In the previous part of our Ocular Max Combaticon multi-part review extravaganza, we took a last look at Incursus and concluded that he is, in fact, a belter. Today we’re turning our attention to Fraudo to see if he deserves a similar accolade, having already assessed his vehicle mode in all its mustardy glory. So let’s get him transformed and take a gander at that robot form!
The process of transforming Fraudo is surprisingly involved for what is overall the smallest member of Ocular Max’s team, and features a few unexpected twisted turns in the upper body region especially. If you caught my first attempt at this on camera during my Unboxing video, then you may recall that I accidentally cut my finger whilst trying to pry open the sides of the chest, although I’m pleased to report that I can easily manage the task now without injury or concern! In fact I’d go as far as saying that it’s actually quite a smooth transition all told, and leaves you with a very pleasing ‘bot indeed.
One look at Fraudo in his robot mode creates no doubt as to who this is meant to represent. The snivelling Swindle was always a bit of a standout in the original Transformers cartoon for how he tried to manipulate matters to his own gain, but in many ways he was also memorable for not looking like your typical Decepticon, too. So it is with this attempt.
That’s for many reasons, but no doubt the most glaring one (and the first thing you’ll notice here) is the colour palette on offer. We’ve already talked about this in the previous part but it bears repeating – Fraudo looks nothing shy of remarkable thanks to those colours. The purple x mustard combo is palpable, and really makes the design pop.
And as with the vehicle mode, it’s worth noting how well applied the little flourishes of paint are here, adding some welcome highlights to the otherwise blocky aesthetic on offer. It’s quite clear that Ocular Max paid a lot of attention in that regard.
Then there’s the design itself, which looks exceptionally tidy on the whole and really does do a great job at recalling the character to life. He may not be your typical Decepticon in terms of appearance, but it’s always seemed like Swindle was probably a tricky prospect to recreate faithfully, so it’s great to see Ocular Max hitting a lot of the right beats here.
In order to achieve it, they have of course employed multiple uses of “fake” parts, such as the faux wheels on the shoulders and the headlight and grill section on his crotch area. How you feel about that as a solution is up to you, but for my money I think it works very well and brings Fraudo much closer to the source animation as a result. Overall, I think it’s pretty spot on, with perhaps some proportions being the most immediate variation.
That’s not to say that there aren’t other deviations, mind, and perhaps interestingly the bit of this figure that strays the most is actually the part that I think looks the least aesthetically pleasing. I do of course mean the legs. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not bad by any stretch, but they’re definitely lacking the “clean” feel of the cartoon model and look a little detail-heavy as a result.
Ultimately everything is kind of where it’s meant to be on that lower half (save perhaps the wheels, but I have no idea how they could have managed whatever is going on with them on that cartoon drawing!), so it’s genuinely a great effort overall. I think perhaps my only real almost-bugbear is the huge clompers he’s packing – surely a result of needing to also form the combined mode foot. It means that the comparatively pointed toes of the source material end up translating to two rather over-portioned plates of meat, but still it’s a mere nitpick considering everything else going on here.
I guess if anything we can kinda chalk those huge boots up to another slight compromise of the all-in-one transformation gimmick that this set hinges on. As I say though, I’m really quite impressed with how well they’ve achieved the overall look, and there’s still no mistaking that this toy certainly “feels right” in terms of the character it’s trying to emulate.
I think a large part of that is the headsculpt, which, and I say this not lightly, is nothing shy of outstanding. Whilst it seems unlikely to ever happen right now, should TakaraTomy ever see fit to bring us a Masterpiece crack at this guy then I honestly don’t know that they would do the noggin much better than this. The smirk version is especially wonderful, and just resonates so much in terms of how the character is portrayed in fiction, the cheeky bugger.
Of course the stock face that comes on the toy out of the box is more of a stoic look, but again it does a superb job at bringing the character to life. Swapping these out means removing the entire head and rather unfortunately requires the use of a screwdriver, something I personally don’t like as a solution to this kind of gimmick, but the results speak for themselves.
There is a third option (of sorts) which comes packaged with Volatus, the Blast Off of this set. It’s exceptionally close to the smirking face, so much so that I’m still not entirely sure why it was included to begin with, but it at least presents another possibility here. Either way, they all look great, with a lovely sparkly finish and vibrant purple eyes.
That’s not the only gimmick on offer here, mind you, as Fraudo comes packed with more than a few other accessories. First up are his weapons.
