Of all the many Masterpiece-styled toys I’ve been banging on about recently, it’s only fair to say that the Ocular Max Combaticons have more than dominated the proceedings. I mean, they’ve been the subject of numerous videos and reviews I’ve put out already, but having given my final judgement on every other member of the team we’re now in the home stretch with Volatus. Thus far it’s been pretty smooth sailing on the whole, although this was the member of the team that I found to be a little underwhelming on first view during my initial Unboxing video. Sure, his vehicle mode was pretty nice, but just how will that robot form fair, eh? Let’s find out!
First things first, the transformation scheme on Volatus is quite a bit of fun. I’ve had this guy going back and forth quite a few times over now, and I’ve come to find it a very smooth transition on the whole, even quite creative and fun in parts. There are a couple of slightly unsatisfying elements with how stuff ends up being positioned in robot mode, mostly due to them not clipping in solidly as such, but at least there’s definitely nothing here that should prove in any way frustrating or difficult for anyone.
And here’s where it gets you! Right off the bat, it’s an unmistakable attempt at Blast Off in his robot mode, so there’s no doubt that the general likeness is one Ocular Max have achieved well. It’s every bit the goofy brown lad we know from the cartoon, and arguably goes much, much closer than any other attempt we’ve seen in Masterpiece-style thus far in that regard.
On first glance everything seems to be reasonably on point, with nice proportions (possibly even some of the best of this entire troupe), a strong sculpt, pleasing colours and a tidy robot form overall. Looking good to begin with.
I guess my initial feeling of disappointment with Volatus came from actually handling him, then. Whilst he definitely does present well, there are a few elements that immediately set off alarm bells upon first touch. As I’ve already mentioned, some areas just don’t tab in very solidly, if at all, such as the angled panels behind his head. These are made up of the front parts of the shuttle wings, but rather unfortunately don’t lock into position for the robot mode and so move around during any kind of posing or play with wild abandon.
Coming around for a rear view will show you that they do at least stow away very neatly, and to be fair most of the kibbly bits here are disposed with quite cleanly overall. Ocular Max have even included stuff like the rear fin found on Blast Off’s cartoon model, and given that this is a piece incorporated specifically for the robot mode it shows a lot of attention to detail. So it’s weird to me to then move down and look at areas such as his bum, which is made up of two wirdly-angled hip flaps that just sort of smash awkwardly together. I summoned my inner Arnold Rimmer during my Unboxing video and described it as two badly-parked Volkswagens, and I stand by that assertion.
What’s especially odd about the side hip flaps is that they can in theory sit flush against the sides of the body, but they both feature a small tab on the front which means doing so locks them into the hip skirt and thus entirely impedes any kind of leg articulation. It’s a very strange choice and leaves you having to flay the skirt out just slightly at the sides so that it all ends up rather messy.
Ultimately it’s one of those elements you just have to make your peace with, despite what a weird bit of design it is versus some of the truly elegant solutions found elsewhere on this thing. I will say that the arms are a bit odd in places too though, as despite being a simple and arguably even a clever solution to how they transform from shuttle mode, they do also look a little unpolished in the elbow region, even leaving a fairly noticeable gap underneath the forearm.
Otherwise one of my main grumbles is probably the slight peek of combiner mode hand that you get on the inside of the legs, with only a folded-up bit of rear shuttle fin left to try and cover it. It’s not the worst solution ever (and if anything it probably is less obvious than the equivalent on Impetus), but again it just looks a little messy when lined up next to how sleek this chap is in other places.
Other than that, my list of quibbles is rounded out by the perhaps baffling lack of ankle tilt available here, which is surely as a result of allowing the thrusters to fold round to the front as feet. It’s one of those weird elements inherent to Blast Off’s design that I’ve little doubt is hard to execute, but not being able to articulate the feet or ankles at all is something that hurts in terms of posing. I have sort of accepted it now, and in reality it’s not quite the big dealbreaker I might have first imagined, but it’s still a strange result.
So yes, there are definitely some compromises in getting this guy into robot mode, and more than a few things that marred my first impression. It did mean that I was left feeling Volatus was comparatively a bit lacklustre when standing next to his teammates, which is a shame when you consider what a knockout each of them has been so far.
Here’s the thing though, I’ve spent more time with him since then and, well, he’s definitely winning me over slowly but surely. In fact I can honestly say that even acknowledging those flaws, there’s still quite a bit to like going on here.
Let’s start by saying that it is a dead ringer for the animation model, warts and all. I was actually surprised how close it comes when doing a true side-by-side comparison, but even the finer details have been taken care of, showing again what fantastic attention to detail Ocular Max have employed here.
Areas such as the chest look superb as a result, and ably recall the look of the character from on-screen. Even aspects such as the faux landing gear on his shins, the shape of his hips, those feet, the design of the arms… it’s all been planned out to great effect.
