In case you somehow missed it, I had a bit of a blast (no pun intended) during my recent Unboxing video on Ocular Max Probus. So much so that by the end of the vid, I’d already declared him to be the best of the gang overall! Well, having taken a look at his vehicle form in full photographic glory, it’s now time to turn our attention to the robot mode and see if that initial assertion holds true.
Fortunately the process of transformation to get there is a pleasing one indeed! In fact it’s one of the more simple conversions Ocular Max have managed in this group, but still manages to pack in a few surprises along the way. I particularly love how the arms fold up out of pieces of the tank treads, and I’ll never not be satisfied by the old push-button-to-release-legs feature that can be found here. Overall, it’s a lot of fun but can still be knocked out in a mere matter of minutes, once you know what you’re doing, something that all-too-often isn’t quite the case on third party toys.
And the result? Well, it’s pretty much perfection. Yep, I’m not holding back here or attempting to keep you in any kind of suspense – this thing knocks it out of the park for me, and deserves every bit of praise I’m about to heap all over it. Gush-fest incoming!
Suffice it to say that I’ve been longing for a truly cartoon-accurate rendition of Brawl for some time. We came close-ish with Unique Toys’ take, and that toy also happens to be a lot of fun too, but ultimately there were enough departures from the character’s animation model that it always required a least a little leap of faith. Not so with Probus.
So, once again, let me saying this unequivocally – Ocular Max have absolutely crushed it.
Everything about this design feels spot on in terms of how it represents that animation model, in my book. The proportions, the sculpt, the details, the moulding – all absolutely superb.
I’m a particular fan of little touches such as the “chest guns”, which are moulded here specifically to recall a similar element on that animation model. There sorts of cues do a huge amount of heavy lifting in terms of really making Probus “feel right” versus the character’s on-screen appearance, and really show Ocular Max having gone the extra mile in terms of bringing him to life so faithfully.
It’s more than just tiny flourishes though – the entire presence of this thing just exudes that rough and tough demeanour that feels so right for Brawl as we know him from the cartoon. It’s really quite striking.
The final touch is naturally to find a decent placement for some Decepticon logos, which can be accomplished with ease thanks to some very handy smooth spots on each forearm. Technically the animation model only has one on his left arm, but I kinda fancied trying out the more symmetrical look myself. Either way, it works pretty well.
They also help to add a small bit of visual interest on what is otherwise a heavy amount of green and grey, although that’s not to say that the toy’s colour scheme is drab in any way – far from it.
In fact I love how Ocular Max have followed a similar path to Fraudo and dialled up the saturation a smidge here, infusing Probus with a decent amount of colour and making him all the more vibrant as a result.
I’ve seen a couple of quibbles about the green, mind, with a few collectors feeling like maybe it doesn’t quite represent the specific shade of the animation model as close as it could. To that I simply shrug and say, “oh well”, for it looks good and at least to my eye, it’s close enough. There’s an element to which this thing needs to be visually-pleasing as well as represent the character, and the boosted colour works a treat, in my book.
The other aspect that’s definitely worth a mention here is that headsculpt. Woof! It’s absolutely brilliant, isn’t it? I mean look, it is just a visor and a mouthplate, I know, but still it manages to be at once pleasingly perfect all by itself whilst still doing a bang-up job at looking like the character model. The paint applications and colour choices are great too. Love it.
In fact the paint applications deserve a highlight across the board, as in keeping with the alt’ mode they make a huge difference to the overall presentation here and leave Probus feeling like a quality product. He really does look spectacular.
That quality feel carries over to the materials and engineering employed too, as what you get is a big, chunky ‘bot who feels robust and sturdy but also handles like a charm.
You see, it’s not just good looks and solid build that Probus can claim, as he features all the necessary articulation to pose like a champ, too. For such a beefy boy there’s a lot of play value contained within.
I can honestly say I had a ton of fun just picking up and messing around with this guy, so fluid and well-considered are the joints and the available range of motion. He’s just fab all-round!
It’s certainly not hard to quickly pose him up in any number of menacing stances, adding a bit of combat-ready presence to your Decepticon shelf.
