Ocular Max Impetus was the first in their not-Combaticon crew to see release, but for one reason or another I ended up with both Incursus and Fraudo in hand prior to first taking him for a spin in my recent Unboxing video. Still, I found there was a lot to like on first handling, and that’s an assertion that has only solidified during part one of this review. Well, now it’s time to get him transformed up and take a look at that robot form!
One thing I credited my previous experiences of this team with was a relatively smooth conversion process, particularly on Incursus but also latterly with Probus. Impetus isn’t quite as simple, requiring a bit more wrangling to get everything in position and featuring a fair dose of thin panels that need to be folded up along the way. Still, there’s nothing to really put you off here, and to be fair to Ocular Max it does feel significantly easier than other Masterpiece-styled attempts at this character, such as Unique Toys’ version. I would advise caution with areas such as the rotor blades still, and the way the head continuously pops off will never not be irritating beyond belief, but there are some genuinely very clever bits along the way, too!
In any case, the end result is worth the journey, as Impetus looks pretty swish once you get him contorted into that robot form. In fact I don’t believe I’ve seen Vortex ever done quite such justice!
It’s an interesting one, really, as you might imagine that this character could be seen as a little drab when compared to the rest of the team, or at least in theory. After all, Vortex’s colour scheme is predominantly grey with only a smattering of light blue, and there’s not a lot of signature detail to really make his design pop into your memory, either.
Yet somehow I have to confess that I think Ocular Max have made him positively pop! There’s a whole ton of personality that somehow leaps out of this attempt, so much so that you couldn’t possibly think of him as being dull in any sense.
A large part of that is those boosted colours. The blue is far more vibrant than seen on the character’s animation model, and even the grey looks distinctly warmer than you might imagine before seeing him in hand. It’s a fine result and feels entirely in-keeping with the rest of Ocular Max’s crew.
It’s not just the colour scheme though. There’s a certain amount of visual intrigue built into Impetus’ design that makes him very eye-catching overall, and a lot of that seemingly comes right from the character’s cartoon appearance itself.
It has to be said that it’s a highly decent stab at replicating the animation model in that regard, and again comes significantly closer than any other attempt we’ve seen so far in toy form. Besides a tiny bit of variance in the shins, it’s really all quite remarkably on-point, even down to the smaller details such as the chest and the placement of the windows on the hips!
What is also true though is that there are some compromises along the way. In order to achieve the faithful robot appearance and incorporate the all-in-one combiner gimmick that is at the heart of this team, it’s quite evident where some sections of this toy are maybe not as graceful as perhaps they could be.
Perhaps the best evidence of that is the legs. Whilst they look mostly accurate versus the source, they’re made up of a huge amount of different panels all needing to twist and turn to form an approximation of how Vortex’s lower appendages should appear, and feel a little over-engineered as a result. Just simply trying to pose them will show you what I mean, as if anything it takes a moment to discern exactly what is and isn’t intended as part of the knee joint!
There’s also then a rather bizarre (if still appreciated) attempt at ankle tilt which, along with the fussy thighs leaves you with a less-than-elegant overall appearance going on. It’s a shame as the engineering here is actually quite remarkable in places (particularly of note is how the top of the knees rotates round to reveal a faux front cockpit in order to work with the rest of the leg – very clever!), but it can’t help but look a little cluttered at the same time.
There’s also the small matter of the somewhat prominent combiner hand inside each of the legs, which is partially covered by a panel folded round from the rear but still evident enough to be hard to un-see at times. Again, this is another sense of compromise that comes with such a built-in gimmick, just as we’ve seen on Incursus and, to a lesser extent, Fraudo (but not really on wonderful Probus!).
Still, none of that is to say that Impetus presents badly on the whole – far from it, actually. Whilst the lower half may bring some quibbles, the top section more than makes up for it and helps to make this guy shine overall.
In fact I would go as far as to say that it’s about as perfect a representation of the character from the waist up that I could just about imagine. It looks like a dead ringer to the animation and handles superbly too.
Part of me almost (almost!) wishes that actually they’d done away with the built-in gimmick altogether and just focused on making these chaps the best individual robots they could be, but you have to admire the vision on offer here and to be fair to them, they’ve really gone a long way in executing it incredibly well.
So yes, this guy may be a bit of a tale of two halves on the whole, but there’s still a lot to like, and even with those legs he can pose pretty well.
He’s actually surprisingly fluid given everything, and pretty solid too. He can easily stand on one leg and adopt stuff like a running pose with little problem.
The arms articulate nicely too, although I do find the proportions of his forearms to be a little long, if anything.
And as with every member of this team, I’m a big fan of the hands that Ocular Max employ on their figures. There’s a rounded elegance to them that works exceptionally well, and allows for them to be stylish as well as functional.