There are some slight variances mind, such as the purple on the outer sides of his shoulders, but really that’s nitpicking to the extreme if you’re going to let that bother you. What Ocular Max have done here is deliver a dead-on recreation of the cartoon model in toy form, making Volatus without a doubt the single most accurate-to-the-source version of the character we’ve seen thus far. That’s some achievement when you consider what a bizarre-looking chap he is.
It’s more than just the details, mind – they’ve captured the spirit and “feel” of the character in a way that we also saw them do with the rest of this team, meaning that even though this toy does have some things that I could grumble about, Volatus ends up taking his place in the ranks with solid footing.
For example, there’s that *wonderful* head sculpt. I think at this point I’ve raved about each and every one of the heads that Ocular Max have delivered for this line-up, but that’s with good reason when they’re as nicely-realised as this, no? They’ve captured the character to a tee.
What you see above is actually the bonus alternate head that comes packaged with Volatus, featuring greyed-out eyes and a blue-ish ridge on his forehead. It may look strange but it’s yet another attempt to recreate the look of the animation model.
Packaged on the toy is this version, with blue eyes and a more consistent brown forehead. “Purists” will definitely prefer the grey-eyed version, I’m sure, but honestly I could go either way. I’ve used the alternate for much of this photography on account of it being the version that better presents the source, but I do think the blue eyes look better in terms of pure aesthetics.
The colour used is just so vibrant and really makes the sculpt shine wonderfully. It shows just how perfect the proportions of this design really are.
Really though, whichever version you decide to go for, you’re in for a treat in terms of how it looks. I admire that they went so far as to include both options.
So, he has good looks, but here’s the thing – he’s also a ton of fun to handle and play with. Once I got over some of my initial quibbles, I found that he’s actually pretty fluid and quite easy to pose.
It’s funny that stuff like that lack of ankle tilt really doesn’t make the big difference that you might expect in practice, and in any case, there’s more than enough useful articulation going on elsewhere to compensate for it. He’s definitely a pleasure to fiddle with.
He also feels solid, stable and well-built (in spite of the bits that don’t tab in), all of which helps elevate the design above any potential problems you might think of.
So look, I can’t in good conscience say he’s perfect because, well, he’s not. There are flaws, they’re fairly evident as soon as you take him out of the box, and at least in my case, they definitely contributed to my initial thoughts on this guy too.
However, once I found time to sit down and give him a proper once over, I found that I quickly looked past a lot of that and just had fun with him. It’s really then that the true charm of this design was able to shine through.
Volatus may be imperfect but he’s still an achievement overall and, as I say, brings the character to life better than any other toy thus far. I mentioned in my Unboxing video that I felt that Blast Off was probably the hardest character in the Combaticon roster to achieve successfully, and in many ways this toy shows that to be true. However, it also shows what a stunning job Ocular Max have done with the whole team, all considered.
After all, if Volatus makes an argument for being amongst the weakest of the group, then really, we’re in fine hands here overall, no?
They line up wonderfully alongside one another, and truly do feel like the definitive interpretations of these characters in toy form so far, to my eye. Yes, there are compromises along the way, but regardless, these guys are the real deal, and feel like an overall fantastic achievement by the team that brought them to life.
They’ve certainly outstripped the other versions of the Combaticons I have in robot and vehicle form, and with that have earned a concrete spot on my shelf. Perhaps they in turn might be bettered by someone else another day, but for now they feel like a fairly sure thing.
I’ve said it already numerous times through these write-ups that the Combaticons were characters I was longing to see some superb renditions of, and now it’s done. I couldn’t be happier with them, on the whole.
Besides, as with all the others, just look at what a great job Volatus does at sneaking in to a Masterpiece-styled Decepticon line-up. I’ve brought you numerous versions of these comparison pictures through every part of this series in order to show how well these lads work in that regard, and this is no different.
Seeing Volatus so ably representing the Blast Off character is really all the evidence I need to push some of those earlier grumbles to the side and just enjoy him for what he is. He looks superb, after all.
As with his teammates, he fits the cartoony aesthetic of more modern Masterpiece-styled toys without being so ultra slavish that it’s somehow a little offputting. I really like how this works.
As the final member of the team, I had high hopes for Volatus then. He stumbled slightly along the way, but on the whole I can honestly say that I think he achieves just about everything I need him to in order to round out this whole endeavour with aplomb.
It’s been a blast seeing all the Ocular Max Combaticons doing such a great job at bringing their respective characters to life, and in many ways I imagine my set will spend a lot of their time in their individual robot forms as a result. Ocular Max have crushed it.
There’s more to say though, as next time we’ll be taking a look at that combined mode, of course…
WHAT’S HOT? Very nice shuttle mode, fun transformation on the whole, decent-looking robot form and a lot of fun to pose.
WHAT’S NOT? There are grumbles, including panels on his back that don’t tab, no ankle tilt, weird-looking elbows and oddly-designed hips.