Again, it’s the arms that are of particular mention here, as the shoulder joints allow for a surprising amount of flexibility given the blocky design.
It’s true that there are some elements that stop him from being entirely versatile, but you should still be able to crank out any number of decent poses, including a relatively-convincing kneel.
In terms of accessories and gimmicks, the most obvious one is his handheld blaster, which is made up of the mounted gun from his tank mode and looks like a dead ringer for the cartoon equivalent.
It holds tightly in his palm and really helps to make him look ready for action, no matter the pose!
Of course there are also the two small rubbery antennae that can be left on the top of the turret section, but for my part I prefer to remove them for robot mode as it looks a little cleaner.
Then you can flip the turret round and tab in the cannons from the rear of the tank mode atop his shoulders, should you wish. It gives him a very different look and certainly adds a bit of firepower!
Really though, my joy at handling this toy comes from its simplicity, if anything. As I mentioned, I’ve wanted a really great rendition of this character for a long time, and now here it is. Two great modes, a fun and easily-repeatable transformation, superb looks, quality build… it’s just all done really well.
Of course the rest of this set have their stand-out moments too, but I have no problem in saying that Probus tops them all with ease. It’s just everything I hoped it would be right here in toy form.
Does that sound like hyperbole? Maybe so, I’ll leave you to judge. All I know is that I’m utterly enamoured with this thing from start to finish, and would honestly recommend it to people who are maybe not even interested in the rest of the set.
That might sound like an odd consideration, but it’s worth thinking about as Probus is just the absolute business. It’s not every day that I would say a third party figure feels “definitive” (even some of the really great ones), yet here we are.
Of course none of that is to say that Probus doesn’t also fit in well alongside his Ocular Max teammates. Indeed, he elevates the line-up quite considerably too, gelling in alongside the likes of Incursus and Fraudo with ease.
I’ve mentioned it before, but one thing I’ve definitely enjoyed about this team is the varying heights of the robot modes (as opposed to one unified size for all the limb lads), and so it is with Probus. Considering both he and Fraudo turn into the legs, it’s incredible to see them looking so different here.
In fact Probus is anything but small, and certainly holds his own in any kind of Masterpiece-styled display.
He may look little in comparison to Incursus but, well, everyone does! The leader of the team is just so mahoosive that it’s somewhat inevitable.
Just check him out next to something like a Masterpiece Seeker (or a third party equivalent) though, and you’ll see he notches up about eye-level or so. He’s certainly no slouch in the stature department.
It means that Probus can easily transcend being another mere combiner limb, destined to forever be relegated as part of a larger team. He deserves to be displayed with any number of other Masterpiece-styled Decepticons in full glory.
Whether it’s a classic ’80s cast or a “future” 2006-era crew, he brings a lot of presence to the proceedings.
I think it helps that Brawl was one of the more defined Decepticon characters in the original cartoon, even if that was just as a loud-mouthed bully. It makes it truly exciting to see him brought to life so well here.
I had a great kick from seeing him next to stuff like Power of the Primes Razorclaw, recalling one of my favourite episodes in Fight or Flee.
In fact the more comparisons I came to do, the more I realised that there is a lengthy number of other ‘bots who stack up brilliantly next to Probus.
I think what really helps is the cartoony aesthetic that Ocular Max have so keenly hit here. It means he still slots in nicely next to the more-recent official toys, but perhaps manages to sidestep the overtly slavish style that they’re going for. It’s a decent balance.
The Combaticons were a team I was certainly excited to see done in such style, and certainly none more so than Brawl. This accomplishment to me is nigh-on perfect in that regard.
It makes me extremely hopeful for the likes of Ocular Max’s upcoming Protectobots, that being another set of characters that I’m keen to see done justice, but for today I’m just happy marvelling at how wonderful Probus is overall. Hey, I did say it would be a gush-fest, didn’t I?
So, that’s Probus! Join us next time when we’ll continue taking a look at the rest of the team in robot mode.
WHAT’S HOT? Excellent in both modes with a fun and repeatable transformation. Spot on to the animation model and a really solid build.
WHAT’S NOT? The little antennae might be easy to lose, and, um…