The arm cannon is something that any attempt at a Masterpiece-styled Swindle needs to get right, and fortunately I think Ocular Max have cracked it here. Despite being on the front of his shoulder on the animation model, it was never particularly clear where the cannon was supposed to sit in the cartoon itself, so the decision to mount it on the side is fine by me.
I do wish that he could more easily raise it as if to fire directly in front of him, but it looks good out to the side too and overall I think it’s a successful solution.
Then there’s the small handheld missile launcher weapon, which fits snugly in either palm and looks really nice on account of a dash of silver paint.
Finally there’s the spare tyre accessory for the vehicle mode, which can be tabbed onto Fraudo’s back in a further recreation of the animation look. There’s even a bit of optional weapons storage for the mount accessory from the Jeep form, which can be neatly tabbed onto the reverse of one of the legs. Nice touch.
It means that there’s more than enough going on here to keep you entertained, and it’s great to see how well thought-through all of the accessories are in terms of storage etc. It’s yet further evidence of Ocular Max having a close attention-to-detail with their designs.
In addition to the accessories, there’s more good news to be had in terms of articulation, as Fraudo possesses all of the joints necessary to pull off some decent poses. The arms are especially good, even going so far as to feature a slight butterfly joint in the shoulders for that extra little something.
Again, the legs are arguably the least elegant part here, but even then you have all of the range required to put him into some dynamic stances for display. He feels quite suitably stable too, perhaps as a benefit of those huge hooves.
The other thing that’s worth mentioning briefly is the potential placement of a Decepticon logo. If you read the first part of this review then you’ll note I discussed the idea of splitting an emblem in half in order to better place it on the bonnet of the Jeep mode, but a quick transformation soon showed me the error of that idea, as you would of course end up with only the top half of the symbol visible in this form.
It means that I’ll be sticking with my current placement instead, as it then also ends up being roughly in the right spot come transformation time. Arguably it could do with being a little higher up for robot mode, and a little lower down for vehicle mode, but I think overall I’m happy with how it turned out!
So, it’s certainly a strong showing for Fraudo in robot form, but how well does he line up next to other Masterpiece-styled toys?
Naturally one of the first comparisons to do is versus Incursus, and it’s only fair to say that the two of them look pretty great together, as you might expect.
One thing that is very notable about the Ocular Max set is how disparate the respective heights of the characters are, and these two together is the ultimate example of that.
It’s weird to say but Fraudo looks positively tiny next to Incursus, which is especially strange when you consider that he’s really not all that small overall!
Still, I think it works well, and they definitely tie together pretty nicely in terms of aesthetics too. It’ll be a lot of fun to photograph the whole team together as we go.
Popping Fraudo next to other attempts at Masterpiece-styled toys will show you what I mean about his height, of course. He sits somewhere in the middle between Seeker and Carbot height, meaning that he ends up filling out the ranks a little in quite an unprecedented way.
He’s noticeably bigger than the likes of the X-Transbots Stunticons (themselves the same height as a Carbot) as one example, but somehow I don’t mind that at all. I’m not going to whip the Holy Scale Chart out, but suffice it to say something about it all works to my eye, at least.
Then again, we’re starting to see a lot of different interpretations of these combiner ‘bots on the market now, with the Stunticons proving to be one of the more varied takes depending on which company is making them. It would be interesting to see how FansToys would potentially tackle this character, for example, as presumably he might end up being larger to fit alongside their road crew.
At the other end of the spectrum, there’s an argument to say that Fraudo also slots in quite nicely alongside some more-recent CHUG-style toys, and I have already seen a few examples of collectors looking to utilise him in such a display. Really, how well it works is all in the eye of the beholder.
There’s no doubt in my mind though that he works best in Masterpiece-style, and in that regard he’s definitely become my favourite interpretation of the character that we’ve seen so far. He easily beats out the Zeta Toys equivalent in individual form, and even my previous preference for the Unique Toys release.
Again, I think the more saturated colour scheme works wonders for this toy, and really makes him pop amongst all the many examples of blue and purple that Decepticon toys tend to favour. Just like the character, Fraudo stands out quite distinctly.
In fact he’s one of the more memorable unofficial attempts at a Decepticon I think we’ve seen in recent times, bringing something a little different to the table and making the bad boy ranks all the better for it.
So, that’s Fraudo! Join us next time when we’ll continue taking a look at the rest of the team in robot mode.
WHAT’S HOT? Decent vehicle mode, overall excellent robot mode. Transformation is involved but fairly fluid, and he has some great accessories.
WHAT’S NOT? The legs are a little detail-heavy and the feet look slightly cumbersome. The Jeep mode is slightly blocky in places.