least I’m certainly enjoying seeing how he shapes up next to a variety of other Masterpiece-styled toys.
Naturally, Blast Off’s design is one that calls to mind the question of scale more than most. How do you have a realistically-scaled shuttle mode alongside the likes of the Masterpiece cars, for example? The short answer is, you don’t.
Let’s be fair, this is just one of the many elements that make Blast Off such a weird entry to the team, especially when he’s lined-up next to the likes of a Jeep that also turns into a limb. It’s just never going to work, and so I’m pleased to see that Ocular Max haven’t even tried to make sense of it.
After all, as a group of toys, Masterpiece and 3PMP-equivalents have seen some ridiculous leaps-of-logic when it comes to how they all work together in vehicle form, but this is perhaps one of the most memorable. Just have a look at him versus the likes of the Masterpiece Seeker design, for starters.
I really don’t mind, though, as Volatus looks so superbly well-done in vehicle form that somehow it still works, by my estimation.
In fact, why not just embrace the very silly nature of the whole endeavour and just get on board, eh?
After all, this is all meant to be a spot of fun, so best not to think about it too seriously!
Besides, if the team not scaling amongst themselves is a dealbreaker for you, then you’re going to be missing out on a very awesome-looking set of vehicle modes, unfortunately!
At the end of the day, it may be ridiculous, but that’s just part of what makes the Combaticons so much fun. Fortunately, in this case, Volatus is very much a part of that, reaching for the stars on a second entry for his vehicle mode overall.
And with all the vehicle forms now done, join us next time when we’ll start talking robot modes!