Really though, my biggest area of praise here is reserved for the headsculpt. It might sound like odd applause to level at a face which is made up of a visor and a mouthplate, but still I think they’ve really nailed it here. That is Vortex to a tee, and I honestly cannot imagine anyone improving on it any time soon!
It’s more than enough to elevate this guy quite a bit overall, making sure that he ends up doing a top notch job at “feeling right” when representing the character.
It also makes him exceptionally photogenic, and means that despite whatever grumbles I may have about the lower half, I ended up having tons of fun with him overall!
I do still have a bit of an issue with the neck, though, for it absolutely will not stay in place. The head is forever popping off at the balljoint, and frankly the way in which it is designed perplexes me quite a bit! It makes it very awkward to manipulate and pose and does mean you will be continually putting it back on.
I really like how Ocular Max have incorporated Vortex’s twin arm blasters here, especially with how they so easily unpeg from the helicopter and reattach on his arms.
The handheld blaster also looks very striking here and fits securely into his palm using a quite unique peg solution.
Otherwise, my only slight pause with Impetus are those rotor blades, which by nature of their very design manage to feel somewhat cumbersome at the best of times. No points off for Ocular Max here, as if nothing else they’ve stuck with the character model as it’s supposed to be, although perhaps it would have been good if they’d locked into place somehow.
It just means that you have a bit of extra consideration to be taken when posing this guy, and especially if you want him as part of a line-up with a lot of other toys, as the blades will inevitably get in the way. So it goes.
Anyway, overall there’s enough to like about Impetus that he’s certainly impressed me on the whole. I do think there are probably just some elements of Vortex’s design that are hard to translate to toy form if you’re attempting to make it cartoon accurate, and that definitely shows in areas such as the legs.
Perhaps it’s no surprise to remember that the legs on Unique Toys’ attempt were also the most complicated bit, and actually ended up being way, way more overdone than what we see here (and didn’t have to contain a combiner hand too!). In that regard I think this is a success overall.
If nothing else then I certainly feel like this is the best-looking Vortex toy I’ve seen (outside of the still-amazing original, perhaps!) and possesses much of the same strengths that you will find elsewhere in Ocular Max’s crew.
I’ve alluded to this already but the team does come together pretty cohesively, all told, and there are a lot of cues on the individual figures that mean they all feel part of the same unit, despite their varying looks.
In terms of height, Impetus comes up somewhere around the lower middle, being noticeably taller than Fraudo but still dwarfed by the likes of Probus (and especially Incursus!).
Still, I think that’s pretty good stature for this character, and means he also blends in extremely well alongside a Masterpiece-styled Decepticon line-up. He ends up being not too far off Seeker height, which at least feels about right for me (without wishing to reach for the Holy Scale Chart, that is!).
With so many varying interpretations of the different combiner teams now out there, I do ultimately think that it’s up to you to find a combination that works best versus your mind’s eye, anyway.
One thing I do love about seeing combiner ‘bots so well-represented though is that they do a terrific job at filling out the ranks quite a bit! I’ve long felt that the Decepticons often get the short stick when it comes to a Masterpiece-esque display, given how well-served the Autobots can be, but with the likes of the Combaticons slotting in so nicely against other recent offerings, it’s all coming together pretty well these days.
Seriously, if you’d have told me even just a couple of years ago that a display like this would be possible on the horizon, I’d have struggled to see it. Yet here we are, and Ocular Max are showing just how it should be done.
I think their offerings work so well because ultimately they have captured the right balance of aesthetic to slot in alongside all kinds of other examples from toy companies both official and non.
In many regards they bridge the gap slightly between being simply cartoon-inspired and ultra-animation slavish, yet still feel like they manage to do a cracking job at bringing the intended characters to life.
They also seem to gel amazingly well with a range of different characters, be they future crew or more classic 1980s lads.
With Protectobots also on the way, it’ll be great to see what Ocular Max have up their sleeve next over the coming years, as if they keep applying this same level of execution then I think we’re in for some treats along the way.
For today, and with only one member of the crew left to deliver a final verdict on after this, I’m left feeling like we’ve already seen something pretty special happening here overall.
After all, Impetus may not be 100% perfect, but as a set you have to step back and think that’s it’s another impressive outing for the overall line-up the third party producer has now fully realised.
I’ve wanted a definitive take on these characters for the longest time and it’s great to see them being created with such style and obvious affection. Impetus is but another successful chapter in that story.
So, that’s Impetus! Join us next time when we’ll finish taking a look at the rest of the team in robot mode.
WHAT’S HOT? Solid helicopter mode, good robot mode overall and does a great job at bringing the character to life.
WHAT’S NOT? The transformation can be a wee bit fiddly, the head keeps popping off and the legs do feel a bit over-engineered.